Sunday 29 March 2009

Cakap Cakap....

Saya tulis shorthand…saya baca longhand. That line from the Bujang Lapok series always makes me smile – a warm and “feel good” smile. Its Sunday morning and old habits die hard. I go first to The Straits Time but now read what is in there with a sense of merriment and “do you think I am stupid?” questioning of some of what is written in that paper “under orders” from the powers that be. Those guys working in Jalan Riong also have to “cari makan” so let us not judge them to harshly.

On Buletin Utama TV3 I saw Mahathir and Pak Lah embracing on stage at PWTC. What else can they do but that with all those on stage pressing them together? What was telling was that Mahathir made it plain that he will be joining UMNO with conditions “saya akan masuk mengikut syarat syarat yang saya letakan…saya akan masuk” The Old Man will always have the last words.

As I sit in the quietness of a Sunday morning – my son Zack is still asleep and my Lucy is in KL on holidays – I allow myself to go back in time. Back to Kampong Kassiplilay in Sentul where my Tok lived. My Tok was Dr Latiff – the first Malay Doctor. In the time that I know him I remembered him as a kindly white haired man who needed to have his daily intake of his Medicinal Compound (commonly known as the hard stuff) for him to be a more agreeable human being. Grandmother was of a more sterner demeanour and did not suffer fools gladly. I spent a lot of time at their house because it was where his nine children and their Family will get together whenever we had the time. Wonderful memories spent in the companies of Aunts, Uncles and cousins. 

I remember the time, in 1960 I think, when my Auntie came back from Washington after her husband had served his time there working at the Malayan embassy in Washington. Her two children, Iskandar and May were a source of amusement to us because they could not speak any Malay then. We were suitably impressed with the car they brought back from Washington – a grand Oldsmobile – a convertible. The car generated much interest where ever it went and impressed us all to no end. The fact that we were not invited to go for a ride in the car could be directly attributed to her husband – a man very economical with his speech and even then was regarded by us as a man different from the norm. Her husband was Ismail Ali, ( for generations a titan of the Malaysian economic and financial world, "a man of great integrity" who spent long period as governor of Bank Negara to promote financial transparency, accountability, integrity, uprightness and good governance – to quote Abdullah Ahmad). I remember one Hari Raya morning when we were at his house sitting down to a ketupat rendang breakfast when my Auntie came in and told her husband that Mahathir was at the door. I though that it was Mahathir my cousin because her husband did not register any interest whatsoever and continued to sit where he was quietly suffering our intrusion into his private world when THE Mahathir walked in - after all there were brother in laws and he was the older one - so what need is there for him to go greet the Prime Minister. We will never see the likes of him again in our lifetime. It was my privilege to have known him.
This was also the time in my life when having fifty cents in my pocket meant having Chendol and Rojak for a treat. Then a leisurely stroll to the main road to wait for the comics man to pass by and for 5cents spent a pleasant time with others sitting under the tree flicking through the Roy Rogers or Buck Jones issue while the Indian Man waits. Then over to the Chinese sundry store for some asam boy or sweets before you head back towards grandfather’s house still with some change jingling in your pockets. All this done in the early afternoon and still time to get back for an afternoon tea of fried bananas cooked by your aunties.

These time of innocence was a long long time ago. During these times I never remembered having anything like a dollar on me – there was no need. I could get all I want with 50 cents with change to spare. The dollars came into my possession only when emak wanted me to get some things from the sundry store – a chicken and some eggs perhaps, coconut, cooking oil or even condensed milk – in the age when health was not an issue when having a meal – the only issue that counts was whether it tasted good - no calories counted – nothing matters. And once in a while you get handed a red $10 ringgit because that was all that emak had. You guard the money with your life. On entering the shop you hold the money in the palm of your hand making sure that the Chinese shopkeeper knew that you had real money to spend. Those were the days my friends…I though they never end……

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Its Time....

Have you seen a person die? To know that someone you love will die because their time has come? It is surreal. All around they are people reading the Koran and vying with each other to outdo one another in their piousness in reading the words of God – sincere in their beliefs that if the word of God will not save her life – then at least it will give comfort and prepare her for the next life. You are struck at the absurdities of it all. At this stage of her life (near death !!) nothing said, read or prayed will make any difference as to whether she will go to heaven or to hell. That has been decided by the conduct of her life long before this precise hour(if you believe in all that)…and if she is concious at all and aware of what is happening around her – would not listening to the Koran being read around her fill her with dread because she knows that people around her have given up on her – and they are just waiting for her to draw her last breath?

Will the reading of the Koran be of any comfort to her? I do not think so because I can see fear in her eyes. If she has any conciousness of her situation at all, she will know that the reading of the Koran is a sure sign of hoplessness from those she is leaving behind and for her it is a sign of coming death. It would have been far better for her loved ones to be gathered around her, praying silently and giving her words of comfort as she slips in and out of conciouness. Sometimes she stirs and tries to draw a deep breath but to no avail – she is too weak. I look stoically at her and remember her kindness, her love and her affection for me and my family at all times given unconditionally. I wonder if I have done enough to let her know that I am grateful for all that – but I know it would not have mattered to her – she would have loved us anyhow.

