My Anthem

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Merdeka -- Worth Thy Rumination...for OUR nation

What are you really celebrating on Merdeka? Print E-mail
Written by Steve Oh


Monday, 30 August 2010 08:06
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"This coming Merdeka will you be writing something about our country?" the unexpected question came in an e-mail from an old friend I hadn't seen for awhile. "Do e-mail me a copy if you do," he wrote.

I feel ambivalent writing on Merdeka. Between the mainstream and online news lies the balanced truth, as Malaysians today go through the angst of political change. The one who uses the pen instead of the sword must draw blood without destroying. And like the surgeon who heals, he or she has to make the incisions.

Malaysia is a young nation. It is still a work in progress. And young nations need the discipline to focus on the vision of the founding fathers and the genesis of their existence even as they adapt to changing times. The danger of not changing is fossilization. And fossilization is the result of being regressive.

"In many counsellors there is victory," says an old proverb. The late President John F. Kennedy had the knack of tapping into the brains of those in his cabinet and committees. He always listened and weighed carefully what others said. That according to some observers was his forte.

It is something we all need to do. It is something governments need to do.

There is conventional wisdom that if you want results employ those who are smarter than you. Sadly fear makes people do the opposite. And it is fear that makes people treat their neighbours shabbily and governments take a hard approach when they should be more understanding.

A non-muslim goes to a surau with an olive branch and good intentions. But the Pharisees pick on this hapless politician. A Malaysiakini report says she is going to apologize to the Sultan. Why? What has she done wrong? This is an example of a regressive approach and political opportunism: the nit-picking and making a mountain out of a mole hill to score political points. Sadly there's too much of it.

We reflect on the past that we may be wiser now and in the future.

And as I reflect on the past I am hopeful there is a silver lining in the cloud. Sometimes people can't learn except from their mistakes. It is a painful way when prevention is better than cure. And sadly, some people never learn from past mistakes. Thus the saying 'those who don't learn from history are wont to repeat the mistakes.'

There are many lessons we can learn from our history.

The image of Bapa KeMerdekaan - Tunku Abdul Rahman - raising his first into the air to shouts of 'Merdeka' at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on that auspicious day 53 years ago has become iconic, and Merdeka and its aftermath offer valuable lessons.

We know the Tunku died a disappointed and disillusioned man - a victim of a nation's history that failed him and its true sons and daughters, and left them with a dashed hope. We can easily forget the sacrifices he and others made to gain for us our independence and freedom because history is often written not in truth but prejudice when politicians hold the historian's hand.

I still remember the day the Tunku came to his alma mater, the Penang Free School, and delivered an awespiring speech to us, mostly Chinese students, during a school assembly. We were all children of the Merdeka generation, full of hope and promise.

"You are the future leaders of the country, "the Tunku said, with a hint of a Cambridge accent, "so you must study hard, be law-abiding, and do your best to serve your country." We did study hard, furthered our studies at home and abroad, and equipped ourselves to serve the nation.

But when we were ready the Tunku was no longer there.

It was the ominous start of Merdeka lost.

What has your country done to you?

They had asked us what we can do for the nation. But we forgot to ask them what the nation would do for us. And more importantly what it would do to us. Those who demanded equity for themselves did not give equity to others. And it has been that way since.

Still in good faith we had done our utmost - for ourselves and for our country.

But they no longer needed someone like the Tunku who was the primeval Malaysian, the original 1Malaysian, the true Prince of Bangsa Malaysia, who was above all -- the leader for all -- and who promised every citizen an equal share in their country's future. He was too Malaysian!

School didn't teach us to dichotomize the nation into 'they' and 'us'. It taught us the opposite. The politicians divided us. And we didn't like it. We still loved our Malay friends and they loved us. Our lives intermingled. We were after all children of the Independence taught to live in harmony with one another.

"Call me Bapa," my Malay friend's father insisted. His family had been like my family. He was the progeny of a British education, had become a school principal, a devout Muslim later in life, and the sort of 'Merdeka Man' that epitomized the Tunku's Malaysia. But our world was changing.

My close Malay schoolfriend would be a bumiputera - a son of the soil - but me - born and bred like he in every way? They would call us non-bumiputra made to feel second-class and outcasts in our beloved country. They are still doing it today - school principals, of all people, bullying innocuous school children under their charge, and belittling them. And 'Bapa' would have been upset.

The yeast of pride and prejudice would grow like a spreading cancer.

Topics the British allowed everyone to discuss freely became taboo, unilaterally classified 'sensitive.' The virus of political racism began to spread but many children of the Merdeka generation were unaffected, protected by a sound education and vaccinated against communalism.

The children of Merdeka were ready to defend their country against Sukarno during 'Konfrontasi.' They were good enough to die but not good enough to get a job. 'For Bumiputra only - non-Bumiputras need not apply' the many job advertisements - I felt cheated and betrayed and bushwhacked.

It seemed unfair. It was unfair. What if there were advertisements that read, "For non-Bumiputra only - Bumiputra need not apply." The problem with those who cite 'offending the sensitivities' of their group often forget about other people's sensitivities as if they had none.

Why should any affirmative action deprive others of the same opportunities? After all - the British colonialists treated all citizens fairly. Whither the justice Merdeka wrought? I thought. I coped somehow like all the other children of deprivation.

Years later the Tunku himself died disappointed and disillusioned as he saw his Merdeka vision disappear and his beloved Malaysia undergo an era of unprecedented racial discrimination, repression and reprehensible double-standards, against his cherished values.

I felt his pain as I regularly signed the cheques for the company he partially owned and that published his articles. His voice was heard in his weekly column 'As I See It' in The Star, then truly a People's Paper, but the Tunku by then was no match for the man who would mesmerize the nation with his grandiose even if flawed schemes.

The people fell hook, line and sinker, and readily gravitated to what 'he' promised, what their itching ears wanted to hear. Poor fools! Today they curse the man - too late!

Tunku had reminded him of the Merdeka principles, of democracy and freedom, of not using the ISA to stifle political comment unfavorable to the government of the day, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

The acolytes of the maverick Pied Piper had sold their souls to the God of Mega Materialism and paid the mega price with their freedom. Many saw their birthright being questioned from time to time yet kept voting into power the architects and engineers of their plight. You can't be more self-destructive and idiotic than that.

But it did not begin with the maverick.

What has May 13 done to you?

Years ago, May 13, 1969 saw the country in a bloodbath. Racial violence erupted. Soldiers shot and killed innocent civilians. Mobs ran amok. And democracy went up in smoke. In his book, 'May 13', Dr Kua Kia Soong postulates the credible conspiracy theory.

It was Merdeka murdered. Merdeka lost.

In the aftermath, the country was ransomed to a narrow nationalism that sent cracks through the length and breadth of the nation to this day. It was the start of 'that' nonsense. We learned to read, write and count, the three positive 'R's' in school and we learned the negative three 'R's' - of race, religion and repression from the politicians. It was the end of innocence.

Nationhood would never succeed when a national leader thinks of his race first and the others as an afterthought. If a country leader is not leader of all, he is not leader at all. It was a mistake - to adopt any policy resembling apartheid, and history bears it out.

In the country, the government scrambled to tackle the increasing racial polarization while feeding the insidious serpent of hate simultaneously.

Vision school was the answer they said but whose vision? Who murdered the Merdeka vision? Who messed up our school system that had produced successful students of all races who though not having seen one another for decades still shared a bond of genuine friendship and camaraderie? Why did they have to reinvent the wheel?

Even as I write there is an e-mail from an old Malay school friend asking his old classmates to pray for another former Malay school friend lying in a coma from a stroke. Pray? The racists have not divided us and never will.

Tun Abdul Razak, the 'ultra Malay leader' had taken over from the Tunku but he didn't foresee the danger of giving a blank cheque to those who are untrustworthy. Good intentions aren't always sufficient in running a nation. Good people, good policies and good systems work better.

He gave birth to the New Economic Policy (NEP) - and made radical policy changes that would alter the country's social and political topography.

After May 13, 1969 the country would see a new type of racism - naked and aggressive and legitimized by emergency powers, political might and tacit militant muscle. Many saw the ominous signs. The country saw its first wave of brain drain. Students went abroad to study and never returned. But I did return and do not regret it. And when I left again, it had nothing to do with the country's politics. If it was politics I would have stayed.

What have the chauvinists done to you?

Razak did what he had to do.

The marriage with Singapore had not worked.

It was his turn to show what a chauvinist Malay leader could do after Lee Kuan Yew proved too much of a challenge to them.

The NEP became a misnomer for Malay Economic Policy in practice. In 1971, it cut a swathe through the harmonious nation of over 10 million multi-racial citizens and divided it. When 'Malaysian' would have sufficed before, everyone now had a new label except they did not put armbands on them like the Nazis did.

In fact 'Malaysian' became synonymous with Malay to the chagrin of the true believers - who felt the country was being re-colonized from within. Economically, Razak wanted the Malays to get 30% of the economy. He said it must be done in 20 years - within a generation.

But was it necessary to superimpose Malay on everything? After all, there is so much in the Malay culture that non-Malays already liked and even the Chinese will swear they are a nice people to relate with - but the ugly politicians had to spoil it. Not content to rely on osmosis, they had to use coercion. And no one likes to be forced to do something in a freed country.

Achieving the NEP was a tall but not impossible or unreasonable order. It would have been ridiculous to have a new country where old wealth dictated everything or were in the hands of a minority. In a time of rapid economic expansion it was achievable.

