Sunday 28 September 2014

The Trojan Horse and Footballers from Brazil

I came across this in the New Straits Times, 25 September.
It was all about football players from Brazil 'hanging out' with Malaysian children.
Anyone would  say "Aaah - how wonderful - it's such a treat for our kids."

But my radar started sending different signals.

However, I shall let Iain Buchanan deal with this.  He can do it better.  He has previously been a guest of AsH in .

I shall now get myself a mug of coffee, sit back and put my feet up.

ps. Remember the story of 'Helen of Troy'? She was known for her beauty, as 'the face that sank a thousand ships'.  But there was also the Trojan Horse.  Helen was stolen by Paris of Troy from her Greek husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta.  For ten years the Greeks fought to bring back Helen, but the city walls were too strong.  So, they built a large wooden horse...

... left it outside the city and departed.  The Trojans were delighted, they brought the wooden horse inside the city gates.    What a great gift!    But that night, the Greek soldiers who were hiding inside the horse crept out, opened the city gates and let in their comrades.  According to the story in Homer's Iliad, the Trojans were slaughtered and that was the end of Troy.

Hence the saying; 'Beware of Greeks bearing gifts'.  However my mother had her own take on that. She always cautioned us.  'Do not take sweets from any strangers'.  And I still keep to that ... even though I am 'three score years and ten'.


                    "FOOTBALL  EVANGELISTS?  NONSENSE!"

                                            Iain  Buchanan 

      Youngsters the world over love football, and kids in Malaysia are no different - especially when there's a chance to rub shoulders with a few legends of the game.  And if these happen to be Brazilian. so much the better.

      And so the story in Thursday's NST was hardly surprising.  Here was a team of football stars from Brazil and Angola, visiting Malaysia, coaching kids from poor backgrounds, planting dreams.  The stars themselves were heroic, approachable and helpful.  "We had a great time coaching them," said one; "Football has helped change our lives," said another, "and we want these kids to know how this sport could help change theirs too."  And the kids were over the moon and wanted more.


     The visit was a nice exercise in international diplomacy - and in bridging all manner of divides that separate people.  The children were from orphanages and low-income families: the tour, said one player, "was an initiative to reach out to the community" and a way of teaching "how to become a better team player, how to gain self-control, and other skills that can be applied to our daily lives."  Surely there was no hidden agenda.  And maybe, after all, footballers could do as much to spread goodwill as politicians, pop stars, or experts in development economics.

     It certainly seemed churlish to be cynical.  Besides, on the matter of visiting footballers, cynics had already been roundly lambasted by various pillars of the community.  Take, for example, the indignation shown by both Baru Bian, head of PKR Sarawak, and PAS Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa, when speakers at a conference at UiTM claimed that visiting football coaches could well be undercover Christian priests.  Baru Bian, a lawyer and son of an SIB pastor, dismissed the accusations as a sign of "weak government":

      "Baru said he was aware of Brazilian football coaches, who are Christians, who had held football clinics as he was also involved in a similar clinic in his constituency.  'I don't think they are missionaries.  What is wrong with Christians who want to contribute to young people of this country?' he asked.  'You cannot just accuse people of proselyting (sic) to Muslims."



     You certainly can't.  At the very least (as any lawyer will tell you) you need evidence of intent - if not culpability.  And, judging from the NST story. there was no hidden agenda, no hidden intent, behind the latest Brazil Tour of Hope by Joga Limpo Brazil.

      Or was there?

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      Joga Limpo Brazil was brought to Malaysia by a body calling itself Wawasan GMR, in partnership with another body called CBME.  The initials "CBME" seem straightforward - they stand for "Children, Babies, and Maternity Expo", and presumably indicate commercial sponsorship.  But "Wawasan GMR" is a rather different matter.

      It is murky, to say the least.  Officially, it is "a business/investment consultancy focusing on community-based economic projects in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region as well as the greater Southeast Asian region."  Its CEO is "B.K. Raj",  its General Manager is Peter Shankar, and it also employs (among others) Mark T.R. Pillai, Michael Soh, Alex Lim,  and one Geoff Elwell.  It engages in agricultural development and infrastructural work, and is connected to a travel business called  Pearls of Mekong.  It seems a strange organization to be managing football coaching.

