Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Che Det, Have You Forgotten?

I really don't give a rat's arse about the on-going feud between our previous Prime Minister and current Prime Minister. Fiddle with your violin while the nation burns seems to be the order of the day. Nonetheless when Che Det starts having selective amnesia especially when it concerns matters of defence, then my conscience is pricked to set things right. Thus when the following was written in Che Det's blog as if it was not his administration that approved the sale, then I consider an untruth has been silently spunned again by the master spinner.

I quote from Che Det's posting in his blog;
There is a contradiction here which does not fit in with human values in a civilised world.Today trillions of dollars are being expended on the development and production of ever more lethal weapons of mass destruction. Poor countries are forced to buy these weapons by playing on their false sense of pride. They buy these expensive weapons so as not to be less well-equipped than their neighbours. Yet these weapons are often not used at all. Still they have to be upgraded or replaced with newer versions at tremendous cost.Malaysia has been drawn into this game. We have bought two submarines costing over RM3 billion. When are we going to use them? Are we contemplating going to war with our neighbours? I can think of other ways of spending RM3 billion in Malaysia.We need a defence force to preserve our independence. But do we have to be involved in an arms race? Only the suppliers of arms would benefit from an arms race.

Whatever he is trying to say, he seems to have forgotten that it was his administration who put their signature on the purchase papers and it was during his watch that the RM3 Billion was spent as aptly illustrated by this newspaper article. I took the opportunity to remind him of this fact and inquired as to what was the justification he had then to make him think that spending the RM3 billion this way was better than the other ways he can think of now. This I did not once but twice but it seems that only comments that faunts on him and praises him to high heaven is allowed to be posted. Could my little comment below fits his criteria of rejection,ie; Anonymous postings and those containing profanities and obscenities will be rejected, even though I made the comment using this blog identity that shares the same blog service provider as his blog, despite misgivings that my blog may be flamed after this or there might even be some unwanted attention one way or another after the comment is posted. But I live by the credo that the truth outweighs everything else so if this little comment that seeks to mend your forgetfulness hurts, tough luck Che Det but now you have lost my respect for hiding behind your blog.
Dear Che Det,I wonder what happened to my previous comment so I repost it again. Was it not under your administration that the submarine purchase was approved? So what was the justification used by your administration for this 3 billion purchase that you are criticising? Was it due to the purchase of second hand submarines by our nearest neighbours or was it to be used as a showcase or a lure for your beloved LIMA? Or have you forgotten? You seem to be forgetting a lot of things lately.

Friday, 30 May 2008


Expansion Of The Naval Role

The major role of the RMN now is to defend the integrity and sovereignty of Malaysia and her maritime interests. As a maritime nation, Malaysia must have a capable and trained navy to ensure the sovereignty and integrity of the country's territories and for maintaining an open sea line of communications with East Malaysia that is separated from Peninsular Malaysia by 926 kilometres of sea. Hence, the RMN must always be on the alert against any threats posed in the surrounding waters that cover an area of more than 598,540 square kilometres. The RMN also conducts regular patrols to ensure the safety and security of her territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The proclamation of the new Malaysia map in 1979 and the EEZ further increased the responsibilities and roles of the RMN and greatly influenced her development.

As such, the RMN's tasks has expanded from the 1980's from coastal defence to include safeguarding the sovereignty of all claimed territories, territorial waters and the EEZ, maintaining law and order in Malaysian waters and the EEZ and protecting Malaysia's sea lines of communication. In addition, the navy is responsible for protecting offshore hydrocarbon deposits and other non-living seabed resources, managing fishery resources, regulating scientific research and controlling the inflow of illegal immigrants. In line with these developments and progress of the nation, the RMN is therefore striving to be a formidable blue water navy.

The purchase of modern and sophisticated warships and Second Life Extension Programmes (SLEPS) that has been carried out to replace and upgrade aged vessels has enabled the RMN to withdraw from active service her older assets. The establishment of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency(MMEA) to undertake the coast guard role in 2004 has also relieved the RMN from performing coastal patrol duties and to support this new agency the RMN has transferred 17 of her ships including coastal assets to the MMEA. With the development of a lean and mean fighting force, the RMN now have a deterrent capability to keep potential aggressors at home. That in itself is already a victory for a peaceful country like Malaysia.

