Thursday 26 August 2010

Cakap cakap...Good Old Days

A long long time go in the 1960s and in a country far far away the Conservative party under Harold Macmillan was the government of the day in the United Kingdom. The Secretary of State for War was John Profumo and he was married to an actress by the name of Valerie Hobson. The Soviet Naval Attaché was Yevgeny ‘Eugene” Ivanov and living in London at the same time as these two was a girl called Christine Keeler.

Christine Keeler had a relationship with Profumo and Ivanov. This was the era of the Cold War and the potential ramification in terms of national security finally led to the resignation of Profumo on June 5 1963 and the resignation of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in October of the same year.
But those were the days when Politicians were expected to do the right thing and they did! Here in Malaysia I was surprised to learn recently that our Tunku had a Chinese wife we did not even know about….well at least I did not know about it until recently. But then Tunku was a bon vivant “a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink)” and by now this was just one more story that made him a lovable rouge in a time when life was to be enjoyed.
I never remembered a time when I did not enjoy life in Malaysia. As we say one of life’s finest pleasure is food and this we have plenty of at prices too ridiculous to contemplate now that I am in Adelaide! In KL the Nasi Dagang in Kampong Baru, the Curry Puff at See Kee in Jalan Jati in Imbi and the gastronomic spread of food available in Bangsar are wonderful memories that will never leave me. And it is just not the eating of these foods that I enjoy… it is the whole experience of arriving at the destination, the getting of these wonderful delicacies and the actual consumption of them that blows my mind every time it happens.
And then there were the friends and acquaintances I had. The See Kee curry puff vendor always had a word he wanted to have with me. Not to discuss MCA’s latest folly but just a “Lu punya bini mana?” or “Saya punya anak sudak balek” …telling me that his son was back from his studies in overseas.
The mamak at Mahbub in Lucky Gardens, Bangsar was an import from either India or Bangla…I am not too sure which because his Malay was getting better by the day. He knows what I want when I go to the Briayani section but he still asks if I want the legs or the breast – and I always tell him the same thing…”kaki” and remind him that I wanted extra pappodam……and despite being a regular he will still charge me the extra 50 cents for the pappodam! But I am getting carried away with my memories …back to life in KL.
As I have said, most of the time I spent in KL was good until the last time I went back to KL to visit and stayed for many years until 2007. I sense a change amongst the Malays. What was once keen competition for business amongst the Malays now was a do or die struggle to survive. You need big money to live comfortably in KL. Big money can only be got with big projects. And the business was no longer falling into our Bumiputra laps…we had to go and get it from other Bumiputras. Keenness became a ‘take no prisoners’ mentality. You use whatever advantage you have to secure business. Contacts, politics, school mates….and most of all money was used in abundance to secure projects. Now I knew what the Chinese had to face when doing business and their plight must have been more desperate then me – a privileged Malay.

And yet I saw that Naza motors in Bangsar was selling top of the range Mercedes. And it seems that they were doing well. The cars lining up outside BSC up on the hill were the cream of the luxury cars – top of the range with drivers and servants galore helping their masters and mistresses into their waiting chariot. Life must be good for them. But that was BSC before ...not what it is now!

But whenever I went to immigration at Damansara to get an extension for my family’s stay in Malaysia I came face to face with the ugly Malaysians. The immigration officers who became our nightmare from hell. We are faced with a minimum wait of at least three to four hours or more every time we went there. And these civil servants were unable to understand that we, the public, were their reason for being there. But they tried to be polite. They tried to be courteous and there was a semblance of a system of a first come first serve basis but the heart of those working there was simply not in what they were doing. The Malays treated the Malays okay but the other races were being made to understand that they should just be grateful that they were being served. Every time we go through the whole process I silently told myself “not again…..never again” and always we still had to front up at immigration every three months to get that extension…and my wife first came to Malaysia in 1973!                      
I know that for myself when I finally left KL in 2007 to return to Adelaide I was so grateful to have the plane leave KLIA that I let out a sigh of relief! I remember the feeling well because for the first time I felt that I would not want to return to KL…because I know that those carefree days will never return. Not with the way things are in KL now! 


  1. share your sentiment

    many time I want to pack my bag and go

    might just do it now......

  2. by all mean pack your bags and go mate (btw i'm no umno boy). on your bike....

  3. you and the likes of this writer do not deserve to write about this country. go and fly kites in that/would be fairy land of are pain in the ....