      Strange, that is, until one digs a little deeper.

      It then transpires that CEO B.K. Raj's advisor is a roving Pentecostal evangelist called Dennis Ignatius - who also happens to be retired ambassador to Canada and various South American countries, and a staunch Anwar supporter.  Dennis Ignatius lives in Canada and the US, is a fellow of the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity  
( ), and founded a mission called "Arise Ambassadors".  He will be known in Malaysia as a columnist for the Star newspaper, for his " Open Letter to Barack Obama" - and for his attack on the Malaysian Foreign Ministry.


      Peter Shankar will be more familiar to football fans: he managed the 2008 Brazil Tour of Hope, and was also involved in the Brazilians' 2012 visit.  Both tours were for worthy causes:  "We hope to raise about RM345,000 from the Malaysian tour,"  said Peter in 2008, "to rebuild schools in Myanmar in aid of the victims of Cyclone Nargis."  And the 2012 tour made a special visit to Bandar Aceh, which was wiped out in the 2004 tsunami.


      But there is a bit more to Peter Shankar than organizing charity football.

      Peter is Secretary-General of the Malaysian Centre for Global Mission ( ), a Missions Associate of the WEA Mission Commission ( and a member of  ETHNE, the Commission's official network for Unreached Peoples, ( ).  He is also an instructor with Emaus Road International  ( ),  a close associate of STAMP   (the Strategic Missions Program of MCGM), and Director of Program and Member Care for STAMP's Malaysian Cross Cultural Missions School.

      In all these capacities, Peter has extremely close links with a certain Beram Kumar.  Beram Kumar is the Executive Director of STAMP Partnerships Inc.  He is also a founder of the Malaysian Cross Cultural Missions School, a member of ETHNE, a member of the Sangati Network for Nepali Migrant Workers, a Mission Associate of  WEA Mission Commission, and a director of  SEALINK  (which "connects the body of Christ's people, churches, organizations, and resources together to serve and reach the Southeast Asian Unreached Peoples Groups more effectively" ).  Beram Kumar was also organiser of the Myanmar Christian Coalition for Cyclone Relief.

      It was in this last capacity that Beram Kumar had a special interest in Peter's 2008 Brazil Tour of Hope: he was one of the main beneficiaries of its proceeds.  As co-ordinator for mission agencies that were denied visas into Myanmar (such as Baptist Global Response), Beram Kumar was concerned with rebuilding in the broadest of senses:

"Our hope is that the Myanmar Church will be much stronger by the time this relief effort ends ...... .....This is a tremendous opportunity to see the Kingdom of God expand in this nation."


      And Beram Kumar has a particular qualification for entering "difficult" mission fields.  He is the Southeast Asian representative of Tentmakers International Exchange (TIE), a mission agency dedicated to the creation of  secular aliases  for evangelical workers (so that they can gain access to "countries that are otherwise closed to traditional missions and evangelism"), and to the expansion of networks within which  such workers can spread their influence.  "We look for people who have vocational skills because that is one of our best strategies to gain access to unreached peoples around the world"  says Danny Martin, founder of TIE and member of the Malaysian Cross Cultural Mission School.



      Beram Kumar puts it this way: "Jesus first did 'good works' and as a result of that was asked questions about 'eternal life' and 'the kingdom of God' ....... if we want to have a strategic entry to ALL peoples, even those who are resistant,we must adopt a similar pattern."


      And so, as an evangelical "tentmaker", Beram Kumar is interested in whatever gives him a helpful disguise - be it a disaster or football tour, or a combination of both.  He is also interested in networking with others in the same business - in order to "synergize" and expand the evangelical movement.

      In both respects, Brazil is a huge asset.  It has a strong tradition of Christian football, and it has one of the most aggressive evangelical movements in the world.  It is a potent synergy:  indeed, Pele's "beautiful game" according to mission expert Joao Mordomo, is "beautiful" precisely because "it opens doors for Brazilians time and time again, all over the world."  Brazilians, that is, like players in Joga Limpo Brazil -all of whom are Christian evangelists.

( )     (You need to click "translate" when you get to this link.)