Below are the ships that has been decommissioned or transferred to meet that aim :

1. NAME : KD Sri Sabah, KD Sri Sarawak, KD Sri Negeri Sembilan, KD Sri Melaka (Sabah Class) , KD Kris, KD Sundang , KD Badek , KD Renchong , KD Tombak, KD 1967 , KD Lembing , KD Serampang, KD Panah, KD Kerambit, KD Beladau, KD Kelewang, KD Rentaka, KD Sri Perlis, KD Sri Johor (Kris Class)
PENNANT NUMBER : 3144, 3145, 3146,3147, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48
SERVICE ENTRY : 1964 Sabah Class, First Three 1966, Next Nine 1967, Last Two 1968.
SERVICE DEACTIVATED : 41 Decommissioned 2004, Others - transferred MMEA 2006
TYPE : Patrol craft – Sabah And Kris class

A follow on batch of 4 PB's to the Kedah class was commissioned in 1963 as the Sabah class and the deliveries ended at the end of 1964. With the development and enlargement of the navy's role, especially after assuming the responsibility for the patrol of Sabah and Sarawak's waters, more PB's were added to the fleet. This resulted in an order again to Vosper of 14 larger-sized PB's in 1965. These PB's were designated as "Kris" class Patrol Crafts(PC's) and are equipped with better engines and Decca-type radar, and with heavier weapons than before. The last PC of this class was duly commissioned in 1968. With a service period of more than 30 years, these craft has served with the distinction as the longest serving class in the RMN's fleet. The PC's were originally meant for coastal patrols but they were later enlisted for open-sea surveillance with the adoption of the EEZ concept but were increasingly unable to meet the navy's extended operational demands even though they have been retrofitted and modernised throughout their years of service. This is because the patrol boats have limited operational capabilities and are only able to patrol between 8km and 32km from the shore while the country's waters stretches for more than 320km and are thus expected to be gradually replaced with the incoming NGPV's.

Displacement: 96 tons standard , 109 tons full load (Kris Class)
Dimensions: 31.4 m x 6 m x 1.7 m
Guns : 2 x 40/70 mm Bofors, 2 12.7 mm MG
Electronics: Decca 707
Propulsion: 2 MTU MD655/18diesels 3,580 hp, 2 shafts
Speed : 27 knots, range 3074 Km at 14 knots
Crew: 36

2. NAME : KD Rahmat
PRECEDING NAME : KD Hang Jebat (Commissioning Name)
SERVICE DEACTIVATED : 2004 -Proposed Museum Ship- Static Training Ship currently-
TYPE : Frigate- Yarrow Mark 1

A Yarrow Mark 1 frigate, Rahmat was the first major purpose-built warship for the Royal Malaysian Navy. She was laid down in 1966 and was originally called the KD Hang Jebat. However her name was later changed to Rahmat due to superstitious reasons after she had a run of unfortunate events in the 1970's. At the time of delivery, Rahmat was a capable ship by the standards then prevalent in South East Asia (SEA), with a high level of automation and a design emphasis on simplicity that reduced manning requirements. She was initially delivered in 1972 with a quadruple Sea Cat Surface to Air Missile(SAM) launcher, therefore making the Royal Malaysian Navy one of the first navies to be SAM-equipped in SEA. The third Bofors 40mm then replaced the outdated launcher in 1983 during a modernisation re-fit where the director was also removed, thereby altering her original appearance. On board, there is also a provision for the embarkation of a helicopter with the incorporation of a McGregor hatch over the well deck. Originally configured as an ASW frigate, she was used as the navy's second training vessel in the same squadron as KD Tuah. Decommissioned in 2004, she is now playing a role as a static training ship while awaiting conversion to a museum ship.

Displacement: 1250 tons standard, 1600 tons full load
Dimensions: 93.9m x 10.4m x 4.5m
Guns: 1 x 114mm/45 Vickers Mk 5 DP, 3x 40mm/70 Bofors. (Range : Main 19 Km/12.5 Km, Aux : 12 Km/4 Km)
ASW: 1 x Mk10 Limbo Mortar (3 tubes) (Range : 900 metres)
Electronics: Sewaco-MA combat data system, Signaal LW.02, Decca 626, Kelvin Hughes MS32 Radars, One radar for the WM22 gun fire-control system, Graseby Type 174 and Type 170B sonars, ESM system with UA-3 warning and FH-4 jamming elements, 2 UK Mk1 rail chaff launchers, Link Y
Propulsion: Rolls Royce Olympus TM1B gas turbine at 20626hp or Crossley/SEMT-Pielstick SPC2V diesel at 4000hp to two shafts, controllable pitch propellers
Speed: 26 knots, range 9656 Km at 16 knots
Crew: 140
Aircraft: Platform Aft

3. NAME : KD Musytari, KD Marikh
SERVICE ENTRY : 1985/1987
SERVICE DEACTIVATED : 2006 – transferred to MMEA-
TYPE : Offshore Patrol Vessel - Musytari Class