But that was not to be. How could it be?

Dishonest people were robbing the gravy train faster than the Bank Negara could print money and derailing the NEP. Corruption and bailouts had taken its toll on the government's development and coupled with incompetence derailed the train that would deliver 30% of the country's wealth to the Malays.

Of course, the most serious derailments did not occur during Razak's tenure but over time.

So naturally, the statisticians would cry, "Not yet 30%, only 18%". "Not so," remonstrated think-tank economist Dr Lim Teck Ghee, "already more than 30%" he disclosed, but those in power ignored the facts.

They had dug their own grave by not letting those who could help the country play more crucial roles. Instead they elevated the deadwood - they put politics ahead of national interests. They failed to employ people smarter than them.

So today they are still talking about the prolongation of a flawed national policy that spawns corruption, wastage and racism like a blocked dirty drain breeds mosquitoes. The strengthened opposition Pakatan Rakyat promises to remedy the shortcomings if given the chance and indeed they should. It is kicking against the goad when politicians refuse to accept the reality that Malaysia is best served when the best players are in the team.

Ketuanan Melayu - the anti-thesis of the Tunku's Merdeka vision and of true nationhood - became a de facto unwritten law, as if part of the country's constitution. The 'Young Turks' were on the ascendancy and 'The Malay Dilemma' written ironically by the half-Indian new country leader became the manifesto of the nation as Mein Kampf was to the Germans.

Razak died in office five years after the NEP's inception. He wanted to achieve the noble two-fold aim of "eradicating poverty and eradicating economic function with race." He had not intended that the NEP would divide the nation, only its wealth. It is a lesson for all that if a policy is not intrinsically sound and just, it is likely to turn into an uncontrollable beast.

However many Malays got more than their 30% share in the mayhem of the turbulent times long after Razak was gone. Many Malays also got nothing and struggled together with the non-Malays. Their eyes began to open and their whimper rose to a crescendo when in later years tens of thousands of marginalized Indians took to the streets in peaceful protests.

The truth is it never was or is a Malay versus non-Malay contest in the country. This is a lie fabricated by the ugly politicians. It was never part of the Merdeka formula. It had always been a problem of human failing and greed, when those given the onerous public trust of administration short-changed the country and their own people.

The absence of solid good governance stymied Razak's NEP and quenched its spirit as much as any race-based policy would inevitably quench the Merdeka spirit.

Ketuanan Melayu is a flawed and failed doctrine that used race as a pretext to carry out an own selfish agenda. In years to come when demography will make the nation almost entirely Malay, Ketuanan Melayu would stick out like a sore thumb. Again it is a pretext for the corrupt to keep the Malays on a leash so they can elevate themselves as self-appointed champions of race and religion -- a cruel and costly charade.

Secret of our neighbour's success

If you think I am wrong, how then does the well-governed Singapore do it with its own multiracial mix? How does it maintain peace and order and harmony and take care of its minorities? And give every Singaporean a decent chance at life?

This year they will record the highest GDP growth in the world of at least 13%. And when I talk to Malay Singaporeans they don't have any hangups about the way they are treated. Sadly the same can't be said for the non-Malays in Malaysia and an increasing number of Malays. Behind the veil of anonymity, the Internet offers some revealing insights of the pervasive disgruntlement.

The Singaporeans just don't talk about zero-tolerance of extremism and divisiveness - they act - they punish the culprits without fear or favour. Racism is the opium of the brain dead, so they banned it. They want to be a clever country and they are. Meanwhile Malaysia exports its talents and now desperately tries to import them back but in futility.

Today Pakistan a Muslim country appeals to the world to help its citizens in distress. Will the advocates of non-interference still think it is a Muslim problem and only Muslims need bother? Will any government in hardship still think no one should intervene in its internal affairs?

The Pakistani President does not think so and unashamedly appeals for intervention, and rightly so. We are our brothers' keepers and it takes a disaster to remind us. When we learn from one another and help one another we all benefit. But those who use race or religion to divide the country are the Merdeka-wreckers.

Despite the recent Allah controversy it was never a Christian versus Muslim problem either. In fact, remove the political instigation and gratuitous un-Islamic policies and one finds muslims and Christians and followers of other religions share many similar concerns and possess a common desire to live in a moral and upright state. Before and after Merdeka there was religious harmony until the politicians and recently the lying mufti began to stir the hornets' nest.

After Razak corruption had changed the NEP from being the nation's radical economic equalizer into the golden goose that laid the eggs for the dishonest ones. Unchecked power enabled the more ruthless politicians to hold power for decades. They bought mansions overseas while the natives lost their rainforests, homes and way of life.

Merdeka or the Maverick's vision?

The political warlords became self-vested and the nation suffered - especially the underprivileged Malays who joined the Chinese in the community of the deprived. The recent compensation of Felda farmers is symptomatic of the rip-offs.

If Razak were alive today, would he be upset at what happened to his NEP agenda?

Probably yes judging from his own youngest son's recent remarks since politics is also family business in Malaysia. Nazir Razak, CEO of the CIMB group lamented the 'bastardization of the NEP' in a Malaysiakini report. With the Approved Permits (APs), he said the government might as well give them the money. That's what happened and they got more than the APs.

And not long ago during a by-election, elder brother PM Najib Razak reminded the nation that he had to stay true to his late father's NEP vision. Such filial piety is rare these days. But politicians are good at talking not showing. And none more so than the Maverick.

When he was king, the Midas-wannabe wanted what the Chinese had - money, prestige, mansions, posh cars - the lot and more. He wanted them for himself, his family and his cronies - without the sweat and toil and what took a lifetime of sacrifice to achieve. They got it. They lost it. The people paid for it, again and again.

And Barry Wain in his excellent book 'Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohammed in Turbulent Times' which every Malaysian should read because it provides a useful history of Malaysia you won't find in school textbooks, mentions the 'lost 100 billion ringgit' - enough to make many Malays, not only the cronies, millionaires overnight.

Money is not everything. But losing the Merdeka spirit of cohesiveness and unity is more costly than the lost billions. This is the greater loss.

Traitorous - spelt with a capital Tee

It is a joke that Malaysians are charged with sedition over their inconsequential acts when the nation was rendered asunder by far more serious acts that have destroyed the independence of all its public institutions and the one responsible is not held to account.

That anyone can become untouchable or any issue be brushed under the carpet in the name of national security shows the country's immaturity, and that a caveat is placed on the country's rule of law.

The Tunku was unique, the Merdeka spirit is priceless, and it behooves every Malaysian to defend this intangible and cardinal national heritage that is under siege. The Merdeka ethos - every citizen is equal - is the nation's lifeblood; it is the wellspring of all national policies and if people lose sight of it the nation will lose its direction.

Even 1Malaysia and Bangsa Malaysia - pale imitations of the real thing cannot remove themselves from the foundational fact.

If Malaysians are in conflict, it will spell the end for the nation. Yet to an extent conflict is needed to prove who cares for the country and who cares for themselves. But the common thread that binds Malaysians together is their Merdeka legacy. If the lies and brainwashing are stemmed, the truth will set people free.

Many capable Malays are angry because they are unfairly stigmatized and don't need crutches. A discriminatory policy can hurt those it is meant to help. Tun Razak did not intend for the NEP to be a Never Ending Pot of gold for the Malays.

Some anti-Merdeka elements now resort to religion to create disunity and the lying mufti will sell his sullied soul for '30 pieces of silver' like a Judas. But all religionists who believe there is God will not lie because in every religion it is a sin.

How can anyone serve God but act for the devil -- the Father of Lies? Does God teach us to tell lies and act unjustly? Even atheists think it is wrong. Rid the nation of these hypocrites and troublemakers and there will be peace. The corrupt do not care if they hurt their religion, their race, their nation.

Politicians with untold wealth should be asked to share their money-making secrets with their poor and struggling citizens. Why pay tens of millions to foreign consultants when the politicians who have a flair for making money are in our backyard?

Should they not be passing on their knowledge to us all? Their books like "How I Became A Billionaire on a Government Salary" will be instant bestsellers. Even Singapore's million-dollar salaried politicians will be lining up to snap a copy.

Merdeka suffers when some Chinese carry the Ugly Chinaman bug - the sickness that the late Taiwanese author Bo Yang described in his book of the same name. He said that specimens of the minority Chinese in a community had a tendency to betray their own people to ingratiate themselves among the majority rulers - in short- they can be traitorous - spelt with a capital Tee.

A dog knows its master but when you forget your own race and speak ill of your own people without justification even my dead dog thinks it is dastardly insane and despicable. Self-criticism is good but not when it is flagrantly destructive and offensive.

And the political eunuchs don't do better either.

Fortunately the trail of blood of the Chinese martyrs tells a different story because while the royal colour of their bygone emperors in ancient history is yellow, they are not. Those who mistake their forbearance for cowardice are wont to rue their mistake.

Today it's turbulent times all over again

'Woe is the nation,' seems to be the rakyat's cry among the many aggrieved.

The country is still wilting under the same 'rotten administration' and 'police state' that came with the 'Islamic state' - the legacies of a former leader whose condemnation of his successor was an unwitting display of self-incrimination.

PM Najib tries his best but how do you repair a boat with so many leaks and you are not sure you can turn your back to those you count on to help you? When you are trying hard to push your 1Malaysia agenda and your right-hand man says, no, "I am Malay first", why worry about the Opposition? Even Brutus wasn't so brutally obvious.

