Tuesday 23 December 2014

Christmas - Part 2

Some of my readers may remember my old-fashioned Hari Raya Cards from the  1950s/1960s on this blog.   See :  http://anaksihamid.blogspot.com/2014/07/no-justice-no-peace.html

Seen below are a couple of my Malayan  (that is, pre-Malaysia) Christmas Cards from the same period.

The front and back cover

The inside pages.

A Traditional English Christmas Card  from the 1930s

And here's my own home made 2001 Christmas and New Year Card for my mates at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

But all is not well in this 21st century.  Nothing is held sacred: everything is subject to use and abuse - anything goes as long as it serves some material, and usually self-serving, purpose.  We had a dose of it and maybe more during Hari Raya. Now it's the turn of Christmas - although the greedy shenanigans have gone on for far longer in the heart of Christmas Land .

A.    The Trouble with Christmas 
(or: How Christmas is Politicized for Very Dubious Agendas).

It was in 2010 when we read this inane piece regarding the Red Cross and Christmas..

But this 2010 attitude on the part of the Red Cross was nothing new.  In 2002 we heard on the radio about  this same Red Cross policy.  In response, my irate spouse wrote this letter:

A copy of the spouse's letter.

B.    Christmas and Politics 2014

This year Stoke-on-Trent City Council decided to rebrand Christmas and describe it instead as 'Winterfest'.  Amongst other changes:

1. Christmas lights will feature Jack Frost with a firebird chasing him.  There won't be any little baby Jesus or Santa and his reindeers.

2.  Christmas cards will not carry words like 'Happy Christmas', only 'Season's Greetings' and 'Happy Holidays'.

3. The traditional Nativity Plays will not have the infant Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  There's talk of using spacemen, footballers and Elvis Presley. One resident angrily remarked,  " I assume it is so that Muslims are not offended."

Can you see the common feature here with the 2002 and 2010 Red Cross 'policy'?   Many, many white, Christian and secular Brits are being fed the idea that the "Disney-fying" of their traditional Christmas celebration is because of those bloody Muslims!   I have heard those last two words many times in many different encounters not only from white Brits but also from the Blacks and the non-Muslim Asians (Indians).   It is truly a multi-cultural reaction!

This was the response of the Muslim Council of Great Britain:


Did the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) really send out an internal memo about 'reducing use of fairy lights and cutting down emissions from Santa's sleigh"?

Were Decc employees really told to use only 'Season's Greetings' and not 'Merry Christmas' and "in the interest of inclusion, avoid images with skin"?

Read  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/merry-christmas-decc-ban-has-whitehall-really-forbidden-use-of-the-word-christmas-in-cards-9933922.html

I can only repeat: a better way of setting people at one another's throats could hardly be imagined.   And at Christmas time of all times!!!

For another account on how to whip up scare stories for Christmas and Christians in Malaysia, this has to wait until this wicked witch can locate her broom.

To repeat the statement from the Muslim Council of Great Britain, "... may these holidays bring joy and happiness to your loved ones".

Monday 22 December 2014

Christmas - Part 1

That time of year is coming upon us again - the season of goodwill and peace to all men (and women, oops!).   It's also the season for  shopping, for putting up ornate lights and decoration in the city centres, for giving and receiving presents, for boozing ( in the West mainly )  and for eating - and I must also add - for over-consumption and over indulgence.

It's similar to any other religious festival (discounting the boozing for Hari Raya of course) and "secular" festivals like Chinese New Year and the Gregorian New Year in most parts of the world.

In Malaysia, of course, all religious festivals are celebrated with gusto and they are all gazetted as public holidays.

But consider this.   In the UK (according to 2011 figures) 4.4 % of the total population are Muslims and the vast majority of these are located in England where they make up just over 5 % of the resident population.  In this primarily Christian country, Muslims do not enjoy a public holiday during  Eid.

In China, which has an estimated 1-5 % Christian population, Christmas Day is not a public holiday.

Christmas Day is a gazetted public holiday in Malaysia - which has a Christian population of 9 %. Yes, Sabah's Christians make up just over 30% of Sabah's population and in Sarawak, 43 % of her population are Christians.   But what of Peninsular Malaysia?

