Thursday, 12 January 2017

To be or not to be - an Octopus?, a Frog? a Parrot?

While doing my spring cleaning (in winter) and ferreting through my books and files, I discovered a posting I had prepared in November 2015 but forgotten to publish.

I discovered it while leafing through an old notebook :


MY MISPLACED POSTING: Drafted on 15 November 2015.

Ringo Starr sang about wanting to be "in an octopus's garden in the shade .....

.... in a little hideaway beneath the waves.  We would be so happy you and me, no one there to tell us what to do".

For the past four weeks  I've been yearning for such a hideout.

Even if that is too much to ask for us two septuagenarians, we would be just as relieved to live the life of two frogs under a coconut shell - to be ignorant and unaffected by life outside the shell and its ensuing ordinances.

If I had been a frog :

I would be forever ignorant about the interplay of Man's Law and God's Law. Standing in the dock in front of where I was seated in the Syariah Court were a couple, aged in their late thirties or early forties, on trial for not registering their marriage in Malaysia.  She was a Malaysian and he was an Indonesian but also a Malaysian PR.  They were married according to God's Law in Central Java, but they failed to comply with Man's Law in Malaysia and so they were fined MYR 1000 each or face a jail sentence.  The husband made a plea for a reduction of his wife's fine and they were then given a discount of  MYR 50 each.  

From their demeanour and their dressing, they could easily be the husband and wife selling kuih kuih, nasi lemak and mee goring at a roadside stall in Setiawangsa, Wangsa Maju, or any KL suburb - eking out a meagre living in the 'grey' economy.

But Man's Law must take its course and this couple had to face the full brunt of the ruling of the Syariah  Court.  What if they were rich and well-connected?? I reckon, Man's Law will prevail again, this time on the side of the privileged.

When it was all over, the wife sat next to me in the women's section of the Court Room.  I was quite shattered at their plight and hesitated to give her a sympathetic glance - to let her know how I felt for her.  But she took the initiative and gave me a smile, a wan smile, but still a sweet smile despite her travail.

Days afterwards, whenever I recall the situation of that couple in the dock, it made my heart ache and it was so difficult to keep back the anger and tears - tears of sorrow for them, tears of shame for the religious diktat that imposed this punishment.

The spouse and I: we do not think fast enough on our feet - we berated ourselves for not catching up with them immediately to offer some kind of help. We were willing to part with MYR 990 to neuter a sick stray cat, to hospitalize him and cure his mange.  And yet we failed to extend a helping hand to a fellow human being!!  In my after-life, I will have to explain this grave oversight on my part!

(And, by the way, a khalwat offence would incur a fine of MYR 200 or 4 months jail!)

If I had been an Octopus:

I could carry on living in my cloud-cuckoo land "under the waves" where my conversations and contacts are far more limited.

But on Friday I took a taxi to the Singapore High Commission to get a certified copy of our Singapore Marriage Certificate for the purpose of verification (Pengesahan) of our marriage  by the Wilayah's Religious Authorities.  By the way, we have been living together (not in sin) for over 30 years.  

We had just passed Jelatek LRT Station when our Malay taxi driver pointed out a sad-looking middle-aged Malay lady resting on some sort of support in the middle of a grass patch, reading a newspaper.  He said. " Kesian, she's there most mornings.  I feel sorry for her.  And when she walks on the pavement with her head bent, you can see how unhappy she looks.  People say she's been told to get out of the house by either her children or her in-laws."

" Dulu dulu, kita tak ada sekolah tinggi dan pelajaran ugama pun tak lengkap, tapi kita tak menyiksa ibu bapa seperti ini. Kita tidak buang bayi.  Kita tidak bunuh sesama Islam.  Korapsi dulu hanya beratus dan beribu, sekarang berjuta dan berbilion.  Orang Melayu sekarang hanya mementingkan kebendaan dan diri sendiri.  Semakin manusia maju, kuasa syaitan akan menambah."

What a social commentator and a thinker to boot!  And straight from the horse's mouth itself - not from some pompous social media prat.

When I mentioned about how Malays in Malaysia are more "alim"  and how "Ceramahs" in many surau and mesjid are so well attended, he replied,

"Dulu dulu kita bayar penceramah derma sedekah ikhlas.  Sekarang penceramah meminta sekurang kurang nya tiga ribu ringgit.  Dan yang sudah masuk TV dan Radio, mesti bayar sampai tujuh ribu. Dan tepat pada masa, dia akan berhenti - 5 minit tambahan pun tak boleh."