The real enemy of the Malay race is not the Chinese race and vice versa but the depraved, covetous, corrupt and conniving politicians and their cronies and the culpable 'Gestapo' policemen who abet them. The ruthless and desperate will crush all who stand in their way and we have seen the evidence.

Anwar 'black eye' Ibrahim - the renaissance Malay - is the prime living proof. And there are more of their victims. The former chief graft buster was 'scolded' for doing his job properly, and another crime investigator was charged but acquitted for exposing criminal activity.

In many ways it is ironic that the Malays who have so much power also have less freedom compared to their non-Malay neighbours. That was never part of the Tunku's Merdeka plan. It was never his vision to see innocent Malays shot down by the police like dogs, and to add insult to injury, have the police fabricate the stories.

The state decides their religion. The state decides how they are to live. The state is their nanny from cradle to grave. How do you raise towering Malays when you treat them like babies? And the towering ones are cut down to size because they refuse to join the gang?

Much is not well in Merdekaland, the land we love -- our birthplace and the land of our ancestors and Merdeka's children. Let's not pretend all is well and wave the flags if we are not free. But indeed we should fly a billion flags when the nation is truly free. With the diagnosis of the sickness must come the bitter medicine but so far the patient refuses to take it.

The administration is like an old rickety machine with faulty parts and in desperate need of repair and change. It is not delivering the nation what Merdeka and even what Razak's NEP promised. It is a sick machine. It is time for a new model and the country needs one and can afford it.

It is a moral crisis that cannot be resolved with more acts of wanton corruption and selective prosecution and more cosmetic surgery and politicking. It is a rainforest tree besieged by termites whose voracious appetite cannot be satiated. It is a nation in the throes of a struggle for its survival and facing the risk of descending into the abyss of moral anarchy. These are not the rantings of a partisan politician but a saddened son of the Merdeka generation.

But more importantly what are people going to do about it?

Only fools continue blighting their future

What will they do with the the corrupt neo-colonialists - those who strangle the country in the pernicious bondage and curtailment of liberty that Merdeka was supposed to have removed. They not only bully 'lain-lain' but their own. It is simplistic to blame just those in power for the people's plight because where does power come from in a constitutional democracy?

The voters and citizens who prop up the political warlords and pseudo-nationalists must share the blame. They must redeem themselves if they have not done the right thing.

They must stop empowering those who are hijacking their nation. They are guilty of the same crime because they offer and receive the bribes. The corrupt can be found across the political divide. Let us not just heed what people say but judge what they do.

There is a painful lesson to learn. The corrupt have already showed their hand and sabotaged the reform. Their dishonesty will be their downfall.

Our mothers and daughters are already toiling abroad as illegal workers so that they can save for their families and send their kids to finish their studies. Qualified Malays are working abroad because they don't want to be stigmatized or have their freedom curtailed in their homeland. It is not a race problem, never has been, otherwise the mixed-race administration for 53 years has been a fraud.

Everyone has the right to pick their leaders. One man's leader may be another's rogue. But only fools do not know the difference between a corrupt leader and an honest one. Only fools will continue to vote for the corrupt. And only fools give the power to servants to make them masters over them.

A middling and politically mangled Malaysia is the price of blind loyalty, ignorance and obvious folly.

The real relevance of Merdeka today is its reminder to all Malaysians what the Tunku fought for - the right to self-government and individual freedom, the right to a 'clean, efficient and trustworthy' government, and a fair one at that, not hypocrisy and hype, and more corruption that results in hardships for the rakyat.

I dare say every Malaysian will be better off if the leaking boat is allowed to sink with no passengers on board. It is too risky to place your future in the hands of those who promise but don't deliver and have a poor track record, enough to make everyone skeptical. It is far too dangerous to travel in a leaky boat heading toward inevitable shipwreck.

This is what Merdeka is about - our freedom.

Today the advent of an alternative government raises the nation's hopes again. March 2008 proved it can be done but the Perak subversion proves it can be undone. Only the voters can ensure their own decisive future and save themselves. Politicians are impotent without popular support.

Still there is hope for a Merdeka renaissance, a Merdeka resurrection and Merdeka regained - when people put nation before self and reflect on the road they travel. You can't have political reform without personal reform. Those who want to replace the corrupt, are they incorruptible?

Politicians may be good at politicking but can they govern? They may be good at gaining power but do they know how to use it? That is why we need checks and balances. We need free and truthful media to keep the executive honest. Every Malaysian who is not involved in shaping his or her nation is a Merdeka dropout.

Every Malaysian who is not registered to vote is utterly irresponsible and does not deserve to live in a democracy.

A two-party system as many have suggested may be the first step toward the democracy that Merdeka intended. After all that is how the Westminster system works. And a stint in the political wilderness may benefit those who think political hegemony is their birthright.

So what are Malaysians really celebrating on Merdeka Day?

Remembering the late Tunku

The truth is there is only one God, one king, one constitution, one nation for Malaysia. It was decided in the Merdeka Declaration on 31 August 1957 with a written constitution as proof.

If you are not celebrating this watershed historic event that is evident in your country today then what are you celebrating? A mirage? A meaningless ritual?

Without the fruit of Merdeka, all is hypocrisy. In Merdeka is embedded the crucial DNA of the nation. The constitution defining the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of the rulers, politicians and citizens are plain to see. Anything more or less is an abuse of power. What the people have lost they must regain.

Merdeka lost or Merdeka regained, the people must choose.

If in practice we do not see the evidence of the Merdeka declaration, what are we celebrating on Merdeka Day? After all there is Malaysia Day but that is a different story. Empire building is vastly distinct from unshackling your country from one. Merdeka is something else, something special.

A nation riven by race and religion cannot gel as one nation - it is not the Merdeka declaration. Until we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, we may fall prey to those who entice and incite us to hate. It may not be explicit but implicit in the Merdeka declaration is the commitment to 'unity in diversity.'

Is there a better way? Do we have a choice?

On Merdeka Day, I will raise a toast to the memory of the one who fought to give us a free nation, a nation of hope and justice, a nation of truth that 'unity is strength' and that diversity is a gift of God and bigotry is the curse.

I will remember the late Tunku and all those who shared his Merdeka vision, the gallant ones that sacrificed their lives for their nation, the civil servants, the judges, policemen, politicians, ordinary Malaysians who lost their jobs for doing them and who lost their freedom but left us a legacy of hope for a better and brighter tomorrow - they - the children of Merdeka - are the unsung heroes.

I will say a prayer for the government and the opposition and every Malaysian unfairly jailed under the ISA and all those who still cherish the Merdeka dream for their nation and work toward its eventual success.

We are after all, together, children of Merdeka and we are everywhere. Soon our sun will rise and we will sing 'Negaraku' with a clear conscience and a combined voice.

Merdeka! God bless Merdekaland.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First the British empire went under, now its institutions to follow?

Desi was more tha a byte surprised reading at about BBC's cancellation of a programme set for September 1 featuring Malaysia's leading blogger RPK. Never mind the BBC chickened out -- it just means RPK has such great clout and impact on the Malaysian-British landscapes the authorities have got shivers running down their spines. Giving benefit that they/leaders do have spines:( -- YL, Desi

Cop-out for BBC's HARDtalk

Mariam Mokhtar

Monday, 30 August 2010 12:39
raja-petra-hardtalkCOMMENT The “HARDtalk” news programme, broadcast on BBC World News and the BBC News channel, is a half-hour interview when world renowned personalities are asked difficult questions, to discover their true stories and challenges.

Malaysia’s Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) was scheduled to be interviewed on Wednesday, 1st September 2010. According to the MalaysiaToday site, Bridget Osborne from the BBC called to inform him that his interview had been cancelled.

HARDtalk appears to have failed its loyal viewers but it has failed to uphold the freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

According to Ms. Osborne, the BBC’s lawyers advised them not to proceed with the program as this would “upset the Malaysian government and may even expose the BBC to legal action”.

She explained that the questions they would pose to Raja Petra, “would be very sensitive in nature and critical of the government, would run foul of the Malaysian government”.

Another reason she offered was that “the program would be accessible in Malaysia”, and “makes this a problem for the BBC.”

Naturally, Malaysians the world over, are disappointed.

Raja Petra may be pleased to learn that the BBC rarely drops a program. However, the BBC’s about-turn means he is considered a liability. This gives him “street cred”.

Raja Petra would have been a viewer-catching asset and boosted viewer/listener numbers. But it appears that he is now a political liability.

But what exactly are the real reasons why the BBC dropped out? It beggars belief that an established and world renowned organisation such as the ‘Beeb’, can be held to ransom by the Malaysia government.

Such irony! Raja Petra was probably going to mention the lack of freedom of expression in Malaysia.

Who would have thought that the stranglehold of the Malaysian government could reach thousands of miles away and silence Raja Petra?

This is indeed a sad day for civil liberties and freedom of speech. The fact that the BBC allowed itself to be manipulated means that it has failed itself, and its viewers. It has compromised its principles and integrity.

But who or what ordered this climbdown?

Most people are aware that Raja Petra is fond of running rings round the Malaysian government.

In a Malaysia which is beset by draconian laws and where is freedom of expression is lacking, Raja Petra’s site brings many Malaysians light relief.

He is both entertaining and a bit like a “cyber vigilante”. He is not unlike the Super-hero in cyberspace who exposes evil deeds.