You look for her children. They are in the room except for the oldest daughter who has taken the responsibility of being host and comforter to those about to be left behind when her mother passes away. There was much to do because her mother was much loved by everyone.

I wonder if there was time for a burial today if she passes away within the hour. It was late afternoon and there was still time if she leaves us now. And she did. Ahhh the futility of life .....

Looking into ME.

I have no stomach to fight the good fight against social injustices. Against poverty. Take side with the Malays against the Chinese to secure Bumiputra “rights” guaranteed under the “social contract” nor make personal sacrifices for causes that need to be championed for the oppressed. Not for me to spend time under ISA for inciting mob violence against the nation. I will say my two cents worth through my writings and all that takes is a few hours of my time comfortably seated in my favorite green swivel armchair with a cup of green tea while I let my mind wander and let my fingers go tap tap tap on my PC keyboard. Once written I post in onto my Steadyaku” blog and I am done with my work. No more no less.

Before any of you throw any barbs my way understand this. I am what I am because I choose to be so. While I passionately understand the positions the Malays are in, I also understand the frustration the Chinese and other races must feel in not being treated equally in a country they call home. The Chinese are not stupid and neither are the Malays. We all know that for us to respect each other we must treat each other equally. To not do so on grounds of race insults each other no matter what our rationale is.

While I am totally against money politics, I understand the circumstances UMNO leaders are faced with – easy money to be had with minimal effort – I would probably do the same – hell I have done the same in the past! Where the opportunity to make a fast buck was presented to me, I took it. If in the process I had to bend a few rules, drop a few well known names to impress and had to bribe people to get what I want – I did it. I have lived with money and lived without money. It is better to live with money – and many people will do what they have to do to get money – me included.

Power and the trappings of power are sought after by all. I have basked in the company of the powerful and the rich and it is invigorating to be recognized by them and have that situation acknowledged by those around you. To be in a car with motorcycles outriders, flag flying and not stopping for traffic protocol is indeed a “feel good” situation that does feed your ego tremendously – and I have experienced that to. If you are a normal human being – and by that I would take 99.9% of us are normal human beings – these excesses and extravagances are yearned by many but enjoyed only by a few. KJ is living the life that 99.9 % of us dreamed – son in law of the Prime Minister, smart enough to make use of that position to benefit him financially and simultaneously amass power (albeit temporary) from within UMNO – hell if I was in that position I too probably would have delusion of grandeur to be Prime Minister within five years if not sooner.

I am a man of principal but if some of my principals are not acceptable to you, then I have others that might meet with your approval. I am flexible. Always taking the easy way – not for me to stand against the might of the Police, the FRU or the Army. It’s too much pain and suffering to stand and be counted. If pushed I will get into an argument about Police brutality, Police corruption – but I will not hesitate to use all the connections at my disposal to get out of paying a fine for traffic offences – why? Because I can do so and will be stupid not to do so because the Police are a corrupted bunch of people.

Corruption in the Government Departments? I am not above entertaining or paying bribes to these little Napoleons to secure projects or tenders from them. I view these Little Napoleons with contempt and disgust because they accept bribes but curiously I justify my act of giving these bribes as a “cari makan” necessity on my part. Do I feel remorse or guilt in doing so? No ….and I sleep soundly at night too.

Why have I become so? Because I see what is happening around me and I know that corruption, naked greed and pushing their weight around by those who can, are the way things are done in Malaysia. With the Mata Mata you know you will have to kautim – with the Inspectors you are looking at the few hundred ringgit mark and above – but how do you handle the ACP and the SAC’s? Money my friend, money !!! Anything can be done, arranged, “selesai” or “kautim” if you have money or the right connections. The combination of money and the right connections will make you a Norza or a KJ.

If we do not make a stand against these excesses then who will? Not me definitely. If everybody act the way I do will there not be chaos in the world? No there will not be because not everybody will act the way I do. There will always be do gooders who will find themselves duty bound to do “the right’ thing ! And the “Good Guys” will outnumber the “Bad Guys” – so the world will be okay.

How do you handle the PA’s to the KSU’s, the Minister”…nay even the Special Assistants to the PM !!! All these Gate Keepers are a corrupted lot demanding money, to allow us our allotted time with their bosses. Have you tried to go into the PM’s complex at Putrajaya? You cannot even get into the front gate if your name is not on the list. How do you get your name on the list? Knowing Tajuddin is a good start !! I knew Tajuddin when he was with Pak Lah in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs…how he has changed since coming to Putrajaya.

Thank GOD I have left that part of my life behind. Here in Australia you are not required to put your age, sex or religion when applying for a Job – they don’t want to know because you are chosen on your merit. Last week a Federal Judge in Australia was sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison because he lied in trying to escape paying for a speeding ticket that would, at most, cost him a few hundred dollars – and this Federal Judge was designated as a “Living Treasure” for Australia because of his work for the oppressed . Can you imagine a similar situation in Malaysia? I drove around without a license for ten years – and got away with it despite being stopped many times by the Police. No I never bribed the mata mata – I just talked myself out of the situation –though there has been situations where I did have to pay a few fines because I refuse to bribe the mata mata and he refused to be intimidated by me – but in most cases I simply told them off for asking me to “selesai” the matter in the first place and I drive off before they stopped trembling in their boots !! I must have been a very arrogant bastards during in those days !!

