Category Archives: Personal

Songs In The Keys of Life

I recently attempted to compile a playlist of my all favourite songs. Why, as some of you are wont to ask?Well, there is a saying ‘Those who can’t do, teach’, which is rather unfair to those who teach actually. And according to my wife, those who can’t sing, compile playlists.

Mind you, she said that to me after a session of karaoke where I mercilessly massacred many of our favourite songs. So don’t get offended, y’all.

eagles hotel california (yioutube)

The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’, one of the best-selling ALBUMS ever, by a group recognized the world over as a SUPERGROUP. The song ‘Hotel California’ remains one of the most memorable and recognizable opening guitar riff, which every guitarist worth his salt would just love to nail it. (image from youtube.com)

The truth of the matter is that I was thinking, like, would it not be nice to be able to plonk away on my notebook or pursue any other activity for that matter, with my favourite songs playing in the background.

Not to blow my own trumpet, whilst some of my friends have opted to retire in their mid-fifties for a life of no stress (so they say), I am still working away and trying to earn an honest living.

For the life of me, I cannot imagine myself retiring, just yet anyway, to live the life of a beach bum. Not that my friends retired and became beach bums. I mean, like have you seen them and the shape they are in?

The Hoff (indiewire.com)

The Hoff, smouldering look et al. Enuff said. (image sourced from indiewire.com)

First and foremost, I don’t live anywhere near the beach. And secondly, I am, physically at least, nowhere near being a fine specimen of a man, like The Hoff was when he was running around in his bright red shorts, saving damsels pretending to be in distress in the Californian waves. Heck, it was only three feet deep anyway.

That said, please note that I did not, at any moment, mention the age thing. It is after all just a number. As they say.

alfred neuman what me worry wiki

Alfred E Neuman’s famous words were ‘What, me worry?!’. Then again, he was one of the main characters from the satire magazine MAD. See the connection? (image from wikipedia)

But you know, deep in your still young heart, that it does not augur well for you when, number wise, the reverse of your age is greater than (and definitely not equal to your age) before you reversed it.

Yep, full-time retirement is definitely out. Well, at least for the moment. But semi-retirement? Worth considering, that.

But I digress. As usual.

At this age, some say it’s not a good sign. Signs of the onset of dementia, they would say. But say that about me to my wife and you will definitely regret ever knowing the word.

prince (wikipedia)

I know him as Prince, one of the most gifted musicians and song writers ever to grace the music scene. (image from wikipedia)

Worth every single beat (and lyric) of Prince’s ‘The Most Beautiful Girl In The World’, my wife is.

Now where was I again? Ah yes, the mother of all playlists.

rlj (eil.com)

Rickie Lee Jones album cover with ‘Chuck E’s In Love’ as the pivotal song of the album. Big influence on the musical scene ever since she burst through. (image from eil.com)

The playlist of all the songs that I would love to hear again, whether I am chillin’ to Edie Brickell’s ‘Good Times’ or Ms Jones’ ‘Chuck E’s In Love’, or pretending to be both Van Morrison and that ex-gravedigger Rod Stewart (Sir Rod to you ok?!), taking turns singing ‘Have I Told You’ (unplugged for course), whilst driving my battered old car whilst on an errands run, and hoping she (my car that is) doesn’t do The Sulk and stop by the side of the road somewhere.

Or even maybe when I am giving my car an overdue wash at the local car wash (can’t wash it myself anymore. Has been so for a long time. Bad back and all that, you know).

car wash (genius.com)

A still from that 70s movie ‘Car Wash’. Hits from the movie included ‘Wishing Upon A Star’ and ‘Car Wash’. The song ‘Car Wash’ was given a re-make for the movie ‘Shark Tale’. (image sourced from genius.com)

Now whether its Christina or Rose Royce, it does not matter cos ‘Car Wash’ is still catchy as hell. The thing is, those guys at the local car wash, they don’t even know the song, never mind moving to it.

The mother of all playlists will definitely serve as background music to my chaotic plonking on my notebook’s keyboard. And I am pretty sure, whatever that gets me at that moment in time, I will definitely have the music for it.

luther vandross (FB)

The late Luther Vandross, one of the best crooner of romantic songs if ever there was one. (image sourced from Facebook.com)

Soul, R&B, Jazz, Pop, Rock, and whatever genre of music they came up with. Personally, I never did understand how you categorize what is what.

I mean, music is music. It comes from the heart.

I have, however, over the years, given up on heavy metal. I mean, all that head banging. What a headache. But I let you in a secret.

whitesnake

O Ye with The Golden Streaks. David Coverdale & Whitesnake. Still rocking, I gather. (image sourced from whitesnake-blog.com)

My friends and I actually did some head banging during our college days. Not much but enough to know the difference between ‘headaches’ and ‘head aches’, and who is suffering from over consumption of the intoxicating beverages and who is suffering from overdoing the headbanging gig.

Now, I can’t be telling you who they are. I mean, we signed an NDA way before NDAs became fashionable. My friends are now highly respected architects, engineers and university lecturers.

Deep Purple (does not matter whether its Gillan or Coverdale, it’s still Deep Purple), Dio, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, David Coverdale’s Whitesnake (O ye with the golden streaks), AC/DC etc.

Fleetwoood Mac (Wikipedia)

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. Like The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ album, Rumours is one of the best-selling ALBUMS by the SUPERGROUP. (image sourced from Wikipedia).

Their names still roll off the tongue, and we still listen to their music. But sorry guys, we are keeping whats left of our hair, thank you very much. And our grey cells.

As for our Saturday Night Fever couple, our partying days have been over ever since we left college. They have both went on their separate ways, not that they were ever together (just dancing, y’know).

