Monday 14 June 2021


 This song "Mengapa" sung by Rien is from the 1957 Indonesian movie "Delapan Pendjuru Angin".  Our whole family went to see the film at Starlight Cinema, Pasir Panjang Road sometime in 1958.  It was a wonderful love story with such beautiful songs that absolutely took over the mind of this 13 year-old budding teenager.  

Years and years later, sometime in the late 1980s, while wandering around Arab Street with the spouse, we discovered this shop selling Indonesian 10 inch long-playing records - for SGD5  each - and we bought the lot. Actually there were ony 3 copies of each album!

It was the late 80s and all I could do was to transfer these songs to a cassette because the vinyls were not in good condition - marked with bubbles, due to age and the heat maybe.

In 2003 or thereabouts, after CDs came on the scene and cassette tapes were getting redundant, I decided to transfer my Indonesian tapes - which were getting a little frayed -  to a video using my little camera - all very unprofessional and lacking in audio perfection.  But it did the trick and I can still sit back and relive those 'romantic' teenage years!

All this hi-tech reproduction was conducted in my study in our house in Leicester.   It was a cold winter's day.    Outside my window, the scene was grey, with people wrapped in overcoats and bent against the wind.   What lovely memories -  to listen to this once again in hot and sunny Kuala Lumpur during a Covid 19 Lockdown!!

With regards to the video above, please note this.

Thank you.


But, in the midst of this nostalgic bliss, reality came a-creeping.

While we were still reeling from the surge of Covid 19 cases in Malaysia , our politicians have also been carrying on with their own personal 'surges' for power.  For the past 2 or 3 days we were once again seeing the spectacle of our great parliamentarians making a bee-line for the Istana.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the prettiest of them all?"

This time, what have we got?   Surprise, surprise.  We have got the same drama kings, the same salesmen and fortune tellers.

You might have noticed I arranged the images of these alpha males, these PM hopefuls (and incumbent PM)), and their movers and shakers in alphabetical order, not according to the size of their clout or their ego. 

What are they offering us - in concrete practical language - the Rakyat,  this time.

Aaaahh, democracy!!!!

However, our Parliament is NOT an "assembly of ONE nation with ONE interest".  It is a web of "different and hostile interests", empowered by a great deal of horse-trading (inside and outside Parliament) to determine the direction and future of the nation.

Just to bring a touch of levity to this fiasco in Malaysia, I shall escape into the lyrics of my romantic  song by Rien to get an insight into what will be in store for us, Covid 19 or no Covid 19!

M.  Habis ni, kita pergi saja dari sini. Kita naik mobil ..........

F.  Kemana?

M. Ke langit! ke bulan! ke bintang!

Aaaah, promises, promises, very like what's coming from our movers and shakers and politicians.

F.  Kau nakal Seth. 

M.  Kenapa?

F.  Kau berbuat aku lemah, seperti hilang tenaga melawan.

Yeeess, yeeesss, yeeess!  All this political jiggery pokery, MCOs, Covid 19, SOPs - we are absolutely at your mercy!!!!

There!  When we get over Covid 19, someone should write a play about Malaysia's political saga during this pandemic and our hero will be Lord Buckethead or Tun/ Tan Sri/Datuk/ Dato Seri  (just insert the right honorific title here) Kepala Baldi.

It will be cheap to produce.  You can stuff any idiot into this outfit.

The future of this nation is like a game of lotto.  You are free to pick a number, any number or numbers.  But the certainty of picking the right one, the winner for Malaysia; is almost zilch at these present times, with this political scenario.

We are used to acronyms like PKP, PPKP, PKR, DAP, UMNO, PAS, EMCO, SOPs and MAGERAN (NOC 2).  

We might as well add SRRS to our list - Shifty Rogues, Rascals and Scalawags. 

So, I am no Optimist. And I have not as yet, gone to the edge to be a Pessimist.

