Tag Archives: Malaysia

Malaysia : Re-Born 10th May 2018


Dear Friends,

I am so elated, excited and over the moon.  After many days of prayer, sleepless nights and anxious moments, we got what we wanted.  A new Malaysia has emerged, reborn with a new sense of hope and destiny.  The results of the 14th General Election for Malaysia showed that the oppressive, divisive and corrupt incumbent government had been thrown out and for the first time ever (in 61 years), we have a change in government.

That this victory was achieved is miraculous when you consider how the odds were stacked up against the opposition parties.  The dirty tricks department had been hard at work on behalf of the government.  Not many had expected the opposition to win the elections.  Even the true believers were only hoping to scrape through.  But Malaysians flocked to the polling station on May 9th and achieved the unbelievable.  The land which has languished in darkness for so long is now enjoying the break of dawn.

Here are some highlights of what was achieved:


If you are still not sure what has been going on, let me try to explain it in another way……

“Once upon a time, there was a Jedi and the force was strong with this one.  In fact, he was appointed the 4th Grand Master of the Jedi Order.  But having so much power began to sway him to the Dark Side.

When his first Padawan, began to challenge his authority, the Grand Master had him imprisoned.  Indeed, that was the fate of many who tried to defy him.

He then allowed his second Padawan to take over the reigns of the Empire.  But before long he was unhappy with his second Padawan for what he perceived as his weakness in showing tolerance to those who opposed the Order.

The old Grand Master then groomed his third Padawan to challenge his second Padawan for the throne and the third Padawan came to power.

But, under the influence of a woman who was the Dark Side personified, the third Padawan began to oppress, deprive and rob the citizens of the Republic on an epic scale.

The second Padawan who had previously been freed, tried to lead a Rebellion against him but was soon arrested and imprisoned again.

But the Rebellion did not die, selfless individuals carried on the fight for justice and righteousness for 10 long and difficult years.   The Empire had become so corrupt and so powerful, it seemed that it would last a thousand years.

Then, a new hope from and unlikely source.  The Grand Master himself (now 92 years old), pained to see what had become of his legacy, returned and joined the Rebellion.  And now, after 2 years of struggle, the Grand Master has led the Rebellion and the people to win the battle against the Dark Side.  With the third Padawan thrown down from power, the Grand Master has once again take control of the Republic.

With order and hope restored, the Grand Master will now release his first Padawan from prison and with the intention that he will eventually take over the duty of overseeing the well being  of the Republic, trusting him to govern wisely and not repeat the mistakes of the past.


Surely that is worthy of a Hollywood movie!  Yes?

How about a Bollywood movie?  Make me an offer.

Ipoh – Food Glorious Food, Fellowship and Fun

A couple of weeks ago, I was absent for a short while as I went along to my church annual family camp. It was a great time of hearing God’s word, fellowship and ‘fai lo’ ship (local slang for sharing meals together). This year our venue was the town of Ipoh.

Ipoh is the capitol of the state of Perak in Malaysia.  At one time, it was one of the richest cities in the region with scores of multimillionaires and resplendent with mansions on large grounds.  It had grown rich on the back of tin mining.  The city then fell into the backwaters when the price of tin fell catastrophically in the 1970’s.

Today, it is seeing a resurgence due to tourism.  It is surrounded by beautiful limestone hills and caves including some interesting temples built into the limestone caves.

However, we were there primarily to receive spiritual food; teaching from God’s word.  We had invited a Singaporean preacher who encouraged us not to be just pew warmers but to be true disciples of Christ, we had to be, well, disciples; following his example and obedient to his teachings and commands.  Specifically, we were challenged to a) have compassion for others and be relevant in our community; b) have a real and living relationship with God through prayer and reading the bible; c) have a vibrant relationship with one another, helping and encouraging one another in our Christian walk and finally d) to obey Christ is actively sharing His Good News to those around us.  We also looked into the book of Nehemiah and how different people (and not necessary the best qualified people) were assigned to rebuild different sections of Jerusalem’s fallen wall.  The important thing was being willing and working as part of a whole effort.

But a very good secondary reason for going to Ipoh is to enjoy the food because Ipoh has its own well know cuisine. Some of it is shown in the photos above. Use your mouse to hover over the photo and you can read the associated caption.