Malaya,  a primarily  Muslim  country, had been invaded and ruled by Christian nations like Portugal, Holland and Britain since the 15th century.  She  became a part of Malaysia in 1963.   Here, Christmas Day was gazetted as a Public Holiday by the colonial authorities long before Merdeka in 1957  -  even though Christians make up just over 3% of the Semenanjung's population (2010 statistics).  I reckon the percentage must have been even lower in pre-1963 and colonial days.    But is this surprising?   Malaya, after all, has been a  part of the Christian British Empire since the late 18th century.

So remember the Muslims in England: 5 %  of the population, and they have no leg to stand on if they want Eid to be declared a public holiday in this "primarily Christian country"!

I recall Allahyarham Usman Awang's poem:

Baiknya hati Melayu itu

tak terbandingkan

Selagi yang ada sanggup diberikan

Sehingga tercipta sebuah kiasan:

"Dagang lalu nasi ditanakkan

Suami pulang lapar tak makan

Kera di hutan disusu-susukan

Anak di pangkuan mati kebuluran"

http://ww1.utusan.com.my/utusan/Rencana/20140409/re_05/ErtiTaatSetiaBaiksungguhlahkerajaanMalaysiaini  - Thank you, Zaini Hassan, for reminding me of Usman Awang's acerbic wit!)

However, the "anak di pangkuan"  mentioned in this poem has mutated into ... fat cats, copycats, cool cats, hep cats, cat's pyjamas (whiskers) - mostly, but not entirely with the aid of the NEP, under the aegis of  the (old) UMNO.   Nearly 60 years after Independence in 1957, the Malays are fighting like cats and dogs.  They have lost the ability to smell the rats.  They have allowed themselves to be manipulated, to be used as cats'  paws - resulting in bitter disputes and in-fighting.

Oh dear, I must stop these references to 'cats'  - they don't deserve to be reflected in the asinine aspects of my bangsa Melayu. 

Sadly the Malays who have been hoisted on the NEP have instead turned into the Other "kera"  -  "seperti kera diberi bunga".  

Even more challenging, the Malays of the 21st century have to re-boot themselves into "Melayu Sederhana" , now that they have been painted into a corner by the uninvited home decorators.  It looks like  si kera  must liberate, liberalise (?) themselves and begin to lay out a carpet of flowers from their little corner right up to the front door -  while all other things remain unequal.

Saturday 13 December 2014

"We tortured some folks." - a folksy admission by President Barack Obama

1.  "The Senate Report on the brutal interrogation methods employed by the CIA after  9/11 not only makes shocking reading: another dark day for an agency, and an ugly stain on the global reputation of the US."     Rupert Cornwell, The Independent 9 December 2014.

Read :http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/cia-torture-report-a-victory-for-moral-outrage-and-a-blow-for-us-democracy-9913740.html

2.   It wasn't that bad, we've been told, over and over again for more than a decade,  "We only water boarded three people".  

The man himself - President Obama - admitted recently, "We tortured some folks."

Read : http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/09/america-torture-cia-report-defenders

3.  American Language for camouflaging torture.

       American Language                                                            Real Language 

       1. waterboarding                                                              simulated drownings

       2.  exploiting individual phobias                                     setting Alsatian dogs to sniff
                                                                                                genitals of suspects.

       3.  adjusting temperature                                                 subjected to sub-zero freezing.

       4.  dietary manipulation and behaviour control               rectal feeding and rectal rehydration

       5.  stress positions                                                            hanging suspect in shackles for 180 hours

       6.  degrading treatment                                                     torture

       7.  enhanced technique                                                     another word for 'torture'

       8.  serious mistakes                                                          there was no torture - just serious
                                                                                                 mistakes BUT countless lives have
                                                                                                 been saved and our Homeland is
                                                                                                 more secure.


4.  Why torture is bad according to many western pundits: it did not produce the crucial intelligence. According to the Report  "none of what the CIA perpetrated actually procured information that stopped any plots against the US or its allies."

