Sunday, 30 December 2007
No one and I think, including this uncle of mine knew how he became known as "Uncle Tang". Born almost 80 years ago as Lee Kheng Cheang, I have always known him as "Uncle Tang" or "Ah Tang" to his comtemporaries. He was a couple of years older than my father and they were great buddies; it was not surprising that Uncle Tang featured very much in my younger life. He would have known me since I was born.
I do not know why he gave up a planter's life and went into pig farming but I remember him doing very well in the business initially. I do remember once when we were living in Parit Buntar (1966 to 1968) there was a big commotion at our house when Uncle Tang had a big quarrel with his business partner. They were obviously drinking quite a bit and that was the first time I had seen with my own eyes grown men fighting; I was about 7.
Unfortunately for Uncle Tang, a swine fever epidemic wiped out his business almost overnight. I remember hearing from my father that his pigs were dying at such a rate, he could not bury them fast enough. I believe he would have been financially wiped out too.
During that period, my father who was headmaster of a lower secondary school in Parit Buntar, was posted to Kroh for a year before ending up in Pengkalan Baru (Dindings District, Perak) near Pantai Remis in 1969, where he ultimately served for about a decade. The family moved back to Taiping in 1969 since Pengkalan Baru was only about 45 minutes drive away and my father commuted. It was there that he got to know Raj who was the manager of Huntly Estate. Raj was the son of the well known Kalyana Sundram who had struck it rich during the estates fragmentation era. Raj and my father remained great friends till my father 's death in 1985.
The Gula Perak sugar factory was also in the vicinity and heating must be an important aspect of the whole process of sugar manufacturing. That gave rise to the requirement of lots of fire wood. It appeared that the "stars were aligned", what with Uncle Tang looking for opportunities and having the requisite domain expertise, Raj in the process of re-planting and my father, the brains. The two brothers-in-law got into the business of supplying rubber wood to feed the hungry furnaces of Gula Perak. That was also how Uncle Tang ended up staying with us for the next couple of years. I remember they started with one, then two Ford 5000 tractors. It was also the first time I learnt that the only thing straight about a chinaman is his hair! One ton could become two because the weigh-bridge operator had personal problems that he needed help with. Well, that's one perspective anyway!
Later, when the firewood business tapered off, Uncle Tang came up with the idea of tapioca chips for animal feed or something. That was when they leased a piece of land in Air Kuning, planted acres of tapioca and constructed a tarmac for drying the chips. That somehow turned out to be a hare-brained scheme possibly because Taiping is the wettest region in the country. Uncle Tang moved to Bidor after that to manage a rubber estate; a full circle.
The time when Uncle Tang stayed with us in Taiping coincided with my pre-teen years, from Standard 5 to about Form 1. Those carefree days when school work was a cinch and one was just discovering one's environment.
He made an important impression on my life as he was the one who taught us many boyish outdoor activities. Though my father grew up in the rural surroundings of Selama, at that time he was busy running the school and outdoor physical activity was just not on. Uncle Tang taught us to catch fighting fish in water puddles in the outskirts of town, ikan haruan fishing using bamboo poles and line at mining lakes and bottom fishing using hook, line and sinker, off the coast of Pangkor and Penang. He even took me wild boar hunting and to shoot flying foxes, snipes and wild pigeons. I was no stranger to using a shotgun even at that age. Uncle Tang also had an air-rifle that fired pellets and I look back with amazement how he trusted us with it. The pellets could not kill humans but certainly they could maim (eg. cause blindness) since we used it for target practice and to kill birds and small animals. My schoolmates who definitely had the same exposure at that age were Paul and Meng Hock.
When I met Uncle Tang today I found that he is now almost totally deaf but otherwise very much the same jovial and carefree person who seems to have endless patience. Being still spritely and mentally alert, he was in the midst of cutting bamboo to make a bubu (fish trap) for Cheng who lives with her 3 boys in her hacienda style home on 16 acres of agricultural land with fish ponds. He says this is the first time he is making the fish trap after 65 years! That must have been when he was about the same age as me back in Taiping those days! Even for me that was more than 35 years ago! Time.
Friday, 28 December 2007
The Dejobbing of En. HM
The photos below say it all. My good friend and business partner, HM is the personification of a dejobbed individual. The perfect example of not needing a job when all one needs is work.
He began his career in the brick and mortar world of the last century; rising to the pinnacle of the local insurance industry. In this century, HM is still one of the most recognisable faces in the industry yet he does not represent any insurance company exclusively. His versatility enables him to work on projects in a variety of areas other than insurance and with various teams.
This business man, employer, employee, risk manager, author, lecturer, leader, follower, is equally comfortable with a pen or a keyboard and in a boardroom or a Mamak stall; a T-shirt or a full suit; meeting a Minister or a peon; discussing insurance treaties at Lloyds or books delivery logistics at Port Klang; taking instructions on the most minor or making decisions on the most major.
Being a man a with an inherent multi-tasking mindset helps HM to thrive in a world where time is what you make of it and self-actualization depends on YOU.....even when you sometimes need to work from the boot of your car! The photos show HM in the car park about to attend a meeting and coordinating two other projects with his Nokia Communicator.
Tuesday, 25 December 2007
It's Christmas Day and Number 27 Came Up Again
Most of our close friends know the significance of number 27 to us. Browsing through the Net this morning, I discovered that to Raja Petra Kamarudin of Malaysia Today fame, 27 also holds great significance. I have heard of people differentiating their lives into change-stages of say, 5 year, 10 year periods etc. but never 27 years!