I was quite shocked.  Was our taxi driver stating a fact or merely rumours and grumbles?  But there's room for believing in some of his account. What does he gain by getting these complaints off his chest - he's just one of those thousands of Malays who work hard earning an honest day's living - driving endless hours in the hell-hole that best describes Kuala Lumpur's traffic.


It looks like I can't be either a frog or an octopus.  Maybe a parrot!!?

This blog and blogger, like the parrot in Monty Python's sketch below is not "quite dead, deceased, demised, passed on, ceased to be, expired, bereft of life, not quite pushing the daisies."   AsH is "resting, stunned and pining" - buffeted by the winds of a Kafkaesque drama in the land of my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather et al.

So watch this space - you might just meet the ex-parrot again.


That posting was done in the midst of frustration and despair  dealing with JAWI and the Syariah Court and the Immigration Department.  Should I have buried it?  No way, every little anecdote of dealing with the Theory and Practice of  Authority in Malaysia  must see the light of day, even if you have to turn blue in the face.

The following posts (that means the ex-parrot is now a kicking Parrot) complement and illustrate the above posting.



But there's more to follow - our assignments with the Immigration Department.

Some day, maybe some day when I feel strong enough to spit at the sky.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas - looking from the back of other eyeballs

Colin, photographer and photography-technician extraordinaire was coming for dinner on the 22nd.

so on the 21st, I took Bus  Number 22  into the city centre to do the shopping.  The bus stopped at the Railway Station to pick up a tall, strapping young man, somewhere in his mid-thirties.  He was carrying a big and heavy rucksack on his back.  He also had a name-tag on a string draped around his neck.

To put it simply: he looked absolutely knackered - but he also wore a grim and dignified countenance. From his build he could have been a policeman, a sports coach or even a British Airways pilot - of someone holding a job that required authority and responsibility.

As the bus approached the City Centre, a comfortably-dressed, middle-aged English lady proceeded to the front of the bus where the young man was sitting, as she was about to get off the bus.

As she went past, she gave him a nice smile and said  "Merry Christmas"

With a wan, worn smile, he replied, "Merry Christmas to you."

This was the rest of the conversation.   (W=English woman;  M=English man.)

W  Are you looking forward to Christmas?

M  Well ..... it's okay, I think ......

W  It's a happy time, isn't it - sharing with family and friends.....? (and she went on and on)

M  (He began to look fed-up as it was obvious he was not prepared to natter on about the joy of Christmas)  To hell with fucking Christmas.  All for one man's birthday.  What has he done for the world?

W  (gasping with shock) Oh .. oh ...

M  I'm sorry, please, I apologise.

The bus stopped and as the woman got down, he wished her, "You have a happy Christmas, love."  

He was a Big Issue vendor.    The Big Issue is a weekly current affairs and entertainment magazine - put out specially to help the homeless......And his rucksack was heavily laden with copies he was hoping to sell - and this he will do without a kiosk or a covered stand.   If it rains or snows, he will stand in the biting cold, for the sake of a tiny income.


Figure 1

Figure 2 - A homeless man sleeping outside a big department store House of Fraser

Figure 3

Figure 4 -The East London Mosque contributing to helping the homeless in London.

We Malay-Muslims in Malaysia, have a lot to learn from the Ummah  at the East London Mosque.

Remember these?


Hari Raya 2015
See  -

Eid in Gaza 2014  (see reference to the above image)

 And there are also the Syrians, Yemenis, Iraqis, Libyans and Rohingyas to remember in their dark days. 

Are the Muslims' pockets so shallow and our hearts so grudging?   

Finally, an anecdote from my childhood to close this post about Christmas.

Makcik Ayik was my mother's best friend (during the 1940s to 1960s) from their days of being neighbours at Kampung Chantek, Dunearn Road, Singapore,

Makcik Ayik and Pakcik Mat (late 1950s)

When I was about 10 years of age my mother would 'park' me at Makcik's  during the school holidays.  As Makcik had no children, my mother thought I would be good company for the dear lady.  Also it got me 'out of her hair' and gave her some peace with her other three brattages.

I quite enjoyed being the only child at her kampung house at Batu 10, Bukit Panjang.  I remembered walking along a rickety wooden bridge across a river  to get to the kampung from Bukit Panjang. Road.