The Royalty? Their “used by” expired a few years back. They are a classic example of what “in breeding” can do to your generations to come. We Malays can do without them because of what use are leeches to one who is busy toiling in the Padi fields? They are incapable of leadership. They are the designated head of Religion in each state – but their personal life tells us to “Do as I say not do as I do”. Take the Sultan of Selangor – does he think that the Rakyat are oblivious of his “arrangements” - which is why getting a wife is not at the top of his priorities for now. The Sultan of Pahang is way ahead of the other Sultans in his shenanigans and it would be best to not even begin to chronicle them as it would not only bring shame to the Malays but to our country. Thank God for the changing of the Guard in Negri Sembilan.

I can go on and on and on but to what purpose? Now this is the part that makes me wonder. All that I have said above is known to our Political Leaders. And nothing is done? Why? Complicity by all requires duplicity by all to ensure that the status quo is maintained even when they know it is wrong.

For now I need only to read about these unpleasantness from the Internet and the Blogs that I read – and then only if I choose to read them. I no longer have to deal with these things when I am stopped by the Police, when I go to the Government departments to get anything done, nor do I have to hear about the going on of these so called leaders of our nations – here I am insulated from these excesses and it is a different way of life that I am fortunate enough to be able to choose to live in.

But what are my problems compared to what others had to endure. Consider this statement by an Afghan Refugee who arrived in Australia a few years back. “I left my wife, my son and two daughters. My two daughters died because they were sick”…in that short sentence he describe a life that I could never even begin to imagine. To leave your wife, to leave your son and to not see your two daughters again….GOD so much sadness for one man ?

Then there was this statement from a Child Soldier somewhere in Africa. “They came into the house. They had long knives. My Mother and Father were slashed in the face and had their arms and legs cut off. My sister was lifted up and had her head bashed on the floor. I was asked to follow them outside and they asked me to join the army. I was a soldier for four years” – in that short paragraph he dismissed his four years of hell - and yet when you looked at him, he is accepting of what has happened in his life and now alone in the world he can still smile and thank Australia for allowing in him as a Refugee.

I no longer ask “If there is a GOD why must he allow so much suffering?”. I am stoic in my belief that there is a GOD but what he has done is to put this world into being. Then he said “Go Forth and Multiply” – and wiped his hands clean of us after that for he was wise enough to know that NOBODY can even begin to understand what Man is capable of. What atrocities he can commit. Certainly GOD wanted no part of it but MAN in his infinite wisdom knew that when all is lost to reason, there must be something or somebody they can fall back on. Something or Someone they can use to explain what the mind cannot comprehend. That is GOD. I cannot comprehend that there is a Heaven or a Hell. I cannot comprehend the need to have values imposed upon us because I can think for myself what is Good and Bad – I do not need to be ask to do good with the promise that if I do good then I will go to heaven. For me I get turn off at the “you can have up to four wives” bit…no matter what the conditions are to have the four wives. Because whatever the conditions are the fundamental of allowing a MAN to have four wives IS WRONG. You cannot make it right by imposing conditions to it.

I see my Heroes as those people that will risk their life to save others…the Doctors who can and do save lives, the aid workers who go into war torn countries to assist the poor and the hungry. The soldiers who fought in Viet Nam, be it the Vietcong or the Americans, must be brave people – although most were there because they had to. I have grudging respect for Mahathir when he put his life on the line by insisting on doing his Heart Operation in our country. That is when it counts – you put your life on the line.

These contradictions, logical or otherwise, are forever swimming around in my head. To me we are all one people, one world. Nothing is right or wrong except for some universal truths which is impossible to argue against. The killing of an innocent child is one of them.

This is an exercise to be open to no one in particular - but to myself. I am putting into words what have been in my mind for many many years. I would have done it sooner but the intricacies of setting up a blog was one I could not master until recently. Yes I did not have the brains to do so – then again, that’s me

Sunday 15 March 2009

Make the World go away.

How wonderful it would be if you could sometimes make the world go away. Sometimes when everything out there is just too much for me to handle I want to curl myself up into a ball, lie down and die because that is the easiest thing to do to escape from the realities of life. Who can make the world go away? I cannot do it by myself. Only my wife can do that for me. My wife is in KL now and yet when I think of her a smile crosses my face – a smile of delight and love knowing that I have her with me for life. That knowledge is enough to tide me over what ever situation I am in. Distance is no barrier to love. Sometimes I ask myself if it really is possible to love someone after being together for over forty years? Yes it is possible. I cannot forget that line that I read somewhere describing the feelings of one who truly loves another – “ I hope that I will die before you because I will not know how I can live without you” -a selfish thought but nevertheless one that comes from within. So everyday I count my blessing because I have a love like that now. For those of you who are yet to find yours –go look again at the one you married – and maybe you might find it in your heart to love them as much as they have loved you….of course your children does not count because when you give unconditional love to someone they are exempted from these kind situations where you try to put into words your affections for your partner in life. Children are not your partners in live. They become you. Without them you cannot find yourself.  
Hi Pat,

Pat I failed Art at school. You must know that NOBODY…simply NOBODY fails Art – its impossible to fail because Art is your personal interpretation of whatever it is you are looking at – but I did. So when you said that I am a “word painter” you do not have any idea what happiness it gave to an old soul here in Adelaide while I try to keep my feet warm as a winter day comes in summer. My feet has to be warm to enable me to think clearly. And when I write, I need to think. So the heater is blowing at my stocking feet.