Both are now recuperating after having to deal with a lifetime of work and family commitments. Diapers, medical bills and tuition fees can really have a sobering effect. A sign of the times, I’d say.

jackson browne (wiki)

Jackson Browne. Been in the music scene for a long time, with compatriots the likes of Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Carole King amongst others. Folksy sound with ‘Running On Empty’ album standing out (for me at least). (image sourced from wikipedia)

At the last count, I have already compiled a playlist close to a thousand songs. I do not know whether that is the norm, but as far as I am concerned, it just sort of grew and grew, to the point that I had to break the mother of all playlists into several mothers of all playlist.

And one each in a different language.

triolestari (triolestari.com)

Trio Lestari, an Indonesian vocal group comprising of three equally successful individual singers in their own right. (image sourced from triolestari.com)

That’s the trouble with us, who don’t speak English as their mother tongue. I have compiled a playlist of English songs, both American and British English and all other accents in between.

I also have a playlist made up of Malay songs, both Indonesian and Malaysian. Sorry, make that two separate playlists.

anuar zain wiki

When it comes to romantic ballads, Anuar Zain is a class act on his own. This Malaysian singer has been around the music scene for a long time. All his concerts are sold out events. (image sourced from wikipedia)

Why two? Yeah, well, there have been some really great songs in the language you know, and many more are coming onto the scene, with musical influences like R&B, Jazz, Soul making a presence in today’s music scene in this here parts.

jaz youtibe

Jaz from Brunei Darussalam. Sings with a jazzy feel with a bit of R&B influence, with a large fan base from the Malay speaking worlds of Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia. (image sourced from youtube.com)

Couple that with the sophistication in today’s music videos, I am willing to bet more and more will make it to my playlists.

tulus kerencom

Tulus, an Indonesian singer who took the Indonesian music scene by storm a few years ago. (image sourced from keren.com)

I hate to admit it but I also have playlists of non-English and non-Malay songs.

I may not habla Espanyol but with Despacito, A Puro Dolor, and Entra En Mi Vida, and with the feel, the vibrancy and the harmonising in these songs, how could I not but create a playlist dedicated to the language.

Not as extensive but its ok for my listening pleasure.

But I guess therein lies the attraction. A playlist of songs that have brought us great pleasure throughout our respective lives.

despacito (youtube.com)

‘Despacito’. Memorable song. Infectious beat. Raw energy. Crazy dance moves. Enuff said. (image sourced from youtube.com)

Through childhood, through college, through heartbreaks (yeah, some of us mucho macho men do have them), through romantic moments (them too! There goes the mucho macho!), and through all what we collectively call LIFE.

As I write this, with Billy Joel’s ‘Leave A Tender Moment Alone’ playing in the background, I wonder, a year from now, how many more would have I add to my collective playlists.

Billy Joel (Wiki)

The Piano Man, Billy Joel. Had hits with ‘Honesty’, ‘Piano Man’, ‘Leave A Tender Moment Alone’, amongst others but most remembered for his ‘Uptown Girl’, a song he wrote and perform to woo Christie Brinkley. (image sourced from Wikipedia)

But I am willing to bet, they will all give me great pleasure and joy,  triggering fond memories of days gone by, as much as your personal playlist will.

Before the realities of life took over, that is.

 

Date : 9 March 2018

 

 

 

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From The Archives : The Joy of Philately aka Stamp Collecting

From The Archives : First Posted on 21 January 2014

philately 3 (nst.com.my)

Malaysian stamps marking the coronation of the DYMM Yang Di Pertuan Agong. (source : nst.com.my)

I would like to state here, for the record that I am one of them. ‘Them’ being those who can admit that they actually have hobbies and pour moi, one of my hobbies is the hobby of collecting stamps or more glamourously known as philately, and by extension, I am therefore a philatelist or , stripped of all pretenses, a stamp collector.

Historically speaking, if not for the Frenchman Georges Herpin, we would be known as ‘timbromaniacs’ for having ‘Timbromania’ as a hobby. Thanks to him, he coined the new term ‘Philately’ in 1864 and ever since then, we have been known as ‘philatelists’.  Sounds better and safer than being a ‘maniac’, does it not?

malaysian stamps 2 (filatelic.com)

Stamps potraying some of the wildlife available in Malaysia (source : filatelic.com)

In addition to being to a philatelist (ehem, ehem), I also admit to being a collector of coins and paper currencies (I have not looked the term up yet!), metal badges (nowadays metal badges are hard to come by, unlike in them good old days of a metal badge for every occasion), telephone cards (see my previous post, Into The Annals of History – The Telephone Card (http://wp.me/p21MP1-7i)), music cds and vinyl records (goes well with my interest in music regardless of genres) to name but a few.

I must admit it being not easy to admit to being a stamp collector or a philatelist, be it stamps from my own country of Malaysia or from elsewhere in the known world. I guess it’s all due to the normal reaction one draws whenever one admits to collecting stamps : looks of disbelief, a snicker and a snigger, to downright laughter (almost derisively, I could have sworn), all of whom are not exactly good for the morale, I must say.

malaysian stamps (filatelic.com)

A sample of the Malaysian reptilian population (source : filatelic.com)

But pray tell, where did I get this hobby from, you might ask? From my late father, that’s who. He was a King’s Scout (so I am told) in his school days and used to have quite a collection of stamps, lovingly kept in his collection of stamp albums, compiled since he was young and he kept them lovingly together even when he got married. Lovingly until that is when we, his children, came along not long thereafter.

His stamp albums did not last long after our arrival especially when we came to be amazed and excited at what colour pencils can do. After that, there was never enough paper (and walls for that matter) for us budding Vincent van Goghs to draw on.

Not only his stamps (and the walls, mind you) were not safe from us then, but as we got older and got to know (theorectically that is) that to send mail via the Post Office, you’d need stamps and as stamps require money (kids those days only had the money what our parents gave us), we came up with an ingenious way of sending mail without having to purchase them from the Post Office.

east german stamps (space)

East German stamps – Space exploration (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

Trouble is, no one told us that those stamps must be unused stamps and they must be stamps issued by the country. We never saw our Father’s stamp collection after that. And kids being kids, we did wonder what happened our Father’s stamp collection, although not for long for there was always something else to attract our attention.