Some of the famous Ipoh cuisine are said to be due to the qualities of the spring water there that is used in the cooking process.  Hence, the Ipoh Hor Fun noodles is extremely soft and silky – unmatched anywhere else in Malaysia.  Similarly, the Beansprouts chicken is great not just because of the way the chicken is cooked but because the special spring water has made the beansprouts particularly plump, crunchy and juicy.  In the same way, the dessert – sweetened soyabean curd is silky smooth.

There are many more Ipoh food highlights including seafood, popiah (a type of soft springroll), beef noodles, Ipoh’s own white coffee, the pomelo fruit…….. the list goes on and on but it serves us all little good to keep talking about it here.  Internet technology hasn’t reach the stage where you can enjoy the food remotely.  You’ll just have to take my word for it ……or go there yourselves.  But be warned, Ipoh is hazardous to weight loss diets.

Welcome Home…….

Today Malaysia mourns and remembers.  37 days after the loss of flight MH17 and 298 souls, the first of the remains of the Malaysian victims has returned home.  Today we welcome home to rest 20 of the 48 Malaysians who were on board MH17.  Today at 10.55 am local time, the nation came to a standstill and observed a moment of silence.  As the flags flew at half mast and the traffic on the roads came to a halt and businesses and offices all found a way to show their respect, 17 coffins and 3 urns were given a military escort from the plane that had carried them one last time from Amsterdam to start their journey home to their loved ones.

Prayers were held at the mosques and at temples and churches.  Many Christians are observing a half day fast.  Memorial walls have been set up all over for passerbys to leave messages of condolences.

Welcome home …….. and rest in peace. 

The bodies being received at the KL International Airport (source: AFP)
The bodies being received at the KL International Airport (source: AFP)
Malaysian Airlines Stewardesses Grieving (Source :BBC)
Malaysian Airlines Stewardesses Grieving (Source :BBC)


Vehicles come to a stop on Penang Bridge
Vehicles come to a stop on Penang Bridge


Remembering the Crew and Passengers
Remembering the Crew and Passengers



The Malaysian Passengers  (source : TheStar online)

Paul Rajasingam Sivagnanam (M)

Mabel Anthonysamy (F)

Matthew Ezekiel Sivagnanam (M)

Paul Rajasingam Sivagnanam, a top IT executive with Shell Malaysia, was travelling with his wife Mabel and son Matthew Ezekiel, 10.


Tambi Jiee (M)

Ariza Ghazalee (F)

Mohd Afif Tambi (M)

Mohd Afruz Tambi (M)

Mohd Afzal Tambi (M)

Marsha Azmeena Tambi (F)

Tambi Jiee, 49, from Sarawak, was with his wife Ariza Ghazalee, 47, and four children – Mohd Afif, 19, Mohd Afzal, 17, Marsha Azmeena, 15, and Mohd Afruz, 13, on the way back from Kazakhstan transiting via Amsterdam. The Kuching family was returning home for good from Kazakhstan, where Tambi had been working for about three years as a Shell employee.


Shaliza Zaina Dewa (F)

A relative of local singer Hattan, Shaliza Zaina, 45, had been based in Melbourne with her Dutch husband and three children aged eight, 12 and 15 for many years now. Returning from a holiday in the Netherlands, Shaliza and her family were planning to stop over in Kajang, Selangor, for a week to celebrate Hari Raya with her family before returning to Australia.


Subashini Jeyaretnam (F)

Kaela Maya Jay Goes (F)

Subashini, better known as Shuba Jaya, a performing arts actress from Kuala Lumpur, and her Dutch husband Paul Goes were returning to Kuala Lumpur after taking their 21-month-old daughter, Kaela, to visit her grandparents in the Netherlands for the first time. Kaela was notably delivered via unassisted home birth.


Karamjit Singh Karnail Singh (M)

Karamjit was a safety adviser with the Safety, Health and Environment Department of ExxonMobil. He had worked at the Usan oil field in Nigeria. Karamjit, 54, was on the way home to Kuala Lumpur.


Mohd Ali Mohd Salim (M)

Mohd Ali Mohd Salim, 30, was furthering his studies and preparing a thesis on Psychology Studies at the doctorate of philosophy (PhD) level in Amsterdam. His brother Mohd Zaki said Ali was “very excited to be back for Raya with the family.” He was scheduled to join Universiti Sains Malaysia next year after completing his doctorate.


Meling Mula (M)

Bintulu scaffolder Meling Mula, 48, had promised to take his wife and three children on a holiday after returning from an overseas posting. The eldest, Maryline Sindun, said he placed great importance on education.