Thus, if Raja Petra was expected to be critical of the Malaysian government, then would it not be judicious to have a representative of the Malaysian government present, to counter Raja Petra’s views and offer the Malaysian government’s official take, to the viewers?

That way a balanced and fair opinion is given, by both sides of the political divide.

Since when was the BBC afraid of legal threats? Is this not a massive hint that there is a big story lurking somewhere? Isn’t the BBC eager to be the first, with the expose? Is it not eager to get to the bottom of the truth?

The United Kingdom government is aware that its arms industry is riddled with corruption. Previous governments are alleged to have concealed, and continues to conceal this, from both the parliament and the public.

It is possible that the reasons for the climbdown are not political but are purely economic.

Maybe the pressure was not from the Malaysian government but from the British government.

Perhaps, any excuse to not ruffle Malaysian government feathers, means the British government can have a smooth ride to support its arms sales. And don't we all know how lucrative these are.

Deal? Or no deal?

* The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysian Mirror and/or its associates.

May the GoOD Lord Lord Bless

and Keep You, dear sweets:)

JIM REEVES sings on Desi's be1/2:)

"May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You"

May the good Lord bless and keep you whether near or far away
May you find that long awaited golden day today
May your troubles all be small ones and your fortunes ten times ten
May the good Lord bless and keep you till we meet again
May you walk with sunlight shining and a bluebird in every tree
May there be a silver lining back of every cloud you see
Fill your dreams with sweet tomorrows never mind what might have been
May the good Lord bless and keep you till we meet again
(May you walk with sunlight shining) and a bluebird in every tree...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Malaysians should be grateful...

Malaysians should be grateful
That their leaders still feed them three square meals a day
For the majority of you blardy lucky Malaysians anyway
Eighty percent

Fr some who go hungry like one meal a die
Serve them right, they did not vote ofr BN
So the welfare Department scrutinices their aid application
And the all powerful officer marks "RM150 per month"
for the PKR or DAP or PAS supporter
He can feed three or four mouths on RM5 a die

For UMNO, MCA an MIC monkey
It's RM600 because they can perform monkey tricks
Like their bigger brothers Apes
Both deserve each other, so they embrace
Live high life together
Three square meals and one round of supper
For a rounded Barisan Nasional stomach
That proudly portrudes to show
The Prosperity
that is Malaysia
on 31st August 2010

ap AP ap Merdeka my friends
YOU deserve the government you get
Vote Barisan Nasional forver
Die young
Like Wira all
And they may yet bequeath ye RM10,000
Funeral expenses
See, we have a heART
in bidding thee fare ye well
Six feet plus two under ground

Bles RPK for escaping to the UK
and awe ye smart Malaysians overseas
Thnk of us back home fondly
Say for us a prayer
God Bless us rounded stomach or bloated
We march proudly to starined NegaraKu
God bless awe,
A: men

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A GoOD Post from

I borroweth from the above brother's cyberhome a post I agree with most heartedly -- I yoo have chatted with my PKR State Chief a bit/byte, and I have termed him a gentleman of a giant leader...and stated that Sdr Kamarul wuld not betray DSAI in the former DPM's cause when there were allegations that a groupof dissidents from PKR led by "Brutus" Kamarul were about to stab Sdr Anwar Ibrahim in the back! ~~ Desi

Saturday, August 28, 2010
Cakap cakap....Anwar & Kamarulbahrin.

To be Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim needs to tread a fine line between idealism and the pragmatism of political reality. Nobody can get that exactly right. Anwar can only try.

He will struggle to contain PAS and DAP within the confines of Pakatan Rakyat and amidst the close quarters of religion and dogma. With the timing of the general election still to be decided there are already soothsayers who pronounced Sabah already lost. There are those who are certain that Zaid is going for the number Two post, which by inference indicates he is actually aiming for the number one post! There are already question asked if the Malays will accept Lim Guan Eng as Prime Minister, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal as Governor of Penang and Malacca? And was one being mischievous when Jui Meng was suggested as Mentri Besar of Johor?
All this before the year when a general election year is to be called was set – not day or month but the year! Do you wonder sometimes how our Pakatan Rakyat leaders cope?
Yes we know that they need to be prepared for all eventualities....but steadylah! Be confident that within Pakatan Rakyat there is enough wisdom and common sense to meet our aspirations. Our hope, our expectations and our dreams of living a good life in a good country.
So for now hold your tongue. We are family. Discuss our differences, and our misgivings as a family should – within our self and within the four walls that is our home. Do not let others who are not with us interfere in our dealings and with how we run our life. Not all can be trusted to understand our fight. Not all can be depended upon to help us up when we fall. Trust only those who through their actions and deeds understand our cause. Reject those that seek to engage us in discussions where the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the language we talk, the color of our skin and the religion we practice is reason enough for them to call us a friends or an enemy.
Think in depth about the issues that matters to you. Understand your limitations and accentuate your strengths. Commit yourself by your deeds to making a decent future for our children and above all be true to yourself. It will take courage to live the life of our conviction. There will be enough courage and wisdom in the leaders of Pakatan Rakyat to lead us if we falter.
For Anwar and those Pakatan Rakyat leaders in the front lines I take heart from these lines by Robert Jarvik “Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.”
What courage does it take for Anwar, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal, Tok Guru, Zaid, Jui Meng and all those Pakatan Rakyat front liners to go against UMNO and Barisan Nasional? I remember meeting Bahrain – you all know him as Dato’ Kamarul Bahrain Abbas: MP Telok Kemang – many years ago when Mahathir was God, UMNO his disciples and Malaysia his Kingdom – and I remembered asking within myself why was Bahrain with Anwar then when Anwar was within the four walls of Sungai Buloh?

You can call it loyalty, you can call it anything you like. But now I know this. Bahrain knew then what we know only now. He knew that there will be a Pakatan Rakyat to do battle with UMNO and Barisan Nasional and that Anwar will lead Pakatan Rakyat into the 13th General Election with a real possibility of forming Government after the elections were over. I now call that hindsight. I knew some people, including me, that called Bahrain a lunatic back then! Sorry brother, forgive me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

V4VENDETTA: Reprise...

LAST NIGHT I was happy to sit through TV8's movie V: Vendetta -- a second helpig foe Desi as I had seen it some years ago. The messages this time around sank more deeply -- Justice, Change and Hope. Messages strongly relevant to Malaysia several years ago, still relevant Today, and will be for years to come UNTIL THE PRESENT BN-LED GOVERNMENT IS TOPPLED>

I will just save time by REPRISING my post of:)

Thursday, May 08, 2008
Does "V" for Vendetta Ring a Bell?

Even as Desi lay down to sleep just now, he could not close hie eyes. So at the midnight hour, he penned a humble piece in salute to a true-blue Malaysian who loves his country, and for this reason, he gives his all.

Fellow Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin weighs heavy on Desi's mind, yes, a blogger-matey's mind. Earlier yesterday, I had spoken a little at a joint press conference at the SCAH I had coordinated on behalf of several Civil Society Groups to Express Solidarity with RPK. I think Ahirudin Attan aka rockybru as President of Interim Council of the National Alliance of Bloggers put the case weighing heavy on the inds of many Blogger-mateys pretty well. I extract from

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Why didn't the Home Minister and the IGP exercise their right of reply?
In solidarity with RPK (and Syed Akbar Ali, and the 3 journalists "interviewed" yesterday).After this morning's press conference, I told the AFP journalist that one does not have to agree with what Raja Petra Kamarudin wrote in "Send the Altantuya murderers to hell" to support him.It's about his right to express his opionion. We are standing in solidarity with RPK in support of his - and our - freedom of expression.And for the Government's right of reply, too.Right of ReplyIn the interview with AFP, I explained that:1. The DPM, who was implicated in RPK's posting, had exercised his right of reply by writing in to RPK/Malaysia Today through his press secretary (see here); and2. The DPM's wife, who was also mentioned in the posting, had exercised her right of reply by denying the allegations made in the Internet (see here).And I asked these questions:1. Why couldn't the IGP do the same, i.e. respond to RPK's posting instead of charging him with Sedition?2. Why couldn't the Home Minister do the same and exercise his right of reply, i.e respond to whatever points raised by RPK in the posting?The decision to charge RPK with Sedition, I told the AFP journalist, also undermines the Prime Minister's promise for reforms, greater freedom and transparency.At the press conference earlier, which I chaired as President of the Interim Council of the National Alliance of Bloggers, I read out a prepared statement jointly (issued by several civil society groups, see my preceding Post ~~ Desi).

At the press conference, Rockybru at one stage recalled that RPK had reiterated the point that "...People should not be afraid of the Government; the Government should be afraid of the people." I remarked that it was echoed resoundingly in the movie: ***"V" for Vendetta.

A few points I made included that RPK has earned as a Malaysian patriot who loves his nation well enough to find time to promote Civil Society by writing "Without Fear or Favour". I said many fellow Bloggers would walk proudly with RPK any time, anywhere, a spirit so well illustrated by "BUM2008 House Artist Chris Chew aka mob1900" whose two posters contain simple mesages I echoed at the PC:

"RPK, We Are with You" and "Walking Tall, with RPK!".

Another point I paraphrased from a saying I believe relevant was that "The dark forces will prevail in society if the men of honour sit idly by and do nothing when injustice befalls a fellow citizen."

I believe since March 8, 2008 Malaysians have voted boldly for "Change" and also they demonstrated that there are among us Malaysians many good men who dared to stand up to be counted to fight injustice, and prove that we will triumph over the evil forces if Malaysians walk in solidarity with the likes of RPK!