For the extended patrolling of the Exclusive Economic Zone even in monsoon conditions, 2 Korean-designed Musytari class Offshore Patrol Vessels are in service with the Royal Malaysian Navy. Ordered in 1983, the first vessel was built in South Korea by Korean Shipbuilding Engineering Corporation while the second was built in a local shipyard, Malaysian Shipyard and Engineering. A third unit was proposed but she was finally not built. Although not of outstanding usefulness in a war situation except for fire support, the vessels still effectively perform the functions of maintaining continuos presence and providing surveillance in the EEZ in their primary role for the navy. The vessels also support and protect the oil rig platforms of the nation besides providing fishery protection, fire fighting and search and rescue operations. These vessels can be put to sea for a two-week period due to their larger size and longer range, and excellent sea keeping qualities and manoeuvrability enable the vessels to operate in rough weather. The armaments fit of the vessel includes a Creusot Loire 100mm Compact gun and an Emerson Electric 30mm twin cannon. The vessels are also fitted with a comprehensive range of navigation and communication equipment, and sophisticated fire control system. In times of crisis, mine warfare equipment and other weaponry may be fitted to expand the vessel capabilities. With a helicopter capability, the vessels are also able to carry out beyond horizon surveillance and ASW operations. As such, these vessels are sufficiently equipped to be useful in a secondary support role for any naval action.

Displacement: 1300 tons full load
Dimensions: 75m x 10.8m x 3.7m
Guns: 1 x 100mm/55 Creusot Loire Compact, 1 x twin 30mm/85 Emerson Electric. (Range : Main 17.5 Km/6 Km, Aux : 10Km/3.5 Km)
Electronics: Signaal DA05, Philips 9GA-600, Decca 1226 radars, Philips 9LV 230 Fire control system with Optronic backup, ESM Cutlass intercept
Propulsion: 2 Pielstick Diesels providing 12720hp to two shafts
Speed: 22 knots, range 11,100 Km at 20 knots
Crew: 76
Aircraft: Platform aft.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Are You Apologising or Just A Communist Apologist?

This article was featured in The Star on Sunday and I post here a few select quote that I want to comment on. You can read the whole article as linked.

Sunday May 25, 2008

To exile and back again


Age has withered her and what little history books say of her, demonises her. But Shamsiah Fakeh’s life is a fascinating story of one woman’s incredible journey from freedom fighter to communist to exiled outcast.

Freedom fighter? It is right for books to demonise her for being a communist terrorist. Damn baby killers!

All this is a far cry from her days as one of Malaya’s most famous (or to some quarters, infamous) women who, along with Rashid Mydin, Abdullah C.D. and Musa Ahmad (who later defected and denounced her and the party), were among the few Malay leaders of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). How many women can claim to have experienced a life as eventful as that of this powerful orator who led the Angkatan Wanita Sedar (better known as AWAS, Malaya’s first nationalist women’s organisation) in agitating for independence before spending eight years in the jungles in guerrilla warfare and then nearly 40 years in exile in China?

48 years as a communist and still not apologising for her past mistakes.

And how many women have had five husbands?

This something you want to be proud of issit?

Her second marriage to the mysterious J.M. Rusdi was also an unhappy one. It lasted just five months and after he ended it, she found out that he had been an informer working for the Japanese.

Did you have him killed or stood by watching?

Shamsiah explains that in the mid-1940s, there were only two Malay parties, Umno and PKMM and she was courted by both. But she decided to join PKMM because she felt was it was progressive and not influenced by the colonial masters. In 1946, she was invited to Kuala Lumpur to head the PKMM's women's wing. This was her first step on the long road that would lead her to communism – she was a member of the so-called 10th Regiment comprising Malay cadres – and eventual exile in China.
In her book, Shamsiah indicates she joined the CPM because she was influenced by Wahi and Musa. I didn't know (they) were CPM members.... There was nothing unusual about them being communist. They worked wholeheartedly for Merdeka and many gave their support (to them),” she writes.

Who are this many? Were they non-communist that were by numbers the majority?

“But over the years, she has had many visitors. Former comrades, government officials like Tan Sri Aishah Ghani (a former minister who served as an AWAS committee member under Shamsiah before joining Umno), Tun Daim Zainuddin, Tun Ghafar Baba, and also people she never met but who supported her struggle, all came to see her.

SO how come YBhg Tan Sri Aishah Ghani does not need to be a CPM member to help bring independence to Malaya meh?

Indeed in her book, Shamsiah discusses a number of vicious rumours that have been circulated about her. By far the most traumatic is that surrounding the death of her third child, whom she had with Wahi Anuwar. Shamsiah was accused of killing the baby while in the jungle to avoid the risk of capture. She explains that she struggled through rain and heat, insects and leeches, thirst and hunger for her child and tefused to give up. However, upon reaching an unfamiliar district, she was told by local CPM members that the baby would be given to local villagers to raise. She only found out years later that her baby was killed by those same members!

So after undergoing all that you can still be kamcheng with the babykillers who actually killed your own baby? What kind of a mother are you?