A “word-painter”! Now my mind starts to meander. Should I write a short story for money? CAN I write good enough to interest people to read even if my life was to depend on it? But then Pat said I was a “word-painter” so I am sure I can write.

So I sit down and write a story. For money !!. Against all odds I sell it to the papers and they print it the week after. It’s good. The public loves it. They want more. I write more. Then an offer from Longman Australia to do a compilation of my writing. For money !! With bated breath I sit down - demand silence from everybody in the house – and write. Revised all that I have written to date and once satisfied, send it to Longman for publication. A success again. I now have to attend interviews, make appearance at bookstore, meet with people who wants to know me…my days are filled with appointments and meetings with people I do not know and I do not care to know. I have to go to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth to promote my book. Next week it is New Zealand and then God knows where.

I am not enjoying this because this is not what I want to do – but the money on offer is hideously too much. So I do what I have to do. I write. I write to meet deadlines and promises I made for another compilation of my writings – writings that I do not have and now have to do - writing under duress and pressure to meet deadlines.

I do not have time to talk to my wife, take her to do the groceries and sit with her in the garden while the cats play. I do not see my son as often as I want to and hardly talk to anyone in the family anymore. I have no time to do Facebook with my daughter in KL. I do not have time to go to your English Cottage site. What is happening to my world of solitude and family and who can I blame but you Pat. You called me a “word-painter”. You are responsible for making me fabulously rich from my writings and yet destroy my quite life of solitude and family forever. Have I not have the right to be angry with you - you who called me a word-painter and made it possible for me to have unimaginable wealth?

P.s….tha’s how vivid my imagination can be once I allow it free rein to go where ever it chooses – and when I saw “word-painter” my whole being flew out of the window and started to engage into overdrive…so be careful with choosing your words with me…you can destroy my life !!! Now you know for sure that I am MAD.'nt it nice to just write nonsensical nonsense once in a while? 


Steadyaku47 aka HH.

If I can have but just one more day with those that I love before I die.

I like nothing more then to have a day with nothing to do except eat when I am hungry, drink when I am thirsty and sleep when I am sleepy..…but I want to do this with my wife and children close by – for I cannot be complete without their presence near me. 

With my Family I live each day as if it will be my last. I tell my wife, my son, my daughter that I love them very very much any time I am with them and every time I communicate with them –through the phone, mobile, e mail, facebook or sms. I hug and kiss them every chance I can – everyday, many times a day. Whenever I pass them in the house I reach out to touch them. This way I know that if I leave them today I would not have any regrets in not touching them when I can and showing them and telling them that I love them when I can. There will be no “if I can have but just one more day with them before I die” moment for me.

From where did I learn to do this? From my own life. In my life I have only hug my Father once – on the night that I arrived from Perth to go see my mother live her last night on earth at the General Hospital in KL. After seeing my Mother at the hospital I arrived home and went straight to my Father’s room where he was resting and hug him as he rose from his chair – and to my regret I was never again able to do that to him again in his life. I love my parents but being from the old school there were not able to physically show their affections to me – no hugs, no kisses…the only physical contact I had with their person was to kiss their hands every time we meet. And this I do gladly anytime I could. My children do not kiss my hand in greeting. We hug.

Saturday 14 March 2009

Jack and the Beanstalk...

News item in the NSTP this morning:

"PEKAN: When Zainab Mohamath Ali, 54, accepted her neighbour's invitation to pluck and eat cikus from the latter's tree, little did she realise she would be shot. The woman had climbed up the tree at her neighbour's home in Kampung Paloh Hinai about 9.30am on Wednesday when her neighbour's husband came home. Hearing the rustling of the leaves and not knowing that his wife had invited Zainab to pluck the fruits, the 68-year-old man grabbed his shotgun and fired once.

The shot hit Zainab in the abdomen and she fell from the tree. She was rushed to the Tengku Afzan Hospital in Kuantan where her condition was listed as stable.

District police chief Superintendent Yahaya Othman said the man, a Rela member, was detained but released later after his statement was recorded. He is being investigated for illegally discharging a firearm and faces a two-year jail term if charged and convicted. His gun licence would also be revoked".

My comments on the above incident:

What is to become of our country? It is no longer even safe to climb a ciku tree !!! And this is climbing a ciku tree at the invitation of its owner. YOU CAN BE SHOT !!! Before we asses the effect this disturbing situation will have on our national psyche, it is reassuring to know that the condition of the “shotee” “was listed as stable. 

