Thursday 23 July 2015

"Pendekar Melayu Lapok" (with apologies to the brilliant Allahyarham P. Ramlee)

England's greatest bard is William Shakespeare.  He is often quoted to illustrate political shenanigans, hypocrisies and  'over-riding ambition'  that persist in our civilized world.  My favourite quote is Caliban's retort to Miranda in the Tempest.

This is the voice of the colonized against the coloniser - using their language to turn the tables on them!  It has always been my desire as an English language teacher that the language my students learn will not only help them to succeed in  their career but to arm them against doublespeak and double standards.

Secondly, in the realm of politics we can always depend on Antony's speech at Julius Caesar's funeral in Act 3 Scene 2 of  'Julius Caesar' .  It is a most exquisite speech in putting down a political foe ; Brutus.


Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.


In the end Antony succeeded in riling up the crowd leaving Brutus to cling on to the hope that they will listen to reason.

But we do have our own Bard, a playwright and dramatist like William Shakespeare.
P. Ramlee was also a songwriter, an actor, a singer, a director and his perceptions and observations of human nature in our part of the world are second to none - he surpasses, in my opinion - many academic dissertations and pontifications about our society of yesterday, today and tomorrow!

Here is my perception of  Sandiwara Satu Malaysia with the help of P.Ramlee's genius.

Fifty-eight years after  Merdeka, this country can be likened to basikal cabuk tak pernah gosok, tayer kempis, roda bengkok ....

Hai Melayu ooops! bujang lapok tak boleh harap,
Basikal (Negara) cabuk dah naik kurap.
Baru putus hai urat sarap (Rakyat)
Masuk angin (duit) keluar asap (hutang)

Bujang lapuk (Malaysians per se) loyar buruk (the cerdikpandai and leaders)
Sana sini hai bikin sibuk.
Naik basikal semacam berok (Seperti beruk diberi bunga).
Takda kerja (loads of investments) tolak abok ( chiak boh liau - eat until cannot finish).

It takes quite a strong man to pedal a bicycle with two passengers :one in front and another in the rear.  It's quite similar to  trying to manage this multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-conniving, multi-greedy nation !

If we go back to P.Ramlee's archive it's easy to note how naively innocent  our rakyat-forefathers were.  They were schooled mainly in Arabic and Malay.

But P. Ramlee's words carry a sting in the tail - "Jin dengan mambang tak jauh!"

It's hard to tell the difference between the crooks and the financial wizards, between the promises of UMNO, PKR, PAS and DAP!  They're just a load of  mambang tanah, jin mata buta and jin pakai toncet.  As for the sneering and self-righteous Pak Abu - we have them in abundance in the religious and educational institutions, in the NGOs and the social media.

We are now proud to claim that the rakyat of Malaysia are no more buta kayu, buta huruf, but sad to say we are still plagued with buta akal.

For the Malay elites and the Malays who migrated to the urban areas, they had the benefit of an English language education.  This is P. Ramlee looking at the Melayu celup which later evolved into  Mayonnaise Malays.

"Iblis Tonic, mana ada Tuan?  said the brow-beaten Malay-speaking waiter.

  Along came Merdeka in 1957 and Malaysia in 1963 - P. Ramlee contributed a patriotic song  Keroncong Kuala Lumpur.

He sang the right words but you can't pull the wool over his eyes.....

Call it democracy or dictatorship - power and wealth will always be concentrated in the few.  For Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), "Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people."

However, some of the "people" in Malaysia  have a propensity for never getting enough - sikit kasi banyak minta  .........

.........  "If you're a bird on the wing, I'll get you with my arrow: if you're a fish, I'll lure you into my net: and if you're a hoity-toity princess, I'll impress you with my flying horse."

Arrows, fishing nets, flying horses, dividends, shares, property, titles, financial fiefdoms and fat foreign accounts - these are the rewards awaiting for those who 'kasi' and 'minta'.

Sometimes this  can take take the shape of bona fide  professional financial arrangements : persuasions for setting up joint companies and mergers and various globalized forms of  perks and handouts.

I dearly wish we could have more of such experiences as seen in P. Ramlee's Ali Baba Bujang Lapok - to hear an outcry like this ...

Celaka punya penyamun.
Bikin rusak-lah ana punya program.

AL FATIHA for Allahyarham P. Ramlee.  You were the brightest star in our sky - you went too soon but you left behind a great legacy - to smite the greed,  hypocrisy,  vanity, arrogance and ignorance of your bangsa with a deft touch of wit and good humour.

I'll conclude with  P. Ramlee's song of despair and faithlessness - a fitting comparison with the plight of  Bangsa Melayu in the 21st century.

Ku sangka kapal di tengah laut.  Semerah lah padi.
Rupa nya karam ranjau yang ganas. Semerah lah padi.

Sunday 19 July 2015

Another Hari Raya

On 1 Syawal  as we celebrate Hari Raya it is worthwhile to re-connect with what Ramadan was all about.  To quote Shaykh Sadullah Khan ( 30.6.2015) :  As we undertake the physical and spiritual responsibility of fasting in the blessed month of Ramadan, we reflect on the words of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who said :  "Your practice of faith will not be correct unless your actions are correct, and your actions will not be considered correct unless your heart is correct."

A "correct heart" I think will find room to ponder on matters that rise above and beyond our personal needs and wants for salvation and success in this world and the hereafter.

Firstly, where are our hearts in recalling the 2014 (July to late August) attack on Gaza by the Israelis?

Israeli army reservist officer in a Jerusalem cafe wearing a T-shirt referring to the Israeli forces' operations in Gaza. From Mail Online 13 Aug 2014 

Aftermath of an Israeli Armed Forces "Operation" in Gaza last year.

"Home sweet home" in Gaza after the Israeli forces left.

Compassion fatigue??

That should not be part of the Muslim's vocabulary.  Especially during Ramadan when we are supposed to  feel empathy with the poor and hungry of the world, where is our belas kasihan  
and Sedekah  for this forsaken land and people?

Please, please do not repeat this rejoinder from worshippers at a surau in Johor during the attacks on Bosnian Muslims by Christian Serbs (1992-1994): "This is God's punishment on them because they are not good Muslims!"

Here's a little snippet on how Gazans prepare for Ramadan.  It bears comparison to the forgotten flood victims in Kelantan.

Secondly, closer to home.    Malaysia is a rich nation, compared to many Third World countries. Bangla Deshis, Indonesians, Cambodians, Nepalis, Vietnamese, Sri Lankans, Myanmarese, and Indians flock to Malaysia for employment and sometimes settlement (legal or illegal).

Why then - seven months after the devastation of the east coast by the floods of December 2014 - are these victims still homeless, still living like the flotsam and jetsam after the floods?

No, this is not a Poster for "Visit Malaysia Year"  - it's a family, victims of last year's floods,  berbuka puasa in their tent.

As for the 80,000 who attended the PM's Open House,  the 30,000 guests of the DPM and the 20,000 at the Johor ruler's palace, how do you fancy a visit to this family to wish them Selamat Hari Raya?

This neglect is CRIMINAL!    Shame on you Malaysia!

I wonder, if this catastrophe had occurred in the plush and wealthy parts of Kuala Lumpur or Georgetown or Johor Baru, would the picture, seven months later. be the same??

How many committee meetings and ceramahs would it take to bring an end to this ignominy?

On this 2015 Hari Raya, nothing rhymes.