After her eight-year stint in the jungle ended, she and Ibrahim moved to the relative comfort of China where they started a family. By 1956, the CPM's armed struggle had become a lost cause and the 1955 Baling Talks had failed. The CPM decided to send its top echelon led by party secretary-general Chin Peng, to China to ensure the leadership survived. Shamsiah, however, says in her book that they were sent to China ”untuk belajar” (to study) so that the Malay cadres could raise their ideological and theoretical knowledge for long-term needs.

You know you are fighting a lost cause but still stubborn enough to work with your baby killer comrades eh? Too brainwashed to think straight I see.

While in China, they were treated as “foreign guests” and were never granted Chinese citizenship. (They, including the grandchildren, are now Malaysians.)This left them vulnerable to the horrors of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976, now widely seen as a chaotic play for power by Mao Zedong to regain the influence he partly lost after the failure of the 1958-1960 Great Leap Forward).

Huh even a so-called high ranking cadre cannot get citizenship under their supreme leader eh? So you think if CPM got Malaya what would happen aaa? And if Cultural Revolution also came here who is first to be sent to re-education camp or worse?

Within the CPM, factions had developed – both in Malaysia and in China. It was a very bad time and my parents left the party in 1972,” recalls Jamaluddin. (In her book, Shamsiah says they were “sacked” from the party.) It was during this period that they parted ways with Chin Peng too.“My parents and he were close comrades until 1968 when they quarrelled over the issue of political policy,” says Jamaluddin. Chin Peng had suggested a period of internal criticism and Shamsiah, Ibrahim and other comrades formed a study group and submitted a report to the party. “But he didn't like the report and treated my parents like they were counter-revolutionaries. After a few months, Chin Peng apologised and said that the situation had been taken out of his hands. When we left Beijing for Hunan in 1970, he saw us off at the train station and said everything was settled, but my parents felt they never got their good name back in the party.”

Huh that is just a small hint of what would have happened. And still you call them comrades?

Despite agreeing to stay out of politics – one of the conditions for her return – hamsiah has never given up her belief that she made choices based on her principles. “She struggled for a whole lifetime, and she is very insistent that the struggle against imperialism and capitalism is a correct struggle. She considered Umno to be the subordinates of the British. The British tried to hand over power to the people who were friendly to their interests. “Many leaders in PKMM were influenced by Sukarno and wanted to join Indonesia, but after the Emergency, the situation was different. Those who went into jungle to fight, didn't change their beliefs. Independence and justice was a struggle for Malays and Muslims too,” explains Jamaluddin.

So is this staying out of politics? My! My! How clever you are to stretch the conditions to the limits. A leopard never changes your spots eh?

But how will history judge Shamsiah Fakeh, the most senior Malay woman communist of Malaya?

Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, founding director of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies, believes Shamsiah was simply a radical nationalist.“During the end of the colonial era, there were many sorts of nationalist movements around the world like the Mau Mau in Kenya or the Vietnamese communists,” he says. “In Shamsiah's case, I believe she joined the armed struggle of the CPM because the radical Malay nationalist movements like AWAS were not accepted as legal parties under British rule. “However, my own personal view is that no matter how righteous the cause of freedom fighters, I find it difficult to justify using violence that, more often than not, kills innocent civilians. (Shamsiah has admitted to taking lives while in the jungle but claimed it was always in self-defence.)

Prof, after 1957 still need to fight meh? If her struggle was true, surrender lah under one of the numerous amnesties after independence. She had her chance but chose to remain with the babykillers, so she must assume responsibility for her actions, including murder she committed as there is no such thing as killing in self-defence in an armed conflict. Sheesh!

Still, does Shamsiah have regrets about supporting a bloody struggle that cost so many innocent lives?Jamaluddin feels that his mother’s outlook is a unique one.
“Some say that so many lives were lost, so you should give up the struggle. My parents' view was: How can we give up after so many have given their lives?
“Revolutionary struggle means the shedding of blood and loss of life. There was a lot of sacrifice and killing on both sides. But my mother’s spirit is still very strong.

Can anybody show me any hint of regret here? I for one surely cannot see any.

“ Shamsiah has earned a place in history. But she doesn't want to be remembered as “woman leader of the CPM”.Instead, she says in her foreword: “I was merely a woman fighting the British for my country's independence and the emancipation of women.”

Once a commie always a commie. But now a commie apologists using the tired argument " fighting the brits for my country's independence and emancipation of women." That only good until 1957lah, after that you are just bloodthirsty babykillerslah. And for "emancipation of women"? As somebody from the maternal adat pepatih clan, you know very well how good the women here have it so don't try to be a red women libber lah pulak. Ptuii!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Our History Remembered By Somebody Else

I have said it before but I am really ashamed by the performance of our Muzium and Antiquities Department and National Archives, especially when we compare it to our nearest neighbours. Somehow dealing with musty stuff seems to have petrified their creativity, so much so their museums are really archives of history rather than something that challenges people to appreciate their heritage, explore their past and not to repeat the mistakes of our forefathers. Even though they have prominently displayed the definition of a museum in their website, ie, "Museum Definition: "A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment." ref: ICOM Statutes art.2 para.1", they do not seem to understand it well especially the last part that I have highlighted in bold. The same goes to our National Archives, it seems to be where our history collects dust rather than be something like the Smithsonian Institute.