Maybe a Pesseptomist.  Maybe I can still make a journey up to the Sky, the Moon and the Stars!

Maybe I shall just seek comfort in this dream ......

..... and maybe on 29 June, I will be able to go out for my tosay breakfast.

Saturday 12 June 2021

LIGHT of LOCKDOWN - a much-appreciated gift from all our Frontliners and Volunteers.

Thank you Malaysia, from a Malaysian bumiputera (left) and a UK 'bumiputera' (right).

Here's another contribution from my Anglo-Scots spouse. The last time, he expressed his dismay at the blatant ignorance of some expatriate Malaysians about their country's health system:

But this time he's a lot more cheerful!



We had a marvellous experience on Monday 7 June, at the Putera World Trade Centre.     Actually, it was something we'd been expecting for weeks, nervously, fearfully, full of deep, dark forebodings.    I won't say we were both nervous wrecks when we arrived there - but we were pretty close to it.

We had our vaccine appointments, and we weren't looking forward to them: perhaps we'd be turned away because both of us had underlying health issues; perhaps we'd be waiting for hours in the sun; perhaps the organization would be chaotic and we'd be chasing our tails.    Perhaps we'd have terrible after effects.     Perhaps the sky would fall on our heads.

Well, nothing like that happened.      And this is the story.

We arrived early, and the security men at the entrance were paragons of courtesy and helpfulness.   We were directed immediately to the Special Needs section (although we didn't ask to be), and from then on we were guided by ushers, both uniformed and not to the registration desk deep on the ground floor of the building.    These two late-septuagenarians were treated like royalty.     But so too were all the other elderly souls who were arriving for treatment.      For once, it felt good to be old.

We were cleared for vaccination by a volunteer called Puteri.    Puteri is a Pisces lass completing a Masters course in Computer Engineering at UITM.    She had been working at that desk for almost a month, from 8 o'clock in the morning to 10 o'clock at night, and she was still as fresh and cheerful as a daisy.    She talked us through our consent forms, and filled two of them in for us because we'd completed them wrongly.   She checked Maznoor's particular drug allergies with a medical colleague, and told us she'd be held back at the end for a longer observation.    Just in case.    She was a model of cheerful concern.

Then we were guided to Dr Zafirah.    Dr Zafirah is a doctor at KLIA international airport.   She too had been working at her PWTC desk for almost a month.     She too was lively, attentive, and enormously helpful.    She reassured Maznoor about her allergies and her medication, and the look of relief on Maznoor's face was a joy to behold.    Then she went through my various problems: she reassured me about the danger of bloot clots, with some well-chosen medical facts and figures; and she clearly knew plenty about one of the rarer blood disorders - haemachromatosis - which I happened to suffer from.   Dr Zafirah, too, was a model of cheerful concern: she was clearly a lady of sound medical training, deeply and widely informed, with an excellent bedside manner and a wonderful sense of humour as well.     She, just like Puteri, was a pleasure to meet.

From Dr Zafirah we went straight to the desk in front for our vaccination.    It was quick, straightforward, and painless - and the lady who did it held up the syringe so we could measure its contents, just as she'd done 200-300 times every day.   She was sweet and efficient and said little - and I shall always regret that I don't have her name.    After all, without the people who put in the needles, the entire programme would fail.    Please, dear lady, accept my apologies.     You did an important job to perfection.

Finally, for our clearance papers, we went to see Pirin.   Pirin had just finished at Medical School in Kedah and was waiting for a hospital placement.    Like all the others, Pirin was attentive and solicitous.   She checked us out just as lunchtime arrived, and when we were finished she personally led us to the exit and helped us take our souvenir photo.

The entire process, from start to finish - and including half an hour's monitoring at the end - took just over one hour.    Every worker we met was a gem.    From the security men to the ushers to the people at the desks - there was not a single unhelpful person.     And not the briefest delay.