Ng Qing Zhen (M)

Ng was an engineer from Shah Alam who boarded MH17 after a business trip to Amsterdam. He had changed his flight at the last minute to reach home sooner, having originally planned to fly to Singapore and transfer back to Kuala Lumpur. He was an only son, and left behind a wife and a son aged four.


Ng Shi Ing (F)

Benjamin Jian Han Lee (M)

Elisabeth Ng Lye Ti (F)

The academic specialising in the teaching of English as a second language went to Belgium to attend a conference on language learning, She was also looking at the possibility of pursuing a doctorate at the University of Antwerp. On July 5, she went to Europe with her year-old son Benjamin and her 33-year-old sister Elisabeth.


Rahimmah Noor (F)

Rahimmah, 67, stayed in Geneva for about 30 years and had planned a six-week holiday to celebrate Raya with her family here.


Hasni Hardi Parlan (M)

The oil and gas engineer was a gentle soul who called home daily no matter where he was stationed. The 32-year-old loved ‘ayam masak merah’ and was headed home for Raya to spend a few months with his family.


Datin Kaushalya Jairamdass Punjabi (F)

Better known as Datin Priya Vijendran, she was a doting grandmother who was returning home after spending nearly a month with her two grandchildren – seven-year-old Chiara and nine-year-old Leo, the children of her second son Sanjay – in Lieden, Amsterdam.


Siti Amirah Parawira (F)

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s step-grandmother Puan Sri Siti Amirah was among those killed. According to a family member, the 83-year-old was travelling alone back to Indonesia from Amsterdam.


Siew Poh Tan (F)

The 85-year-old lady was travelling with her daughter Loh Yan Hwa and her son-in-law Fan Shun Po, both of whom owned two restaurants, one of which is a Michelin-billed restaurant named Asian Glories, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Elaine Teoh (F)

Elaine Teoh was on board the doomed flight with her Dutch boyfriend Emiel Mahler. The couple, both 27, were living in Melbourne and working in the financial sector.


Lee Ming Foo (M)

Chee Yau Liew (M)

Yeen Kiah Lee (F)


The Crew  (Source: AsiaOne)

1. Capt Wan Amran Wan Hussin, 50, pilot

Capt Wan Amran from Kuala Kangsar, Perak, is remembered as a kind-hearted and charitable man who loved to joke, said niece Nur Suraya Dusuki, 29. He had been piloting Boeing aircraft for more than 20 years and had been planning to perform the Haj at the end of the year. Capt Wan Amran leaves a wife and two sons, aged nine and seven.

2. Capt Eugene Choo Jin Leong, 45, pilot

Capt Eugene Choo from Seremban was a humble family man who was always friendly, say colleagues and neighbours. The former student of SM Ibrahim, Sungai Petani, Kedah, was a passionate biker. Capt Eugene leaves a wife and two sons, aged 13 and 10.

3. Ahmad Hakimi Hanapi, 29, first officer

Ahmad Hakimi was said to be a very quiet person but he was also very kind and helpful. Although fond of cracking jokes, Hakimi was always very soft-spoken, never raising his voice even when faced with stressful situations.

4. Muhd Firdaus Abdul Rahim, 27, first officer

Muhd Firdaus achieved his childhood dream of being a pilot when he started a career with Malaysia Airlines (MAS). He leaves a wife and a son.

5. Mohd Ghafar Abu Bakar, 54, in-flight supervisor

Mohd Ghafar was a member of Masjid Bukit Indah, Ampang, where he lived. He is remembered by his friends as a principled and pious man with a good heart.

6. Dora Shahila Kassim, 47, chief stewardess

Dora Shahila, a single mother who was known to be very close to her 15-year-old daughter Diyana Yazeera, currently studying in Seremban. Diyana regularly tweets about how much she misses her “superhero” mother since the crash, and is constantly sending prayers to Dora.

7. Azrina Yakob, 41, chief stewardess

Azrina Yakob, the second of four siblings, had worked with MAS for 20 years. She is survived by her husband and two children aged six and three. Azrina’s mother Habibah Ismail said that her daughter always kept in touch with her and that she had planned to go back to her village for Hari Raya with her family.

8. Lee Hui Ping, 42, leading stewardess

A mother of three, originally from Kelantan. A warm and friendly person.