I began collecting stamps early, thanks to my father’s guidance and also thanks in his indulgence in getting me a stamp album. From then on, whatever I know today of stamp collecting, most are what he taught me when I was a child.

However, school began to take its toll on my new-found hobby and soon enough, my passion for stamps, their many designs and colours, all together telling a story, began to take a backseat. However, despite all that was happening in my life then, I still collected stamps, carefully cutting the stamps off from the envelopes they endorsed and put them away for a time when I had the time to really attend to them and hear their story.

Until that is til I was in my late 20’s, believe it or not, of all places, when I was in West Germany. There was, at that moment in time, an East Germany, internationally known as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR for short, and a West Germany aka the Bundes Republik Deutschland (BRD).

west german stamp (Berlin Post Ofice)

A sample of a West German stamp (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

Some of the stories and the history of the two Germanies were told via the stamps issued by the Germanies, East and West as well as the stamps of the individual states that make up the current Germany – Pruessland, Hessen, NordRhein-Westfalen, Schleswig-Holstein, amongst others.

It was a natural that my West German stamp collection expanded to include East Germany, the United Kingdom, and of course Malaysia. It helped that for enthusiasts like me, there were stores that cater to philatelists, with a good and wide range of stamp albums to choose from.

Since then, I have settled down, got married and have children of my own. Learning from experience, I have kept my stamp albums hidden away from their reach and my collection are now awaiting for the day that I will, once again, be able to channel my energies and time to add to the collection that I already have.

Its hard to explain, this joyous feeling when you have compiled a complete set. It’s either you have it or you don’t, this feeling. Try it and just maybe, you’d understand why.

 

 

 

From The Archives : Into The Annals of History – The Telephone Card

From The Archives : First Posted on 24 November 2012

Remember payphones? Those phones that would normally be found housed in a glass cubicle, especially in countries having four seasons, allowing you to make phone calls wherever you may be outside of your home.

All you would need are coins of legal tender to start making calls, although some have been known be a bit inventive and creative in trying to get the most of their coins and ‘coins’ from these payphones.

300px-Red_Public_Phone_Boxes_-_Covent_Garden,_London,_England_-_Thursday_September_Thirteenth_2007

Famous British red telephone booths (good protection from the weather, but not sure about the air quality though) (source : wikipedia,org)

Some of these cubicles would be red in colour (like in the United Kingdom) whilst others would be in other fashionable colours, and some of these cubicles would be plain-looking whilst some would be fashionably designed eg Spain, Netherlands, Brazil etc.

Most of these payphones would be in good working condition but some would fall prey to vandals. And as most people have experienced, the air quality within the cubicles leaves so much to be desired unless you are CSI’s Hodges who likes to take a whiff to give you a breakdown of the air’s constituents. But then again, it’s a no-brainer as most time, it would be urine anyway.

Sunset Scene (Uniphone Malaysia)

Sunset Scene Telephone Card from Uniphone Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

And remember telephone cards? That little piece of plastic that we use to make phone calls with? Just by inserting the card into the payphone, we can get connected to our loved ones who lives a distance away or just to give their girlfriends a call (to ensure their girlfriends of their undying love, whilst hogging the phone for the next half an hour, complete with kisses etc, and remaining oblivious to the queue of people outside the cubicle looking and some even pointing at the watches, eating and finishing their burgers etc whilst waiting patiently for their turn) or make that all important call to the office thus ensuring the bossman that we are actually on the job despite not being in the office (as if!). That little piece of plastic that is the telephone card, later to be replaced almost totally by the mobile phone as the Digital Age took a firm grip of the late 1990s and the new millenium.

Lake Kenyir, Terengganu (Citifon Malaysia)

Telephone Card from Citifon Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

That little piece of plastic, the telephone card, was of no less importance in the 1990s than that other fashionable-to-have piece of plastic, the credit card, so fashionable that some would not leave home without it? That piece of plastic that comes in different denominations eg RM5, RM10 etc etc?

I just moved house recently (again!) and was unpacking a box of old personal belongings, stuff that I bring along with me whenever we move house, without fail and always in the same box, when I came across a bundle of old used telephone cards. As I was going through the cards, the memories came flooding back with each card having its own little story to tell.

1990s NTT Japan Phone Card

Japanese Telephone Card (NTT) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

For instance, the Japanese telephone cards from NTT came to become part of my collection when I was on a month’s training in Tokyo, Japan, with a unit of Nomura no less. Since telecommunications is a big thing in Japan (they were experimenting with some form of texting way before it came big in United Kingdom and later in Malaysia), you could find payphones easily and most, if not all, accept telephone cards.

1990s NTT Japan Phone Card (3)

Japanese Telephone Card (NTT) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

As everybody knows, you’d normally use coins to make calls at payphones then. Thats okay for short distances, eg within Tokyo or even Japan itself, but for long distance calls eg to Malaysia, the telephone card is the way to go. Convenient and easily available, even from a vending machine.

Utusan Malaysia Cartoons - Lat (Uniphone Malaysia)

LAT Cartoons from Uniphone Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

That was an eye opener but then again, this is Japan. If you want something, chances are that you can get it from a vending machine and in Japan, vending machines live a long and prosperous life. Unlike their cousins in some places.

And in Japan, vending machines are a dime a dozen. They can be found almost everywhere and the most amazing thing is that these machines remained intact and good working condition despite being left unattended out in the open.

Malaysian Fauna - The Selayak Bird (Uniphone Malaysia)

The Selayak Bird – Flora & Fauna (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

And for most of us who went for that particular piece of training, we mastered the art of making a call from the hotel where we were staying, to Malaysia in no time. It being a telephone card, the downside was that our calls were limited in terms of duration but on the upside, it kept us on the right side of a budget.