May God keep RPK and his dear wife in the bosom of wellbeing
and protection from all harm in this hour of challenge
God-fearing and loving people will walk tall
And peace and serenity will guide us
To claim victory -- over Evil
forces that bedevil
But Good will always prevail
Because after March 8, 2008
Many good people have spoken
Let's keep our solidarity
with RPK.
GodBless Aweways,
A: men.

*** Just reprising some quotes from an earlier Post:

Last night's movie at TV8 was not at all a letdown, so I sat through all 2-1/2hours of V: for Vendetta, and the messages were clearer this time around as I had seen this film some two years back and I had written about it twice,methinks.

IF ONLY all the national leaders, especially from the failing/falling Barisan Nasional, could have watched it with Desi, I would not have minded buying all the tehtarik endless rounds from TC Mamak in Temiang. The movie has some bearings on Malaysian politics several years ago, still does today, and will for some years to come. The core messages are JUSTICE and CHANGE.

UNLESS MALAYSIA SEES REAL CHANGE, for the better, I'm afraid NegaraKu will down the slippery road that is best pictured by Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. I'd rather migr:(:(ate to TIMBUCKTOO or THREE!:(:(:(

So, to reprise my post to remind us, myself especially:

Sunday, October 07, 2007

V: for .......

1. "People shouldn't be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people"

2. "Artists Use Lies to Tell the Truth; Politicians Use Lies to Cover It".

3. Ideas are bullet-proof.

4. Truth through unity, Unity through faith.

posted by desiderata

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Whispering Pines...

by Johnny Horton, another great cowboy singer who, like Hank Williams Jnr, also died pretty yound.

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Whispering Pines Lyrics

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Johnny Horton Whispering Pines Lyrics:
The snowflakes fall as Winter calls
And time just seems to fly
As if the loneliness in me that makes me want to cry
My heart is sad like a Mourning Dove
that's lost his mate in flight
Hear the cooing of his lonely heart
through the stillness of the night

Whispering pines, whispering pines, tell me is it so
[ Find more Lyrics on ]
Whispering pines, whispering pines,
you're the one who knows
My darlin's gone, ohh she's gone
And I need your sympathy
Whispering pines send my baby back to me

See that squirrel up in the tree, his
mate there on the ground
Hear their barking call of love, for
the happiness they've found
Is my love still my love, oh this I gotta know
Send a message by the wind, because I love her so


Monday, January 11, 2010
Entry #139
Whispering Pine for a Silhouette
by Chong Yen Long

My body feels warm tonight although there is a breeze entering the room. I descend the lonely mansion onto the Port Dickson beach to seek solace of twilight and twinkle, winking stars.

Thirty years is a long time by human reckoning, but it seems like only yesterday. My body from waist up trembles--at the thought of caressing a sixteen-year-old body sublime, me some seven years senior but not any wiser, in a fruity encounter I think subconsciously fostered by reading DH Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover" at the tender age of 13!

I look up to the study in the bungalow my rich aunt bequeathed me instead of to her children because she found me more adorable as I could paint and write adult poetry in childhood. I am also romantic; otherwise, who would imagine bringing a young neighbourhood gal to a rendezvous in this gods' forbidden territory?

A black bird suddenly takes off from a whispering pine tree as I approach a bench underneath its arching fronds. And as I look up that window, I can see the silhouette--maybe this crow's granduncle had once stood at that window-sill peeping at two other "birds" locked in embrace?

I could still sign my lover's name in a thousand variations -- Chinese calligraphy style--in the sands.

Tonight I celebrate the return of my first-love silhouette in a hallowed study. I can feel the electrifying sensation of a climax being scaled as we entwine in a Kamasutra pose.

Posted by jason evans at 6:09 PM

Ayodele Morocco-Clarke said...

Nicely erotic!
January 11, 2010 6:12 PM
Bernita said...

Sweet silhouettes of summer love.
January 11, 2010 8:55 PM
Aniket said...

"I could still sign my lover's name in a thousand variations"

Well not 1000 but I did that too...Loved the little descriptions sprinkled over the piece.
January 12, 2010 1:44 AM
Craig said...

Strong descriptive piece.
January 12, 2010 4:02 AM
catvibe said...

Lovely romantic writing.
January 12, 2010 7:48 AM
Deb S said...

Ditto the strong description comment. Love the "whispering pine"
January 12, 2010 10:28 AM
desiderata said...

sometimes I renick desiderata as desiFOOLofEROTICA:)

i remember watching "Summer of 42"; mine came in 1972:)

I wish i were your age agin -- i will even go 10,000X:(


descriptive only when inspired -- when penning this Desi must thank host Jason's photo-prompt, it brought back memories:) or :(

catvibe: romantic I'm, and many of my newer blogreaders think Desi's fe-mail!:)

deb s: whispering pine(s) was inspired by cowboy song sung by johnny horton
Thanks awe for feedback! I raise a tehtarik to Thee! -- Desi
January 12, 2010 11:10 AM
laughingwolf said...

well wrought, chong...
January 12, 2010 11:15 AM
Four Dinners said...

Summer of '42? Classic stuff. Well written old bean. Very well written.
January 12, 2010 11:22 AM
Laurel said...

Romantic, erotic, evocative, and sensual. The early loss of innocence isn't so jarring in one with a soul so old, but I was a bit disturbed by references to young experience. Was this intended or am I just being a prude?

Really well written.
January 12, 2010 11:36 AM
lena said...

awww.. so damn romantic and beautiful. Very very well written.
January 12, 2010 2:25 PM
pjd said...

It is romantic, for sure. But I am having trouble understanding the various ages... 30 years is a long time? 16 years old, seven years her senior? Tender age of 13? Is the MC 53 years old, recalling his first time?
January 12, 2010 6:08 PM
desiderata said...

laffin'wolf: woof, woof, choruses D crow:)

4dinners: N "hint" to pjd later:)

My summer came 30years after '42; maketh Desi quite classically JurassicK:)


Thanks for thy compliment. As for thy being a byte "disturbed", no worries there/dare, for I was precocious alright, but never "irresponsible". Lady Chatterley's Lover was a banned book in my country then when I stolen a peep at a copy borrowed from a bosom friend (knotty like Desi!:) studying an a Catholic school (Malaysia now wracked by controversy over use of term "Allah" by non-Muslims that saw several church attacks (firebombed) in recent days; sorry I digress...)So thou art no prude, it's just Desi being too adventurous for his own good, but rest assured, 2X, I didn't stray that "mush"!:)

Lena: "Sieh sieh" which is Thank you in Chinese; happy you enjoyed the fictional schoolboy romance:)


Ah, pls read my response to Laurel first.
Now if you care to traverse to my blog, my profile says I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot.

Your detection power is quite close to the towering sleuths I mentioned, but I did throw a few red herrings in the Numbers!:)


PS: Thanks to all commenters once again. BTW, I had published an anthology of poems "Midnight Voices" -- 900 copies of 1,000 print-run sold and almost 100 copies gifted away. A solitary copy lies in my study... you may peep to an intro about my maiden work in the July 7, 2007 blogpost:)
January 12, 2010 8:40 PM
Kartik said...

Very nice! In throes of passison and very sensual!
January 15, 2010 6:19 AM
JaneyV said...

Though very sensual and romantically charged I have to say that I found the taking of a 16 year old girl by a man in his 20s to be deeply icky. I realise that he loved her and that it was a deeply meaningful experience but - I still think that a 16 year old is a child. Or am I just being an old fuddy-duddy?
January 16, 2010 7:01 AM
James R. Tomlinson said...

Well, I am an old fuddy-duddy. Sixteen will get you twenty. Still, very intriguing piece (of writing that is). I'm not too sure the DH Lawrence line works--seems a bit forced or contrived.
January 16, 2010 11:55 PM
desiderata said...

janey V: take the opeice as a "flight of passage of youthful exuberance" -- let not moral taint crop in otherwise there won't be honest sharing. Thanks for your honest reaction -- old fuddy-duddy is still young-at-heART!:)
January 17, 2010 3:56 AM
desiderata said...

james rt:

Just add to above response to janeyV and all: that this is a fictional creation, and much poetic licence is used. -- Desi
January 17, 2010 3:58 AM
Aimee Laine said...

My mind screamed "pedophile" at the "tender age of 13!" but, having been one of those 14 year olds in love with an older man (albeit he was only 4 years older) there is a maturity we sometimes forget about. :) I love the romantic feel you give as if he too is nervous and waiting and longing sweetly. :)
January 17, 2010 3:41 PM
Aerin said...

my caveat

Something I Would Keep

This piece feels refined and erudite, like a spot-on cup of high quality tea. To then have it be romantic, sensual, erotic is a lovely blend.

Something I Might Tweak

I got the sense of two female lovers, which is not bad, but perhaps doesn't suit the purpose that you'd intended
January 17, 2010 9:18 PM
desiderata said...


don't scream, jest whisper; but i'm grateful by your understanding about maturity...

keep: thanks for appreciation
tweak: Jest a s-mile:)

PS: And also thanks (on unsolicited other fellow writers behalf2:) for your regular formatted "comments" at all entries -- good teaching process!
January 18, 2010 3:41 AM
Chris Eldin said...

Ah, a bit of controversy stirring about.
I was and still am confused by the ages, but this was sweetly erotic nonetheless.
January 18, 2010 12:12 PM
desiderata said...