9. Mastura Mustafa, 40, leading stewardess

Mastura was a whiz in the kitchen, often whipping up local delicacies. Her 10-year-old son Muhriz Marzaidi said that his mother would usually cook his favourite food after coming back from work overseas. The last time Muhriz saw his mother was when they broke fast together with his favourite dishes before Mastura boarded Flight MH17.

10. Chong Yee Pheng, 40, flight stewardess

It was her ambition to see the world and she spent 18 years doing that. She was 22 when she joined the airline.

11. Shaikh Mohd Noor Mahmood, 44, flight steward

Shaikh Mohd Noor was a romantic, caring and jovial person, said his wife, stewardess Mardiani Mahdi. Shaikh Mohd Noor leaves three children aged 13, 12 and six with his ex-wife and a two-year-old daughter with Mardiani.

12. Sanjid Singh Sandhu, 41, flight steward

Also known as Bob, Sanjid was described as a generous, obedient and loving son by his father, Jijar Singh, 71. Sanjid was also a good-natured person, befriending people regardless of race or religion. During his wake on Aug 10, nearly a thousand mourners of diverse backgrounds attended to pay their last respects to him. He leaves a wife, MAS flight stewardess Tan Bee Geok, and their son Hans.

13. Hamfazlin Sham Mohamed Arifin, 38, flight stewardess

Hamfazlin leaves a husband and two sons, aged eight and two.

14. Nur Shazana Mohamed Salleh, 31, flight stewardess

A stewardess of nine years and an avid traveller, Nur Shazana lived her dream of seeing the world with MAS. The eldest of four was also a football fan and according to a Facebook post during the World Cup, she had enjoyed the final between Germany and Argentina. Before the MH17 crash, Nur Shazana had made plans to celebrate Hari Raya in Penang with her family.

15. Angeline Premila Rajandaran, 30, flight stewardess

The only girl among three siblings, Angeline was described as a good-natured person and was an animal lover. Her final message to her family in Klang, Selangor, was: “Look after my dog Lexi.”

Jungle Janes

I was feeling a bit nostalgic and decided to blow the dust off some old photo albums that I had put away in storage.  It was then that I came across these couple of pictures from my early working years.

I was in public health at that time and was doing research on new field kits for testing microbial water quality.  Basically I was trying to develop simple, cheap and easy field kits for monitoring drinking water safety in a developing world setting.

Somehow, I managed to convince my superiors that I simply had to get baseline data from pristine jungle streams which was how I managed to wrangle myself onto a scientific expedition into what was then a relatively unexplored part of the Malaysian jungle.  Carrying and using the heavy gear in the jungle would be hard work but I liked the idea of going to places few people have ever seen; I had a kind of a David Livingstone obsession in those youthful days.

Ah, but there was a catch!  My supervisor wanted me to take her two visiting Dutch medical students along for the jungle adventure.  I groaned.

And then I met them, Ilsa and Laura.  Two gorgeous beauties (with wonderful personalities) and since we spent most of the time in and out of the rivers collecting samples, they were most often two gorgeous beauties in swimsuits.

Now I am sure you can imagine that this “Tarzan and Jane” scenario is a fantasy of most of the men in the almost totally male expedition camp.  Suddenly, everybody seemed to want to be on our research team and go out on the trails with us.  I became popular! Suddenly, rough, anti-social, jungle hardened veterans was giving me the time of day, so as to get closer to the girls.  Safe to say, there was a lot of chest beating going on around camp!

Tarzan stand-in double demonstrating the chest beating trademark move
Tarzan stand-in double demonstrating the chest beating trademark move


Ilse (L), Laura (R) and me (hidden in the back) testing the pristine waters of the Endau Rompin jungle (circa1992)
Ilse (L), Laura (R) and me (hidden in the back) testing the pristine waters of the Endau Rompin jungle (circa1989)


Two Beauties and the Beasts
Two Beauties and the Beasts in the wilds of Malaysia


These days, Marja is my Dutch sweetie but as you can see I had the privilege of knowing these two Dutch Jungle Janes’ somewhat earlier.  The other great thing was how all these guys left me offerings of food and drink in return for the opportunity to be introduced to the girls.

Dear, Ilsa and Laura, thanks for the good memories.  I hope that you are both well and happy and the intervening years have been kind.  And if you happen to read this post (stranger things have happened on the internet), do make contact and leave a comment.

