Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bagan Pinang.

So it's settled. This Saturday Isa Samad, who held the adjacent State seat of Linggi for more than 2 decades, would be formally entered as the BN candidate for Bagan Pinang.

Muhyiddin repeatedly asked the crowd "who's your choice ?", knowing full well what the crowd's answer would be - "Isa, Isa, Isa" the crowd shouted, also repeatedly, almost going berserk. Perhaps Muhyiddin should do this for all future selection of BN's candidates - let the crowd decide and BN's leadership abide by the crowd rule ! Maulud said he's never seen the likes of it. Zainal supported him and added there's no way Isa would lose. Zainal also said to Ramli Harun a few days earlier "what we want is to win."

Apparently, according to Maulud, there was a banner put up earlier saying something to the effect that if Isa is not selected, the people of Bagan Pinang would make sure the alternative candidate would lose, but this banner was said to have been taken down before Muhyiddin arrived. And Najib is also said to have addressed the postal voters made up of the sizeable army people included in the constituency. High emotions aside, this bye-election's result is all sewed up, going by the word of mouth right now.

Well, Ong Tiong Meng and I have said the winner is not a sure thing yet. The euphoria has to be translated to hard votes by the 13,000 people in the polling register. The bye-election record so far is something like 8-1 against BN. In spite of the 2004 landslide GE, only a short four years later, 2008 was totally unexpected by, and hugely disasterous to BN. There is talk now of the MIC's anger at UMNO. There is already attack by the DAP on Isa's tainted record. Mahathir had already repeatedly gone on record to say Isa would not be good for UMNO. Mahathir's words have not gone totally wasted in the past, including causing the eventual early end to Dollah's premiership.

As with that case with Dollah, detractors have been many and quick jumping on Mahathir, who was simply being Mahathir, frank and brave (as opposed to all the rest who can also be frank, but not so brave.) Maulud summed up, perhaps the mood of the day by saying "now where is Mahathir going to put his face !" As if this discarded advice from him is his biggest folly. There were also earlier retorts about a crime that was stacked up aginst Isa that nevertheless has been fully paid for, that Mahathir himself was sacked from UMNO, that Ali Rustam was also found guilty but allowed to continue to serve. It didn't seem to matter that Isa's punishment doesn't mean he's now not gulity, that Mahathir was sacked for criticising Tunku for the 1969 fiasco, that the Ali Rustam case underlines the whole corruption issue in UMNO, and made Isa the scapegoat when Ali was also implicated but escaped ?

How can it be so wrong to say that what UMNO needs now is to be fully committed at cleansing its national image ? Is it acceptible now to say that everybody does it in UMNO so why should "money politics" be a problem ? Who is committed enough to act upon, and brave enough to say it, about the political corruption in UMNO ? A corrupted constituency may very well carry the day and gets what its voters want to-day, but how is it to be viewed in the spoken undertaking that the Party's leadership has committed on the fight against this corruption ? Is this mere play-acting, that it's all "in the game", that "the means justify the end" ? Win this one, and the rest be damned ? That UMNO and BN are so "hard up" for a win that there is no choice but to field Isa ? And is Isa forgetting the fact that it was Mahathir, really, who retained him as MB for more than 20 years, in spite of all the rumours about even the Palace wanting him out once upon a time, and all the other accusations about favouring certain parties in the development of the State ? Notice all these question marks ? Is it all B.S. ?

The UMNO machinery better get busy giving the answers to all these questions, and endless others, and pronto. People are more open to arguements now. I mean no ill for Isa. I only hope we all do the right thing.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Battle Royale shaping up.

It's the Minangkabaus vs. the Bugis !

Don't act surprised by the open battle lines drawn between Negeri Sembilan and Johor in the up and coming fight of the Royal Houses in the Malaysian Courts. The plaintiff himself has said that this has been 11 months in coming. Wrong ! This is a continuation of hundreds of years of fighting between Malay, Minangkabau, Bugis, Javanese, whatever, in the history of the Penghulus, Temenggongs, Laksamanas, Rajas and Sultans of the Malay States.