Dear,dear, what a shame.  All that torture and it did not stop the "Muslim Terrorists".

There's no moral indignation about the means and methods applied in this War of Terror, only the disgust  that the ends were not achieved.

5.   However, according to Patrick Cockburn :  The CIA's real failure?  It pursued the wrong targets.

          Read:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-cias-real-failure-it-pursued-the-wrong-targets-9913730.html

Cockburn's article makes two points: Firstly, he saw the CIA as an agency fighting the War of Terror and it had failed because it did not prevent  the expansion of ISIS.

Secondly, two countries who were  'complicit' in 9/11 (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) were not
targeted.  Well, if they had been, Saudi Arabia would not be 'complicit' with  Obama today in pushing down the  price of petroleum so as to target Putin (Russia) over the issue of  Ukraine and Iran over its nuclear programme.
As for those blighted  people of Pakistan, didn't their leaders allow the US to walk all over its sovereignty so that American hit-men could assassinate Osama Bin Laden in his bedroom in
in front of his wife?

Furthermore, despite their nation being an ally of the USA, Pakistani civilians were not spared from being murdered by drones.


Hence in Patrick Cockburn's reckoning,  "Guilty the CIA may have been of torturing but this was one episode in a far greater failure. (my underline)  for which it had never been held to account."

6.   Obama oh Obama !!!
I recall that when this heartthrob President visited Malaysia, we were ticked off for failing to apply American-style democracy, values and morality.
Read : http://anaksihamid.blogspot.com/2014/04/pekong-di-dada-dan-kuman-di-seberang.html

But do people remember when, in January 2009, the newly-elected President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo Bay within 12 months?  Do people remember that he reneged on that promise?
In the US inquiry into 9/11, Bush censored 28 pages of the Report which included the role of Saudi Arabia.  Obama promised to allow the pages to be published, but he has never done so.

7.   Those who are enamoured with America and all things American ( and there is no shortage of them here in Malaysia)  will probably extol the fact that the American Government under Obama is willing to reveal all - in this US Senate Intelligence Committee Report.  This, they will say, would never happen in their homeland!!   Well, read on......
The torture of Muslim prisoners and  'terror suspects by the CIA had been well documented by those who have studied the goings-on in American politics and policy.  " Torture and the Violence of Organized Forgetting"  (Henry Giroux's words)  are not an aberration or a new phenomenon in US domestic and foreign policy.

Read :  http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/12/torture-and-the-violence-of-organized-forgetting/

"The maiming and breaking of bodies and the forms of unimaginable pain inflicted by the Bush           administration on so-called 'enemy combatants' was no longer seen in violation of either                       international human rights or a constitutional commitment to democratic ideals."

 " ......... Frank Rich once argued and the Senate Intelligence Report confirms,  ' torture was a pre-meditated policy approved at our government's highest levels ...... psychologists and physicians were enlisted as collaborators in inflicting pain."                

Two psychologists - Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen - who developed the CIA's torture programme formed a company called Mitchell, Jessen and Associates.  They were paid more than USD80 million for their services.

It was reported:  after an X-ray of one prisoner's foot, another doctor 'recommended'  that the prisoner  'could be made to stand for 52 hours'.  As for waterboarding, doctors allowed up to three sessions per day.

     Read ;  http://www.businessinsider.my/doctors-scientists-in-cia-torture-report-2014-12/

CIA suspect Abu Zubaydah (AP)

 Abu Zubaydah, a Pakistani 'terror suspect' was transferred to Thailand and left in isolation for 47 days,  he was "squeezed into tiny boxes for 300 hours and waterboarded no fewer than 80 times ......   The water-boarding left Abu Zubaydah  'completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open full mouth.'  He was left in a state of 'involuntary spasms.' "

Abu Zubaydah was a broken man after his extensive interrogations.  Remember  Pavlov's experiment (by using dogs) on conditioning human behaviour?  Well, it worked on Abu Zubaydah.  "In CIA documents he is described as having become so compliant that  'when the interrogator raised his eyebrows', he would walk to the 'water table' and sit down.  The interrogator only had to snap his fingers twice for Abu Zubaydah to lie down, ready for water-boarding, the report says."                