MH 17

Malaysia is in shock and is grieving.  We are reeling from the blows that have pummeled us this year.  The Prime Minister correctly reflected our thoughts when he said, “This is a tragic day, in what has already been a tragic year, for Malaysia.”

The news are filled with images of the wrecked plane and the details  or speculation of what happened.   There is no need for more of that in this blog.

Instead, I would just like to remember those whose lives were lost in this tragedy.  My prayer is for the loved ones and families that they may find solace and comfort in their time of grief and for Malaysia, that as a nation we will weather this storm united in our grief and in our love and support to those in pain.

Here is the face  of one of those 298, to remind us that these were all loved by parents, siblings, children and friends.  Stewardess Angeline Premila, 30, was the youngest of the flight crew aboard the plane.

Photo from  A Fly Guy's Cabin Crew Lounge
Photo from A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge

May God bless them all.

(photo from A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge)

Top 10 Reasons for a Sinking Feeling

Last week, two very large sinkholes opened up along a very busy stretch of road in the centre of Kuala Lumpur.   Construction work for a road tunnel had accidentally caused a burst water pipe and the escaping water led to the formation of the sinkholes.


Sadly, there’s been a lot of that sinking feeling here in Malaysia this year as we seem to be reeling from tragedy; political, racial and religious extremism; and many cases of “foot in mouth disease” by our leaders.  In fact,  if possible, we seem to be having a lot of “shooting oneself in the foot that also happens to be in the mouth” disease.

Here in no particular order is the TOP 10 Recent Reasons for  Malaysians to have a Sinking Feeling.

  1. MH 370 – the missing Malaysian Airlines plane had the world’s attention on Malaysia for much of the beginning of the year and it is considered  one of the greatest  aviation mysteries.  Where is the plane and what happened?  Apart from the tragedy of lives lost, Malaysian officials came across as arrogant, insensitive, incompetent and contradictory.  The handling of the matter and the treatment of the relatives of the victims has been terrible.
  2. Grabbing kids – in the last year, Islamic authorities have been involved in cases in which children, brides and even bodies have been snatched.   In a number of cases,  Muslim converts who had lost child custody cases in court went on to abduct their children from their Hindu mothers and despite the court ruling have been able to keep the children up to now.
  3. Grabbing brides – A Hindu wedding was raided by religious authorities and the bride was taken away in front of the groom and the 400 guests.  Although born and raised as a Hindu, the authorities consider her a Muslim because her father, who had abandoned the family in 1990,  had become a convert.
  4. Grabbing bodies-  Last month, a family was grieving and holding a traditional Chinese funeral for their loved one.  About twenty minutes into the ceremony, religious authorities interrupted the proceedings and took away the body claiming that the deceased had converted to Islam some 17 years earlier.  As you can imagine, this came as a terrible surprise to all her family members.
  5. Groping bodies – A Malaysian diplomat and military officer, Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, claimed diplomatic immunity when charged in New Zealand for burglary and sexual assault with intent to commit rape.  He had followed a 21 year old woman to her home from her bus stop, broken in, undressed and tried to assault her.  She fought back and with the help of neighbors alerted by her screams, forced him to flee.  Once again, the manner in which the authorities have handled the matter has been disgraceful.  They flew him back to Malaysia and denied that they were protecting him until certain communications with the New Zealand government were leaked to the press.  They also said that he would not be extradited but would be tried in Malaysia.  Then, under pressure, they agreed to return him to New Zealand to face the charges.  But now, the authorities claim that he is unwell and medically unfit for travel.  Although, so far the only thing that has been said about his medical condition is that he “was not looking good”, withdrawn and depressed.
  6. “Break bone Fever” – The mosquito borne viral disease, dengue fever, is characterised by severe joint pains (hence “break bone”) and in severe cases, internal hemorrhaging.  The number of cases and deaths have increased by about 250% from the previous year with about 40,000 cases and at least 80 deaths this year till now.  I personally, know of 5 people who have been ill and a friend has attended two funerals.  So apart, from dust from extensive construction going on in Kuala Lumpur and the suffocating haze from forest fires, I now am also unable to open my windwows for fear of the mosquitoes coming in.
  7. Dry taps –  This year also saw the largest urban area in the country, with 2.5 million people, facing water rationing for over three months.  Dry taps in a country with some of the highest rainfall in the world. Something is wrong with this picture.
  8. The K9 problem” –  The chairman of the commission on public transport had said in an interview that there would be no problem for guide dogs assisting the blind to be allowed on public transport.  Apparently, he was wrong.  The Deputy Minister for Transport said that city by-laws insist that dogs should be under the control of a capable owner (thereby implying that the blind are not capable) and went on to say that dogs would only be an inconvenience to the blind.  Religious authorities than chipped in to say that guide dogs were inappropriate for a Muslim majority country as dogs are considered unclean in the religion.  This seems like a strange statement considering that no such issue has been raised about the use of police dogs or security dogs.
  9. “Hell’s Kitchen” – This last couple of weeks has seen the authorities declare war on soup kitchens and the homeless.  Apparently, they are the great evil that is damaging our society.  The
    Women, Family and Community Development Minister