Chris E:

Some controversy is good, means we are truly democratic on the Internet:), liberating medium for us writers from Malaysia where Govt controls major print media:(
January 18, 2010 9:53 PM

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jason evans
Attorney, writer, and twilightkeeper. EARTHTIDE, current novel (thriller/magical realism).

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Monday, August 23, 2010

NOStalGIA -- Art beats Desi anytime!:)

So I borroweth his reflection on American Pie...

I would try to follow up later with Hank Williams, OK, I'm so lonesome I could cry and try, if I don't at least yell out Your Cheatin' HEart! Dear ArtHarun

Monday, August 23, 2010
American Pie Revisited

“I heard he sang a good song,
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him,
To listen for a while
And there he was this young boy,
A stranger to my eyes”

Those are part of the lyrics from Killing Me Softly, popularised by Roberta Flack. It was written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. Originally, it was recorded by Lori Lieberman but it was the Roberta Flack version which had thrust this beautiful song into pop folklore, sweeping the world by winning 3 grammys including the coveted “Song Of The Year” award.

I like the song. The soulful Roberta Flack version is always touching and emotive, to say the least. And the recent Fugees’ version (featuring va va voom Larryn Hill), despite it’s hip hop proximity and influences, is also one to be savoured.

Not many people know but this song was inspired by a poem written by Lieberman titled “Killing Me Softly With His Blues”. Lieberman wrote that poem after watching a then unknown singer performing. This particular singer later became a famous folk rock singer who wrote one of the best, and the most enigmatic folk rock song of all time. Who was he? Who was this singer whom Lieberman saw and who was:-

“Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song”

That singer was the then unknown Don McLean. The singer/composer who would later penned hits such as the beautiful, and yet disturbing and haunting “Vincent”, a tribute to non other than Vincent Van Gogh. Just consider this:

“And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do -
But I could've told you, Vincent:
This world was never meant
For one as beautiful as you.”

McLean’s lyrics are always filled with emotive imageries and metaphors, and hauntingly beautiful multi layered colours. Along this line, American Pie was composed, recorded and released in 1971.

The song bucked the then prevailing trend in that it was more than 8 minute long. Many among the production people were pessimistic about the song when McLean wanted to record it. But of course, the rest, as they say, is history.

The song became some kind of an anthem among folk rock fans across the globe. It is, for example, listed in the Song Of The Century education project at number 5 song of the 20th century. But what actually interested many fans about the song is its lyrics and their meaning.

I must say that in terms of enigmatic lyrics, American Pie must rank up there together with Procol Harum’s haunting “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” and Robert Plant’s gibberish laden “Stairway To Heaven”. Plant’s “Stairway To Heaven” is a heavyweight in itself, being a 6-minute something epic rock with arrangement so complicated that it had even been compared with a Beethoven’s piece.

Jimmy Page’s riffs in that song is among the best riffs in any rock songs ever. In my opinion, that riffs are almost similar in stature as that of David Gilmore’s riffs in “Comfortably Numb” (voted by Rolling Stones Magazine as the best rock riffs ever). The only thing which would have made Stairway To Heaven even better, to me, is a 2 minute co da with an inter play between Page’s acoustic guitar and his monster Les Paul! I wish!

In contrast, Procol Harum’s number was shorter in length. It remains to date as one of the most frequently covered song in history although Annie Lennox’s cover would, in my opinion, rank as the best. The lyrics were enigmatic, to say the least. Plant’s lyrics in Stairway To Heaven were seemingly gibberish. In fact, it is a known fact that Plant himself did not like the song, refusing to perform it live. Once, he famously, or rather infamously, referred to the song as “that little wedding song”! Blasphemy!

I digressed, yes. It’s hard not to when I am talking about something which I absolutely love.

Okay, back to American Pie. Lyrically, American Pie became the “greatest mystery in rock and roll history”. Such was the enigma and mystery of the lyrics that the song spawned hundreds of interpretations while Don McLean maintained a dignified silence about its meaning save for admitting that the song did refer to Buddy Holly and that the album American Pie was dedicated to him. On August 3, 1993, a letter was published where McLean among others said:

"As you can imagine, over the years I've been asked many times to discuss and explain my song "American Pie" [June25]. I have never discussed the lyrics, but have admitted to the Holly reference in the opening stanzas. I dedicated the album American Pie to Buddy Holly as well in order to connect the entire statement to Holly in hopes of brining about an interest in him, which subsequently did occur... Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence."

And so, it is well established that American Pie did refer to Buddy Holly. “American Pie” to me refers to the America of the old days, where people would live in happiness and peace, days where greed and power were not too important, days of innocence where people would be listening to their favorite music and danced in the gym, days where Richie Valen and Buddy Holly ruled. The song is a study in rock and roll music development in America intertwined with a social study of the American psyche of the late 50s running through the 60s, paying attention to how things changed after a certain date, the turning point being “the day the music died”, namely, the day Buddy Holly died in an air crash in 1959 together with Richie Valen (as portrayed in the movie La Bamba) and the Big Bopper.

"But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my chevy to the levee
But the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die."

To McLean, the day Buddy Holly died marked a shift of some sorts in the history of rock and roll in particular and in the socio-political scene of America generally. America of old was portrayed in various imageries and metaphors which are filled with innocence and nonchalant attitude.

“Well, I know that you're in love with him
'Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck”

All these would change, quite irretrievably on the day the music died.

“But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died”

Thereafter he traced the emergence of Bob Dylan, a fact which was juxtaposed against the decline in popularity of Elvis Presley (I think):

“Oh, and while the King was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown”

It also contained some vague reference to the cover of Dylan’s album titled “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” where Dylan posed in a red windbreaker ala James Dean. It would be remembered that James Dean wore a red windbreaker in “Rebel Without A cause”, a defining moment in American film industry: -

“When the jester sang for the King and Queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me”

I could go on and on about the various facets of the lyrics and what they could possibly mean. Among the more interesting events alluded in the lyrics are the rise of Rolling Stones; the political inclination of the Beatles; the murder of Tate by Charles Manson; the famous Woodstock concert; and the infamy of the Rolling Stones’ concert at Altamont where a young man was beaten and killed by a member of the Hell’s Angel who was engaged as security crew. These are but some of the events related in the song. Events which formed a lasting impression on America and the world in general.

Whatever it is, I never failed to be saddened by the last few verses of the song, which to me, is still relevant to the whole world and indeed to Malaysia and our society in the present days. As the electric instruments and percussions stop and McLean is left strumming his acoustic guitar, the tempo slows down and he sings, in a melancholic voice:

“I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music woudn't play
And in the streets the children screamed

The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died”

The girl who sang the blues was of course Janis Joplin, a singer full of verve and emotions, with a voice which would make even the hardest of hearts weep, a singer who was saved from the streets a hippie and turned into a blues star but later was found dead with foams in her mouth courtesy of a handful or bottleful of LSDs.

When asked for some happy news, she would just smile and turn away and the man at the music store said the music just wouldn’t play. The children screamed, the lovers cried and the poets dreamed. And the father, son and the holy ghost, they took the last train for the coast.

These lyrics never fail to make me sad as I ponder and fear for my children’s life in future Malaysia. The music has long died in Malaysia. And if I had asked the girl who sang the blues, I am sure she would just smile and turn away. It is sad, but true. Just read our newspapers nowadays. Just listen to our politicians. The mullahs. Just look at Malaysia today. American Pie is worth more than we ever realize.

May God have mercy on us.
Posted by art harun at 08:38
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Labels: Music


I was contemplating of taking long leave after BUM2010 because I was trul fatigued. I revisted many socio-political issues earning B&B as a fulltime journalist prior to starting my Blog on Ides of March 2005 and during the past five years plus stealing some occasioal peanut butter on plain bread as a freelance writer. But recent years blog writing translates into "rehashing" articles of previous years as it's only the form -- not the substance -- that has changed with some new players, but mostly still featuring olde players, becoming really distressing. I then decided to go back to "creative" writing, penning verses or shprt anecdotes or stories -- mainly to delight myself. If my ER enjoys my write/rite/writHe, it's a bonus! Thanks:)

YESTERDAY, when I wished for Beatles' company so all my troubles would've seemed so far away, I revisited one of my C&W faves, Hank Williams, father&son in fact, so it's double billing:):)

As I have writ before, should I get a second go at life of my own choice, I'd rather be a cowboy in Nashville, Tennesee,and what struck most in Desi's recall that HW Junior died relatively young, aged 29, in a car accident. I remember watching the movie -- was it in B&W? -- in olde Cathay cinema down Temiang way that's No More (No thanks to Elevis P), for now it stands as a Seafood Restron. Maaf a byte of digression, but cowboys and bloggers are normally quite non-conformaist, so what the hellA! or Heaven!? I think most writers are more than a byte masochistic, going for melancholic breaks when they should be living high.

So I played, and replayed, I'm so lonesome I could cry a few times before I wandered into dreamland with Your Cheatin' Heart plain' in the windmills of Desi's mind. I was (Al)most Persuaded into revisiting American Pie when I spied his nostalgic piece, making it relevant to Malaysian state of affairs Today, when all our troubles seem here?hear to stay! So the art resonates with my present state of mindful wondering...hence I C&Pastryed art's without his AP:)


Desi decided past midnight not to continue with soulful recollection, as it dampens his spirits, so he moves on to a new posting...Go feel the Whispering Pines from another Country&Western great, JOHNNY HORTON...