      And so, naturally, Beram Kumar is a frequent visitor to Brazil.  In 2010, he spoke at a conference jointly organized by Brazil's Antioch Mission and the Associacao Missao Esperanca (Hope Missionary Association), or AME - two missions which are closely linked to the Indonesian Christian Community in Sao Paulo, and are also under the WEA Mission Commission.  Among the the conference's workshops two were of special interest - one on the Unreached Peoples of Southeast Asia, and one Sport in Missions.

(please use the translation facility)

(please use the translation facility)

     Was it coincidental that, two years later, the 2012 Brazil Tour of Hope, which visited Malaysia and Indonesia, was jointly organised by Wawasan GMR ...... and  AME?

      But Brazil's evangelical ties with Malaysia don't end there.  Juventude Nazarena Internacional is a missionary sending agency which places Brazilian evangelists all over the world.  Fabio Freitas is one of these.  Fabio Freitas is a Domestic League footballer and a member of the Joga Limpo Brazil team - and he is attached to Sungai Way Methodist Church as part of their sports outreach.


     Perhaps it is also coincidental that at least two of SSMC's pastors - Dr Ng Swee Ming and Ng Kok Moi - also appear to be directors of  Wawasan GMR.

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      So we can account, it seems for most of Wawasan GMR's operatives.  There remains the mystery of its CEO, "B.K. Raj".  Could "B.K. Raj" be Beram Kumar?  It certainly seems like it:



(Quote from the above link: " Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif GMR, Beram K. Raj berkata, selain Malaysia, program sama turut diadakan di Myanmar, Vietnam dan Thailand.")

      Are B.K. Raj and Beram K. Raj and Beram Kumar one and the same person???

      There are very good grounds for suspicion that they might be.  After all, Wawasan GMR and Beram's Malaysian Centre for Global Mission both share the same post box  - 8036 Kelana Jaya:


      All this would be fine, if it wasn't for the coyness.  And this is the problem.  Nowhere do the organizers of Brazil Tour of Hope lay out their Christian credentials; and nowhere, in Wawasan GMR's public record, does it even suggest it has Christian connections.

      It is a strange sort of coyness.  After all, Christians have every right to go on football tours, every right to coach youngsters in the game, every right to set an example of brotherly love.  So why the secrecy?  And why the studious deception?  What do these people have to hide?

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      It is not the first time that Malaysia has hosted "undercover priests" dressed as Brazilian football players.  In 2004, the World Mission Board of the Brazilian Baptist Convention set up a mission in Petaling Jaya, blessed by the missionary wife of Brazil's greatest football star, Pele, "to bring some of the magic of Brazilian football"  to local boys of every race.  The arrangement was renewed in 2008, when Pastor Henry Pillai travelled to Brazil to confirm the arrangement for a number of trained Baptist pastors to set up in Malaysia as football coaches, social workers and teachers.


      There were three football coaches - Lamartine Fernandes da Silva (who is officially registered with the Brazilian Baptist Convention as a "tentmaker" ), Roberto Braganca Romao, and Valdecir de Freitas - together with de Freitas' wife Elaine, who was a "social worker".

      Did these good people evangelize Muslims?  Well, a number of young Malay players certainly went to Brazil as part of the programme.


     And Pastor Roberto clearly felt satisfied he was doing his job:

" It is a joy to teach here, because we have a few girls taking football lessons.  I work in a Muslim context, where the woman is often not treated with dignity by men and society.  But through football, we are showing these girls the joy and love of Jesus through our actions in training."

And this is the official position of the Brazilian Baptist Convention:

".......... the Sports Mission Program has been an important strategy for entering countries officially closed to the preaching of the Gospel.  In these places, Brazilian football, a strong catalyst for opportunities, serves as a perfect instrument in the hands of God to evangelize people who admire the techniques of the Brazilians.  Thus, countries like Malaysia, Senegal, India, China, Thailand, and Guinea are opening their doors to teachers and football coaches from Brazil - evangelicals committed to the Kingdom of God, and intent on transforming the spiritual situation of local people."