What really gets my beef is that when surfing the net I found that National Archives of Singapore has an interactive site on the fighting history of The Malay Regiment for the defence of Singapore, part of the program for Singapore's WWII Interpretative Centre. I am not really surprised since as far back as the 70's I remember visiting their war museum in Sentosa Island and that already aroused so much pride and patriotism in a little boy that has withstood the test of time to this day. Now they have upped the ante with this interpretative centre that you can actually visit online. The nearest museum locally that can replicate that experience is the Army Museum In Port Dickson, albeit limited to whatever they could afford to show. I am really tired of being unable to expound the qualities of our military history locally, but have to go elsewhere instead.

Let not the words of this Minister from Singapore become a reality in Malaysia.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Letting Them Travel Young

Pasir Salak Historical Complex (Above and below left)

On saturday my elder daughter went off on her first long distance school field trip organised by her religious school. The purpose of the trip was stated as to discover our historical and nature sites and to appreciate god's given wonders. Well as I understand it they cancelled the visit to the Pasir Salak historical complex so there goes the historical discovery portion of the visits but at least they visited the Teluk Intan leaning clock tower, a fruit farm, the Labu Sayong handicraft village in Kuala Kangsar and the Sungei Klah hot springs. So all in all it actually seemed that this was a tour group visit rather than anything historical discovery mission.

The Teluk Intan Leaning Tower

But I do not really mind as I feel that as per the Malay adage, the further you travel, the more open minded you become, and this was a good opportunity for me to check out whether she could be entrusted to take care of herself on journeys on her own. She failed part of it miserably as she did not respond well to our calls and messages to her handphone that got us a bit worried and she got a scolding for that when returned home. But overall I believed that she carried herself well and should be able to assume the responsibility of taking care of her younger sister on their tuition and kindergarten centre field trip to Malacca next August.

Making Labu Sayong

You must be saying that my kids are having it great with so much travel. The fact is the travelling bug is very inherent in my family, it is just that for me personally circumstances in my youth did not allow me to undertake such field trips until I was in college, mainly due to the costs. Yet my father still endeavoured to undertake as many family vacations as he could afford so trips to Singapore and Medan has been included in my life's journey. Thus since I can afford to pay for such trips now, why should I not allow my daughters the chance to experience as much of this wonderland created by God. Hopefully such experiences will equip them better to face life's journey. It is so much better than being stuck in front of a computer, or worse idling in shopping complexes right?

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Expensive Eating At Suria KLCC

Well today my makan kakis deserted me during lunch so I had to resort to eating at Suria KLCC's Rasa Food Court at the fourth floor. Normally we will avoid eating here unless it was raining as the food prices there can really make a dent to your wallet. But today I am too lazy to walk to the other food centres in the vicinity where meals actually cost only a little less than within KLCC, so I decided I might as well eat in relative comfort. So I ended up buying prawn mee in my favourite stall, one of two that offers this dish over here. Well to be frank there is not much difference between the two except this one gives a more fiery bite, and even though their prawns are miniscule like the ones in the overexposed picture, these are fresher and more numerous than the other stall. And with extra fish balls added and soft drinks, the meal cost me a sum of ten ringgit eighty cents. Cheap Huh!(With all cheeky irony).

Despite the big looking bowl, I am still peckish so had a peek at the stall selling Malay delicacies. Usually I give this stall a pass as they sell a piece of Malay kueh at double the normal stall prices and since I can get them at cheaper prices, why should I bother buying them. But today I spied something that I will not believe will be found selling at such a place, that is Indonesian beef potato croquets and rissoles. Having Indonesian stall helpers must be a factor in this eh! Selling at what to me ia a reasonable price of a ringgit sixty each compared to say a similarly price sardine roll that can be had elsewhere at only thirty cents each, I bought one each to sample. Well I had these at my office and I must say that they taste authentic not necessarily awesome. The beef potato croquette was actually generous with its fillings despite the first bite not yielding a burst of minced meat. The only complaint I have is that they are overly generous with the black pepper, so it overwhelms the overall taste and may put off some people. As for the rissole, it was filled with a chicken raqout filling and was quite tasty but again shadowed by blackpepperish background, though not as prominent as the croquette. Quite satisfied my cravings for rissoles actually. However if you ask me if this will become a regular purchase item, I am afraid that the answer is no as a poor salaryman like me can't afford to pay such premium prices just for a morsel of food. Anyway it is lucky that the foodcourt management enforce a rule for each stall to offer a dish at four ringgit fifty each, otherwise I guess many visitors to KLCC will be making noise about the high price of having a meal within the area.