Sunday, August 22, 2010


This is latest version of the knotty poem after some modification/amendment just like you are aloud/allowed while romping playing bedminton, Malaysian judicial officers' most popular sport. I hear when NegaraKu is qualified to hold the Olympics, this sport will be included in recognition of "Malaysia having arrived".~~ Desi,knottyaSsusua

That 4-letter Word in Verse
as long as man breathes

worst of the lusts lasts
hangs precariously under
is for the perennial powerful energy

S - E - X

when a man, or woman,
would even abandon friends of long lasting years

for the ecstasy of his best friend's mate
running bed or bad

it's all in a game, well said
but Adam fell for a dame
that Eve was well laid

and thereafter
the golden Apple has caused
many men to lose their heads

all over an orifice

where the sun also never shone
but never clearer than the truth

many a man's, and a woman's
is stolen
in broad daylight
day and night
quite a sight
when Power piles atop on
a lesser power, wow
to RPK's delight


that four-letter killer
yet a filler
in a man's national service
or private journey
into the epic centre of
his ecstasy
or someone else's agony

our courtly treasury
is well blessed
to have such sentinel
safeguarding our chest
virtuous national service
or out
of the chamber
steal a winner

bless to the giver and Taker
they deserve each other
luster, lusted
heaven or hell

Friday, August 20, 2010

For lust man will do anything...

as long as man breathes

worst of the lusts lasts
is for the perennial romp

S - E - X

when a man,or woman,
would even abandon friends of long lasting years

for the ecstasy of his best friend's mate
running bed or bad

it's all a game, well said
and Adam fell for a game
that Eve laid

and thereafter
the golden Apple has caused
many men to lose their heads

all over an orifice

where the sun never shone
but never clearer than the truth

that showeth up man's frailty
and woman's innate power and control
over the stronger sex


a four-letter killer
yet a filler
in a man's continued adventures
into the epic centre of
his fall

bless the giver, and taker
they deserve each other
luster, lusted
heaven or hell

DESIDERATA: The poem above was written tongue in chick, inspired by a thorny general having a romp with a subordinate in a most "charitable" position in saving the taxpayers' money by sharing the same hotel suite while dutying overseas -- that is RPK's account, not Desi's. Seccondly inthe same chamber, another subordinate rendered national servive by sleeping with a star weakness to prove he's not gay. Morose maybe, because he wants the best of awe worlds which his beautifool girlfriend couldn't gift him. OR maybe many ER gas: It's the BIG, BIG money at stake/stick/steak anywan?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sillye Pome for Todie...II

Sometimes we do sillye/silly things, accidental or incidental, and God forbid, once in a long while, God-inspired. The outcomes can be mostly inconsequential, which means having not much impact either way, good or bad, on one's life, occasionally can be disastrous, you cite your example, and at times can be THE END.Do I end to elaborate on The End? Okay one example -- John Wayne riding into the sunset, and the sun nebber/never rose again/akin.

Today I am acting silly because the Angry/Hungry Ghosts Festival is nigh. Ghosts maketh one behave silliely. I am using lots of DDC today, so bear with Desi...DDC stands for Da Desi Code, a term of endearment gifted Desi by an Ipohlang who acts silly sometimes, but most times she's sober, so it's OK, not KO! If you wish to have her number should you visit another PeytonPlacesque town like Furong, not Alice, hear/here is the number/nombor ekor 007+1+008 to aweofhelen..., got/caught ya:( OR :)

To be cuntinued, I'm dressing up to oouch 4BF!:)

PS: Examples of DDC are those apired words, and in the title, Pome for Poem because the orignals/Mat Salleh pronounce it that way, with stress on "-me" which maketh "no sense/sen"by sound, and Malaysians except for Anglophiles, including this writer/writHer, mostly pronounce it with stress on ahem, "em" as IT IS SPELT! They call chinoserie like Desi "banana" -- yellow on the outside, white on the inside.

I woke up feeling sillie this moUrn
So I desided to writHe a pome
It is not piled up to the skye
It's jest about 21lines low or high

My friend and I went to KarahrahOK lust nightie
Started wit' two cowgals, they call 'em Cdollie
I sang a Hank williams number 007-style
And it brought on the encore oh you oh mye

'twas soon raining cats and dogs getting colde
My friend sang Hello Darlin' loudly to beat out the thunder
And more and aMore cowgals answered his love call, youngNolde
I worried man, cowboy or no, they gonna tearing the place a-sunder

The new galcows just drink, drank and drunk
My friend's spirits just rise, rose and risen
Part of my pants and ourse just sink, sank and sunk
Cowboy partdime writher have shallow pockets, soon byte/bought/beaten

I answered their encore request
I blasted Your Cheatin'heART half in jest
Freedom quest
ala Wild wilde west
Became quite/quiet a mess, best!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Mondae Blues...Karma and You, Me2!:):)

I just finished long breakfast with olde time kaki who benefited lots fom Desi in improving his English since he came from six-year-primary-in-Chinese vernacular school. He si a greAt believer in KARMA, and in a sort of unconscious way, he diluted my Christian beliefs to the extend I now share lots of his more "logical" explanation as to what is going around our "material" world while mie is steal much Christian ethics-influenced.

IN GIST< Sdr W says Man is bringing onto himself and future generation the wages of rewards and penalties for the GOoD/bad he has done. My only reservation is that men/woman on earth also pay for the "sins" of the Father/Mother before him/her. But both "karma" and religious dicta (is that the plural of dictum?)don't compleatly win over Desi -- why should almost complete populations be wiped out in natural catastrophes like tsunami-hit ACHEH, or huge numbers of victims in floods-ravaged Chinese provinces and Pakistan?

I am still pondering IF a writer should just use his INTELLECT/mind or GUT FEEL/heart to rationalise earthly events? Maybe I will never find the answer, but I do believe in friendships ala "FOR GOOD" Chenowesque of Sdr W-style-lah! She sings for Desi at midnight, and he buys me endless rounds of tehtarik:) WIN-win situation for po'r writHers like YL the newsdog; JOM me at Jurassick Park anywan? OR TC Mamak if you pay for nazi lemak, and swear at the UMNO goons at the same time.SOFTLY, for we still pray for our enemies, YES/No/Steal Thinking. This one is for TwistedHeels and Sabrina, Penanggals now sold to UK and Ozland because NegaraKu doesn't deserve 'em? I shan't speak for my friends' behalf, I shall behave...

Aussie campaign kicks off to keep foreign students safe

Sunday, 08 August 2010 16:35
MELBOURNE – Australian authorities are hoping a digital campaign to help protect international students from attacks goes viral, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reports.

"Think Before - A Student Safety Initiative" will deliver safety messages via short message service (SMS), YouTube, websites and social networking sites to students in 13 languages before and after they arrive in Australia.

The campaign features an animated student character named George to demonstrate safety issues from a student's perspective and has been designed to be virally distributed among students, the AAP report says.aussievideo1

It follows a series of attacks in the past year on overseas students, particularly from India, that raised safety concerns.

An estimated 650,000 international students from more than 100 countries are in Australia to further their education.

Police here said they were concerned some of the students were placing themselves in high-risk situations because they often worked and studied late, and travelled home alone.

Victoria Police Inspector Ian Geddes said overseas students were more likely to respond to information sent from web, mobile and social media tools than traditional communication channels.

He said the students needed to be aware that many of the crimes were committed through opportunity and their own vulnerability.

"They're not vulnerable because of who they are, they're vulnerable because of where they are and the circumstances they find themselves in," he is quoted as saying.

Campaign organiser Larry Anderson said: "Simply the campaign was to say, 'all right, we're doing everything we can to ensure you're safe, but at the same time you have to do something not to put yourself in a situation that might result in some sort of harm or injury to you'."

A "soft" launch of the campaign two weeks ago, using viral and social media channels and email, has already attracted more than 2,000 visitors to the website. — Bernama

Sunday, August 08, 2010

I am monitoring China's quiet revolution...

while Malaysian leaders slip back into I970s politics and self-glorification. Or izzit self-flagellation?

Sodomy I was not enought. They now enjoy Sodomy II! Can we expect Sodomy III cometh 2020?
It's not beyond UMNO fools, jesters or plain morons.
While the rest of the world moves ahead, we gostan!

Engines of Growth
By Austin Ramzy Monday, Aug. 16, 2010
Click here to find out more!

People get ready There's a bullet train a-coming. China plans to double the size of its high-speed network in two years
Photograph by Michael Christopher Brown for TIME

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When I first rode the rail line between the eastern Chinese cities of Suzhou and Shanghai in 1996, it felt as if the passengers were fleeing a disaster. Hundreds jammed through the station doors in Suzhou and sprinted for the train. With bags held high or balanced on bamboo poles, they choked the entrances to the cars, jostling for a prime spot on board. Those like me who didn't have the gumption to do the same were left to stand or sit on the floor. I found some room between cars, put my bag down and perched on top of it. The metal floor had rusted through in spots, and I could see the tracks below. For much of the two-hour, 100-km ride, I could smell the tracks too. The train's toilets emptied directly onto them.

Today, rolling suitcases have replaced bamboo poles as the primary means of hauling loads, and the walk across Suzhou station's platforms is a leisurely stroll. My seat is assigned, so there's no need to battle for position. I find my spot and slip into the comfortable reclining chair. The next passenger listens to music on his new Nokia phone as the train accelerates. It feels as though we've hardly left the station when an announcement tells us to prepare for the next stop, Shanghai. When the digital speedometer in the car hits 231 km/h, the Japanese businessmen sitting across from me look up from their laptops and nod in approval. The trip takes 42 minutes and, thankfully, I don't smell a thing. (See pictures of China's infrastructure boom.)