                                ( )  (Click for translation)

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      The Brazil Tour of Hope tale is just a fragment of a far larger story.  The global Christian evangelical movement is a Hydra with many, many heads - and a relentless appetite for spiritual conquest.  Malaysia, a small country, is in many ways precariously situated.  Certainly the powers-that-be are in an unenviable position trying to deal, moderately, with the pressures placed upon the country from within and without - and in the circumstances, they seem remarkably, strenuously, liberal and forbearing.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

clever Dick, clever Mat, clever Ah Beng, clever Muthu ???

                                Your trouser cuffs are dirty,
                      And your shoes are laced up wrong,
                     You'd better take off your homburg,
                      'Cos your overcoat is too long.
                                           Procol Harum

I know most bloggers ignore all or some comments but I feel I owe a response to those who bother to write.

However, old habits die hard.  This retired, but not retiring teacher cannot resist picking at shoddy and awkwardly pompous comments that turn up on this blog.  I do refrain from doing a thorough 'marking' because I think it is wonderful enough that we non-westerners can write in a language that is not our mother tongue - typical grammatical errors can be expected, for instance using the word 'critique' as a verb when it is actually a noun.

But I do hold the line on careless and sloppy use of words and on crooked thinking and arguments.

Take this comment from my posting  on " A Parting Shot " .

1.  What is meant by "passive-aggressive"?  Technically, it denotes a "type of behaviour or personality characterised by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confirmation".

The poem referred to in "A Parting Shot" is a very direct statement; not of resistance against those who make demands (on the Malays) , but on the Malays themselves, to wake up and pull up their socks, so to speak.  The tone is scathing and contemptuous, and there's no mincing of words or beating about the bush.

2.  "Passive-aggressive" also refers to "a defense mechanism that allows people who aren't comfortable being openly aggressive to get what they want under the guise of still trying to please others.  They want their way but they also want everyone to still like them".

I certainly agree with the above definition as a characterisation of the Malays and their leadership in the Peninsula, from the late 1940s to the 1950s prior to Independence - and especially today!  But it was NOT a defence mechanism at all - call it the Malay attitude of tolerance, of 'give and take', of 'tidak apa', of being stupidly lackadaisical about their tomorrows, but above all, let's face it - the Malays had no choice at all.  They had 'to please others' - simply because the economy was not in their hands then (and still isn't today), and  the demographic composition was stacked against them -they were almost a minority in their homeland (indeed, for a time, if we include the Straits Settlements, they were.)

BUT, the poet  was not succumbing to being passive-aggressive' - he was not 'crying in his beer'  (or teh tarik) , he was not seeking to be 'liked', he was just angry and frustrated with his fellow Malays.

Flammenwerfer (FW) does not approve of this poem and his 'defense mechanism' is simply to write it off as 'crap'.  Well,exactly which "Crap" is  FW referring to?  "Crap" as in :

(a) faeces?- well, we ALL produce that! ....
(b) work of extremely poor quality ......
(c) talk at length in a foolish and boring way ?

As for (b) and (c) -  ah ha, some of us do it much better than others!

I reckon the Anon poet has managed to put across many more serious issues than FW gives him credit for

3. FW has to be more specific about his second criticism.  In the first sentence he referred to 'Malay labourers', then  to follow up his argument he rants about how  "locals won't work for Indon wages" or even when offered higher wages.  Don't locals include Chinese and Indians as well?  Make up your mind!  Or does he think that being unskilled coolie labourers is the domain of the Malays only?

And by the way have you ever heard of any Malaysian developer, contractor, or any other tycoons who are willing to pay more to local workers? If they do, pigs will fly!  Even in Singapore (as FW is keen to quote Singapore as comparison) - the Singaporeans do not want to see themselves relegated to a coolie status just to keep body and soul and HDB flat together.

If the powers that be really want to get locals to do such manual labour.  motivate them by providing at least a minimum wage, to assist them with training and upgrading skills or apprenticeship and provide schemes for topping-up wages.  Can you envisage Malaysian taukehs and tycoons falling over themselves to make such a contribution?

4. As to the economy and the Chinese, the retort 'tell me something new'  smacks of  a typical  dismissive smugness of the social media-speak generation, especially when it comes to discussing any issues to do with  'race'.  Does this throwaway statement  mean that FW endorses and supports this unhealthy status quo?   Or is he lost for words?