There's a moral in this story.     Here was a major logistical operation, to address a critical situation in the health of the country - and it went off without a hitch.     Yes,of course, as elderly people we were favoured, and younger people might have to wait a bit longer.     But surely one measure of a good society is how the elderly are treated.   There are other measures: for example, how all the components of government and "civil society" come together in a crisis; how "front-liners" acquire and apply their skills; and how courtesy is made part of the job.

In all these respects, and judging by what happened to Maznoor and I, Malaysia has a lot to be proud of.   And so do all those "front-liners" and volunteers we met on Monday at the Putera World Trade Centre.   A very necessary job, and a job excellently done.

Congratulations and thank you from two elderly admirers.


It only goes to show, doesn't it, that Penang and Singapore aren't the only places where things are done properly!

Friday 4 June 2021


 This morning, the spouse read my posting and he said, "You know, I have a translation of Hikayat Abdullah in JMBRAS somewhere upstairs.  Would you like to have a look at it?"  My eyes lit up; which meant, "Yes, please!!"

Of course, the said book would be tucked away somewhere within his jungle of books and it was not until after lunch-time that he managed to locate it. Bless his cotton socks!

The Book

The Contents Page

THE TRANSLATION BY A. H.  HILL,   M.A., B. Sc.    (Pages 161 - 163)

Page 161

Page 162a

Page 162 b

Page 162c

Page 163

For our readers who are bilingual,  you will find the translation does not quite fit Abdullah's original text.  The difference is not in the general gist but in the inclusion of bits of details.


Allahu A'alam     (Allah Knows Best)

Wednesday 2 June 2021


 Thanks to our Ramadan and  Hari Raya revellers, our happy shoppers and diners, and our "patriotic" factory and business owners, a total lockdown is upon us again.  In the streets around our house, a so-called "elite area" as claimed by our well-heeled middle class neighbours, every night for almost the whole month of Syawal, there were crackers and loud fireworks  galore .  Most of the time, out of respect for prayer times (bless them), the show did not begin until after Isyak, from 9.30 pm to 11 pm!!  Good night, sleep tight, Setiawangsa!

I am in awe at the guts of these Malays.  They scrambled over highways and ratways to "balik kampung". The ones remaining still had money to burn for crackers and fireworks.    And I thought this country had to tighten its collective belts to see it through this Covid-19 struggle over life and livelihood.  

Of course, because of our seasonal happy abandon, our medical facilities and frontliners are at breaking point.   But never mind, for most Malaysians it's business as usual.

Our Immigration appointment for this Friday was "rescheduled" to heaven-knows-when because of the lockdown.  But we count our blessings.  The stallholders on the streets around us have, once again, lost  their means of livelihood.  There are many, many other distressing stories - but who wants to know? 

STOP IT ASH  - you are beginning to foam at the mouth.  So let me take a much-needed break.    I usually find this video very therapeutic when I'm angry......

[Kev and Perry are two typical badly - behaving teenagers.  This video was during the era when Oasis from Manchester was the rage.  By the way, Perry is played by Kathy Burke, one of my top favourite comedians from the '90s ]


So now on to the point that I really wanted to make:

In anticipation of the start of the lockdown, I decided to fiddle around and about my room, to find ways to keep me sane.  I was not disappointed.  I have enough junk here to keep me occupied.  In one corner .....

A Cosy Corner

.......  I came upon this book.

An Anthology of Malay History

The Chapters

When I was 7 or 8 years old, while playing or resting in the afternoons at our kampung house at Lorong Abu Kassim in Pasir Panjang, my mother would often tease me;  "Kau bukan anak Mak. Mak pungut kau di tong sampah,"  (You are not my child. I picked you up from a dustbin ).  I did not know how to feel or to respond.  