It appears RPK is only just about to embark on a journey similar to that which I am on, but the difference is mine started about 27 years ago. May he find peace along the way; even if he does not live to 81!
To RPK, this is what 27 means:
Fruit from a poisonous tree will be poisonous
They say only Islam is good, all other religions are bad. And those with no religion whatsoever or atheists are even worse. But these people from the good religion want the government to do bad things. That is what troubles me to no end. How can a good religion make people want to be bad?
Malaysia can pride itself in knowing that regardless of what religious celebration it may be, its ethnic groups will come together as one to honour the event, the mainstream newspapers reported Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as saying. Abdullah said religious festivals celebrated in Malaysia serve to bridge gaps and foster better ties among the multi-religious and multi-racial makeup of the country.
Malaysia, he said, was blessed, as the people not only had great respect for each other's religion, but also for the religious occasions that the different segments of society celebrated. Abdullah also said Malaysians never failed to display respect towards each other and it was customary for most to offer help and lend a hand during religious festivities, even to those outside their own race.
“A religious occasion, including Hari Raya, is a day when we seize the opportunity to visit our friends and strengthen our ties as true Malaysians. In our everyday lives, we prioritise aspects of goodwill and understanding towards each other, including on religious matters, which are deemed sensitive,” Abdullah said.
Have you noticed how politicians and religious people -- especially if they are politicians masquerading as religious people -- always say one thing to the non-Muslims and another to the Muslims? When the Indians and Chinese start showing signs of restlessness, they will talk about multi-racial, multi-cultural tolerance and all such crap. But to an all-Malay or all-Muslim audience, when they think that the non-Malays or non-Muslims are not within earshot, they will talk about the ‘enemies’ of the Malays and warn us that the kafir can’t be trusted and can’t be taken as our friend because they are the millennium-old enemies of Islam.
These public displays of keris-waving are small potatoes. The non-Malays were meant to see that. They knew the TV cameras were on and that what they said and did was being beamed live, straight into the living rooms of Malaysians. But what they talk behind closed doors would make even our First Prime Minister and Bapa Merdeka, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who in his days was accused of being a Chinese running dog who sold out the Malays, turn in his grave. Yes, the Tunku was ousted because he ‘gave in’ too much to the Chinese. But it was in the Tunku’s days that Malaysia was most peaceful, until someone came out with the ‘bright’ idea of how to unite the Malays under a common cause.
Can I be so bold as to say that in the Tunku’s days, the Malays were less religious? Not a single Malay senior government officer’s home did not have a bar, well-stocked with beer, brandy, whisky and wine that would make any pub turn green with envy. That was during the Merdeka era when you could admire the lovely legs of Malay women and when bare-back knee-length skirts were the ‘in’ thing. Miss Malaysia would be a sweet, young, Malay, lass in a bikini who would give the Chinese and Indian girls a run for their money -- until Pan-Asian girls appeared on the scene of course. Then we mixed-breed Eurasians beat the panties off the thoroughbreds. Hidup Pan-Asian!
Fifty years on and we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary of Merdeka. By now the Malays have become more religious. No longer will you find any bar in Malay homes. The army no longer toasts with wine but with syrup. And even then toasting, a western custom, is frowned upon. No longer can you get drunk with NAFI beer at fifty cents a can. You have to pay RM15 a glass at a pub and a crate of two dozen cans would be unaffordable for most Malaysians today.
But that is good. Malays have discarded their jahiliyah days or era of ignorance. Malays are now more Islamic. And Malays are told that we must not celebrate Christmas or wish the Chinese or Indians Kong Hee Fatt Choy or Happy Deepavali as this goes against Islamic teachings. Why, therefore, is Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi saying what he said, as reported by the mainstream media? Does he not know what he is saying goes against what Islam stands for, at least according to what the religious people tell us? Or is this a case of saying one thing to the non-Muslims and another to the Muslims? I suppose this is what politics is all about. You have to tailor your statements to suit the audience. And what Abdullah said was meant for the non-Malay ears, not for the Malays.
They say everyone goes through various stages of changes in their life and I suppose I am no exception. If I was asked to sum up my different stages of change, I would probably divide my life into three parts. The first part, the first 27 years of my life, would be what Malays (and Muslims as well) would call the jahil (ignorant) stage. That was when I did not pray, never for one minute stopped to think about God, drank beer, played Gin Rummy, and indulged in all form and manner of ‘sin’ that you can think of. Somehow, the consumption of pork was never one of those ‘sins’ though, for whatever reason I still can’t figure out until today.
When I touched 27 or 28, I suddenly ‘saw the light’ and became a ‘born-again’ Muslim. I used to jokingly tell my friends I was never born a Muslim but masuk Islam (converted to Islam) at the age of 27. From then on, I ‘fast-forward’ to catch up on all that I had missed the first 27 years of my life. I went to Mekah ten times or so, twice for the Haj and the rest for my Umrah (small Haj). I sat down and started reading the Quran and within a few weeks was able to rattle away like one who had learnt to read the Quran at the age of five. Even my Tok Guru was surprised. He said it normally take months or maybe even years for ‘old’ people whose brain had already beku (frozen) to read the Quran. I was able to do it in a matter of weeks. I bought the entire nine volumes of Hamka’s Quran translation and nine volumes of Hadith Bukhari plus Imam Ghazali’s kitab which I read over and over again until I was able to quote from memory.