Please Don't Invade Us, We Only Have Pink Bereted Commandos

You don't need weapons you say?

I saw this graffiti yesterday protesting a military hardware exhibition that was held in early April. What gets my goat is the message that literally translates to that we do not need weapons. So what are we supposed to defend ourselves in the time of war, though God Forbids that hopefully will not happen, but in this time of uncertainty of energy and food crisises who is to say that an invading force will not attack us. Malaysia has already had her fair share of foreign powers colonising her for her natural resources and as recently as 1941, that was just the excuse that Japan used to invade not only Malaysia but most of Asia to secure her food and material requirements. We also now have a Member of Parliament bringing to the parliamentary session his supposedly displeasure of the harsh treatment our commando candidates go through in their training session. Hello this is commando training that is not only voluntary but also is widely known to be the harshest that will be ever be faced by volunteer yep volunteers that signed up for the course. This is not some fresh faced greenhorn out of school entering boot camp although that training is hard enough as it is, but men and women who feels they have the right stuff to gradute and wear the green beret. Either this MP did not do his job when he was a Parliamentary Secretary when he was with the ruling party or he is a close one eye chap who now only has opened his eyes in order to create controversies in order to gain some cheap publicity. Otherwise he would know our commandoes wear green berets, not pink and will welcome any threat to the nation with an iron fist well clad in the latest military hardware we can afford, and not a bouquet of flowers as you yellow bellied pinko wannabes would like to do. Sheesh!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Growing Your Own Food

I am now watching Asian Food Channel's River Cottage series that chronicles the life of an urban refugee's life in becoming a smallholder in order to grow his own produce for his kitchen and country restaurant. Well the probable necessity to do this hit me when I when groceries shopping yesterday and found that my regular 5% SST local rice was no longer being sold. Instead the nearest equivalent that was being sold at the cheapest price of 29.90 ringgit per 10 kilo pack, and after returning and checking my regular rice price it does not surprise me that it has disappeared from the market as it was previously being sold at even less its list price of 21 ringgit. So there is no way that rice will be able to be sold at the current price range I guess without acquiring approval for a price increase in our controlled market.

Well the reality is there is no way I can emulate River Cottage with our terrace house even though I had purposely left a small portion un-built for a backyard garden. In this case you really have to learn how to maximise your garden and surprisingly this may mean allowing your garden to sprawl wild as it is true that in nature there is a rule of the survival of the fittest. At the moment I have four pots of red chillies planted about a couple of months ago that has given me their second harvest but the recent rain deluge followed by a dry spell is wrecking havoc on new flowering and seeding process. I am now hoping with the weather now improving the chillies will resume their normal fruiting and give me good harvests from now on. The same weather has also affected my Birdseye chili plants similarly but I must say that those growing directly in the ground as compared to those potted has done better. The casualty rate is far better and the flowering rate is definitely better than those in the pots. In fact they are now re-flowering and I have also found some new plants germinating from the unplucked pods left to dry and fall onto the ground. In fact one has all grown up and starting to flower in less than two months. Amazing.

Among others that have germinated and grown wildly are the curry trees and some lime trees that I am not sure of which type as they have not fruited. They are now growing well alongside my planted kaffir lime tree, kasturi lime tree and lemongrass. The funny thing is none of the lime trees has fruited before, so they are currently being used for their leaves instead in my wife's cooking. So you can say in addition to the Malay herbs that I had posted on before, I do have other scented leaves that can be used in the kitchen growing in my garden. Although they may only cost a few cents for a handful in the market, well every little bit does help the budget right. And an added advantage is their scent gives me a nice smelling vegetable garden to boot. Think of the scent of curry and lime leaves mingling in a dish and you get an idea what sort of scent can be smelt wafting through in the garden.

The plant that I have more success in harvesting their fruit is my patch of Pisang Raja banana grove. Pisang Raja is a type of banana that is nowadays very difficult to find in the market and in traditional villages, overtaken by more popular banana breeds in Malaysia though it remains king in Indonesia where they are most popular types of banana used to make banana fritters due to its sweetness. In fact to me they are the sweetest species and perfect for cooking and due to this I have been informed that they are actually grown in plantations and exported to markets like Singapore and also supplied to restaurants where in western restaurants they are an essential part of Chicken Maryland dish. How do I know these facts? Well the forefathers of my banana trees was procured by my regular night market fruit vendor who I believe has passed on, bless his soul, who obtained the young banana trees from his friend's plantation. This was a favour to me as a regular customer of his pisang raja, as it was not long after that his stall closed down, presumably after his death thus stopping my fruit supply except for occassions when I find some scraggly specimens that are export rejects but still good enough for me. Well his good deed has actually been extended far and wide as saplings from the original trees has been taken as far as my Ipoh hometown, my wife's relatives' home at Rantau in Negeri Sembilan, Johor and Pahang as once the banana tree has taken root, saplings has appeared on regular basis that needs to be weeded out in order to maintain the size of the grove to be more manageable. Too bad that the fruits are seasonal as usually it is a twice a year affair only and I have yet to achieve success in staggering their fruiting as plantations are able to. Luckily for me the fruits are now fruiting and I have just harvested a bunch while another is still on the tree. I can't wait for the fruits to turn yellow although this time I only managed to get an average of six combs per bunch. Well I do have another banana bunch to be harvested on the small patch of no man hillside land in front of the house but this only has two combs, a result I guess of double germination because the first time the banana heart appeared it failed to fruit. There I also have a grove of Pisang Abu where one is now fruiting and I think another will also bear fruit soon. I will talk more on this no man's land gardening in a later post as the fruits there deserve their own page.