So what is waterboarding?  An individual is "bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet.  The feet .. are generally elevated.  A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes.  Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner ..... and produces the perception of 'suffocation and incipient panic' "                

Well, for those of us who have abandoned their rose-coloured glasses about the West, they will realise that  Obama's Democrat administration published this Report mainly to expose the Republican administration of George Bush.  CIA's use of torture had been known even before Obama                 came to power.  But it's useful to publicise it now because next month the Senate will be run by the Republicans.

Furthermore, only 500 pages of the 6,000 page Report were published: 5,500 pages remain unpublished - that is, over 90 percent of the report - supposedly  to protect  the allies of US, including the United Kingdom, and to hide the 'black site' prisons where suspects were sent for 'rendition'  that is, to be tortured.

"Global"  At its height, the CIA program included secret prisons in countries including Poland, Afghanistan, Thailand, Romania and Lithuania - locations that are referred to only by color-themed codes in the report"
(from the Daily Mail)

While HRH Prince Charles of the United Kingdom is still wringing his hands and bemoaning the victimisation of Christians in the Middle East by extremist Muslims, we await his verdict on the atrocity committed by his fellow white Christian ally the US on these 'terror suspects.'  I wonder if he could see the connection between what Judaeo-Christian countries inflict on the Middle East and the flight and plight of Middle Eastern Christians.

It is a relief to know that in the case of  the years of torture of Muslims by the CIA,  President Barack Obama has responded by saying (this time it's not 'promising') he "will  continue to make sure we never resort to those methods again" .  After all, the CIA's behaviour  was merely "contrary to our values"!!

The Free World  now depend  on drones to rid the world of the menace of Islamists, terrorists, Jihadists, al-Qaeda, ISIS, Gazans and Palestinians, etc, etc.  In this way, the US and her allies can decimate and maim their enemies without bringing home their boys in body-bags.  Also their hands, unlike Lady Macbeth's, will not carry the stench of foreign blood.

The following cartoon says it all.
" How dare they?!   That's against International Law"


Sunday 7 December 2014

Al Fatihah - Hjh Alimah binti Awang

Early this morning, Macik Alimah, mother of our dear friend Jailani, left those who loved her to meet her Maker.  Jai prayed and watched over her as she faded away peacefully from the darkness of the night into the cool early morning.

A brave and plucky lady, she avoided the usual treatment for the breast cancer because she had seen how it could ravage the remains of her day.  As she said, at her age she left it all in the hands of Allah.  She did receive various types of non-invasive treatments and towards her last few days they topped up her dosage of morphine.  But as we and Jai noticed, up to just a few months ago, she was still mentally alert and active, and she had a good appetite.  She would, each day instruct the helper - that Jai got for her - on what to cook and what to buy at the market.

I have such great respect for this remarkable lady, this lady who came from a line of  the  (unacknowledged)  First People of Singapura.  I have done several postings on Macik ..

Read:  http://anaksihamid.blogspot.com/2012/03/alimah-bt-awang-anak-jati-singapura.html

Just two days ago, we were discussing with Aisha and Man if they could cat-sit and house-sit for us as we wanted to visit Jai and Arwah in Singapore this coming week.  But it was not to be.

But we will never forget her in our doa.  Her indomitable spirit  will always be an inspiration for these two septuagenarians.

The last time we met her in July, I wrote this towards the end of my posting .....


..... 'And when Macik reaches out her hands to hold mine and she says " saya kenal suara Cikgu", then my cup runneth over.'   She has that effect on many of her son's friends, but especially for us.

Good-night sweet lady and may Angels accompany you on your journey.

Friday 5 December 2014

Waiting For - Melayu Budiman

First, a small preamble.....

USA, Great Britain, Singapore and Malaysia all claim to be countries run on the principles of democracy.  To quote that very over-simplistic saying of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is "Government of the people, by the people, for the people".

A democracy is not ruled by a king or queen , a hereditary aristocracy,  a few selected persons, religious elites or any other unelected  power group.