That was all just before the Iranian Islamic Revolution and I was smitten. During my first trip to Mekah to perform the Haj, I joined an Iranian anti-Saudi demonstration and proudly carried a giant poster of Imam Khomeni high above my head. I wanted the Saudi government to be toppled and the two Holy cities of Mekah and Medina to be governed by an international Islamic coalition a la the Vatican City. I was slightly over 30 then and an Islamic revolutionary to the core.
I became the Chairman of our local mosque and set about ‘freeing’ all the mosques from government control. I helped raise funds to develop as many independent mosques as possible so that we could keep the Religious Department out of these mosques. Some of you probably remember the dua imam (two imams) episodes rampant in the State of Terengganu in those days. Datuk Yusof, the Terengganu head of the Special Branch (KCK), picked me up and brought me to meet the Terengganu Menteri Besar so that they could ‘rehabilitate’ me. They actually wanted to detain me under the Internal Security Act but there was this small complication concerning my father’s cousin (Emak Sepupu) who was the then Tengku Ampuan Terengganu. The Tengku Ampuan Terengganu was sister to the late Agong, the Sultan of Selangor, so they had to handle me with kid gloves.
Yes, I was a problem for Umno Terengganu and they would have liked to lock me away but my palace ‘immunity’ made this impossible. Anyway, eventually I left Terengganu and that sort of solved the whole thing. Five years later, Terengganu fell to the PAS-led opposition, so it really did not matter anymore, anyway.
That, in a nutshell, would be how I would describe the second 27 years of my life, phase two, and now I am in phase three, the third 27 years of my life. Of course, I really do not think I will live another 27 years or else I will live to a ripe old age of 81. No doubt Tun Dr Mahathir is still very much alive and kicking way past 81. But then Tun does not smoke, does not sleep at 3.00am, does not survive with a mere five hours sleep every night, is very careful with his diet, and much more. In short, I do everything opposite of what Tun does, so I do not hold the fallacy that I can live as long as he has thus far.
But that is not the issue. Whether phase three will be another 27 years like phases one and two is not what I want to talk about. What I do want to discuss is what I am going through in this phase three.
As I said, my first 27 years of phase one was the jahil period, and the second 27 years of what I call phase two, the Iranian Islamic Revolution period, my ‘enlightenment’ period. Phase three, however, appears to be my questioning and doubting period, which is giving rise to my disillusionment period.
I accept that I was like one of those lost sheep during phase one. Then I thought I had discovered the truth and saw the light in phase two. But now, in phase three, I am beginning to question this co-called truth. I am beginning to doubt that this was really the truth as I originally thought it was. I am beginning to become disillusioned with what I originally perceived as the truth.
Religion is supposed to be good, not only Islam, but any religion for that matter. And that is what I went through during phase two, discovering religion. But if religion is good, then why are religious people bad? Why is it when I meet unreligious people or atheists, I see good people? And why when I meet orthodox religious people, I see bad people? Yes, that is what has been nagging me in this phase three of my life. If religion is good, then religious people should be good and unreligious people or atheists should be bad. But why is it the other way around? And this does not apply to only Muslims.
I gave a talk to a group of pro-Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Umno people a few weeks ago. In that crowd was one whom I would classify as an ultra-religious person. When I pointed out that corruption is bad and that we must oppose it, he replied that corruption is okay. I then argued that Islam says that corruption is Riba’ (usury) and that there are 80 levels of Riba’ and that the sin for the lowest level is equivalent to the sin of sexual intercourse with one’s own parent. He agreed and said that this is actually one of the sayings (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad.
I was flabbergasted. There I had before me a religious man. He was preaching to me and saying that the present secular system of government has to be rejected in favour of an Islamic system. He blames the ills facing this nation on the fact that we have turned our backs on Islam and chose instead a western secular system over the Islamic system as prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad. But corruption is okay, he argued.
If even just one Muslim were to leave Islam and become a Hindu, Christian or Buddhist, then it is the duty of all Muslims to violently oppose this. Apostasy is forbidden and the prescribed punishment is death. And Muslims must run riot on the streets and burn buildings and kill people if anyone tries to leave Islam. No Muslim worth his salt will disagree with this. This is not violence, this is not extremism, this is not a threat to national security; this is defending the dignity of Islam. But if you march peacefully to the Agong’s palace or to Parliament to hand over a Memorandum, this is not allowed. The police must arrest you, beat you up, and the leaders or organisers must be detained without trial under the Internal Security Act. This is what Islam asks us to do and is mandatory.
Ask any Malay-Muslim leader. Ask any imam in the mosque. Ask any Mufti. Ask any Religious Department official. Ask anyone from Pusat Islam. None will disagree that the peaceful marchers need to be dealt with harshly and detained without trial under the Internal Security Act. And none of these same people will disagree that apostates need to be dealt with harshly and rioting, and burning buildings, and killing people are necessary in defending the dignity of Islam.
Most of the police are Muslims, but they act violently towards peaceful marchers. Most of the government leaders are Muslims, but they act harshly towards peaceful marchers. And they say that they do this to preserve the peace, which is required by Islam. But if you ‘insult’ Islam or try to become an apostate, then you must accept the violent punishment. And this is not violence or harsh or a threat to national security. This is defending the dignity of Islam. And corruption is okay. Cheating in the elections is okay. Abuse of power and authority is okay. Wastage of public funds is okay. Denying you your fundamental rights is okay. Using the mainstream media to lie is okay. Threatening the non-Malays is okay. Persecution is okay. Detention without trial is okay. Assaulting detainees under police custody is okay. Just do not insult Islam or try to leave Islam. That is not okay and the use of violence to oppose this is also okay.