Anyway due to the limited space available I am now experimenting to plant a Chiku tree in a pot. These are usually large sized trees that once grew in my old family house so I know it will not be suitable for a terrace house if grown normally. But the new species Chiku Subang supposedly can be grown well in a pot without sacrificing their sweetness so I have one specimen now growing in such fashion. It is now covering from its second re-potting and currently sprouting two ciku specimens. If it is as sweet as the first harvest, then I should have years of good chiku supply as these are perennial fruiters and should be available all year round.

Wish me good luck please in my efforts to reduce my food bill with my small patch of a garden. And for you who has been contemplating a similar venture, now is a good time as any to start as you can now save a lot and should be able to recoup your investments sooner. So go ahead, start! I can assure you that this will be a fruitful venture in more ways than one.

Requiem For Tucker Box

Ah imagine my surprise on Sunday when I went to Gardens Mid Valley to find my favourite purveyor of Aussie tucker has closed down. Not even a display cabinet left. So sad when my family has just warmed up to joys of their meat pies and delicious Aussie cakes. Really kempunan you know. Well I have sent an email to the proprietors asking if they really closed down or just moved to another location but I have yet to receive a reply. I really hope that this post is really not a eulogy to Tucker Box as I will definitely miss their superb pastries. Will keep you posted if they are still alive and where they are now.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

And The Winner Is!!!

Well since Kuala Lumpur especially seems to have been hit by donut fever I have been waiting for the time when I have tasted the offerings from all three main players so that I can judge whether the donut fever deserves the hype. Why I even have an acquaintance who requested for JCo donuts to be flown in from KL by somebody who is flying into Kota Kinabalu. So what gives?

Well JCo as you may note from my previous posting that I definitely do not find JCo donuts deserving the hype. The taste of their dough was definitely chemically and definitely do not rise to the occasion. Where is the fluffy chewiness that all good doughnuts should have? Does good filling or coating warrants overlooking the fact that the doughnut itself does not taste good? Or is it the pleasure of being able to say that I have lined up to get my piece of the JCo hype scene the reason for all the snaking queue you find without fail at their outlet. Man if I want to eat all that creaminess I might as well buy other types of pastry with sugar coating or creamy filling than eat at Jcos. So all of you who find it so cool to be seen lining up at JCos, go ahead as I have better fish to fry.

And what better way to eat a donut than to dunk it it your favourite beverage though the donuts at Dunkin Donuts are actually better eaten straight than dunked right. Even after a hygiene scare at one time after an expose by the press on their less than desirable state of their factory's cleanliness, this brand has managed to continue on an expansion trail without needing to hype their presence. They just need to continue selling good donuts at good value and the public continues to patronise their outlets. That is a good enough testimonial of how good their donuts are. Yet even though their donuts are the cheapest, they still do not deserve the title of Winner of The Donut Championship so have to be satisfied with the runners up position.

So the deserving winner is the homegrown brand (surprisingly!) Big Apple Donuts which at first glance seemed to be a foreign franchise. I just got back from their outlet at the Gardens after giving them a miss the first time around due to the long queue formed at the time. Not another JCo I thought. But then a friend told me that their donuts are way better so I thought I might as well give it a try as the queue this time. He is right. The fillings and coatings are as good but the dough is softer and without the pesky chemical taste. I bought a dozen and my family devoured them in a jiffy like sharks in a feeding frezy. It was that good that I remarked it was lucky that we bought a dozen eh! The best was the double choc with the cocoa filling and choc shavings on top. Sorry I can't remember its name. A close second was the Duren Duren although the durian taste should have been more intense. Don't wan't to scare off the foreigners I guess.

SO there you have it. From nowhere a homegrown brand actually serves American style donuts. Now when can I try something like these American Donuts that I kempunan when I visited Queen Victoria's Market in Melbourne. Freshly made and supposedly better than their Kryspy Kremes. That was one doughnut that till today I regret I could not have the chance to savour as it was fasting month and I await the day when I will visit Melbourne so that I can finally satisfy my yearning.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Can We Now Start Talking About 13 May 1969 Openly?