Kampong Paloh Inai is situated near Kuantan in the state of Pahang from where our PM designate hails. What can we deduce from this fact? Was Najib informed of this mishap? If he was, did he take the appropriate action to ensure that this was an isolated incident, a random act - and that it was not the start of a campaign by Rela to ensure that no illegal harvesting of Ciku are done by the people in Pahang. That this was not part of Rela’s policy to ensure that the price of Cikus will remain stable – and by extension, ensuring that income levels of people with Ciku trees in their orchards, will remain stable? It is quite possible that the people might confuse Rela’s action as being sanctioned by Najib. In view of this it is necessary for Najib to deny any knowledge of Rela’s intention and if it really was Rela’s policy to shoot people illegally harvesting ripe cikus – then Najib must distant himself from this action of Rela and brand it as being harmful to national unity – but only if Rela instructions to its members was to shot only women. Rela must ensure that its instruction is gender friendly – ie its member are allowed to shoot men and women if they are illegally harvesting ripe cikus. ….and by logical extension – Rela must instruct its members that there should not be any racial overtones in their actions. Shoot everybody, any gender, any race….any politicians…especially any politicians !!!

The Police were also involved – a District Police Chief by the name of Superintendent Yahaya Othman. As it involves a Ciku Tree – should not the Ministry of Agriculture be involved? Damage to the Ciku tree should be assessed by this Ministry. Damage to the “shotee” by the Ministry of Health. The "shooter" was not "damaged" in any way - and until Rela confirms or denies it, he might have been acting under orders from Rela. I see no reason for PDRM to be involved – unless climbing a ciku tree comes under the preview of the ISA – because in these troubled economic times, anything that affect our GNP becomes of national interest – if this is so – then by all means call in PDRM…or maybe Superintendent Yahaya Othman was from the SB? If so, then we can understand his actions. However the fact that he released the "shooter" after taking a statement from him indicates otherwise. When have you heard of a potential ISA detainee being released after giving his statement to the SB?

Let us hope that in rushing her to the Hospital no traffic rules were broken and that a locally made Ambulance was used in the process. If there was no locally made ambulance then the question arises as to why there was not one? I can see this spiraling into a debate as to whether it should be Proton, Perdua or Naza Motors that should be responsible for making a local Ambulance - not only for local use but for use within the Asean region too. With her intimate knowledge of this issue, I suggest that Rafidah be given the Charimanship of a committee to look into this possibility – after all she might have time on her hands if Sharizat wins – you kill two birds with one stone.

DSAI again ??


When I read Nik Azam’s latest posting my thoughts was one of wonder – wonder because my rantings on Anwar was meant to be for us 64ers . And was meant to somehow to tell Anwar that we, as his batchmates, do care about what he does. About his well-being. About where he intends to take this country of ours to. It is just not idle chatter to give vent to what is in my being. My rantings was not to be for the MCOBA network to share.. But it would seem that I have no say in that. So be it.

I was one of the first amongst our batchmates that went to his house just days after his release from prison and stood for hours waiting to see him to convey my happiness at seeing him back with us. I was rewarded with a warm smile and a hug from him. Since then I have followed with much interest his foray into mainstream politics and his eventual deserved rise to head the opposition in Parliament. 

Among others, I have spoken to Hanif (as in IGP and TUN) about the circumstances of Anwar’s fall from grace (if you could consider falling out of favor with Mahathir as a “fall from grace”). From what we know of Hanif, he does not speak untruth. If he, as the then IGP is convinced of Anwar’s guilt and had the evidence to back his beliefs, then that is good enough for me. Not only from what I heard from Hanif, but also from what I know of Anwar and his life, Anwar knows that evidence are available to discredit him but he is hoping that people living in glass houses will not throw stones. So while this status quo remains, he and Najib, and the others are satisfied just throwing pebbles to each other – because once they start throwing rocks, they will only kill each other. To his credit, Mahathir made the decision to NOT use all the evidence that he had on Anwar as he felt that there were boundaries he himself should not cross – and common decency dictates that he should not do so. 

I am no saint myself, but I do not aspire to be the Prime Minister – nor do I aspire to any elected position within any organization. I live within myself in a place far far away from the maddening crowd. Anwar chooses to be in the thick of it all. For those that choose to do as he does, then be prepared for what will be thrown your way. Anwar knows that Pak Lah is a decent man and will be a gentleman in his efforts to contain him but Najib is something else. We shall see quite soon what Najib will do when his back against the wall but here again he might not relish what will be thrown back his way – status quo again !!

As for UMNO…..the UMNO that is now in its death roll….words fail me. Suffice for me to say that an UNMO divided within itself can do no good for the Malays. An UMNO that divides the Malays will have no hope in hell to climb back to the pedestal we once gave them. 