I see religious people and I see bad people. I see unreligious people and atheists and I see good people. How can religion be good if religious people are bad? How can religion be from God if the product of religion is bad people? Yes, that is what troubles me this third phase of the 27 years of my life.
The more people pray, the worse they become. People who never pray are wonderful people. How can this be? Police officers pray. Government leaders pray. But they are terrible people. There must be something terribly wrong with praying. Is religion merely a scam? How can religion be right when those who profess religion are so wrong?
Sure, I have heard the old argument time and time again. There is nothing wrong with religion. It is the people who are wrong for not following what the religion really teaches us. But why? That still does not explain it. Why is it people who are religious become so bad? Is religion not supposed to guide us to become good? If religion has failed to turn us into good people then surely religion and not people is what is wrong. There is another old saying: there is no such thing as bad students, only bad teachers. If students turn out bad then the teacher has to be blamed. In that case, would not this same argument apply? If religion has failed to educate us then the teacher and not the student has to be blamed.
Sigh….the third phase of my life, the third 27 years, is going to be very traumatic indeed. The first 27 years were easy. I just enjoyed my life. I lived for today and to hell with tomorrow. The second 27 years were also very satisfying. I lived for my religion. Everything I did I did for Islam. But this third 27 years is going to be an endless journey for me. And I may never reach my destination because I am not confident I will live another 27 years. I need to find out whether religions really exist or whether they are mere human inventions and old wives tales. Fruit from a poisonous tree will always be poisonous. It can never be any other way. And the fruit from a good religion must certainly be goodness. It can never be any other way. But that does not seem to be what is happening here.
Today, we are told that Muslims support detention without trial. Today, we are told that 1.5 million Malays from 395 Malay NGOs support the government in its use of the Internal Security Act against peaceful marchers. Many are angry that those 31 from HINDRAF are not going to be tried for attempted murder after all. They want blood. They want the blood of the BERSIH and HINDRAF marchers. They want the blood of those who merely exercised their God-given right of free expression. These 1.5 million Malays are followers of a good religion. They say only Islam is good, all other religions are bad. And those with no religion whatsoever or atheists are even worse. But these people from the good religion want the government to do bad things. That is what troubles me to no end. How can a good religion make people want to be bad?
Saturday, 22 December 2007
Pre-Christmas Tiger Gathering At Sid's Pub, Taman Tun Dr Ismail
“Pre Xmas drinks this Friday at pub of ur choice? Get e gang together”
It may appear like an ordinary message to most but to me, it meant the world....the world of the Taiping Tigers! Here was a Tiger, halfway around the globe sending a message to a fellow Tiger (who is not a Christian), suggesting the latter organize a pre-Christmas session at a pub. What also makes this remarkable is that CA was back in town by the 20th and he celebrated Hari Raya Haji with his god and family in full tradition of the occasion.
Tiger KC Heah suggested Sid's Pub in TTDI and since I knew those most likely to attend are PJwallahs, I confirmed the venue and time.
Sid's Pub turned out to be an excellent choice. Set up as a traditional English pub with the Tudor interior, the chalk board displays, and pub fare, it was replete with a Henry the VIII caricature logo. The place also had Guinness on tap but most delectable of all, it served sausages from Jarrod & Rawlins! Well done KC!
The pork sausages presented an interesting scenario that makes the Taiping Tigers special. Even when we were among Muslim friends we had no qualms about ordering pork. At one point there was a plate of pork sausages and another of chicken sausages. The Muslims did not deprive the non-Muslims of their pork and did not mind having the pork sausages near the plate of chicken ones. The non-Muslims automatically used forks to eat the chicken and used fingers for the pork; no "contamination"! That is how we respect each other; that is how we grew up.
To top it off as a truly Bangsa Malaysia occassion, Tiger Mike Naser brought two bottles of his special homemade sambal belacan which we ate with toasted bread. That must have been a sight (and smell) for the other patrons there!
Tigers present last night were CA, Mike Naser, KC Heah, Suet Fun, Fabian Lai and classmate whose name I do not recall, Mariappan, Patmanathan, Elizabeth, Harjit and Susan; Bangsa Malaysia everyone.Photo quality low because of phone cam.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Test posting from a new phone, the Sony Ericcson P1i
My business partner, SA was in generous mood after we managed to secure a long term contract that we were pursuing the last one and a half years. He had just bought the Sony Ericcson P1i and found it real handy and reliable so he got two more for me and another partner. Though much cheaper than the other P-series phones we both were using, the P1i actually has more functions and capacity.
Since it will be a very busy implementation period at least for the next 6 months, being able to blog from the mobile phone will allow me to explore a whole new dimension in blogging.
Sony Ericcson P1i
Saturday, 8 December 2007
Of Born Idiots and Self-Creations (Conclusion)
I finally met Dato' David Kong Hon Kong yesterday. He is an amiable guy and obviously a man on top of his game. He promised to do the necessary changes to spare other grieving families the type of embarassment caused by Jeffrey Chee. He also said he would be removing sales agents from the columbarium. I have no reason to doubt he would do exactly as he said.
As for My Darling Jeannie, yet again more good has resulted from something bad. Rest in Peace My Love.