Of course the domination of the Chinese in the Malaysian economy is nothing 'new'!  But does that mean that our anonymous poet cannot provoke his kinsmen to get off their bums and challenge this unsatisfactory supremacy - as the native Africans did in Apartheid South Africa or as American Blacks achieved in the 60s and 70s or as even the indigenous communities of New Zealand and Australia are doing in their homeland?

But this is not just a struggle of the natives of the ex-colonies. Today, developed, wealthy, white nations like UK are worried and trying their darnedest to avoid inflicting on themselves what they perpetrated in countries like Malaya, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand for instance.

Check this :

In an article in the Daily Mail (May 14, 2013) Tim Shipman noted what Lord Mandelson a former Cabinet Minister said in 2009:  " Migrants are filling gaps in our labour market that Britons are not available to fill or unwilling to fill.  (Doesn't that sound familiar - remember the British gripe about 'lazy' Malays?) There has not been an adverse effect on employment of British nationals."

Mandelson then did a 180 degree turn.   In May 2013 he admitted: "I think we have to realise that the entry of migrants to the labour market is hard for people who are finding it very difficult to get jobs, or to keep jobs."

In other words, Britons are now fearful of and hostile to the growing number of 'foreigners' and immigrants  in their midst.  Between 1997 and 2010, migration to Britain totalled  2.2 million.  Even sane voices like the former Archbishop of Canterbury were warning about this undesirable situation.


It was precisely this "engineered mass immigration" that the British imposed on the Malay Peninsula and the outer islands as of the early part of the 20th century.  This was the result.

We have to live with this multi-cultural (?), divisive (?)  'legacy' of imperial Britain.  And I reckon the natives and the immigrants are trying to do the best they can in a very difficult cultural and economic brew.

Check this:  

The scenario presented in the above graph is giving Australians (especially those of European descent) the jitters. According to research by the Sydney Daily Telegraph (May 2012), more than half of Australians want an end to further immigration.  I do wonder whether this included  many 'Asian Australians'!  After all, here in Leicester - just like the native Brits - the Asian Brits (mainly from South Asia) are quite hostile to more immigration from Sudan, Iraq, Somalia and lately East Europeans into Britain!     Only yesterday, our Gujerati neighbour bemoaned the behaviour of the foreigners on our street - and he meant the East Europeans!

Although official voices in Australia claim that "people are concerned that the present rate of population growth is not sustainable and is going to make Australia a poorer place to live"  ( Professor Bob Birrell, Monash University), it is obvious that their main concern is not simply based on numbers but the racial composition of Australia as well.

In 1947, just 0.3% of the Australian population were born in Asia; in 1981 it was 2.5% and by 2010 it had grown to just 9%.   And Australians are still worried!

So FW, what's new in Malaysia?  What's new in Great Britain?  What's new in Australia?  What's the big deal?

Remember the White Australia Policy?  Remember how Malaysia in the 1970s and 1980s was pilloried for failing to respond to the plight of  refugees - The Boat People, who by the way were mainly Vietnamese of Chinese descent - from Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War?  They even made a movie about the dastardly, heartless  Malaysian Government pushing out the Boat People. Well, nearly 50 years later, Australia is having to deal with their "Boat People" - mainly refugees from the war in Afghanistan. These victims of a war wreaked by Judaeo-Christian nations are being detained and  'processed' on islands like Nauru, which is just 21 square kilometres in size and made up almost entirely of solid phosphate.

Nauru  (Torsten Blackwood: AFP)

5.  As to the professional class who are mainly Indians, FW takes the same nonchalant, liberal and trendy stand. He must be thinking, 'for heaven's sake, whats the fuss about?'  It's happening "even in Singapore"!

FW should read more and pontificate less.  Read how born-and-bred Singaporeans are chomping at the bit about being 'swamped' by foreigners from China, India, Malaysia and the Philippines.  This was what the Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong said in July 2013:

" In fact, if I can get another 10 billionaires to move to Singapore and set up their base here, my Gini coefficient will get worse but I think Singaporeans will be better off, because they will bring in business, bring in opportunities, open new doors and create new jobs, and I think that is the attitude with which we must approach this problem." 