As in the past, the actual cause of the war is trivial. Tunku A. knocks down Tunku B.'s tengkolok. Tunku B. pulls a kris, feigning to stab at his aggressor. Tunku A. runs to mummy, who runs to the Bentara Dalam. The Bentara Dalam is caught in a faux pas - which side to take.

I want to see how the Attorney-Genaral acts, now that the ball is clearly in his Court, literally. If the Law of the Land is supreme, then the episode is reduced to what it is in reality. It's the idle, indolent rich getting in each other's way in their frivolous parlour games, and demanding the attention of other people busy with the serious business of making their own legitimate livelihood.

It's time that the hard-pressed Courts give their attention to the real business of protecting the rights of the people in the administration of the State and the businesses of individuals. Sweep off these pranksters who waste public funds from the sober subjects of Statehood.

In the meantime, let's watch and see the fun !


The UN General Assembly.

I was following the commentaries following Libya's Gadaffi debut at the UN. You could almost feel the sacarsm and ridicule laced into them. In fact, appearances notwithstanding, some of the things Gadaffi said are quite sensible.

The trouble with " western media" ( in other words US and European news channels ) is that they are usually more enthusiastic about the personality rather than the message, i.e. the singer and not the song, if you like. Their reporters are sated with stereotypical casting of certain personalities and certain countries, and too often it's the product of their own typecasting in the first place. As in all cases, disrespect, insensitivity,ignorance and selfishness underwrite all the human conflicts for which the UN was supposed to be the place to come for remedy. Watching the deliberate departure of the host country's elected leader and the senior memebers of his appointed government immediately before Gadaffi spoke, for the first time, is jarringly indicative of the total disrespect shown to another world-class leader. Here we have the US President giving his school master reprimand for the nations of the world for not "putting their acts together", and he immediately went against his words by turning his back on one of his own kind, another nation's leader, even if not one to his liking. How can you expect people to listen to you when you're not prepared to at least pretend to listen to others. And especially in this case, when a so-called "rogue" leader speaks for the first time, shouldn't you be more than interested in hearing him out in front of you and the rest of the so-called civilised world ?

Just pick up some of the things Gadaffi said.

The "inequality" of UN, especially the membership of the Security Council and the veto powers of a handful of countries. Isn't this a fact, and isn't it unfair ? Who gives these five countries the absolute right to put a stop on any resolution impinging on other member countrise ?

The plight of the Palestinians to-day is the consequence of the unilateral action of the western powers less than seven decades ago, made without the consent of the existing populace, in creating Israel. And the aggression of that new found political entity, with the full support of USA, against an unarmed population, has not only continued, but has worsened with other social injustices right under the eyes of, and in stark disregard for UN's sanctions, and this from a regime of a 60-year old country that claims to have been brutalised by the Europeans for centuries.

65 wars were waged since UN's inception. That is a fact.

Iraq and Afghanistan were invaded, against the opinion of the world. The fallacy of the USA's rationale for both military adventures has been exposed. The injustices and cruelties carried out in the name of western-style liberties hit the very values supposed to be those being faught for. It was to be the export of civilisation from a country less than 300 years old to countries civilised when Europe was still in the Dark Ages.

Even the location of the UN on US soil merits reconsideration seeing the uncivilised manner of the reception thrown at the delegates who represent countries, by both US officials and citizenaries.

For the last remaining Military power of the world, the preaching can only be listened to if it also starts to listen to others.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Of Dillon, hockey and Isa.

I was stuck in the crawling traffic somewhere near Tanjung Ipoh on the way the family's old house in Bukit Temensu when Dillon called on the mobile yesterday at noon. He said, above the din, he came to the family house earlier and didn't find me there, so I told him where I was and to wait at his uncle's house until I arrive. His uncle lives in a one-story house just 50 meters from our rear fence and has been a neighbour since I can remember. "Have a few beers first" I chuckled. Dillon is partial to the brew. In fact all the Bais I know are.