Marine Life (Time Malaysia)

Marine Live (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

The telephone cards in my collection were mostly, as expected, Malaysian. Malaysian telephone cards, if you look carefully, carries a lot of information, that is if you know where to look. For instance, names like Uniphone, Citifon are some of the household names during the age of payphones and by extension, telephone cards as well. Today, telecommunication household names tend to be mobile operators, with most people having at least one mobile phone and one mobile number.

Lata Mengkuang Waterfalls, Kedah (Uniphone, Malaysia)

Lata Mengkuan Waterfalls (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

Malaysian telephone cards also tend to be made of solid plastic, unlike those pliable ones from Japan’s NTT thus indicating the different technology and materials employed.

Another common characteristic amongst all telephone cards that I have used or come across is that they tend to have scenes of public life or cartoons or fauna and flora or interesting locations etc pasted onto these telephone cards, making these cards items of interest and thus, collectible giving rise to a new hobby (or a new form of hoarding, as my wife would always say).

Divali Greetings (Singapore Telecom)

Divali Greetings – Telephone Card from SIngapore Telecom (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

Compare these telephone cards to the pre-paid reload cards that you have today, well in Malaysia at least, one can definitely say there is a vast difference in the presentation as well as materials used. Maybe the marketing approach for reload cards is not as demanding for telephone cards due to the nature of the business or the competition available.

Whatever it is, one thing’s for sure. In the Digital Age where connectivity is of great import, and as telecommunication technology gets more and more sophisticated, the telephone card will definitely go by way of the Dodo bird soon, if it hasn’t already.

Malaysian Fruits - Cempedak (Uniphone Malaysia)

Malaysian Fruits – The Cempedak (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

But for collectors of telephone cards, it will always bring back memories of an era where things were comparatively simpler as compared to nowadays. Days when we had a certain degree of freedom and time for ourselves, and not always subject to the ring (or ringtone, as it is nowadays) of our mobile handphones.

Granted, everything has its price but the day may come when, to stay connected or as they say, wired in, the price may soon be a bit too high for some. Some have already ditched their handphones for a more stress-free environment. Being wired-in does have its limitations and its drawbacks, you must agree.

When that day comes, are we to see the re-introduction of the telephone card? Who knows? It may just happen.

 

 

Tun M – The Unravelling of A Legacy?

Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad (Tun M), the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, held the highest executive office in Malaysia from 1981 til 2003.

mahathir-independent-co-uk

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the 4th and longest serving Prime Minister (images sourced from independent.co.uk)

Born in Alor Star, the capital of the northern Malaysian state of Kedah, to Mohamad bin Iskandar (the first Malay headmaster of an English school now known as Maktab Sultan Abdul Samad) and Wan Tempawan binti Wan Hanafi (who comes from a long line of Kedah royal household courtiers and is herself a distant relative of the Kedah royal family), his official date of birth is recorded as 20 December 1925, although it has been stated oft-times that his actual birth of date falls on the 10th of July 1925.

siti hasmah mahathir (wikipedia)

The Young Couple – Tun M and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah (image sourced from Wikipedia).

He is a medical graduate from King Edward VII College (now part of the National University of Singapore (NUS)) and it was during his time at King Edward VII College was when he met (Tun) Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, whom he later married in 1956.

Tun M was then in service of the government, and in 1958 he left the service to return to Alor Star to start his own practice.

Upon his return to Alor Star, he was elected to the Kedah UMNO Committee where he headed the political sub-committee.

Siti_Hasmah (Wikipedia)

Tun Dr Siti Hasmah (image sourced from Wikipedia)

It is said that he would have stood for the General Elections in 1959 had he not been in disagreement with Tunku Abdul Rahman, the then president of UMNO as well as the then Prime Minister of Malaya (Malaysia was only formed in 1963).

It is believed that due to the disagreement with the Tunku, Tun M had declined the offer to stand for election for a parliamentary seat.

Fast forward to 2003, Tun has contested 9 elections, winning eight and losing once, with the last five seeing him victorious as President of UMNO as well as Chairman of the ruling Barisan Nasional.

tunku abdul rahman (pmo.gov.my)

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj (image sourced from pmo.gov.my)

In football parlance, the scorecard would have read P9 W8 L1 D0.

His love affair with UMNO had seen him sacked from the party in 1969, brought back to the party by Tun Abdul Razak (the father of the current Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib) in 1974,  appointed to the Dewan Negara before later getting elected as a member of the Dewan Rakyat.

Tun M was then appointed by Tun Hussein Onn (the father to Dato’ Sri Hishamuddin, the current Defence Minister) as Deputy Prime Minister, before ascending the heights of Malaysian politics as Prime Minister in 1981, to finally retire from active politics in 2003.

tun razak (pmo.gov.my)

Tun Abdul Razak (image sourced from pmo.gov.my)

His retirement had the blessings and heartfelt gratitude of all, especially for the way he and his team handled the Malaysian theater of the Asian Financial Crisis (1997-1998), regardless of the political divide and reasons thereto.

His twenty-year plus tenure as Prime Minister coincided with the country’s rise to heights never thought possible, complemented with a renewed self-confidence.

It was never in doubt that this can be attributed to Tun M’s stewardship of the government, as it can also be attributed to the many who had also contributed, from the private sector as well as the government sector.

His long tenure as Prime Minister was the longest in Malaysian history that a generation of Malaysians never knew of any other Prime Minister but Tun M.

Due to the length of his stewardship, it is a given that Tun M had his fair shares of controversies. Some political, some economic, and some international.

Afterall, that comes with the territory, one would say.