    Women, Family and Community Development Minister had implied that people are choosing to be homeless because they can get free food.  She also said that tourists are also taking advantage of the soup kitchens and therefore not spending tourist dollar on meals.  The Minister of the Federal Territories then proved that he was a man of action by banning all soup kitchens within 2 km of the city centre.    He suggested that the homeless were lazy and giving “his” city a bad image.  He also implied that building shelters for the homeless would make them complacent.  He also said that if they were hungry, they could always travel out of the city centre to soup kitchens further out.    Some soup kitchens plan to defy the ban and will face stiff fines for their defiance.

  10. The sky is falling! The ground is sinking!   – the latest round of construction activity all around Kuala Lumpur for the Mass Rapid Transport or MRT train line has been causing all manners of problems but of greatest concern is the safety of the public.  Large concrete and metal beams have now fallen on passing cars on at least two occasions.  The cars were wrecked but miraculously, the occupants although requiring hospitalisation, escaped with their lives.


And of course, there was the big sinkholes that I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

So how do Malaysians deal with all this gloom? ……..with a sense of humor.  LGS proudly presents for your viewing pleasure a few examples of Malaysian netizen’s take on the sinkholes and WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?

The "why the chicken crossed the road with the Hippo" theory
The “why the chicken crossed the road with the Hippo” theory


The "Pandamonium" Theory
The “Pandamonium” Theory


Surely it was Godzilla!
Surely it was Godzilla!

More??? That’s Bad For You


Just a few days ago in Kuala Lumpur, a man had grabbed a two year old child, Siti Sofea Emelda, and ran off.  Her decapitated body was found in a nearby river later.

Sofea and her mother were vagrants living in the streets.  They are part of the large number of homeless in Malaysia’s capitol city and Sofea’s death is a reminder of how unsafe living in the streets can be.

Sofea’s mother has been coming to a soup kitchen run by volunteers for about a year but usually not to get something for herself but to get some help with milk and diapers for Sofea.  Now there is more grief poured out on her difficult life.   The soup kitchen and the volunteers there are one of the few to have offered any comfort and care to her and to Sofea in her short life.

Yet,  a few days before this tragedy, the Minister for Women, Family and Community Development accused soup kitchens and NGOs of being a major contributor to the problem of the homeless by enabling homelessness through their ‘indiscriminate’ feeding programs.


Really?  I never knew.  I help out at one of those soup kitchens that feed the aged, the drug addicts, the blind and the abandoned.  I never knew that I was really the reason that they ‘chose’ to be  homeless.

But now, I am enlightened.  I understand.  Suddenly it is all clear for me.  I also now realise that;

  1. Dentists are ‘enabling’ us to have more cavities.
  2. Rich people, by having money,  are ‘encouraging’ more young people to become robbers.
  3. and politicians are the ‘contributing factor’ to more people feeling nauseated.

I am so proud of our politicians…….NOT!!!!!!!

Black Days

I first listened to Gordon Lightfoot when I was about 17 and I liked what I heard.  It was the song, “Sundown“.  It had been released some 5 years earlier but in them pre-internet, pre-YouTube and pre-iTunes days, the latest music took some time to filter its way to Malaysia.  When I was growing up, for many years, there was only one music store in my home city of Kuala Lumpur.

But I liked the laid back folksy, ballad-y, hippie vibe of Gordon Lightfoot.  From young I had always had an affinity to the groovy people of the Flower Power movement.  I was a bit late to the party but if I had been born earlier, I would most likely have lived in a hippie commune.

I also like songs that have a story to tell and have social or historical relevance and there were plenty of those during the Vietnam War era.  Songs like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?“, “Blowing in the Wind” and “Give Peace a Chance“.  Gordon Lightfoot has been called Canada’s greatest songwriter and probably for songs of this ilk.