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Krystyn's 21st Birthday
As for me I had hoped for a son but only because with Jeannie's medical condition, we had expected to have only one child. The Chinese in Jeannie too wanted a son but I knew a daughter would be the perfect complement to her.
The Chinese in Jeannie also insisted that we try again for a son and we had JJ in 1990. I make this sound all so easy but reality was something else. That is another story for another time.
One thing's for sure; if I were to do it all over again I will want a girl as the first born!
Jeannie and Krystyn; if I am not the husband and father, I may have been envious of the special relationship the two girls in my life shared. Krystyn is special in the way that Jeannie was special, yet Krystyn though so much like Mummy, is Krystyn in her own right. Jeannie concertedly brought Krystyn up this way. Mother and daughter shared a special bond that will exist in Krystyn forever. I understood what Jeannie wanted for Krystyn and more importantly, Jeannie knew what she did not want for Krystyn.
We were looking forward to celebrating Krystyn's 21st birthday this year and as life would have it, Jeannie's physical presence was not to be at Maeshima-san's place on the 27th of November 2007. I must thank my friend Wong for making dinner arrangements and Maeshima-san for the very good spread and allowing Prince Cheah into his restaurant.
Though Jeannie IS always with us, that day was the first pertinent landmark occasion after her demise and I did not dare to wonder how Krystyn felt in her heart of hearts. Jeannie would have been the same if it had been me and we now know she WAS there. Look at the bill and notice the total amount and the "trademark" number 27! The total bill was RM1,127 and that coincided with the date that day; Krystyn's birthday, 27th November. Coincidence? Probably but........we'd like to think Mummy was there too.
Krystyn & Prince Cheah
Fresh Osaka Oysters
Sashimi Peanut Butter & Cheese Cake
Monday, 3 December 2007
On The Lighter Side - Conversion?
"Darling, this is such a special occasion ... I want to make a confession. Before we were married I was a hooker for eight years."
The husband ponders this bombshell for a moment, then looks adoringly into his wife's eyes.
"My love, it's been a perfect ten years with you - I can't hold your past against you " He nuzzles up to her. "...Maybe you should show me a few tricks of the trade, and spice up our sex life!"
"I don't think you understand," she replies awkwardly. "My name was Douglas and I played for the All Blacks."
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
Marginalized Malays, Chinese and Indians - A History Older Than Malaysia
Certainly one cannot expect to win such a suit and obviously it was a strategy to spotlight the woes of the Indian community in Malaysia. It was a "branding" exercise at the very least and an "indirect freekick" towards its ultimate target; the Malaysian government. It gave HINDRAF an excuse to put up a show of numbers in its November 25th rally to petition Queen Elizabeth II for a Queen's Counsel to represent the Indian community in the suit, which was filed on Aug 30 in the United Kingdom. I should think this rather clever PR strategy has achieved its initial goal of highlighting to the world the plight of Malaysian Indians.
However, a closer look at history may yet reveal the extent of culpability of the British and perhaps like Japan for its WWII atrocities, Britain should be made to at least apologize. For that, this is what my friend M.N. Taib had to say when he rebuked a mutual friend for the latter's abject babble about Malaysian races. M.N. struck a nerve when he said jingoism surrounding the call for Bangsa Malaysia must be prefaced by a clear understanding of the history of component races and close examination and appreciation of the respective roles in nation building:
"Please stop your maudlin over your sexual malingering and 2nd classiness. Talk to your friends who have gone to live in white countries e.g. Australia, mate. They can never be bosses over the whites, at least in Malaysia it is made known in certain areas like MoF. But they prefer to be spat upon by the whites not the Malays. You have not been focussed with the thread of a few of my postings.
If you live in the kampungs, you compete with your own ethnicity. It is in the urban areas that Malays face the frenetic onslaught of the non-Malays. Thus, it was conceived similar to golf, they should be given handicaps. Most Malaysians do not quarrel with the NEP that was amplified after May, 13th, 1969. The bellyaching and rightly so, which includes many Malays, is over the abuse of the multiracial covenant of how the NEP should be dispensed with. It was really abused under Dr.M with hideous cronyism and blatant corruption, unfortunately things did not change with AAB. The poor leadership that we are facing exaggerates the horrible situation.
The tragedy, if you look at Selangor, the ill-gotten gainers are UMNOputras and their mendicant running dogs of all races e.g Aiyoo Samy. You must someday comprehend the Concept of Historical Injustice suffered by the Malays under colonialism. It is too long to write. I'll give you an oral briefing when we meet. Go to MU library RedSpot section, borrow Dr. Chandra Muzzafar's MA thesis, for the University of Singapore. It's in there.
In sum, when J.W.W. Birch was eliminated in Perak in November 1875 and the Perak War began, the Brits were nervous about possible expanded Malay rebellion. The Torrance Act delineated Malay lands for the first time and the Malays were Mukimized and were unable to visit the next Mukim without the approval of the Brit Resident. Chinese and Indian indentured labour were brought in under the Ticket and the Kangani sytems respectively. Actually, the Brits invented Malay Rights with the ulterior motive of keeping the Malays in the ulu planting padi. The Chinese were allowed to fill the entrepreneurial vacuum in the towns. The Malays lost mobility, thus dynamism. You have to know more beside your predestination with Joshua the Nazorean brother of James. I am a simple f..king soldier, I should not be telling you.