One of the controversies, though it was long in the making, was the issue of his successor. From 1981 (when he ascended Mount Malaysian Politics) til 2003 (when Tun M finally retired), he had four (4) Deputies namely Tun Musa Hitam, Tun Ghaffar Baba, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim and finally Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as his Deputy.

Of the four, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was the one who finally succeeded Tun M and took over the hot seat of the Prime Minister whilst the rest of the cast either resigned, got deposed as No 2 in UMNO and therefore by extension, in Government as well, or was summarily fired.

Tun_Hussein_Onn (wikipedia)

Tun Hussein Onn (image sourced from wikipedia)

With Tun M having passed the baton to the then Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (now Tun), one would have thought, that’s one chapter closed with a new chapter, with Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Prime Minister, ready to be written.

But for whatever reason beknown only to Tun M himself, he returned to the fray and, for all sense and purpose, became the main driving force in ‘forcing’ Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign from the office of Prime Minister and replaced by Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, the then Deputy Prime Minister.

pak lah (wikipedia)

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (image sourced from wikipedia)

Why Tun Abdullah resigned when he could have stayed on and fight for his right to stay, remains a mystery.

Maybe the thought of a fight that would split the party, again, did not appeal to Tun Abdullah.

Afterall, Tun Abdullah had always been known to be soft-spoken, well liked by all, and, above all, a gentleman.

For those who remembered it still, 1987 and the lessons that it brings, was never that long ago, especially in politics. Hard lessons were learnt from that episode, and should have remained learnt.

Again, one would expect that would be that. But it was not long before Tun M came to the fore, again, this time to put pressure on the sitting Prime Minister ie Dato’ Sri Najib, to resign.

Again, the exact reasons are beknown only to him although the most common of public statements made have been mostly laid at 1MDB’s doorstep.

There have been widespread speculations to the actual reasons, other than 1MDB, with some voiced in the public domain and some not.

najib (wikipedia.org)

The 6th and current Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak (sourced from wikipedia.org)

However, this time round, the sitting Prime Minister did not succumb to pressure and resign.

Instead, the reverse happened and it should not have been a surprise.

Afterall, no incumbent Prime Minister would submit, could submit and should submit to outside pressure to withdraw, even from one so experienced and who has publicly and officially declared his retirement from active politics.

For all intents and purposes, there can only be one Prime Minister at any one particular time. Like a 4×100 or 4×400 relay run, you run, you pass the baton and then you step aside and let the new guy run.

Likewise, leadership is a relay, and not a one-man race. New ideas and new energy are required to address new challenges. Nothing stays the same for long, as all are in a state of flux.

In addition, it should not be made into a political habit, that one resigns because an ex-premier demands for it. Directly or indirectly, via proxy or otherwise, openly or in private. It’s just not on.

umno-logo

Logo of The United Malays National Organization (UMNO)

By then, Tun M had already publicly resigned from UMNO (during the tenure of Tun Abdullah as party president), and re-joined the party after Tun Abdullah had passed the baton as party president to Dato’ Sri Najib.

When Dato’ Sri Najib did not resign despite the intense pressure applied on him to step down, Tun M finally quit UMNO, the party that had placed him at the apex of Malaysian politics from 1981 to 2003.

Pakatan Harapan (says.com)

Pakatan Harapan – PKR, AMANAH, DAP and PRIBUMI, replacing Pakatan Rakyat. (image sourced from says.com)

Not long therafter, Tun M formed his own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PRIBUMI) in 2016, with himself as chairman.

As chairman of PRIBUMI, he reserved the power to nullify any decision made the president of PRIBUMI, if it did not meet his agreement.

PRIBUMI, with Tun M as its chairman, is now part of the opposition pact called the “Pakatan Harapan” (loosely translated as Coalition for Hope whilst some have naughtily translated it as a Hopeful Coalition or a Coalition of Hopefuls), a grouping consisting of PKR, DAP, AMANAH (a PAS offshoot) and PRIBUMI, formed to replace the earlier pact of “Pakatan Rakyat” (loosely translated as The People’s Coalition).

pakatan rakyat (tubepanas.blogspot.com)

Pakatan Rakyat – PAS, DAP & PKR (image sourced from tubepanas.blogspot.com)

True to form, Tun M managed to be appointed chairman of the coalition, although whether that means Tun M calls the shots is another thing altogether.

Afterall, with a coalition that has Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Dato’ Sri Azmin Ali of PKR, the father-son Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng of DAP, as members of the Presidential Council in addition to Tun M, requires skilful handling of a minefield of egos to contend with, no matter how you phrase it.

It must be said that Tun M has always been known to speak his mind, regardless. So it would be very interesting to be a fly on the wall of a Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting, grant you that.

Anwar (wikipedia)

Dato Sri Anwar Ibrahim (image sourced from wikipedia)

With all that has happened since and with all that has been said since, there is a clear and grave danger that Tun M’s legacy, a legacy that has been honoured and accorded with the utmost of respect by Malaysians, especially by the Malays and members of UMNO, the party that had played a major role in getting him to the pinnacle of Malaysian politics, is unravelling.

The irony is that most of the unravelling can be placed directly at Tun M’s doorstep, so to speak.

Issues related to Memali, the forex debacle by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the national car company PROTON, the national steelmaker PERWAJA, and other issues has been brought to the fore these last few years, never mind statements relating to UMNO when Tun M was president.

Statements made when reminding UMNO members of their duties to UMNO and to hold steadfast to the continuing struggles of the party, are now coming back to haunt him. ‘Melayu mudah lupa’ (the Malays forget easily), ‘grouses to be channelled within party channels’, ‘loyalty to the party’, ‘party first, never the individual’ are but a few of them.

ghafar baba (wikipedia)

Tun Ghafar Baba (image sourced from wikipedia)

In many ways, it is a sad state of affairs as Tun M, in his advanced years (he is 92 now), should be enjoying the loving company of his family instead of having to go through the rough and tumble of politics, again, basked in the respect and love of Malaysians especially the Malays and UMNO.