In early July, an even faster line went into service linking Shanghai to Suzhou and Nanjing with trains that can run up to 350 km/h. That sort of relentless upgrading is typical of Chinese rail these days. Of all the infrastructural improvements this striving nation has made in the past three decades, perhaps the most impressive are those to the railway system. In 1981 China had 54,000 km of track; by the end of this year it will have nearly doubled that to 100,000 km. More importantly, China has gone from having one of the world's largest rail networks to also having one of the best. It covers some of the world's most difficult terrain — like the Tibetan Plateau, where workers laid track over a 5,000-m pass and 550 km of permafrost to link the Tibetan capital of Lhasa with the rest of China. The system has also seen a steady increase in average speed, from 48 km/h in 1993 to 70 km/h in 2007. On some routes, averages are phenomenal. The journey from the city of Wuhan in central China to Guangzhou in the south is now covered at 313 km/h. It's the fastest average speed in the world for a passenger train and cuts the trip time from 10 and a half hours to three hours.

Chinese authorities aren't satisfied, however. Spending on railroad construction increased 80% over 2008 totals to reach $88 billion in 2009. It will climb to $120 billion this year and exceed $700 billion over the next decade. The most ambitious focus of that investment is the expansion of China's high-speed passenger rail. Right now, China is the world's leader with 6,552 km of high-speed tracks (defined as those that can carry trains at speeds over 200 km/h). It plans to double that distance in two years. (Read "A Brief History of High-Speed Rail.")

At a time when infrastructure in the U.S. and Europe is aging fast, China's railways may give it a competitive edge over the world's leading economies. Rail would move travelers around the country in large numbers at unprecedented speeds. Smaller cities in the interior would grow in importance as ease of movement allows for longer journeys between them and jobs in larger centers. Fresh passenger lines would also free up older tracks for more freight transport, sending raw materials and finished goods across the country more easily. "Why is it like this?" asks Yang Zhongmin, the director general of the Ministry of Railways Development and Planning Department. "Because we went through 30 years when [rail] development fell behind the national rate of growth. So now we have to go faster." One of the aims is to help fulfill a long-term goal of developing China's western regions, which have not kept pace with the eastern provinces and their export-led boom. High-speed rail will enable growth in the interior "to be almost the same as what it is on the coast," argues Jia Limin, a professor of what the Chinese term railway science at Beijing Jiaotong University. "It will push western development much faster."

Read "Can High-Speed Rail Get on Track?"

See pictures of the largest military parade in China's history.

Read more:,9171,2008791,00.html?iid=tsmodule#ixzz0w04MaLFj

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Lonesome Road

I plod one
down lonesome road
wishing I had been born a cowboy
in Nashville Tennesee, US of A

Eh, lonesome cowgal
how about buying this p'or bloke a bir?
and I sing for you "Whispering Pines"...

Before I go out shootin' at the baddies
messing up dear Peyton Placesque Furong
and frightenin' all my cowgal clones
we may not wear cow blue denim jeans from Chicago

But we do sing wellA Hank Williamses' lonesum blues
the tall ones even do an Elvis' rock-and-shake
the short wans like Desi just sing the red-eyed blues
ala Your Cheatin' Heart
and "Do not forsake me oh my darlin'..."
but there is no Nashville wedding dae awaitin'

Before heading for the gunfight at OK Corral
and like John Wayne ridin' into purple-red-and-blues sunset
tho' I prefer to die another day
so I head back to TC Mamak for my tehtarik
or A&W rut bir that's closesyt I get to Nashville...

Goodnite, sweatheart, dream of me fondly
but that would be so-operaesque
or Kristin Chenowethesque
would wake Desi up from my American dreamscape
not for gOod
but steal badder than dead!

or izzit K rah rah OK style?
No rolls, only hugs and kisses

PS: XoXo from Desi
esp to SzelsoFa, Erratic Thoughts, "imported cowboys2?"
and Jason Evans' original cowboy host of CoN where Desi goes CON-ning some times, no dimes, but IF lucky, USD15 gift certificate I won't cash but'd frame up as an American souvenir to put up the wall behind the Selemban's Butterfry Varrie KoK bar!:)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Singapore Malays Have Vantage Point that Utara Can Have a Look?

Another POV from our southern neighbours, courtesy of

Share, share, share; ENJOY even not of listed status! -- YL, Desi

Thursday, August 5, 2010
The Malays in Singapore, no crutch mentality
Guntor Sadali

AUG 5 — It is a fact known to all that Malays in Singapore are a minority. However this minority is quite different from other minorities in the world. Similarly, to some, Singapore is just a red dot in this vast Asian region.

But it is no ordinary red dot. It is a grave mistake to equate size with ability, just as it is wrong to assume that being small and in the minority is to be weak and insignificant.

The recent World Cup proved this. While Spain may be the world champion, it was minnow Switzerland that became the only country in the tournament that was able to defeat Spain.

Forty-five years have passed since Singapore left Malaysia, yet every now and then we still hear non-complimentary comments from across the Causeway about the Malay community here.

The latest came from former Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who casually reminded Malaysian Malays not to become like Singaporean Malays.

He did not make it clear what he actually meant, but the comment was made in the context of the possibility of Malaysian Malays losing their power in Malaysia.

Again he did not specify what type of power, but it could safely be interpreted as political power.

Now, what could have happened to the Malays here in the last four decades?

What could have driven Dr Mahathir to voice his concern and to caution the Malaysian Malays?

I wonder.

The Malay community in Singapore, of course, know what has become of us here.

First and foremost, we have become a completely different community from what we were 45 years ago.

We have developed our own identity and philosophy of life that are distinct from our relatives across the Causeway.

We may wear the same clothes, eat the same food, speak the same language and practise the same culture.

However, the similarities end there.

We are now a society that upholds the philosophy of wanting to stand on our own feet, or what is known in Malay as “berdikari” or “berdiri atas kaki sendiri”.

We do not believe in being spoon-fed or being too dependent on government help.

In other words, we do not have a crutch mentality. We firmly believe that a community with such a crutch mentality will soon become a “two M” community — the first “M” stands for “manja” (spoilt), and the second for “malas” (lazy).

We definitely do not want to be labelled as a pampered and lazy community.

That is why our Malay community here constantly work hard to raise funds to build our own mosques, madrasahs and other buildings in expensive and land-scarce Singapore.

Over the years we have raised millions of dollars to become proud owners of these buildings.

Through our own efforts and with the help of other organisations, we have also helped the needy not only financially, but also in equipping them with new skills so that they can earn their living.

For Dr Mahathir, however, all that we have done and achieved so far are not good enough.

He takes a negative view of our changed attitudes and different mindset, and has therefore cautioned Malaysian Malays not to be like us.

What about power? For Malays in Singapore, power is not about wielding the keris.

For us, knowledge is power. In fact we believe that knowledge is THE real power.

The constant emphasis by the community on the importance of education and acquiring knowledge has led to the formation of institutions such as Mendaki, Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), the Prophet Mohamad Birthday Memorial Scholarship Board (LBKM) and many others.

These self-help organisations not only provide financial help to needy students, but also strive to nuture our students to their full potential.

At the same time, these organisations help to tackle various social ills faced by the community.

Again, we do these all on our own. Malay children here attend the same schools as other Singaporeans with a shared aim — to obtain a holistic education and, of course, achieve good examination results.

Yes, it is tough. Like all other children, our Malay students have no choice but to work hard.

It is a reality of life in Singapore that we have come to accept — that there is certainly no short cut to success.

We do not believe in getting any special treatment, because it would only reduce the value of our achievements and lower our dignity.

The meritocratic system that we practise here is, without doubt, a tough system but it helps us to push ourselves and prevent us from becoming “manja” and “malas”.

Still, Dr Mahathir and some Malay leaders across the Causeway do not like the way we do things here and have therefore warned Malaysian Malays not to be like us.

On our part, there is certainly no turning back.

Meritocracy has proven to be a good and fair system.

It pushes us to work hard and makes us proud of our achievements.

We can see how it has benefited us by looking at the growing number of doctors, lawyers, magistrates, engineers, corporate leaders and other professionals among us.

It is the successes and achievements of some of these people that Berita Harian wants to highlight and celebrate when we launched this Achiever Award 12 years ago.

Tonight, we have another role model to present to our community.

So, the question is: Shouldn’t our friends and relatives across the Causeway be like us — Malays in Singapore?

It is definitely not for us to suggest or decide.

And we too have no intention of asking our own community if we would like to be like them either, because we have already chosen our very own path for the future.

We, the Malays in Singapore, should be proud of our achievements, because we have attained them through hard work.

It is true that what we have achieved so far may not be the best, and that we are still lagging behind the other races.

There are large pockets in our community facing various social problems.

We have achieved so much, and yet there is still a long way to go. But we should not despair.

We can do a lot more on our own if the community stay united and cohesive.

In critical issues, we should speak with one voice.

We need to help and strengthen each other while at the same time reach out to the other communities in multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore. A successful and prosperous Singapore can only mean a successful and prosperous Malay community.

Can we do it? Well, to borrow US President Barack Obama’s campaign slogan, “Yes, we can”.