That was over 60 years ago.  Today Batu 10 has been gentrified and un-Malaydified to  TEN MILE JUNCTION.

BATU  10  aka Ten Mile Junction

Just over 60 years ago, on the 25th day of December, I was chatting to Makcik Ayik and I said,

Makcik, hari 'ni hari Krismas.  (Auntie, today is Christmas Day)

She replied, with a quizzical look on her face.

Krismas 'tu apa 'nak??  (Child, what is Christmas?)

Looking back, I reckon my mum's good friend must be thinking what a weird Malay child I am - must be because of all that schooling!!  Christmas ??!?!!

Indeed, we have come a long, long way from those dark days of ignorance!!!!

However, we're no better or kinder than Makcik Ayik's generation.

May next year's winter be happier and more peaceful  than that of  2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 etc etc.


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Political Patchwork and Stitch-ups in Malaysia

I promised myself  I would undertake more postings in this blog of mine when I'm back in cooler climes in Leicester, when the septuagenarian-brain is not getting pickled in the heat of my tanah air.

I did quite fine in November.  But December has been taken up with cooking dinners for dear friends that we have not seen for 8 months - people like Ann and Dot, Jack, Colin and Doug.  The aroma of chicken cooked in spicy-serai sauce, tomato-apricot chutney, all sorts of spuds dishes (spicy, sauteed, boiled, mashed, roasted etc), curry mutton and chicken, grilled lamb chops and a vegetarian methi cake, filled the house for the past few weeks.  As for desserts - the spouse had his fill of Eve's Pudding, apple crumble, lemon layer pudding, Bramleys topped with custard sauce and the creme de la creme - a dessert he would cry for - bread and butter pudding!!   But I must also record the great evening we had at a pub, the Rose and Crown at Thurnby, with our mates from our favourite charity shop, Animal Rescue.  Iain and I learned that we could get just as heady (but not quite pickled) on plain Tonic Water (sans the Gin) !!!!   Of course a game of Skittles was on the menu and I have to report that AsH did win a prize - the wooden spoon.  I will never live this down for the rest of my days.

But one cannot avoid the antics of politics and politicians in Malaysia even in this little corner of England.  Why do I scare myself with reading Malaysia's online papers?   Sandiwara Malaysia goes on and on, with the same actors and actresses - roaring the same nefarious and hypocritical lines, this time with their eyes on the next General Election.

Indeed we are spoiled for choice.  It's like being in a sweet shop where the bottles are filled with multi-coloured sweeties but they all taste the same -leaving a nasty, bitter after-taste in the mouth. But to be fair to Malaysia the effect is the same in USA or Britain.  Maybe not so in Singapore where the political sweet shop has fewer flavours.

Still, I have been dipping my toes (freezing at times) into an interesting pursuit - dabbling in the art and artifices of  Photoscape.  People may pooh pooh at my venture, but try to do something new and hi-tech(?) when you get to 72!

It's like making a Patchwork Project.  I sewed two lovely (so I believe) patchwork bedspreads, made up of  Liberty of London fabric samplers, for Shah on his 21st birthday and Maria on her wedding day.

But this is still the most beautiful patchwork for me - made by my dear mum to take with me to my new home in England.

A patchwork bedspread made from batik remnants.

And so patchwork samplers lead me on to amalgamate this old hobby with my new techno-thingamajig undertaking.

1. A connection of people.


2.  A stitchup - by the mouse, the frog and the hawk.

3.   Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.  (George Santayana 1863-1952)  

I guess that's as much mush as I can manage - technically and spiritually.

No skittles on this blog.  Let's just do the boogie woogie with Gitarzan, Jane and the Gorilla .... and the Yellow Bananas.


Friday, 2 December 2016

My brother is now a septuagenarian. Cheers mate!

Every time I reminded my brother Mus about how he intends to celebrate his 7th decade. he would reply - with a cheeky glint in his eye - I'm 69, you have to wait till December.

Okay - it's just two more days to your big decade and I am throwing the book at you!

1. Here's the birthday boy in the second decade of the 21st century. ...

2.  It all began in in the first half of the 20th century ( 1946, to be precise) at Pasir Panjang Hill Singapore.
Where on earth did Abah get that beret?

Now that beret is replicated in this ..

3.  How did he manage the strength to carry all that paraphernalia in his 60s?

His training began at a very early age - hugging a broom.

