Sunday 27 July 2014

No Justice, No Peace

Margaret, my supervisor at CPI Leicester, where I worked for nearly four years, shook her head and asked a rhetorical question,  "Maizie, why do you keep on fasting?"   I had just gone to the rest room to put on my duffle coat  to top up layers of a thermal undershirt, a flannel shirt, a woolen jumper, and a gilet because fasting in winter makes you feel very, very cold, a biting cold which gets right into the marrow of your bones. It stops as soon as you break your fast and down a  mug of hot tea.   And people like Margaret will never know how it feels to taste the sustenance that-God gives and which we all take for granted.

In that year,  (2004, I think), an earthquake  struck a remote mountainous part of Afghanistan and I can just imagine what those poor souls were going through in that winter.  The rest of the country was in the thick of the Judaeo-Christian War on Terror fought in a Muslim country, maiming and killing civilians.  Aid was short in coming.  Islamic Relief (UK) had dropped in a flyer in our letter box and I read of this Muslim engineer from UK who had gone over with the IR Team to open up communication with the stricken area. From that day on Islamic Relief has been the main recipient of our Zakat and a beneficiary in our Will.

'Man was telling us about his experience at the CIMB Bank (not the Setiawangsa branch) just a few weeks before Ramadan.
'Man and Aisha taking a break at our porch
He had gone to the bank from his place of work - as a street cleaner - to pay his mortgage.  He was given a form to fill in.  He asked for help from a (hijabed) bank officer as he could not decipher the instructions.

She (snapping) :  Tak tahu baca?  Tak pegi sekolah kah?
'Man :  Bukan.  Saya lupa bawa cermin mata.

A male bank officer  then came along to help him.  I asked 'Man  why  didn't he report her rudeness to the manager.  'Man said, "Ala Kak, siapa 'nak pandang dan layan saya.  Ini perkara biasa untuk 'Man.  Kena di DBKL, di klinik, di mana mana saja orang tak pandang saya."

That little episode brings me to the end of Ramadan.   Tomorrow will be 1 Syawal - our Hari Raya.  I wish to convey my warmest greetings to family and friends and to AsH's followers and readers, far and near.

If only, oh if only, Muslims in Malaysia would endeavour  to continue the discipline, the devotion, the sincerity and commitment of Ramadan into their workplace and to our fellow beings for the other 11 months of the year.  Think what Muslims could achieve if these values are practised not just in the month of Ramadan.

Every Christmas, our local Animal Rescue Charity shop would remind people that  "A puppy is not only for Christmas".  People, out of the goodness (?) of their hearts, imbibe the spirit of   "goodwill to all men"  by giving away presents of puppies, kittens, and bunny rabbits etc.  By the twelfth day of Christmas or a little later, these prezzies would be abandoned and discarded like Christmas paper wrappers.

In the same vein our ibadah to God and our fellow human beings and all living creatures are not only for Ramadan.

This Hari Raya, most especially, will not be a Selamat Hari Raya  for as long as the genocide in Gaza does not stop.

As for Malaysians, be they UMNO, PKR, DAP or PAS Malays,  the 'can't-be-bothered' Malays,  the mayonnaise and belacan Malays, the 'I-am-holier-than-thou' Malays,  the 'I'm-alright-Jack- and-sod-everybody-else' Malays, the smug and full-bellied modernized Malays,  the 'in-the-kingdom-of-the-blind-the one-eyed-man-is-king' Malays, and septuagenarian Malays like me - we should go down on our knees and remember that "there, but for the grace of God, go I".  For we, at least, can greet our brethren with a Selamat Hari Raya. 

We are endowed with Peace.  Now we have to work for Justice.

Friday 25 July 2014

Nothing Rhymes

Today I received a letter from my nephew Mahzan  which jolted me back to the real world - one I've been trying to evade for the past few weeks.

Dear Mahzan,

Thank you for your poignant, despairing letter on the state of our world, especially the plight of the Palestinians.  I can't find the words or the heart or the spirit to articulate the same pain, the same grief, and the same injustice inflicted on the Palestinians.  I looked through the labels  on the side of my blog - Gaza (13), Israel (7), Palestine (7), Zionism (23).  What more can I say?

Years ago in Leicester I saw a sickening news clip showing young seals being clubbed to death in Canada, supposedly to conserve fish stocks.


Israel, with the collaboration and blessings of the Judaeo Christian Western nations (and some Arab-Muslim nations as well) are carrying out the same culling every few years to conserve and expand their racist and racial stock.

Like you, I feel helpless and useless, and like a coward I switch off the TV news whenever the massacre on Gaza is shown on the screen.  

But you're a healer, a doctor, and not just a specialist in Occupational Health and you are giving what you can of  your rezeki  to help  others who are working and helping in Gaza.

Most important of all, you're teaching your children  to feel for the grievous suffering of the Palestinians and to try and do what little they can.  Hopefully - because of your influence - as Nadia, Nabilla and Adam go through  life, they will be inspired to ask their teachers about the woeful fate of the Palestinians just as children today, especially in the Judaeo-Christian world, are taught about the Holocaust - and to  say, for the Jews, " Never Again".   Who shall toll the bell for the Palestinians?  InsyaAllah it may come from a child in Johor Baru because of  his/ her Abah's persuasions.