The trip to Kuala Pilah used to take all of 30 minutes 40 years ago. I remember, as an undergraduate, having to ride on my old (new then ) 90 cc Honda home, in the evening, and passing Bukit Putus, the twisted Pass located about 16 km from Seremban, at about 10 p.m., and how glad I was when I saw the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. At least I had company now, I said. Yesterday I left Seremban at about 11 a.m. and reached the house at exactly 12.45 p.m. ! It was bumper to bumper all the way.

Dillon came over as I entered the kitchen, because I gave a long blast of the horn as I passed his uncle's house. I drove the back way from Kuala Pilah town to avoid the traffic lights (yes, we have them in Kuala Pilah) in front of Maybank (yes, we have them, too), so that means I pass his uncle's house first. I invited him into the dining area, now filled up with in-laws and nephews and neices. All our activities are conducted in the large dining area because it's the most spacious room in the house. Dillon and I just dug in whatever was already on the table in front of us.

As far as I can remember, this is the first time Dillon had a Hari Raya in the house. I'm definitely sure it's the first time as "Dillon", anyway. This is remarkable because of the length of our friendship. As I told everybody in the room, I always call him Sukdarshan since I know him way back in 1960, in his ornate turban, cycling to the uncles' house behind ours. He still had his turban at RMC when we were also there together later, still Sukdarshan to me, but "Suki" to his hockey-mates. He was a State player. Then we went our separate ways until I returned to serve in a different capacity in Negeri Sembilan, based in Seremban, in 1995. When I met Sukdarshan again, it was as a turbanless "Dr. Dillon, pediatrician" and a "Dato" to boot. So I guess this 2009 Raya visit is better late than never.

The hockey, he says, is all a memory now. It's golf, today, and we have met many times, and I'm pleased to say that his score against me is also a memory for him, but a painful one !

We always talk a dime a dozen, but inevitably we got to the subject of Isa. The Datukship is Isa's because he took care of all Isa's children, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and he deserved it, as far as I'm concerned. Naturally he's sympathetic to the Isa's camp, but I countered with my arguement. Of course he's not convinced, but I stuck to my arguement, and the debate hung, as has always happened with us.

The visit was all too brief, but good visits always seem brief. So next meeting at the club, I said, over 9 holes. And call Parim. He's another Bai, another doctor and another Dato'. He's also another golfer, but one I like to irritate with the remarks "famous last hole." But that calls for another story.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Isa not a good idea.

Before Mahathir publicly said it, I'd privately said it; Isa not a good idea for the bye-election in Bagan Pinang.

There are any number of reasons why Isa's supporters more than welcome the idea of his come-back to the State Assembly. It's a return to power, hopefully top power, and it'll be back to "the good old ways." It's a dislike for the incumbent State leadership.But basically it's the replay of the Malay politics of old: tables are turned, old scores are settled, and everybody gets something from the dirty politics.

The main cry from these people from the Division would be that only Isa can win this one. And if Isa is indeed chosen to contest, he might very well succeed. What is at stake, however, is not a win for Isa, but a win for UMNO, in a renewed effort at winning the fast losing support for the Party at the national level. And if Isa is the responsible man that he should be, it's within him to take himself out of the equation by declining the nomination in the first place. That he has not done so, to me, is either an indication of his own selfishness, or a very clever ploy indeed. Knowing him, and the people close to him in the state, I have grave doubts about the clever part.

There is no need now for any public dissension for UMNO. There is every need to remove forever the image of a feudal party that is besotted of its dirty old habits. Isa would sit as comfortably in the State Assembly as a sore thumb. To say that it would create upheaval would give too much respect for Isa ,and too little for Mat Hassan, but that is the scenario if Isa contests and wins.

If UMNO is serious about reversing the party's downhill slide , then the sight of a proven corrupt top official re-entering the State Legislature would be a dismal signal to the electorate. Clearly UMNO says one thing and does another. And the real danger now is, if left to Telok Kemang UMNO, Isa may very well win this one.