A STATESMAN.  Above it all.

An apt way to be remembered for all that he has done and contributed to the country.

Instead, we are at a juncture where all that Tun M has done for Malaysia, for UMNO and for Barisan Nasional risk lying in ruins.

When that happens, it will be a sad and sorry state of affairs for one of Malaysia’s and Kedah’s most distinguished sons.

Tun M has never been one to be taken advantage of. That said, surely the chauvinistic statement from the no-less chauvinistic Superman Hew, ‘Use Melayu to screw Melayu’, rankles Tun M as much as it rankles Malays and UMNO themselves. Surely. But based on the happenings of the last few years, one can only hope that that is the case.

Hopefully, it will not be too presumptious to suggest that maybe, it’s time for Tun M to step back from the precipice and away from the people who welcome him because of what they think he could bring, only to discard him unceremoniously when it does not go according to script.

Before his legacy unravels even further.

For all intents and purposes, that would be a very, very sad day. It has happened before and there is no guarantee that it will not happen again. Remember 1993?

It will be a very sad day when it happens. For all of us. Regardless.

 

Date : 31 December 2017

 

Footnote : This article was first posted on ‘Politics As I See It‘ on 20 October 2017. It is still relevant today as when it was first posted back then.

 

 

The Hijab : A Thin Veil Between Modesty and Vanity

The Hijab is an Arabic terminology popularly used to describe a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women in defence of their modesty, when in the presence of adult males not of their immediate family.

It usually covers the head and chest of the lady but the Hijab can also be referred to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conforms to a certain standard of modesty.

In Malaysia, the practise of wearing the Hijab by Muslim women gained popularity sometime in the mid or late 1980s. The practise of the wearing of the Hijab or ‘The Tudung’ as it was more commonly known back then, was simple, uncomplicated and not at all sophisticated.

Some would adorn a modified version of the head-dress of the ‘Telekung’ (which is the garb worn by Muslim women when performing their prayers) whilst some would adorn a simple shawl steadied into place by the use of cloth pins.

The wearing of the Hijab was initially looked upon rather unfavourably, even by a majority of the Muslim public at that time, as the wearing of Hijab was linked to a few so-called Islamic movements deemed ‘unsavoury’, at that particular moment in time, either by practice or rhetoric.

Over time, the donning of the Hijab began to be accepted by the general Muslim public in Malaysia as evident from the number of Muslim women who began to don the Hijab, either on their own free will or as ‘encouraged’ by their husbands, fiance or even boyfriends.

It was always mentioned back then, when a Muslim lady dons the Hijab, it is seen as a life changing moment for the Muslim lady and it is an action that is not to be taken lightly.

By donning the Hijab, it is seen as a commitment made by the Muslim lady to not only be modest in the way she dresses in public but also as her commitment to observe her religious obligations with respect to the way she manages and handles her life obligations.

The way they talk, the language they used, the way they dress and the way they interact especially with male colleagues and friends are all part of the package that comes along with her commitment to change.

It is not uncommon to hear back then that once a Muslim lady dons the Hijab, she would freely give all of her wardrobe that is deemed ‘revealing’ and to replace them with new clothing that complies with the demands for modesty.

Indeed, a life changing moment.

For the Muslim women back then, the Hijab they adorn were made of simple materials, nothing too fancy, as the priority was to keep to a modest code of dressing. The fashion conscious would say that it’s a dull and unattractive way of dressing but then again, we are talking about modesty.

As more and more women don the Hijab, including those who were fashionistas, there began a clamour by the more fashion conscious segment of the Muslim women community for a more stylish and fashionable Hijab, both for when going to work as well as to attend other social functions, official as well as personal.

From this desire to dress modestly and stylishly at the same time, different types and designs of the Hijab began to make their way into the market, addressing this growing demand.

These designs brought into the market differ by the materials used, level of sophistication in donning them, colour combinations, the number of folds etc. In short, a new market was developing ie fashion based on the Hijab.

Some might even say that this was the start of what is termed as Islamic fashion. The evolution of the this new market, however, and level of sophistication has its price, even if it’s for a fistful more Ringgits than before. At least.

In ‘the old days’, one can don a Hijab and achieve that degree of ‘modest dressing feeling’ for only a few Ringgits. One can still do so today, as they are many Hijabs that still can be had for as low as RM10 (circa USD3). Not one to affect the weekly budget for most. Simple in design and simple in materials used.

But today, the market for the simple and modest Hijab has gone beyond comprehension. Put on a label or a brandname, slight change in the materials used, change the packaging concept and reward the customer with a paper bag (plastic even) with the name of the label clearly visible, a touch here and a touch there and voila, the price goes stratospheric.

A sad state of affairs this, for what was seen as an encouragement for Muslim women to go modest is now seen as a reverse.

Surely it is obvious that the price of the Hijab nor its exclusivity does not dictate the level of modesty of the Muslim women, and does not dictate the respect that a Muslim lady commands. Or has its significance got lost somewhere in the design, manufacture, packaging and marketing of the Hijab? Or has it turned into a sacrificial lamb in the pursuit of excellence in the name of Islamic fashion?

It is common knowledge that some women who do not don the Hijab adopt a more modest lifestyle and dressing than some who actually don the Hijab. By dressing, they are not pretentious and are well-respected for it, professionally and personally. The language they use and the manner they conduct themselves in public.

In saying so, it is also common knowledge that some who don the Hijab lead lifestyles that raises more than a few eyebrows than they who do not don the Hijab.

The conventional wisdom says that a return to the basics and common sense is required. The decision to don a Hijab or not, lies with the Muslim ladies. But a word of caution, if we may.

