Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Losing Papa

It's something like this. Like Joni Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi' song, "...you never know what you've got till it's gone...".
We have lost our family head, guide and mentor last Tuesday, 24th July 2018. Sometimes i recall snippets of memories from the past with papa. When i was little he used to drive our old morris minor up to batu berendam to visit grandad and the car radio played stevie wonder's "You are the sunshine of my life" as i lay on the car looking at the fluffy clouds above, imagining cowboys and indians hiding behind them. And as granddad's house was situated right in front of the jelutong cemetary we would hear ghost stories as we played in the rubber plantation where we could still find wild tortoises and catch cat fish by hand. This was back in the 70s and it was gloriously fun and organic. Grandpa left us in the 80s and now papa has also gone. The feeling of emptiness is obvious, but in my case and papa's, we were especially close genetically as i was almost his mirror image and he liked what i liked, disliked what i disliked and we understood each other without having to explain.
It's almost like losing my own twin brother. But at the very least, papa has joined mum within a space of 10 months from her passing on and if there is such a thing as the after life, they would surely have reunited as a couple and are cherishing each other now as kindred spirits as they did in real life. Rest in peace, papa. I miss you lots.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Very Malaysian Spring

"In the spring a young man's fancy lighly turns to love" - Lord Alfred Tennyson, Locksley Hall. 

Locksley hall is a poem written by Lord Alfred Tennyson in 1835 and published in 1842 centering on a young man's unrequited love.  It narrates in monologue the emotions of a rejected suitor who comes to his childhood home, the fictional Locksley Hall.

Like the protagonist's unrequited love, the demise of Barisan Nasional had been many years in the making, only its leaders failed to read the writing on the wall. They succumbed to the trap of ego/personality-worship at their own peril for far too long and for all the wrong, farcical reasons. 

To be true, UMNO the mainstay of Barisan still retains 54 seats in Parliament and will likely reform itself - as an Oppostion party - to stay relevant to the Malays who are still loyal to the party. The UMNO which was founded by Onn Ja'afar who ironically left the party he founded in disgust over its communalistic leanings, is now drifting into uncharted waters. Bereft of its source of government largess and now cast out into the political wilderness, UMNO is struggling to stay afloat.

 MCA and MIC will ponder their future in barisan with the same gloom as do all its other minor component parties, loyal to the wrong cause to the last. How long more will this misconceived loyalty subsist remains to be seen. Already some have abandoned ship.

But after the dust has settled, BN leaders will have conducted a post-mortem into what went so wrong with PRU-14. The answer has always been obvious. For UMNO, its leaders became so manifestly corrupt and inwards-looking that party elections were postponed well beyond the norm to prop up the corrupt. It became manifestly UNREPRESENTATIVE of the people that it professed to protect. Most of its candidates were above the age of 60, save for a token few paraded around proudly as the model of najib's "transformasi" which never was. MCA lacked an agenda for the Chinese community. MIC the same, its squabbles with the PPP over who held the leadership mantle for the Malaysian Indian community was the butt of jokes everywhere. 

Irrelevance equals to loss of support from their respective communities. Barisan ceramahs were empty, hollow reminders of the arrogance of its leaders, echoing the microphone of speakers who shouted to invisible audiences their messages of denial and defiance in the face of mounting evidence of wrongdoings and falling mostly on deaf ears. They were roundly rejected by the people but the resulting rout was not felt by its leaders until too late into the night of 9th May 2018.

Is this the end of communal politics in Malaysia?

Not quite but it seems that all roads lead to Bangsa Malaysia from hereon. The new government is still forming as i write this but all hopes are for a better tomorrow. That most of its leaders were ex-UMNO stalwarts anyway is an irony not lost on us. It will become apparent that unity over division, national interest over parochialism, love over hate, hope over fear will now finally be allowed to flourish,  perhaps even to prevail at long last.  The strong undercurrents of Malaysiana will make its presence felt more and more in our national life. It is now up to the new government to navigate the waters and bring the ship Malaysia to port safely. Our common destiny beckons.   