USA is a democracy where the President can only get elected to power when he has powerful financial backers to see him through to the White House.  But he who pays the piper plays the tune.

Great Britain on the other hand is regarded as the Mother of Parliaments - whose system of parliamentary democracy is inherited by all or most members of her previous empire - of which Malaysia and Singapore are just two.  But the ruling class - the politicians and the ministers  - are saturated by privately educated, well-heeled Oxbridge graduates.  Not only that :

From Mail Online 28 August 2014
Democracy does not stop the domination of government, business, policing and the legal system, and education in the hands of a particular elite.

Quite interesting is this, the Labour Party (now in the Opposition) started as a party representing the working class and supported by the Trade Unions.  But ever since Tony Blair took over in 1997 and created New Labour  -  "red" Labour became more and more like  "blue"  Conservative - a party of big business and the wealthy.

And just recently it came to light that Labour, which is haemorrhaging from lack of funds has suffered another financial blow.  Because of Labour's anti-Israel stance over Gaza and Palestine her Jewish supporters and financial donors are leaving in droves. Here's a piper who will be losing his tune-maker.

In the case of Singapore there are all the trappings of a democracy but it's a form of democracy made-in-Singapore-for-Singapore only.  To replace the old guard - the leaders who were at the birth of the Republic of Singapore wef 1963 - Singapore designed a very Singaporean version of  anointing new, younger leaders.  This second echelon leadership was appointed and co-opted  from the elites in the professions, the Civil Service and the business sectors.  They joined the PAP only when they were nominated for a Parliamentary seat.

... Now The Nub of the Matter

All that preamble was for the purpose of  expanding on this article I read in Utusan Malaysia a few days ago.  There was this young man ......

......  Dr Mohammad Nawar Ariffin, an UMNO delegate from Kedah who urged that Umno needs an injection of quality to revitalise the party's status and strength.  These words emanate from the son of unschooled and poor padi farmers - who was given the chance by the government (led by UMNO) to progress from poverty to becoming a paediatrician.  He expressed his gratitude for the endeavours of UMNO to help its poor members (like his parents' family) to better themselves.

It must be nice for the old guard in UMNO to listen to this voice of appreciation.  But they must take more seriously Dr Mohammad Nawar's advice (warning?) that "antara kriteria kualiti yang UMNO perlukan adalah integriti, bekerja dengan teliti, bekerja untuk capai tahap prestasi tinggi, hubungan dua hala antara pemimpin dan ahli serta kerja ikhlas dari hati".

There are three key words, integriti, teliti and ikhlas - very crucial requirements for future UMNO leaders and followers who are truly budiman.

UMNO must listen  to such young voices (and many others like him) and give them space and opportunity to contribute to the well-being of  the nation and the Malays.

UMNO must choose its future leaders from the likes of  Dr Mohammad Nawar Ariffin - young Malays with  dedication and ability - and not merely rely on hereditary appointments  and old-boy UMNO  network.

Read : http://www.utusan.com.my/berita/politik/umno-perlukan-ubat-berkualiti-1.30523


In the past few months, news coming from Malaysia has got me sick up to the eyeballs.  Evangelist Brazilian football,  the pathetic circus over "I Want to Touch a Dog",  and revelations about stains on carpets and of body fluids during the Sodomy Trial are enough to make you weep.   And as for the recent brouhaha over the bangang and the stupid - well, they will always be with the Malays, where ever and who ever they are.

Thank goodness, I have discovered a piece of hopeful news in Dr Mohammad Nawar Ariffin - not simply because he's an UMNO man.  It's because this old lady can see in him a glimmer of my father's 'fire in the belly' when he organised an UMNO meeting in Kampung Abu Kassim in Singapore in 1952

Abah is seated  8th from left.

I hope Dr Mohammad Nawar will carry on the torch of the early founders and leaders of UMNO and that the dinosaurs and fat cats and opportunists and cronies in today's UMNO will realise that the survival of the party and the Malays depends on young blood like the delegate from Kedah.

                                           D' Lloyd - Sa Malam di Malaya