By going back to the basics, it is meant that the donning the Hijab must be for the right reasons, for the donning of the Hijab comes with responsibilities. Not because of peer pressure or that because you look or may look good in Hijab or that you want to cover your hair, for the line between vanity and modesty is separated by a very thin veil of cloth.

A very thin veil indeed. Literally and figuratively.

 

 

Date : 10 August 2017

 

VEP :A mountain out of RM20 per entry?

ciq jb

The Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Johor Bahru (source : gerbangperdana.com.my)

After two years since it’s intended implementation was first announced (please also see meandpolitics.wordpress.com on related posts – ‘VEP : An Act of Sabotage?’ as well as ‘Malaysia, Singapore, Johor and the VEP’), the never-ending saga of the implementation of the VEP (or Vehicle Entry Permit) for all foreign-registered cars entering Malaysia is finally over.

Or is it?

To understand the implementation of the program a lot better, a look at the JPJ website at https://vep.jpj.gov.my states that :-

  • ALL foreign –registered vehicles are to register with Road Transport Department (RTD or more commonly known by its Bahasa Malaysia acronym, JPJ). When registering the vehicles the vehicle owners have to produce the necessary documents eg proof of car ownership, insurance etc etc,
  • once registered with the JPJ, these vehicles will be issued non-transferable RFID tags. These RFID tags contains pertinent information with respect to the registered vehicle, and
  • these RFID tags are valid for 5 YEARS

And all these for a processing fee of RM10 (circa RM2.50 or SGD3.30, take your pick).

Once these vehicles are registered and issued the RFID tags, these cars are then permitted to enter the country at any time during that five (5) years the VEP is valid for.

On entering the country, these VEP-registered vehicles are charged a fee called the ROAD CHARGE (RC).  The RC is ….wait for it, RM20 (Yes, its RM20 only) and is charged PER ENTRY (Yes, its PER ENTRY).

The proceeds from the RC is used to offset road maintenance costs, amongst other things.

ciq-singapore-cars

JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. ( BH JBH380G / METRO JB141J ) Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 untuk masuk ke Malaysia pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

After SO MANY DELAYS since its intended implementation was first announced in July 2014 by the Prime Minister himself, the system was finally and officially implemented on 1 November 2016, at the southern entry points of Johor Bahru (at the Causeway) and Gelang Patah (The Second Link).

And even that, it is not yet the finished article as there are exemptions, for one reason or another, currently in place for motor vehicles, government and diplomatic vehicles, as well as public transportation. It has been announced that some of the exemptions will be lifted while some of them will remain in place.

Now that it’s finally up and running, Malaysians have now to contend with the implied threat of retaliation from the Singapore government IF the system that Malaysia implemented is deemed to be discriminatory against Singapore, as reported by Singapore media.

Judging by the tone of the statement…… well, you know where its leading to. (Knowing which member of the Singapore media reported it will indicate to you that it is very very near and most likely to be an official stance of the government of Singapore.)

Come again? Does that mean that the sovereign government of Malaysia is being threatened with retaliation from Singapore for implementing a system designed to monitor and control traffic entering Malaysia? Like I said earlier, come again!?

It is public knowledge that ALL foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore has to register with the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA), with supporting documents (but of course).

Upon registering, a plastic card called the AUTOPASS is issued to the owners of these foreign-vehicles. One vehicle, one AUTOPASS.

The AUTOPASS basically controls the entry of your vehicle into Singapore and upon exit, tells you how much you have to fork out for driving on the roads of Singapore, what with the different gantries and charges and the likes.

Upon exiting, it is best to make sure your AUTOPASS has enough credit to pay for all these charges including the VEP (that is if you have used up your free quota of 10 days a year and that it’s not a weekend or a Singapore public holiday or not between the hours of 6pm to 6 am (I think)), otherwise you will be fined an additional sum of money for not having enough credit to begin with, all of which has to be paid PRIOR to exit.

But just how much is the Singapore VEP?

Last I checked, its SGD35 (RM105 or USD25 thereabouts) for private vehicles and SGD40 (RM120 or USD30 thereabouts) for commercial transport vehicles. That was when the then VEP rates were increased from SGD20 and SGD10 in August 2014.

Since then, I have not checked and it has been a long time since I checked.

NSTP

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Looking at them Singapore VEP rates, I guess that’s why my Malaysian friends who work in Singapore drive to work in Singapore-registered vehicles. Otherwise, they will be contributing more to Singapore that what they get paid by working in Singapore.

I mean, 10 VEP-free days can only go so far and people do work for more than 10 days in a year and yes, I do believe people work to get paid and not pay to work.

It works out for the betterment of the Singapore economy I guess. Auto traders have a business where people buy and sell cars, both new and second-hand. That plus the 10-year ruling, of course.

Workshops in Singapore too would be gainfully employed, with repair and servicing jobs. Otherwise, there might be one less economic activity in Singapore and lots more people with lots of idle time on their hands.

Now if the Singapore authorities want to ‘retaliate’ and ‘match’ Malaysia’s actions for daring to do what it just did, by all means, IF that ‘retaliation’ means that the Singapore VEP is reduced to the RM-equivalent of RM20 per entry.

But in all honesty, I seriously doubt that the Singapore authorities will ever reduce the VEP rates. Increase, yes. Reduce, hhmmmm. But miracles have been known to happen.

In the same tone, Malaysia can also claim that when Singapore implemented their VEP, it was discriminatory against Malaysia. I mean, is there any other country which has land links to the island? And was Malaysia ever consulted? What are the odds of that ever happening? Be consulted that is. And will it ever happen in the future? Your answer is as good as mine.

But seriously folks, is the Singapore government making a mountain out of RM20 per entry? IT IS PER ENTRY, you know. And the maximum a Singapore-registered vehicle or any foreign-registered vehicle for that matter, can stay in Malaysia is three (3) months. That’s theoretically RM0.22 (USD0.05, SGD0.07) per day for the maximum 90 days. Not even the price of a French fries at the neighbourhood McD, I would suggest.