I cannot afford to write a dissertation - long and tedious. I'll just give you a bit of inside into South Indians in our country in view of Hindraf - a rally of mostly urban lumpen proletariat. Then I'll give the most salient in the bibliography, if you wish to pursue greater knowledge.
The history of the coming of Indians and Chinese to the Peninsular is not taught in our schools. Most Malaysians grow up not knowing how sad and fascinating it is. If you say you're keen on Bangsa Malaysia or "plural society" you have to know the component parts and examine their impacts on the political economy of West Malaysia as a whole.
The influx of Indian labour became a flood with the rubber boom after 1905. From the view of their European employers, the main virtue of South Indian labourers as compared to the hard-working Chinese was their docility. Recruited largely from the untouchable (or adi-dravida) castes of South Indian society, the Tamil and Telegu labourers were probably the most obedient, indeed, servile labourers then available in the colonial world.
K.S. Sandhu has written: "The relegation of these classes to the level of animals in a caste-ridden society naturally tended to deprive them of initiative and self-respect and made them a cringingly servile group."
A European planter commented with regard to the period beginning about 1911: ".........The blind admiration for the white man by these Tamils is really rather pathetic."
By the end of 1940, there were a shortage of labour. Each labourer was paid 55 cents per day and Chinese at 85 cents. There were intermittent strikes by Indian labourers in demand of equality with Chinese labourers. Indian leaders encouraged strikes in the Klang District of Selangor in Feb 1941.
The High Commissioner's view was that all the strikes between Feb and May 1941 were subversive and violent, and that the strikers demands were ridiculous. In reality, the first series of strikes between Feb and Apr were conducted in an orderly manner, with few allegations of intimidation and little or no damage to property. Strike committees were formed on each estate and a petition presented setting out the strikers common demands. The European managers refused to negotiate and tried the strikers back to work. In Feb, the European managers had requested that the Klang District Indian Union be banned. It was alleged that some managers agreed to pay off male strikers, but refused to pay off their wives and children. The men were then prosecuted for trespass and when they remained in the estate lines with their families.
Control of rice rations was in the hands of the managers and in some cases rations were withheld. In one case, the manager cut off the estate water supply for 24 hours and in another case, a manager pulled off a labourer's Gandhi cap and trampled it on the ground. It was alleged that sympathizers from the towns were often denied entry to the estates with food and other relief supplies.
The strike fever spread to the nearby Batu Arang coal-mine, where Indian labourers struck in April 1941 in a demand for higher wages. After the intervention of the High Commissioner they were forced to work with a five cents increase after a lock-out and a dawn raid by the police. But intermittent strikes began again on the estates.
The Commissioner of Police believed that organized "civil disobedience on rubber estates" was "a possibility that must be envisaged".
Two months later, the High Commissioner alarmed by the evidence of continuing agitation and brief strikes on individual estates, was prepared to wait no longer and ordered the arrest of the Indian leader - Nathan - on May 5th.
The arrest provoked a second wave of protest strikes, called by labourers who regarded Nathan as a hero for his work with the Klang District Indian Union, and especially for his success in gaining the five cents allowance in Apr. Within 10 days bicycle-riding activists had spread the strike call as far south as Negri Sembilan and had called out an estimated 20,000 workers. The main demand of the strikers, large numbers of whom demonstrated outside the Kuala Lumpur Labour Office on 7 May and the Klang Police Station three days later, was for the release of Nathan.
Other of their demands were termed "frivolous" by Major Kidd, the Brit Resident of Selangor, who also claimed that the labourers refused to allow negotiations "save with themselves in a body". However, it seems clear that on the one hand, the labourers repeated as best as they could the essence of the demands outlined by Nathan in March, while on the other hand, the employers and government had no intention of negotiating.
The police were called in to disperse demonstrators, to arrest bicycle-riding "agitators" and to exclude "outsiders" from estates. Whether coz of already inflamed tempers or police and planter provocation, these strikes and demonstrations soon became more violent. Some toddy shops (nationalized by the Brits) were attacked and burned, as were some estate buildings. Members of a crowd of four hundred demonstrators calling for Nathan's release at Klang Police Station on 10 May were reported to be carrying sticks and other weapons.This gave the government the excuse to force the strikers back to work.
The Punjab Regiment and other troops were called in on the same day. Police and troops forcefully dispersed demonstrations, arrested large numbers of "agitators" and confiscated bicycles.
On 11th May, Major Kidd termed the "disturbances" "a direct challenge to the authority of the government" as a result of the coercion "by a small and violent minority". When the strikes continued to spread, a state of emergency was declared in Selangor State on 16 May, the troops were reinforced and four strikers were killed after a confrontation arising from the arrest of two men on the Sg. Sedu estate.
By the end of May, the labourers were back at work after the arrest of more than 300. At least five were dead and many others injured. 21 were deported, 95 accepted voluntary repatriation, 49 were detained and 186 were released on condition that they did not return to the district where they were employed before the strike.
Meanwhile, planters set about a systematic "weeding out" of known and suspected "agitators". Although wages for Chinese estate workers rose yet further in response to increased demand, Indian wages were held down to 60 cents.
Please look at the attachment of the 1941 Hindraf. Has the bloody scenario changed very much today?
The BERSIH gathering was absolutely brilliant, The enforcers were outwitted by the clever maneuvers of RPK when he diverted the focus of the Police to the empty padang in Merdeka Square while the Bersih crowds were deployed using SMSes to other strategic parts of downtown KL. It was a great success.