This is slightly different from Lord Mandelson's objective and his forefathers' colonial tactics.  But it reminds me of Australia's and New Zealand's conditions - in the 1970s and later - for Asians seeking to migrate into their hallowed domain.  You must bring with you a dowry, of a certain sum of lolly (Vietnamese refugees brought their gold bars) and a professional qualification to boot.

If  FW is a born-and-bred Singaporean who has nowhere else to migrate to - he would not be too laidback  by "this growing trend."

6. " Warong makan..  (So you want Malays jadi jaga?)"  I'm a bit lost here.  What is FW getting at?  I think no one wants the Malays to be 'jaga'.  In fact, in Malaysia and Singapore, Malays have a hard time trying to shed the image of them being the drivers and gardeners of the taukehs, and the white and brown Tuans.

Just 6 years ago, a Penangite Dato who sees himself as an impresario came to our house to talk about the spouse's illustrated book "Fatimah's Kampung".  He wanted Iain to make about 100 signed copies of a selected set of illustrations, to be exhibited and sold to his avant garde clientele.  Of course my Scottish  spouse adamantly refused the suggestion.  When the spouse moved to the kitchen to make the tea, this Dato spoke to me and asked, " Do you want the money?"   Hand on my heart - those were his very words to me.

You see - in the eyes of this Chinese Dato -  I am a Malay and a Malay can be easily bought.  That was how (some) Malays from the west of Johor, desperate for money to go on the Hajj or for celebrating grand weddings would sell their land to the lowest bidder. But looking at the nature of modern Malays today, indeed they can be easily bought and sold.

As for the Dato's Malay driver, when we suggested that the driver come in and take a seat at the verandah - instead of remaining inside the parked car - we were given a flat 'no' by the Dato.

7.  "There is nothing to be proud of about using Jawi ....... not an original Malay alphabet."  FW is paddling in dangerous waters here.

Of course it's in Arabic - this was after all, before the arrival of the Christian Europeans - the  Malay-Muslim Archipelago.

'Apadah'!! Why then did Tuan Syers write a letter in Jawi to  Kapitan China Yap Ah Loy?


"What is so proud" about using a foreign alphabet - the Roman alphabet?  The Roman alphabet was 'introduced' into Malaya by the colonial powers - to make it easy for all, especially the non-Malays to 'communicate' with the Malays.  The Roman alphabet has its benefits.  But with regards to Jawi, please do not poke your nose into areas which you are decidedly biased and ignorant of.  What would be your take if the Chinese and Indian alphabet were romanized as well?

As FW is so dismissive of Jawi, perhaps he/she should be aware of his/her linguistic style and ability. Two languages, Malay and English, have been mongrelized in this slick little piece.  The Anon poet that he pooh-poohs at least has the dignity and ability to express his concerns in his language.

8.  Now we come to FW's piece de resistance.  Am I supposed to be honoured because FW  "look forward to reading it (my blog) for its evocative nostalgia of days when we were less racially conscious."?   He/she has pressed all the right buttons that the so-called liberals in Malaysia are so fond of - words like 'less racially conscious',  'evocative nostalgia' -  of the way we were.  Such sentiments are found in the playground of the well-heeled urbanites, the sophisticated, English-speaking/writing champagne socialists and 'human rights' activists lounging in their Bangsar and Georgetown salons.

Spare me the condescension !

For the information of FW and others like him/her, AsH is not a coffee table site dedicated to   reminiscences and pretty pictures of 'the way we were'.  If that has not registered with the likes of FW then he/she should read and learn from a comment made by a 14 year old Nasir Roslan :

Hi ... my paternal grandpa is an orang laut/orang pulau too ...  the original inhabitants of S'pore.

Here is one young soul who understands and relates to what I am doing in my blog.  He does not look only for "evocative nostalgia" - he is discovering himself and his heritage.  Nasir's comment makes it all worthwhile.

 Read :

I must admit that this riposte is like hitting a fly with a sledgehammer.  But there are so many out there in the ether like this Api Pelontar : that's the translation into Malay of  Flammenwerfer.   So I might as well demolish as many flies as I can with this posting.