Linus (from Charlie Brown) had his security blanket but Mus was more innovative.  All he needed was a yellow T-shirt but that was not the fashion in the late 1940s!

4. During his early years he had a dream of being a great hunter.
On an elephant at Haw Par Villa with Donald (Trump?) Duck behind the wired fence as his first capture.  Little brother Akim was appointed as his lookout man.

But it was not to be.  All little hunters have to go to school, get a solid education, hang on to a steady job,

..... find a nice girl and get married..

.... and start a family.
His three joys.

5.  But he has always been a rebel and cocked many a snoot at the tyranny of authority in any shape or form.  Ask him about his exploits at Pulau Merlimau Primary School.

This family trait of sticking up for justice and dignity, and getting punished as a result, had its antecedents when he was just knee high to a grasshopper.
Yah! Boo! Sucks!

6.  But don't ask me what this picture is supposed to prophesy.
Heaven knows what he's biting on
Maybe it has to do with helping his grandson to deal with a drink.

But there's a degree of similarity in their facial expression when dealing with beverages.
Where's the teh tarik??

7.  I do not know how he manages to keep looking young for a septuagenarian - still has lots of thatch on his head, still walks with a strong, steady stride, still curses and swears at stupid drivers in Malay, English, Hokkien, Cantonese, Punjabi, Tamil and even in French and German!
Fabian and Frankie Avalon rolled into one.
Ahem!  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  I choose  this theme song to celebrate  his teen years and his dynamite youth.

8.  I understand he's spending his birthday at Sepang with his son.  His (and Shah's) passion for cars are in his genes, from our Abah.  In his life, Abah had about 6-7 cars, not at the same time.
The Sunbeam Talbot - our first family car.
The Armstrong Siddeley - a much loved family car which kept us going for years.  Mus and Mother are on the far right.
But this Lambretta is his good friend.  If only that scooter could talk .....

Many happy returns, Mus .

He wrote this in our sister's Autograph book when he was just eight.
We won't burn our lips but we'll always love and remember you.

Saturday, 19 November 2016


Got back to our Leicester abode  a week ago and landed smack-dab in the middle of the countdown of the election for the 45th President of the United States.  So we stayed up (also because of jet lag) for the nail biting results and was quite pleased that the uneducated "basket of deplorables"  (Clinton's description of Trump supporters) gave the self-righteous hypocrites and educated liberals of Clinton's ilk a good kick of reality.

Above all, it is so satisfying to see how the election has exposed all the bigotry and extremism around issues of race, religion (Islam in this case), and immigration in this font of the Free World.

I applaud the victory, because now those non-white, non-Christian, non-liberal nations who have been accused of various malfeasances can heave a sigh of relief to know that they are not the only  'basket of deplorables' on this earth.   My word!  "Deplorables" also exist in the Free World and they are claiming and winning their ground.    And true to form (just like the well tutored 'liberals' in the non-western countries) the Clintonistas (and Brexit Remainders) are very sore losers: they take to the streets to denounce the results, and they claim the electoral system which is enshrined in their Constitution is flawed and needed to be revamped.  Does that sound familiar?  Are we witnessing an American Spring? , a Squeaky Clean Demonstration?

It's just another scenario of saucy geese and ganders -"What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander")

 On getting back to Leicester I snapped this photo when I was on my way to the Co-op.
The image indicates a parking lot for the disabled owners of the car.
But it's so tempting to put another interpretation. Is it the car/driver that is disabled or the potholes, that symbolize the damaged and unrepaired surrounds of where the car is parked.  Or maybe both!  I suppose we could apply the same obfuscation to hurrah-words like 'democracy', 'freedom' and 'equality'.  

To me it's so symbolic of the state of the richest countries in the world.  The election of Trump as the president of the most powerful country on this planet should teach Malaysians several lessons.

1. Debunk the myth that western liberal  democracies - their lifestyle, and their culture - are worthy of imitation, to be transplanted into all nations.  Western democracies have shown again and again that they will not spare the rod to turn other economies and culture to get tied up to their apron strings. Note most recently the fate of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria!

If they are capable of setting the dogs of globalisation and neoliberalism on their own working class (whites) and their poor, why should they lose sleep over the emaciated economies and societies of the rest of the non-white, non-Judaeo-Christian world?

George Monbiot has this to say about American democracy in general and Trump specifically.