The Hindraf movement had a flimsy rationale. Mr. Uthayakumar knew from the start that his claim of trillions was BS. But, he achieved a monumental PR coup and it showed the festering anger of the Indian "have-little".
Johari Baharum and Bt. Aman have not paid attention to Sun Tze, "Art of War". They were on a fagged out SOP developed by their Brit Colonial masters. Bloody pathetic.
I have 50% respect for Uthayakumar after his callow and spurious letter to Gordon Brown. It was ridiculous and stupid. You read it in Rocky Bru.
It is my firm belief that we must now help the Indians and other have nots, across the board, to be part of the NEP. There are so many poor Chinese and Malays. If the BN wants to protect their fiefdom with arrogance, hubris and corruption, it does it at its own peril.
The Malaysian Police does not understand Conflict Resolution (there is no such thing as Resolution, you can only regulate it). If you ask a police officer if he knows the conflict between the Walloons and the Flemish in Belgium; the Ibos vs the rest in Nigeria; the Moronite RC vs the Muslims in Lebanon, the RC Quebecois vs the Protestants in Canada or the Indians vs the indigenous Fijians in Fiji, he knows crap. He has never been well educated. That's why the Police does know that the Rakyat is paying their gaji and not the politicians. They fcuk the rakyat at every eventuality as running dogs from what they learnt from the Brit system.
If you read about Indian history in Malaysia, mutatis mutandis, you will learn about the coming of the Chinese. For both the communities, it was diseases, suffering, blood and sweat. I am convinced they did and do more than others - that's why I am what I am, a strange Malaysian.
Now, if I may, I wish you to look at the following:
Sandhu,K.S., Indians in Malaysia: Some aspects of their Immigration and Settlement, 1786-1957 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1969) Stenson, M.R., Industrial Conflict in Malaya: Prelude to Communist Revolt of 1948 (London: Oxford University Press,1970).Stenson, M.R., Class, Race & Colonialism in West Malaysia ( Uni of Queensland Press, 1980)Arasaratnam, S., Indians in Malaysia and Singapore (London: Oxford University Press, 1970)
Khoo Kay Kim, "The Beginning of Political Extremism in Malaya, 1915-1935" ( PhD, MU, 1973) Available in MU Lib red spot section. Lim Teck Ghie, " Peasant Agriculture in Colonial Malaya: Its development in Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang, 1874-1941"(PhD., ANU, 1971) Available in MU Lib red spot section.Onreat, R.H.de S., Singapore: A Police Background (London: Crisp, 1947) Available in MU Lib. This book will give the mindset of our Police force and also read J.J. Raj's book on the Malaysian Police."
Tiger In Soup?
Tiger YB Devamany was embroiled in a bit of controversy yesterday at parliament and this was what I posted in the eGroup:
Tiger YB Devamany is a member of this eGroup even though he has been a silent crouching tiger so far. Maybe he would like to shed some light on this article that appeared in Malaysiakini. Check out the Al Jazeera interview at:
You guys can see for yourself. For my part, if YB Deva is not flip flopping then I would like to congratulate him for being a true Tiger and for breaking ranks. He is showing that a parliament should not just be about toadying. Time to step aside Mr Semi Value?
MIC MP: Rally reflects govt's failure
Nov 26, 07
A Barisan Nasional MP departed from the norm today when he said the rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) reflected the Indian community’s disgruntlement towards certain government policies.
K Devamany (MIC-Cameron Highlands) added that the rally proved the failure of government policies which do not benefit the Indians.
The ruling politician made the remark after interjecting Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) who argued that the rally was a cry of desperation from the Indians.
"Some 50,000 people took to the streets yesterday. It shows the government's failure and it needs to be looked into carefully," said Devamany.
The MIC MP stressed this point again during a different question which saw Deputy Internal Security Minister Mohd Johari Baharum providing statistics on the number of Indians in the military, police and other security forces.
Johari said there are 3, 292 Indians in the police force, which makes 3.5 percent of the 94,729 police personnel in the country.
"We have also advertised in the media like newspapers, radio and television stations to increase the percentage," he added.
High hopes, limited avenues
Dissatisfied with the explanation, Devamany said even though the government promised many things to the Indians under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the community's reaction through the rally demonstrated its frustration.
"Youths from the lower and middle class participated in the rally. This goes to show that they are given high hopes but limited avenues to achieve.
"What are the actions taken by the government to prove that it is serious in eliminating poverty in the Indian community?" he asked.
At that point, Lim stood up and told Devamany not to be a hypocrite by practising double standards.
He was referring to Devamany's interview with satellite station Al-Jazeera yesterday, in which he condemned the rally.
Met at the Parliament lobby later, Devamany claimed that he was ‘set up’ by Al Jazeera which deliberately cut him off halfway during the interview.
"Al Jazeera did not allow me to finish my interview. I was initially told that the crowd was unruly and violent. So I gave my opinion that violence must not be condoned.
However, I wanted to add that if the crowd came in peace, the police must be cautious in exercising force," he explained.
Devamany also stressed that the government must give priority to underprivileged Indians.
"More opportunities must be given in the civil service, education and SME in terms of training and funding," he said, adding that the rally was a "voice from below" which must not be brushed aside.
"It is high time that the government give consideration to the grievances of the Indians," he said.
Resign from MIC
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, commenting on Devamany's response in the Dewan Rakyat, questioned where the latter got the fact that 50,000 people participated in the rally.
"Has he been demonstrating with the others to know that there were 50,000 people there?" he asked, adding that parliamentary debates must be based on facts.