We have witnessed a most equatorial blossoming of our young democracy from the tyrannical rule of the corrupt into a multi-racial, multi-religious people's power which toppled najib's regime and ushered in hitherto undreamed of freedoms our forefathers wrote about when they crafted our Constitution. Long live freedom and long live Malaysia. Let us hope that, unlike Tennyson's young man, may our love be requitted and may we always be loved by our country.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mum

when i was down
you picked me up
when i was up
you celebrated with me
when i was mad
you tried to understand why
when i was weak
you comforted me
when i suffered
you protected me
i love you Mum
i miss you Mum
nothing compares to you Mum
please forgive me for taking you for granted
i could cry me a river but you will never come back to me now
only my empty hands when it's too late
to realise that
i could never love you as much as you have loved me

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pride and Prejudice

It is difficult to overcome ancient prejudices in matters of race and culture but if one makes a conscious effort to disassociate one's mind from overly simplistic generalizations and avoid giving in to that temptation (because thinking is hard), it is rather doable. As philosophers ponder on whether laziness or fear is the biggest obstacle to human progress, in this alley at least, i believe intellectual laziness is the cause and effect of our innate prejudices. But wait, how about one's past bad experiences that reinforce one's prejudices against a certain race/culture? If say, a Chinese Landlord had a tough time with his defaulting Malay tenant or a Malay customer gets cheated by a Chinese towkay selling counterfeit goods/gets overcharged or an Indian man drunk on alcohol physically abuses his spouse/partner, do any of these experiences justify and should they reinforce our ever lurking prejudices and preconceptions? The answer is NO. 
One must always remain vigilant and alert but especially with focus on the INDIVIDUAL and not to give in to easily stereotype an individual belonging to a certain race to a group of misbehaving miscreants based on the color of their skin or their cultural association. 
In Malaysia we still have some ways to go before we graduate from merely tolerating each other into open arm acceptance and embrace of our racial and cultural differences. Some of us are already there but the rest of us still have some catching up to do. But if the truth matters to you, that little effort in objective thinking is well worth the sacrifice.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Politicus Minimis

When No Politics is Good Politics

I've always believed that in life politics is inevitable. Like Bernie Sanders, one needs to get into politics so as to steer life clear of its ugliest excesses. However, i also believe that too much politics is bad in any given situation. Our country has been embroiled in endless politics for what seems like forever. From the Perak state government ouster to the stripping of titles of the incumbent Terengganu Menteri Besar, the casual observer can be forgiven to feel an overwhelming sense of nausea at the direction that this country is spinning towards. Instead of a sleeves-up and let's-get-down-to-work attitude, our people seem to favour indulging more and more in political play mostly of the petty and egregious type. I admit, politics cannot be avoided. But surely it can be moved away from always hogging the limelight? We have more important work to be done. Our educational system is still stuck in limbo, our system of checks and balances have mostly given way to a system of governance under the thumb of the executive branch of government, our judiciary appear trepidatious and afraid to stand its ground on matters of Principal. Granted that this country is still peaceful at least, we can count our lucky stars for that. But as Shakespeare's Julius Caesar co-conspirator Cassius said, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars But in ourselves, that we are underlings".   

Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: "The Chinese Dilemma" by Ye Lin-Sheng

I'm about 12 years late to review this book which was first printed in Feb 2004. I had seen its title and my initial reaction was: "Oh no, not another Dilemma book." And so i didn't give it a second glance back then. But having just finished all 197 pages of it, I can say that Malaysian Chinese businessman Ye Lin-Sheng has done an admirable job of summarising the concerns and common grouses of the Malaysian Chinese and non-Malays especially in regards to the New Economic Policy (NEP) and its 1990 successor the National Development Policy (NDP) or the Affirmative Action program of the Malaysian Government. From its inception to implementation and the public reception and the mainly (according to Ye) positive results through all these years. Ye who grew up in a rural environment with Malay neighbours and friends and has worked in the civil service during the colonial era, struck a conciliatory tone with the merits of such government policies. He lays out the pros and cons of affirmative action policies in Malaysia, compares it with American experiences, lists the Malaysian Chinese' largely lukewarm reception to it, its social and economic impact, the nett effect on outwards migration of the Malaysian Chinese and whether it truly is as bad as it is made out to seem. 
He ends the book on a positive note with this piece of advice: "Make it work or lose it all here". 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

No Glue for Unity and yet...

I went for Tun Dr M's speech during the recent world international peace day open forum organized by the Malacca Bar. He said something interesting. Speaking on the topic of unity, Tun said that there is no "glue" holding Malaysians of different races and religion together and yet somehow we have managed to get along peacefully without any major incidents for the past 58 years except for the May 13 tragedy which happened 46 years ago. How was this possible? That we are thrown into this land whether or not we like each other but for the sake of making a good life we sacrifice certain wishes so that we can get along with each other? Tun remarked that in Malaysia, perhaps it was not such a bad thing that everyone is dissatisfied for not being able to get their way 100% of the time but if this was the price to pay for peace and relative harmony, then it is a sacrifice well worth the price. Let's hope that the next 58 years will draw us closer and not further apart.