This is to even deflect the distinct probabality of the opposition parties making use of the Isa candidature as their main target of attack. Which may possibly prove wrong the local confidence in an Isa's election. The problem is, even if Isa loses, and therefore nullifying the fears about what his so-called comeback could do to the State, the fact would never be lost to all Malaysians as a whole that a proven corrupt man is more valuable to UMNO than any real effort at cleansing the Party. Talk does not match walk.

Fifty years ia not a long time in politics, as can be seen in India, China, Japan and Indonesia in this part of the world. What is happening to UMNO is "normal" in that sense. But to abondon all hopes for a resurgence, if you're a supporter, is premature. The cure can simply be found in perhaps replacing the do's and don'ts. Isa is definitely one of either. Prevention is better than cure, says the doctor. But if it's too late to cure, the same doctor says amputation may be the only option left. Listen to the doctor. Any doctor.


Eid al Mubarak, and some old friends.

Aidilfitri came today, 20th. September 2009, or 1st. Syawal 1430.

For the first year to-day we spent the whole day at home. Until dear mother passed away during last Ramadhan, we would all bundle into the car shortly after the Raya prayers and take that trip back to the kampong. Now that she's gone, and Dek Na, my youngest child has started working and is home for a short Raya break, we thought this would be the routine now - everybody home for the Raya for the whole first day before going anywhere.

This posting is now well into the night, and I took a look at my blog and made a small reply to a kind thought posted on it.

Actually I had wanted to write something after L.A.K. called from Taiping just now.

I know L.A.K. 24 years ago when I was working in KL. We became associated through work and a friendship grew, and although I've since moved and subsequently retired, we have maintained contact to this day. I attended two of his sons' wedding, travelling all the way from Seremban to Taiping with my wife.

L.A.K. mentioned some names, our mutual erstwhile acquintances. Some became friends and remain so, while some have not maintained contact. Two of the latter in particular were mentioned by L.A.K.

F.K. worked under me in KL for five years. When he wanted to obtain his Advanced Diploma for his professional qualification, I gave him my approval - something that was required at the work place at that time. When I moved to the new job at Port Klang, after settling down, I offered him a post in my new Company, to be posted to Pulau Pinang. All this was because we had an opening for him and because I know he could fill it. At first he hesitated, trying to hold out for more money. I told him the offer I made was already better than his salary, and that this was a new and fast developing enterprise, and he should be able to grow quickly with it. So he accepted. In my usual style, I gave him full resposibility to develop the new Pulau Pinang office. I gave him the supporting staff, all newly recruited. Everybody was housed in our temporary branch office on a 10-acre rented land which also served as our Penang logistics depot.

It so happened that one of the new assistants given to him for marketing work was a young lady with an Actuaral Science degree who had some very fresh but limited marketing experience. I personally interviewed and selected her in Butterworth. I thought she had potential. What I didn't know then was that F.K. also saw some potential in her. He later married her, which in turn caused him to lose his first wife. Now, that is the first part of the story.

My Chairman at that time eventually got wind of the intra-office marriage. He disapproved it and in one of my periodic deparmental meetings with him strongly suggested, verbally, to me that the lady officer ought to be sacked. No written order to that effect was ever issued, so I chose not to act on his suggestion. Now, this was no ordinary Chairman. His word was law. Junior staff would tremble in front of him. Even his p.a. carried a certain latent potency, causing officers to give her a lot of respect. So you can imagine the dangerous grounds I was treading.

But I was prepared to answer the Chairman, if confronted with the issue. I had already at least the names of four officers who worked in the same organization that the Chairman was in, who were married to each other. I would have posed to the Chairman, "what about these cases ?", if he confronted me. But it never happened. And F.K. has never known about all this, and the stand I was ready to take on his behalf, at my own risk. That is the second part of the story.

The third part of the story is what I related to L.A.K. just now. Here is a guy, F.K. who has all the reasons to be eternally grateful to me for giving him a job, a wife and a defence for keeping both the job and wife, who doesn't even bother to return my early calls soon after I resigned, which was many years ago, and has never even sent a Raya card to me in all these years. That thing about not returning my calls I had intimated to N.N. who remains, from what I know, in contact with F.K. until now. N.N. said, and this was many years ago, he had mentioned my remarks to F.K. He is yet to call and explain to me until now. So much for gratitude.