I recently discovered another Gordon Lightfoot song and it was an eye-opener.  It is entitled, “Black Day in July”.  I had not previously known about the riots in Detroit in July 1967 that led to 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed.  About that time, I remember being taught in my school in Malaysia about how Detroit was the world capitol of the automobile industry and a model for the wonders of industrialisation and modernisation – that everything was chrome plated and shiny.  Obviously it wasn’t.

However, things were not better in Malaysia.  Two tears later, on May 13th 1969, racial riots broke out in Malaysia resulting in  several hundred deaths.  The underlying reason for the riot was probably political and economical but the fighting and killing was along racial lines with the Chinese community suffering the brunt of the attacks.

But in this case, there is no song written or video done to lament the tragedy.  Much too often, it is deemed too sensitive to even mention in public.  However, without truthful and open discourse, it is like a wound that has not healed but is hidden under a bandage and festering.  Without open and truthful discourse, lies and rumors favor the extremists who would even seek to blame the victims.

I wish for no more black days for both Detroit and Malaysia.  For that to happen, the festering disease of hatred and inequity must be exposed to the cleansing light of truth so that real healing can begin.


It’s Hazy and It’s Crazy

Both the city skyline of Kuala Lumpur and the search for the missing plane seem blurred by haze.  (phto from The Star)
Both the city skyline of Kuala Lumpur and the search for the missing plane seem blurred by haze. (phto from The Star)

Nat King Cole had a song called “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer”.   Do you remember?  Well, these days Malaysia is certainly experiencing the Hazy and the Crazy and some might even say the Lazy and all not in a good way.

The search for missing flight MH370 with 239 souls on board, now entering the 9th day, has been gripping the nation’s attention and that of most of the world too.   It has been a grueling 9 days for the families awaiting word about their loved ones on board as well as for all the investigators and searchers involved.

However, the whole thing has also evolved into a crazy circus; from the way the Malaysian authorities have managed the press conferences and briefings for the relatives with the frequent dearth of  actual information or worse peppered with contradictory statements, denials and false leads, to the ever expanding search area which grew from the relatively small area of sea between Malaysia and Vietnam where the plane disappeared from the ATC radar to the now  wide swath of both land and sea ranging from the borders of Kazakhstan in Central Asia to the Indian Ocean near Australia.  The search area now encompasses an unbelievable 10 % of the world surface and includes the world’s highest mountain ranges to some of the deepest stretches of oceans.  Up to now 25 nations have become involved in the search.

Then there is also the craziness of the bomoh (or Malay shaman) and his followers carrying out rituals at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport which involved coconuts, a magical bamboo binoculars and a  mystical flying carpet for the stated purpose of removing the influences of evil spirits which were hiding the plane and hampering search efforts.

Searching using magical bamboo binocularrs
Searching using magical bamboo binoculars
Searching using the mystical flying carpet

His self proclaimed title is Raja Bomoh Sedunia Nujum VIP which translates to “The Very Important Person, Clairvoyant King of all the world’s Shamans”.    It is reported that he claimed at the end of his first session a few days ago that the spirit realm had told him that “the plane was still in the air or that it had crashed in the sea”.  Despite what Dogbert would call the “Gross Prophet Margin”, he might still be wrong if it turns out the plane has landed somewhere in Central Asia.

Still more criticism has been aimed at the perceived slow (lazy?) pace of the investigations led by the Malaysian authorities.  For example, many query why investigators did not go to the homes of the pilots sooner especially to examine a flight simulator at one of the pilot’s home until just two days ago.

The only distraction to all of this for Malaysians is the ongoing drought and water shortages affecting 2.5 million Malaysians as well as our food crop and palm oil crop.  Water rationing has been going on for about three weeks now.  The dry weather has also caused bush and forest fires with extremely bad air pollution and haze as a result.  Yesterday I woke up in the early hours of the morning smelling smoke and thinking there was a fire but then realising that the haze was particularly bad.

And so, pity Malaysia as we seem stricken by a trifecta of ills – lazy, hazy and crazy days are here.


Malaysia has been taking the centre stage in world news but not in a way that we would want.  Not this.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has been missing with 239 souls on board since last Saturday. It is now the fourth day since its disappearance but as yet no real clue as to its fate.

At the moment, we can only hope against all hope that they remain safe ….and pray…….and keep the light burning for them.