And maybe, they will also, one day, ask their Ustazs and Ustazas and  Ulamas why the Muslims are demonizing and slaughtering each other.

My sleepless nights?  It's old age 'Zan, the world (and its inhabitants), at times, is too much for this septuagenarian to cope with.  I think of my first ( and second-hand ) MG Midget which I bought in 1967.  It was a small two-seater sports car ( which my Abah and your Mak and Abah also loved to drive)  with a 948 cc engine and twin SU  carburettors and  spoke-wheels.  I recall how the engine would purr beautifully as soon as you turn the ignition.  Well, my engine does not purr like that any more and it takes a lot of igniting to get it going - especially to sleep.

You're doing a good job with your children and if that commitment can be multiplied millions of times all over the country, then maybe I will have fewer sleepless nights.

Take care and salam to you, Sabrina and the 3 monsters.

Love from Unc and ma'ngah

 PS   See?  No posting on Palestine!

Will I glance at my screen and see real human beings starve to death ( pounded to death in the case of Gaza)  right in front of my eyes.

Sunday 6 July 2014


We made a trip to Singapore just before Ramadan to spend time with old friends and as always, a visit to Abah's and Akim's grave  ( with assistance from Jai, as usual), and a special call on Jai's mum, Macik Alimah.

Macik is a very special Malay lady, nearly 89, and I reckon one of the very few remaining "native Singapore Malays"  who lived and remembered her life as keturunan Orang Pulau Singapura.  I moan about the loss of  our kampung at  Kampung Abu Kassim, where we used to live at Pasir Panjang Road.

Memories of my kampung life immortalised by the spouse's drawing.

And on this trip I discovered that my last abode in Singapore , at Block 217 Boon Lay Avenue had been demolished to give way to higher blocks and smaller flats. Hard cheese Ash!!

Block 217, Boon Lay Avenue. Our  flat is on the 15th floor, second from the top.

Looking down to the car park from the 15th Floor.

15-89, the door to our flat from 1975 to 1995.

As for Makcik, her ancestral family home in the Southern Islands to the Southwest of Singapore was first used as a firing range for the Singapore Air Force and later stitched up with loads of imported sand and soil
into a world class oil refinery and industrial zone - into Jurong Island!  And they say,  "Only God can make a tree".

This was what happened to Macik's ancestral abode and world - which is more devastating than what  kampung Malays and my family went through.  I managed to load these images from US Geology Survey (USGS) - showing satellite images of Environmental Changes.   What a bland description of the demise of a people's physical and cultural landscape.

( In the images below, red = plants, blue-black =deep clear water, light blue = shallow and silty water, almost white = bare soils and pavements, grayish mottle = cities.)

Singapore - 1973

Singapore - 1990

Singapore - 2002

I hope this video (2012) of a conversation with Macik Alimah when she was about 87 will bear testimony to what can happen to the culture and way of life of a people when development and greed take over. They remain as memories, lovely and painful at the same time for those who still remember.  The younger generation, so immersed in their hi-tech and comfortable modern life will rue the day when they search for their cultural landscape and discover they're all dead and gone.  ( or will they? - especially when we have well heeled and well-endowed Malays in Malaysia who are so keen on  "emulating Singapore" )   See :

Is there a lesson here for Tanjung Putri  (Johor Baru) and Johor?  But I reckon it is too late.  It started with Raffles who re-scripted Singapore's and Johore's  history and heritage for his country's benefit and created the ripples of wealth and development that involved mainly the immigrants and constructed modern Singapore today.  But the Malays, the elite Malays of the old days and the corporate Malays of today, are too happy to collaborate, manage and profit from this globalisation of  'progress and development'.

In the above 2012 video, Macik is talking about the origin of Tanjung Keling, the 'town' on the mainland nearest to her Southern Islands.

She had become much more frail when we visited her this time.  She has lost her eyesight - the breast cancer is becoming more aggressive but her spirit remains as cheerful and positive as ever.  Macik used to supplement her family income by selling epok epok.  When Jai was a schoolboy he would help to sell her epok epok and kuih to workers at the  many construction sites in Jurong in the 60s and 70s.  She would also leave trays of her epok epok at  various Indian and Chinese shops.  " Epok epok saya laku cikgu.  Semua orang suka isi curry kentang.  Saya gunakan rempah asli, goringkan ketumbar, jintan , tumbuk dengan kelapa.  That's Macik's secret ingredient -  for making epok epok.  Curry puff and karipap is not in her vocabulary and I second her on that.

The most heart warming part of going to Singapore is to hear Jai, Lely and Irene calling me "Miss Hamid".  And when Macik reaches out her hands to hold mine and she says,  "Saya kenal suara Cikgu",  then my cup runneth over.

When Jai played this song for Macik , tears ran down her cheeks.

Ditto for me Macik.