Finally, I hope this sentence is not "out of place" for Api Pelontar.  I reckon you are a Malaysian and as I cannot tell what you are because "the blogger profile cannot be displayed"   I shall end with this :  Podah! Mai chuay si, lah! Pergi berambus!

ps.  A 'clever Dick'  is someone who has a high opinion of  his/her ability or knowledge.


Wednesday 10 September 2014

The Antics of AsH

Our GP Dr Newley  confirmed that I have a  'good heart', after an ECG two weeks ago.  I had decided that during this time back in Leicester I need to submit myself to the equivalent  of an MOT, which is a test check for a vehicle to make sure it is in  roadworthy condition.  Despite the results of the ECG, and despite doubling the blood pressure medication, the breathlessness did not go away.  Went for another visit, only to be told I had an infection and thus given a week of antibiotics.  Tomorrow I'll be taking a test for asthma to check on my 'heavy breathing' - which happens when I'm up and about, but not on the telephone hee hee.

I was advised by Dr Newley to get out of my comfort zone and undertake exercises, as if I don't get enough walking into the City Centre and running around and going up and down the stairs doing domestic chores.  A lot of the time I moan  and wish that Rodiah, our home-help in Setiawangsa, was just a  bus journey away.

Our outdoor gym at Victoria Park,  a Zone of Discomfort.

AsH getting out of her comfort zone, being supervised by the spouse (in the shadow).  Note the handbag between the shadow  and Ash.

Old age sneaks up on you when your back is turned.  It is no fun even though my brother-in-law Harun  (Abang Long), who is slowly losing his eyesight to glaucoma, said to me before we left Kuala Lumpur:  "No, old age is beautiful".    Bless him and his wisdom.

Deep in me, I accept and appreciate the life I have and all its blessings, and its up and downs.  But for one who has led a pretty active and mobile life, losing my precious ability to walk and walk and walk on God's earth requires some forbearance.

See that handbag in the picture above?  Four and a half hours' ago, it was stolen while we were having lunch at British Home Stores.  It was placed just next to me, either on the floor or draped on my chair.  The most worrying loss was the Debit Card, the National Insurance Card and my Bus Pass and the whole set of our house keys.

For the first time since I was 60, I had to pay for my bus fare - GBP 1.90 (for just over a mile).  When I first came to Leicester in 1984, it was just 22p!  The police were very kind and helpful.  After reporting the theft on the phone (undertaken by the HSBC staff), I received two calls from Leicestershire Police as they needed more details and to record the information.  Just 10 minutes ago I was informed that they had gone to  BHS to make an inquiry.  BHS  it seemed, had no CCTV camera in the restaurant.  I was then given some advice about handbag security for a pensioner.  It's a sign of our times that even restful places like a restaurant have to install a CCTV camera!

There you are 'Bang Long - you would not have had that nasty experience in Kuala Lumpur. We have wandered in the streets of Mumbai, twice in the mid-1980s, and had no such problem.   At the turn of the century, in South Africa, we  took the local 'pirate taxi' in Port Elizabeth to get to the city centre, where  we  walked about in an all-Black and near-ghetto area looking for bookshops - and we suffered no such grief.

But the world today, to put it mildly, is not a nice place.  There are people who want too much without having or wanting, to do the hard work  for instance, the bankers and those in the investment industry.  With the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the have-nots are desirous and seduced into grabbing what they can to savour the 'good life'  of the well-heeled.  The media and the communication industry are culpable - titillating the appetite for all the gimmicky baggage of a materialistic lifestyle.  The sense of shame and accountabilty  -  personal or otherwise -  is just non-existent today.  Greed Rules OK.  But isn't that what an old fogey like me would say?

In half an hour's time the locksmith is coming to change the locks so that we can go to bed tonight feeling safe and sound.  Tomorrow we will go to the City Council to replace the Bus Pass.  As for the National Insurance Card that will have to wait.  We know there's a lucrative racket going on for selling National Insurance Cards.  It's a valuable item to gain, enabling you to get a job in UK without any questions asked.

P.S. I had planned this posting to be a riposte on one of the comments in a previous posting.  But that will have to wait - again!