The cut and thrust of politics is to be expected. I only say what I know, what I see and what I feel should be said. Once again I reiterate. By default Anwar is the best that we have now to lead. How long he stays there will depend on his ability to read the situation that prevails even as we breath – it changes, it reacts, it demands and it continually seek a direction to arrive at – but driven by a fickle public that forgets too quickly any sacrifices, if any, that Anwar and his Family might have made for the greater good of the country and its Rakyat. Possibly there are many amongst us that are privy to the goings on in KL within the Government, within UMNO and what our so-called Malay leaders are up to. What I have seen for myself of theses activities does give me some insight and understanding of how things are done. In all this I know that only Mahathir and Abang Lah are left untainted by scandals that would involve their personal self – not the people around them (family and sahabats) but their personal self and these two are not tempted by material greed (kebendaan) and weaknesses of the flesh. These two defining characteristics, in my opinion, are fundamentals necessary for any good leader to have and would be the most difficult to acquire. As in all good things, it is only when they are no longer with us that we become acutely aware of our need for them. But we do not have the luxury of time nor hindsight. We live for the moment so if we need to accept leaders that are less then exemplary in their characters - so be it – but with the hope that they will change for the better when thrust into the Prime Ministership of our Country. If they do not – then we can only regret our choice at our leisure while they plunder our country to their hearts content. Amen.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Death and Fear...

All beings tremble before danger, all fear death.
- Dhammapada 54

Taken literally to me that is profound. To acknowledge that we do tremble before danger and we all fear death is so refreshingly obvious and yet pride and stupidity will not allow us to acknowledge that reality. Me? I tremble before too many dangers that I cannot begin to start. There was a time when Death was something I simple could not deal with. Not only the going away of loved ones but also the transformation of someone from a living being to one of being cold, still and to be disposed of six feet underground. And that continued for a while until increasingly those who died became those very people that I loved. Then sadness overcomes all other consideration. Now I am comfortable with being close to death. What makes me sad is to see those close to death. They know that death is near and I can see that in their eyes. There is nothing you can do but to stay close to them and be there for them at the moment of passing. I think that their last conscious thoughts would be of those that they love and if those that they love are with them – it will comfort them. 

I lost my parents a long time ago. The sadness of not having them both in my life has not passed. I do not think of them constantly – sometimes weeks pass before I even think of them – but when I do the sadness envelopes me completely and I let it cover me and surround me because it feels good. It feels good to know that even after all these time my love for them is undiminished, strong and yearnings for days long gone by are forever etched in my mind. No regrets. No “what if’. None. Just “ I love you both and miss you both”…and then having done my grieving, go back to my present life. Back to my wife, my son, my daughter and her family – all still with me. Not close by but still with me and then I am once again content with my lot. Amen.

A life lived...

I was born 31st October 1947 in Segambut, Selangor. Absolutely no recollection of my early childhood until the age of about three while living in Tampin – in government quarters on a slight hill near the District Hospital. Father was in London on a course sent by PDRM and I was sleeping in a cot in the same room with my Mother. This memory is as clear to me as it had happened last night. I was awaken sometime in the middle of one night by a man dressed in dark clothes standing in the open doorway and beckoning for me to go with him. To where I know not. I started to climb out of my cot and in the process of doing so – awoke my Mother. She asked me where I was going and I remember saying “The man is calling to me” …or words to that effect. She stopped me. 

Also in Tampin we moved to a bigger house down the hill when my Father came back from London. I remember I had a tricycle I would ride around the house until one day I boldly took it to the top of the hill. On the way downhill at the very moment that the tricycle had reached it’s Mach One speed, I had to take a sharp left turn into our house. The turn did not happen. I ran smack bang into the barbed wire makeup of the gate. I cannot remember any pain only blood, the concern of my mother and understanding the stupidity of what I had done with a clarity that remains to this day. Till today I bear the scars of that encounter and because of that encounter and I now have the ability to reason with myself BEFORE I do anything stupid to the point of being paranoid in working out the possibilities and probabilities of what can and cannot happen from any given action that I am about to take.

There were other memories. In Pendang, Kedah, our house was on the path to a Chinese cemetery and the wailing of those crying while they walk behind the coffins with head covered in what looks like gunny sacks then, served to be with me for a long long time – filling me with nightmares and dark fears of death and dead people but thankfully no sub conscious blaming of the Chinese for instilling that fear in me. Though I do have a bone to pick with the Chinese for being responsible in taking me out of my comfort zone as a Malay and having to immerse myself in the world of commerce…but that is another story for another day.

We lived in Langkawi too but I absolutely have no memories of these times at all.

In Pengkalan Chepa we lived beside the aerodrome – I think it could not be called an airport then. I remembered walking around the nearby kampongs with my Father and his .22 rifle shooting squirrels and Iguana on coconuts trees. I must have enjoyed these hunting trips – why it escapes me because the thought of taking the life of any living beings now fills me with sadness. And I remembered exactly when that first happened. We were on a hunting trip shooting Punai (wild pigeons) on their way back to their nesting place in the evenings somewhere near Pekan. Wave upon waves of these pigeons would wing their way home to rest for the night and we, the hunters, would lie in wait below the path they take, and shoot them down by the dozens as they fly above us. Before this day I have always looked forward to these outings and it had been fun until that day when one of these unfortunate pigeon fell right at my feet and I saw it die. I saw the last few moments of that bird life and it had stayed with me till now. No more taking of life of any creatures from then on in my life….no more guns. 

Johor Baru were happy days. Memories are clearer and I had friends and was becoming more aware of the world around me. My last few years of life with my family before I left them and started life in MCKK and the world beyond my family – never to return back into the family fold as I knew it before my MCKK days. The world was changing for me. 