I am a little non-plussed that this historic date in our Nation's history is passing by without being noticed by the general population. Amongst the mainstream media only The Star is making an effort to mark this event by putting forth questions that to me are what our society should seriously debate in order to obtain closure on this now almost mythical event, that leaves it open to manipulation by opportunistic parties for their own nefarious purposes.
Thus I put forth herewith a repetition of the questions that should be the start of our society's soul searching into this momentous event, so that we all can move forward and leave behind the threat of history repeating itself in the dustbin of time, where it should be.

From the Sunday Editorial "Time to close chapter on May 13"

"More than 60% of the country’s 26 million population, if not a little more, did not experience that shameful part of the nation’s journey, and yet it is still taboo to talk about it"

"For some opportunistic politicians, the May 13 tragedy is used to invoke fear among the people and to protect the politics of communalism.Unfortunately, in our reluctance to talk about May 13 openly, the best of Malaysian stories, even in the worst of Malaysia, have not been narrated.

There have been many fantastic uplifting stories, where Malaysians of different races protected each other and these stories should be told."

"But for many Malaysians, now in their late 40s and mid-50s, May 13 is just a flicker in their memory. It’s time to have a proper closure, a lesson learnt and not to be used to create fear"

From The Sunday Focus "It need not remain a black day"

"It’s been a long time but there are still numerous lessons to be learned from this darkest episode of our history. We should also honestly ask if we have truly learned anything so far, except for treating it as a subject of taboo or censorship. Instead of continuing to keep the events of May 13, 1969, in the deepest recesses of our memory, as we have done all this while, there must be a rational acceptance for a closure on the wretched chapter."
"In this digital age when information on everything is available easily, we should not continue to believe what we think we know about May 13 through what was disclosed officially then.Similarly, we should also not continue to believe what we learned about it through exaggerated accounts and blatant lies or through re-told prejudiced stories.A few of the people who witnessed the tragedy are still alive but the majority of Malaysians are those who only know it as something that is too sensitive to discuss openly. Up to now, that is."

"A nation that has gone through such a tumultuous event should never be rife with deep mistrust or bitter rivalries between communities that have lived together for decades.
No one should harbour any fear of losing out to the other, for in this great journey that we have embarked on, we can’t go it alone."

Now an extract of the defence on the conduct of our Armed Forces in controlling the situation. This is a prime example of how without debate of the incident, it has left open opportunities of misconduct without opportunity of defending one's actions. This appeared in the NST in the Comment Column "May 13, 1969: Serving the nation in its darkest hour"

"May 13, 1969, will always be remembered as the blackest day in our post-independence history. Much water has passed under the bridge since then and we would like to think that we are that much wiser, as a people and a nation, because of it. This event, as such, must never be in any way slanted or distorted, especially given its polarised complexion. The truth can be so easily desecrated, especially when written retrospectively against the comfort of present-day peace and harmony, void of the reality of the time, and given an unbridled interpretation based on third-party random personal glimpses and snatches of fleeting partial observations."

In response to this quote from the book "The Reluctant Politician - Tun Dr Ismail and His Time (Ooi Kee Beng, 2007)" "However, he added as a private message to Ismail that the army is reported by the same sources to have been responsible for excessive force against the Chinese - it does seem on the best information that I have that the Malay Regiment rather lost its head."

"The quote is most damning for the RMR and casts aspersions on its integrity and professionalism. It is an affront to the sacrifices of its officers and soldiers who had dutifully and unfailingly served in defence of the country for the last 75 years. "

Food supplies being distributed after the May 13 incident. The presence of the police and armed forces was vital in ensuring that all communities were kept safe and had enough food, water and medicines.

Examples of the RMR examplary conduct was then provided and followed by this damning statement.

"These examples may not mean anything to those bent on seeing and reporting only the perceived negative sides but they serve to illustrate the many different sides of this same equation, one that should never be made to seem so conclusively and conveniently simple. Neither are they meant to eulogise the RMR battalion involved, or the army in general.They are simply to point out that in discharging their responsibilities during this very sensitive and difficult period, they had to carry out many different roles - some pleasant, others less so, and some outright painful - but always by the book.The regiment had acted with the same professionalism and dedication, precisely as they were trained and prepared, entrusted and mandated, committed solely to ensuring the well-being of the nation. And, at the very least, their contributions should be impartially and fairly judged"

Thus without debate that illustrates what really happened in this dark period of our nation's history, how then can we move forward with confidence I ask you.

Finally, do read up on remembrances of those who were actually there, it may surprise you. This is one posting that is worthy to be referred to here.

So on this 39th anniversary of an event when 196 Malaysians (according to official records) lost their life's , I invite you to join me in offering a prayer to all those victims of race based enmity and strife that should never be forgotten in the annals of our nation's history. Al Fatihah.