The other name mentioned by L.A.K. in the telephone call just now is H.T. But this deserves another space. Incidently, F.K. lost that second wife mentioned, a few years ago, to cancer, I was told. I was also told that in fact she had resigned from working with F.K. some time earlier.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Shedding a tear.

( In Memory of Siti Zubaidah whom I first met five days ago. )
'Twas only Sunday last
You came calling, your first, and alas,
Your very last !
Breaking the precious Fast
My daughter's friend.
Tiny and shy, suddenly facing the Big Bad World
Could you, would you, brave girl ?
So small and fragile
Must you ?
Siti Zubaidah - 'tis lilting and so, oh demure
That ole lyrical poem of the Malay Princess
I remember, too many years ago
When I, a mere child, laid engrossed
On the Hikayat
Of time that went by.
Now this Holy Friday
This Blessed Ramadhan
How cruel the Hands of Fate
That wrest the blooming bud
Who sat at the Breakfast table just five days ago
The Princess so fragile -
And Siti is now gone forever
Called by her Maker
So soon, so fast.
My daughter's friend, small and fragile
Takes her eternal leave
Just staying that briefest of visit to my house
To her Big Bad World
Leaving forever loved ones - kith and kin
And a nostalgic old man, a new friend,
Each pained, that midnight vigil
Shedding a tear.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Principal, Tunku Kurshiah College.

I've written a letter to the Principal, Tunku Kurshiah College, Seremban. It's all sealed in a stamped envelope and should find its way some 5 km away in the bag of a postman from tomorrow, when it'll be posted. I had it ready this afternoon, but Ramadhan being what it is for me, I'm a bit lazy to go out some 500 meters to the nearest post box to-day.

What got me to that letter was another letter earlier from the Registrar's Office, UiTM Shah Alam. It's addressed to my daughter, who's at work in Putrajaya. So I took the liberty to open it, just in case there was something in it requiring urgent response, when I could just call her. It wasn't what I expected, but was a really nice piece of news for all of us in the house, and my daughter in Putrajaya, of course. The letter says my daughter has been awarded the Best Student Prize for her LLB (Hons) class of 2009, to be presented during the coming October Convocations.

This makes it two Best Student Awards in consecutive years for our little girl. And that's not to forget the Vice Chancellor Award she won for her Diploma course. Three in seven years ! Wow ! Dek Na and her siblings in the Capital were, naturally, quickly contacted to share the good news. A small cash prize will come with it from the University this time. Last year it was RM 1,000 worth of books. But those are not as important as the achievements, to me at least. There had not been any indication in all the years that Dek Na was studying that these sort of Awards were coming. She was just a normal, hardworking pupil at school, and later a normal, hardworking undergraduate at university. She always brought her work home, but it didn't seem extraordinary. I was told girls are all like that, not at all like the boys, and I have three of them to lend credence to that opinion.

It struck me yesterday that her stay at the Tunku Kurshiah College , where she was selected to attend school for five years, must have had a role to play in instilling this hard-working ethic that Dek Na carries to this day, even at work. Last weekend she lugged a hefty briefcase full of her work back home for what should have been a rest period. I thought that it might be a good idea if I write a bit about Dek Na's Awards to the Principal of her old school, firstly to record my appreciation for what they have instilled in my daughter during those impressionable early years, and secondly, maybe I could give some sort of inspiration for the teachers there in their often thankless jobs.

I wanted to write in English, but changed my mind because it felt unnecessarily stilted. So it's in Bahasa Melayu. But in a couple of instances I couldn't resist inserting a few choice phrases for extra impact, or so I thought. It's all about scholarship and studying opportunities, and impressions and gratitude and appreciation, but all in four pages. Secretly, I'm proud of the letter, and in fact felt relieved after completing it. The education of our youngest child also seems complete, now. At least at the present stage, for the time being. Education doesn't stop.