And three months is definitely far longer than the period a FOREIGN national is permitted to come in and stay in Malaysia. Just have a look at your Singapore passports.

Being kiasu does have its limits you know. It may be the accepted norm in Singapore but when dealing with another country who is no less sovereign and independent than you are (as you would like to impress upon everybody), too much kiasu and it’ll border on being ridiculous, never mind offensive.

Thing is, no one’s laughing.

 

 

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, ‘Animal Feed’ & the DAP

th913SXTEH (kualalumpurpost.net)

Nga Kor Ming of the DAP (image sourced from kualalumpurpost.net)

The political scene in Malaysia is really getting ridiculous and is fast becoming irrelevant.

What was once a platform to unite the rakyat is now a platform to divide the rakyat, what with the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation, as well as the dissemination of unfounded and mischievious allegations.

Almost everything is given a political twist and I guess, it would not be long before someone going to the loo to ‘do his personal business’ will also be politicized. How, I would not know but we’ll get there, I’m sure although I would love to be proven wrong.

The most recent ‘piece of work’ involves a politician from the Opposition (who else!) whose aim in life it seems, is to depict everything Malay, be it customs, culture, religion (quoting the Holy Quran to Muslims during political lectures when he himself is not a Muslim really takes the cake!), traditions, and leaders (political, community and royalty) in bad light. In short, everything that a Malay holds dear.

It is common knowledge that Muslims the world over had just observed the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims fast from day break til sun down. As the holy month of Ramadan draws to an end, as it has always been the case, Muslims begin to make preparations to celebrate the coming of Syawal.

Homes are cleaned and spruced up to make even the most runned down of houses look brand new. As is the custom, the departed are not forgotten with the graves of loved ones cleaned and prayers offered.

These are just some of the preparations that Muslims undertake, to welcome the holy and joyous month of Syawal.

This first day of Syawal is quite commonly known the world over as Eid Mubarak or as we know it in Malaysia, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

In fact, Muslims are commanded to celebrate Syawal, so as to signal the successful observation of the holy month of Ramadan, so much so we are forbidden to fast on the first day of Syawal.

Why forbidden, you might ask?

Well, Muslims are exhorted to fast for six days in the month of Syawal, where the fasting during these six days in Syawal together with the fasting in the holy month of Ramadan is said to be equivalent to fasting for a year. Whether these six days of fasting is done on a continuous basis or staggered over the month of Syawal, it does not matter.

thD8JHTCHJ (umno-online.net)

Giving out money packets to the little ‘uns, part of the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri tradition (image sourced from umno-online.my)

In Malaysia, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri or Eid Mubarak, as a religious festival, starts with morning Aidil Fitri prayers.

Once the prayers are over, the congregation returns to their respective homes where a long standing family tradition of seeking each other’s forgiveness for the past year’s transgressions is enacted : children seeking forgiveness from parents and of parents from their children, wives from their husbands and husbands from their wives.

Basically and essentially, everyone seeks each other’s forgiveness.

Once the soul cleansing is done and relations are renewed, comes the part where the little ‘uns look forward to very much every Hari Raya Aidil Fitri – the giving out of little packets of money called ‘Duit Hari Raya’, the amount of which depends on the one giving out these packets.

Fathers hand out these money packets to their children (for so long as they are not married and/or working yet), husbands to wives, children (matured and gainfully employed) to their parents (normally aged), grandparents to grandchildren and so on.

All this is enacted within the family structure and it gives Hari Raya Aidil Fitri a ‘feel good’ and joyous start to the day.

The scene is replayed over and over again when we pay a visit to friends, relatives and family members at their homes, spread good cheer and greetings between one another.

We drink (no alcohol of course), we eat and we make merry and we seek each other’s forgiveness and we give money packets to the little ‘uns, aged relatives, friends and the needy that we come across.

This theme is replayed in many different scenarios – old folks’ homes, orphanages, and what have you.

th0L09OPJA (utusan malaysia)

Nga Kor Ming – likes courting controversy? (image sourced from utusan.com.my)

Hence, to suddenly read that a non-Muslim, non Malay opposition ‘leader’ and parliamentarian who claims to have grown up in multi racial Malaysia, calling the giving out and receiving of the money packets by Muslims especially our Muslim leaders as ‘bribes’ and ‘animal feed’, is not only TOTALLY uncalled for and TOTALLY out of line BUT it is also an INSULT to the Muslim and Malay communities whose festivity this is.

If he must be reminded, then let him be reminded that the giving out of money packets do not only happen during Hari Raya Aidil Fitri but also Chinese New Year, where the only difference is the colour of the packets but the intentions remains essentially the same.

There are also other celebrations that money packets are given out eg weddings, feasts or to use the local word for it, ‘kenduris’ etc where money packets are given by guests to the host, to lessen his financial ‘burden’ in holding the feast or kenduri in the first place.

Are these considered bribes? Are these considered ‘animal feeds’? If these are ‘animal feeds’, then is the ‘Honourable’ member of Parliament saying that the receiver is an ‘animal’?

Claiming to be misquoted or that your social media accounts were hacked or hijacked by cybertroopers do not hold water any more. Remember the boy who cried wolf?

Furthermore, if the ‘Honourable’ MP remembers correctly, whose interests did the cybertroopers of the Red Bean Army served before and during the last two elections? Well, for sure it ain’t the Government or the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

ngaduitraya2 (malaysiandigest.com)

TheMp and his offending posting (image sourced from malaysiandigest.com)

For the ‘Honourable’ MP and the DAP head of Perak state, as they say, please put your brain ‘into gear’ before letting your mouth ‘run off’.

Or is it already ‘in gear’ when your mouth ‘ran off’?

If so, as the popular saying goes, you will reap what you sow and from his track record thus far, it does not look nor smell good.