Sunday 8 March 2009

The Way We Were...and of things to come?

In the past it has been so simple. In any negotiated tender you first factor in your costs plus a hefty profit margin for yourself – then factor in any other costs required. The consultants costs, the JKR costs, the KSU costs, the Ministers costs, UMNO costs etc etc and then add them all together plus a bit more so that your costs can be negotiated down by the evaluation team and every one is happy at the end of the day.

For the close tenders – easier still. You get the names of all the “qualified” tenderer – possibly about four of the class A Bumiputra Contractors – who if not are already your friends, are all known to each other. Everybody collects their own tender documents and if it is agreed that you will get the tender, you then send your Manager to get the tender documents from the other qualified contractors. You complete the tender documents on "behalf" of the other contractors and put what price you want for everyone else making sure that yours is the most competitive. Then you send back these filled tender documents with $10,000 dollars “coffee money” each for the “qualified contractors” to put in their Company Seal and sign and then forwarded to JKR for evaluation. The “tender process” relevant to the negotiated tender is activated and over time a decision will be made to award the tender to you. Game, set and match – no problems and everybody is happy.

For the open tender – it is a bit complicated – but not for the determined. You have to start early. Right from when they start working on the specifications and budget for the tender. You have to ensure that the specifications are written in favor of the equipments that you supply. Delivery dates must also be tailored to a time frame that only you can meet and ensure that the “evaluation team” are your karaoke regulars. No problems there !! 

Then there is the “sahabat” or sweetheart deal. Through the Political process tenders are allocated for other “national interest” - that you are a Bumiputra, that you are a Ketua Bahagian, that you are a crony of the Ketua Bahagian ( just imagine where you will be if you are a crony of the Prime Minister !!!!) etc etc.

If you are very creative you can “propose” projects to the various Ministries. Puspakom (a real money spinner !!), Bakun Dam in Sarawak, Pahang-Selangor Raw Water Transfer Project, the crooked bridge to Singapore project, putting an astronaut into space project, Legoland Malaysia, Eye on Malaysia project…and the list goes on. Its amazing how “creative” these greedy unscrupulous “so called businessmen’ are in coming up with so many ways of milking our country dry. 

Then there is the "one level up" type of deal – PRIVITIZATION – which when measured by the yardstick of MONEY TO BE MADE – is up there with the IPPs (independent power producers), National Interest Projects and out and out “just a grab for money” deals that makes UMNO stalwarts rich. The Ancient Mariner has addressed one of these instances in his Feb. 08 2209 “Another PKFZ in the making…..” article on his Blog and he knows what he is talking about !!!

The list goes on and will merrily go on until our country becomes another tin pot alley basket case economy with nothing else to give to these politicians. It will be interesting if they then propose that Malaysia invade Singapore in order to physically merge the two countries together to solve the problem of whether “to build or not to build” the crooked bridge. Of course if the invasion of Singapore is to proceed, it will be undertaken by an “UMNO” related company headed by a recently retired “Tun". Twenty percent of the actual physical part of the invasion of Singapore will be allocated to Class F Bumiputra Contractors and the balance will be undertaken by Petronas under its Umbrella Concept proposal design to ensure that UMNO contractors become richer quicker.

Down the list of "proposals" under consideration is one that proposes the relocation of Kuala Lumpur to Klang, It is logical because not only will it eliminate the horrendous traffic jams and flooding problems that KL has, it will simultaneously end the Federal Highway daily crawl. The Ancient Mariner will also agree that with KL in Klang the Port will be utilized to its maximum capacity and the proliferation of Water Sports around the Selangor Yatch Club vicinity be a boom to the locals.  Of course with the invasion of Singapore already in progress this sensible relocation of KL to Klang might have to be deferred to a more prudent time frame - possibly by January 2010 but the search for another "TUN" to head this lucrative undertaking will commence without delay. Amen. 

Thursday 5 March 2009

The King has no Clothes....

V. Sivakumar

V Sivakumar, who has unlimited powers under the Standing Orders of the Perak legislative assembly, created history when he suspended the UMNO preferred Mentri Besar and six of his Executives  from the State Assembly but soon, very soon,  V. Sivakumar,  will be history.

As I watch this Speaker of the Perak Assembly increasingly become more isolated as the days go by I wait for the time when he will be thrown to the sharks that are encircling him now. May GOD save the State of Perak but nothing will save Sivakumar. What he did was a very brave thing and in Politics when you do a very brave thing, that is like falling upon your own sword. Has there been a politician in Malaysia that has done a brave thing and survive? The latest casualty was Radzi (Secretary General of UMNO) who did a brave thing and he perished. Zaid Ibrahim did a brave thing and he perished. Anwar did a brave thing and he perished. Tun Salleh Abbas too perished. No Sivakumar will be had for breakfast, lunch and dinner by Barisan first and then by Pakatan when he can no longer serve their purpose. Pity the poor bastard but he had his day in history and infamy….more of the latter then the former. He is now reduce to calling for a meeting of the state assembly under a tree – but nevertheless it was a very big tree. 