...... the US ...... now suffers the worst of both worlds: a large electorate dominated by a tiny faction. Instead of republics governed being governed, as Madison (America's fourth president) feared, by "the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority", they are now beholden to the not-so-secret wishes of an unjust and interested minority.  What Madison could not have foreseen was the extent to which unconstrained campaign finance and a sophisticated lobbying industry would come to dominate an entire nation, regardless of its size.

For every representative, Republican or Democrat, who retains a trace element of independence, there are three sitting in the breast pocket of corporate capital.  Since the supreme court decided that there should be no effective limits on campaign finance, and, to a lesser extent, long before, candidates have been reduced to tongue-tied automata, incapable of responding to those in need of help, incapable of regulating those in need of restraint, for fear of upsetting their funders.


(Wannabe political fashionistas in Malaysia should beware of dipping their hands into donations boxes from abroad - they could turn into the 'tongue-tied automata ' of the American empire .... or is that what they actually desire?)

2.   For many reasons, Trump has been demonised as a monster, succumbing to the lowest common denominator of all that American (and Western) civilisation holds dear.  Trump, in the liberal perception, is a racist, a misogynist, a demagogue and an islamophobe.

But Donald J Trump did not invent Islamophobia, and neither is he its only purveyor and practitioner.  In denouncing Trump's Islamophobic klaxon-call, 'educated' Muslims are losing the context of  the theory and practice of  Islamophobia.

Whether the ruling elites are Republicans or Democrats, antipathy to Islam - and by association, the Palestinians and Gazans - holds them together.

Ash has, in the past, wrote several postings on this issue and here are several extracts to support my conviction.  As I said earlier, anti-Islam sentiments did not begin with Trump or in the United States.

Extract 1

In the beginning - from the pre-Christian era : Arabs = Islam.  Therefore Islam lies and deceives.

Extract 2

From Roget's Thesaurus :

Extract 3

From some time ago ......

Extract 4

From not too long ago ......

3.  Trump's Wall.

Two thousand years ago, Emperor Shih Huangti constructed The Great Wall of China to protect the people and territory of  China from invasions.

In 122 AD Hadrian's Wall was constructed to keep out the native (and barbaric) Picts and Scots from invading the Roman province of Britannia.

Remember the Berlin Wall?

More of the above from

And here's the Mother of all Walls in the 20th/21st century!

West Bank - Getty

More from Ash's posting:

The Israeli Apartheid Wall is different from all other Walls.  The Israeli Wall is a prison corralling people in the West Bank in the world's largest prison.

We don't hear any bleatings of anger and protests from the Republicans or Democrats or from the global Human Rights Industry over this wall.

So,what's so special about the wall to be built by the United States 45th President?  As he also intends to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he might as well pick up tips for his Wall from Israel.  But just make sure it's cost- effective.  Don't employ labour from Israel or the US - get the Mexicans to do it quick and cheap.

So Trump intends to expel 2-3 million illegals from Mexico.  In this case he is simply continuing President Obama's legacy.


4. Tags for Trump and Gender : Women, misogyny, glass ceilings, Muslim women.

Nafs nafs.  I shan't assault my readers with more renditions of the same song.  But here's my favourite.  A cartoon is worth a thousand articles.

This is taken from a brilliant book , The True and Barbaric History of the Benighted States of America by Jim Hughes - Quartet Books Limited, 1973. Great Britain.  I bought it from a car boot sale at Saddington, Leicester sometime in the early 1990s.

Liberation theology for Hawaiian and all women.

Liberation is available not only to Hawaiian women but to all who seeketh the golden chalice of choice.

My grave oversight - I forgot to record the source of this image.  All I can recall is, it came from a serious article on the internet.

Finally, we  (have to) look forward to the reign of the 45th President of the United States.  The  so-so 44th will move to greener pastures.

Long live Mr. President Donald J Trump - " the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual service of the United States."

Hold on. I hear a little voice.  Words referring to a sacred text that you know so well.

Please Mr President, could you find a way to correct a historical calumny - against the First People of this nation.  If you can make laws to protect the dignity and human rights of Semites (of Judaic origin) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transexual citizens, perhaps you could erase the reference to us as  "the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

From the American Declaration of Independence -  indicting the king of England for trampling Americans' rights and liberties.

When you can grant us this dignity, we can truly and heartily roar your clarion call  'Glory Hallelujah' and Make America Great!