I half-believed it, because our relatives and friends, and even my teachers and colleagues, would look  at me and say, "Kau ni muka Cina?"  (You look like a Chinese?)  People still say it today.  In Aeon supermarket, not long ago, a Chinese lady said to me in English, "You sure you not adopted ah?"   So I thought I'll jolt her a little and replied, "Wa bue hiao, lah" in Hokkien, which means "I don't know lah."  She looked so flabbergasted and I smiled and said,  "Sudah makan banyak blacan, mesti sudah jadi orang Melayu!".

Sometimes I get annoyed at these rude busybodies, but most of the time I just have to laugh.

How did I deal with my Mak's teasing?  One day, I had a little tiff with her and I retorted, "Ya lah. Nor tahu Nor bukan anak Mak dan Abah. Nor dipungut di tong sampah."  ( I know why. I am not your or  abah's daughter. You picked me up from a dustbin.)  My Abah overheard.  He looked shocked.  He went to my mother and they both left the room.  I never knew what happened.  But my mother's teasing stopped altogether from that day on!!!

During my mid-teens, Mak revealed that her mother was an adopted Chinese girl from the island of Bawean.  I later read that at the turn of the 20th century, the Chinese who came to settle in Bawean and the local Boyanese too found that eking a living in Bawean was hard.  That was why many of the latter moved to Singapore to find themselves a living (after all, moving around was a way of life in the Malay Archipelago).  My maternal grandfather was one of them.  As for the Chinese, what they tended to do was to give away their daughters because daughters were not as useful as their sons.  My grandmother was one of those daughters - and I'm guessing my Mak must have had a bit of teasing in her growing up years in Singapore about her non-Bawean mother.  Her teasing of me was probably what she had to go through as a child.  She certainly had no happy memories of her own mother who left  Mak with her ex-husband and took with her the two elder daughters and her son.  Mak was brought up by her stepmother who she loved immensely.   Every Ramadan, towards the end of that holy month,  while we were helping her to stir the dodol or halwa maskat, I could see a smile on her face as she said, "Aaah, your Nenek is here."  They were that close!

Nenek  & Tok Malik

And why am I remembering all this?    Because of this page on "Hamba Hamba di-jual di SIngapura" in the above book "Tawarikh Melayu".

The First Part

The Second Part

In blue are the victims, the slaves.  In red are the purchasers.  The Bugis were the slave traders.  And the venue is Singapura the great entrepot hub created by Raffles and today one of the richest countries in the world.

Singapore Today

When I read this page, just like Abdullah, "Maka aku pun meleleh ayer mata-ku sebab terkenangkan hal anak-bini siapa-kah ini?"

Many questions came into my mind.

Do these tormented slave-women look like this?

How the West caricatured Malay women in this 1931 postcard "Malay Natives. Penang"

 I can picture the torment of these slave-women.    If they were lucky they might have ended up as wives and concubines of those purchasers of many colours.   Many would have been maltreated and raped and their children would have been lucky to end up as family members of their owners.  Although more likely they'd end up as work horses for their masters - the same fate as the black slaves in USA.

I can understand why Mak vexed me about my origin as she must have had the same dose of mockings about her own mother who did not originate from her culture.   But this did not stop me from having difficult (to put it mildly) bouts of figuring out just who and what I was!  

I can imagine what the children of these slave women must have gone through in trying to understand why they didn't have the same physical configurations of either of their parents, where their mother came from, and the whole sorry predicament they found themselves in.  Surely, whether they "made it" in life or didn't, some of those women would have talked to their children about where they came from and how they were taken away from their homes and villages - what would the children have felt?     Would those women and their children and grandchildren wish to affirm such a heritage?     Or would it be put in the back of the mind - as a shameful episode to be blotted out?

History poses some troublesome dilemmas.

As an afterthought:  for such heinous crimes like Corruption and Slavery, we always condemn the one who takes the bribe and the trader who sells the slaves.  However, I think justice is better served  if the corruptor, the one who gives the bribe, and the purchaser who creates the market for slaves do not go unpunished.

And all I wanted was a little escapade into my books to see me through the lockdown!!