You have to marvel at the audacity of Sivakumar. He looks resplendent and almost Royal in his Speakers Robe  - but -  as he is strutting around when will some body tell him that “the King has no clothes ” ? As I have said before, when you are at the edge of a cliff – STEP BACK to allow you the opportunity of working out what your next move is. Ok you can say that you are not retreating – merely advancing in another direction. So be it – but STEP BACK. Sivakuma did not step back. Now go and figure out where he can go from here. This is where the leadership within Pakatan failed him - Sivakumar went out to bat for Pakatan and put his neck on the chopping board. Now it looks like he will be out for a duck ..and that is just at the Pakatan level. Just think where he will end up eventually once Barisan has had their way with him. And do not forget Tuanku. They will all want a pound of his flesh – and unlike the Merchant of Venice- they can get their pound of flesh and leave him to bleed to death. So my dear Sivakumar remember this. When you next feel inclined to lead a Charge of the Light Brigade, do look back once in a while and make sure you have somebody to cover your rear and your flank because like the charge of the light brigade, you are hurtling into the valley of death. And Politics do not favor the brave. If you ask me…emigration would have to be an option for you to consider......die lah !!! 

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

This Sunday will be a good day for me. My wife is leaving for KL very early in the morning and I know that she will be very happy to leave me because by evening she will be with the light of her life (at this point of time I have been designated the candle of her life but she said  "a scented and burning bright in the night" candle) …..three lights actually, our daughter, her husband and most important of all, Izzy, our grand daughter. So she is happy that she is leaving me and I am happy that she is leaving me because I can have the most comfortable chair in the house to watch TV from. I can wash the dishes anytime I like. I can let them pile up in the sink for as long as I want to. I can watch any TV program I want – no more “Desperate Housewife”, no more “Murder She Wrote” and of course no more “Lost” !!!!

So we are both happy.…though we will miss each other’s company.

We will miss sitting out in the garden every evening so that the cats can have their run around the garden after being cope up in the house all day.We will miss having each other to get us a cup of coffee or tea when we get too settled in the chair to get up to get it ourselves. We will miss grocery shopping together - our “bonding” time together because despite knowing what to get, we still have the minor summit every time before we get the meat or fish to see which are the best bargains.

And we will miss each other’s company everyday – awake or asleep. There is strong comfort in just knowing that some one you love is sleeping near you although you still wonder why she wants to sleep with the lights on and you don’t.

So what will win in the end? Do the “missing each other” bit worth it for the independence of not having your loved one looking over your shoulder worth the parting? At our age, me 61 and she 63, it is a situation we can adjust to. I have my son with me. Yes he will be off to University during the day but we will catch up in the evenings and hopefully do some father to son bonding…this I know I will be looking forward to. And my wife? She will be far far happier with her daughter and her Izzy. 

Yang lepas jangan dikenang ?

Oh how I long for those times when we know who was running the country. There was no question about who were making the decisions – and once those decisions were made – his will was carried out. That man was Mahathir. 

What would the Old Man do if he was round now? Do you think any MB would have the guts to try and keep power if the old man wanted them to go? Not for him going after Speakers of the State Assembly – no Sir – he went against the mother of all things in Malaysia - Royalty. He put them in their place. Anwar ? He gave Anwar a chance to step down and withdrew with grace – when Anwar said “No” and threw the book at the Old Man – the Old Man went all the way and Anwar ended up by spending time in jail. Remember Operation Lalang? Cross the Old man’s path and you die standing. 

Yes these were draconian ways of doing things but is it not better then what we are seeing happening today? An UMNO paralysed and its leader unable to think further then the tip of their nose – fighting for personal survival and glory and nothing else matters – not the Rakyat, not the country, nothing but their survival at all costs.

I am no supporter of Mahathir’s policies but I admire the way the Old Man ruled the country – with an iron fist – because as you can see what idiots we have as politicians, all of them without fail, do not have the maturity to be allowed to run free - they need a strong and powerful leader who will give them a smack on their head should they even think of going out of line.

Say what you want about the Old Man but do you all not remember when he insisted on having his heart problems treated in Malaysia? He was the driving force that brought in Proton, KLCC, KLIA, Putrajaya, the North South Highway…and I could go on and on…and of course you can argue at what cost? Yes these things came at a costs – the culture of “kebendaan or materialism” came into UMNO and the Malays – and whether these costs are worth the burden the Malays have to shoulder is still to be debated and agreed upon. But speaking for myself, I was proud of being a Malaysian because we had many things to be proud – and the Old Man gave us that pride...and the most important thing of all...his heart was in the right place. He did his best for the country and he worked himself twenty four hours a day for our country no matter where he was.

You also have to admire how the Old Man brought up his children and made sure that none of them even come close to the excesses of KJ and what the Family of Pak Lah has done since Pak Lah came into power. 

Yes there will be many amongst you that say that what Malaysia is now undergoing is a change that Malaysia had to have in its progress towards a renewal of purpose. I beg to differ because we do not want change at any costs. Until we have responsible politicians – not the idiots we have now – then I say bring on back the Old Man.. He is smart enough to know what the people wants and given his past, he will deliver a Malaysia that the Rakyat needs in these changing times.