"If he says that the government has failed, what does he stand for in MIC?" he asked.
He said if Devamany feels that the government has failed, the only honourable way is for him to resign from MIC.
"I believe the MIC is 100 percent behind the government," he added.
Monday, 26 November 2007
A Bone of Contention
Claims of 30,000, 50,000 to even 100,000 marchers by organizers and "Netivists" are matched by seemingly blatant, understated figures of 4,000 and 1,000 in the mainstream media. At last most of us are left with a disgusting after-taste, having consumed too much official and unofficial media bullshit.
Core issues resulting in the street demonstrations aside, the spotlight invariably falls on the Police Force which is charged with keeping public order. How did our "men in blue" acquit themselves in the eyes of the public? Obviously both demonstrations were with peaceful intent and the fact is that on both occasions, the Police used tear gas, chemical laced water and physical force; there is now irrefutable video and photographic evidence of this. Were the actions of the police justified? Were the police keeping order or sparking disorder? There will always be more than two sides to the story.
Have we become a police state? Is our police force being led by mere lackeys of the ruling incumbents?
Most of us living in KL may be tempted to think so. The massive traffic jams in the last 2 weeks were caused by the police "locking down" the city in an impossible attempt to filter out "undesirables"; it seems politically motivated. The fact that there still appeared to be thousands at the rallies seems to make the police blockade a clear exercise in futility. It also seems to point to a concerted attempt to create public contempt against street demonstrations by having so-called counter-measures that inconvenienced the public.
The question arises: "What drives the PDRM"? Perhaps the following video that has become the bone of contention in many minds and numerous public outcries of double standards holds the answer.
At the A1GP Yesterday
Akash & Jill
Jack & Pit Personnel
Adam & Keat
The Boss Man and his men
Alex Yoong and the Malaysian Supporters
Two young men and a SYT
One young man and another SYT
Alex Yoong has his reasons for not winning in Sepang!
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Michael Backman on Malaysia
Several years ago, Daim Zainuddin, the country's then powerful finance minister, told me that judges in Malaysia were idiots. Of course we want them to be biased, he told me, but not that biased.
Monday, 19 November 2007
An Acceptable Viewpoint on 10 November
Bersih rally a farce, its organizers are hypocrites
By VINCENT LAU
Let’s not kid ourselves, OK? The Bersih rally - peaceful or not, was not about a call for real democracy or handing over a memorandum to the king. A rally could have been held in a stadium where like-minded people could have gone and stayed out of everybody else’s way. And if they really wanted to hand over a memorandum to the king, I am sure the opposition leaders could have done it themselves, behind closed doors. They didn’t have to hype up the event.
Quite simply, the protest was nothing more than a demonstration of power. They are telling the present government that they have the support of the people. They are telling the people that the present government is doing something really wrong and that they are our saviours. It may shock you, but I fully agree that things are messed up. But two wrongs never made anything right and the rally was nothing more than a farce.
The opposition leaders needed to make it big and hype it up. But disrupting public peace is not the way to go about doing things. Thousands of people were affected by the rally - businesses were undoubtedly disrupted and tourists given a horrible impression of the country. Street demonstrations are bad for business - one could only venture a guess as to how many foreign investors were shoo-ed away by the protest.
Somebody said that this is the price to pay for freedom and rights. Yeah, so why is it that the opposition parties are allowed to decide this on my behalf?
The Star reported 5,000 people at the gathering. Malaysiakini said there were 40,000 people. This is my case in point - different lie, same bullshit. This has always been the case. Reading too much of only one source clouds your judgment, so let’s settle for an in-between figure of 20,000 people, alright?
There are 4 million people in Klang Valley. Isn’t it ironic that at a rally for democracy, only 0.5 percent showed up to tell us what is right and wrong. Please do away with the hypocrisy. The Bersih protest was nothing more than a political statement designed to tell the public that the general elections are coming and that we should vote for the opposition.
As for the current administration, everyone knows their faults and screw-ups. And as voters, we would really be stupid to allow politicians who messed up so badly to do so again.
Yet, what the opposition is proposing is not good enough.
We have a bunch of opposition parties working together on the principle that “your enemy is my enemy” even though their ideologies are as similar as chalk and cheese. The opposition parties don’t exist with the intention of winning the general elections. Their only objective is to disrupt the operations of the incumbent government. They have no clear and fixed ideologies, except to oppose whatever the government is doing.
When the presiding government messes up big time, the opposition parties get more supporters and voters.
The corruption scandal involving our chief justice is a good example. Misappropriation of funds is another.
But when the opposition opposes the removal of fuel subsidies, the more informed Malaysians know that they are only doing it to fish for votes.
They fought the fuel price hikes because it was the popular decision at that time. I don’t care who is in charge of this country. I’ll be damned if the guy at the top makes decisions based on a popularity contest.
Let’s look at Anwar Ibrahim. Here’s a man who is championing the removal of the NEP and calling for it to be reviewed. That’s all fine, except for the fact that he spent his political career seemingly fine with the idea. Then he gets screwed over, and suddenly the NEP is a bad thing. Hypocritical, isn’t it?
It has come to the point where people think it is acceptable to hold mass protests and disrupt public peace just to get their idea across. It is not. People think that the lesser of the two evils is acceptable. It is not.
So what do I propose?
Frankly, I have no idea. I don’t have the faintest idea what the solution should be. Which is why I wept for Malaysia on Nov. 10.