Follow by Email

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Nazir believes that he got it made as Malaysia's top banker and CEO by sheer hardwork all by himself. His heritage (father especially) or brother have no influence whatsoever leading to his success and hence richness. Justifiably he could look down on other Malays below that depend and make use of DEB (NEP) out of neccessity. They are deemed  weaklings and opportunists. 

CIMB is but a GLC!

Don't we know that there are crooks somewhere that abuse such a privilege. Nazir summed up the whole affair of affirmative action as bastardization of DEB.

Is the government not be blamed partly for whatever mismanagement and misregulation in implementing the DEB?

Now his brother, Najib believes the same thing. I am what I am due to my merit and hardwork! The 30% quota is a hindrance to Malay progress and got to be abolished. It is the scourge of bastardization of the Malays. Yes, he could say that for being up there on top. Was the matter discussed beforehand among cabinet members or UMNO Supreme Council? Has he become an authoritarian?

Every now and then Felda settlers receive durian runtuh? Why the discrimination against other rural folks and land settlers?

Is he assuming that all Malays now and the new generation is on the similar level playing field? My father was a rubber tapper and my mother toiled the padi fields. I owe the country for giving me a chance to better myself. Considering my non-stellar academic performance without DEB I would not qualify for overseas education. Dr. Mahathir said on a similar vein. Are there no more rubber tappers in the country? How about sons and daughters of laboures, nasi lemak sellers, padi planters and other menial and low income earners?

For whom actually? His own political survival?

A bastardized Malay?

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Ahlan wa sahlan.

Arab hospitality is the warmest of its kind. At once make you feel home. The pamper you with their good food. I feel at home in Syria three times I had been in that great country.

The Arabs had fought against the crusaders about 9 centuries ago. In fact Salahuddin al-Ayubi who recaptured Baitul-Maqaddis died in Syria and buried at Damascus.

It was towards the end of 1999 after attending a 2-week course at Aleppo (Halab) that I met my host family introduced by a colleague who also attended the course.

They live in a small pastoral village by the name of Qassabin (The Butcher in Arab) some hours drive to the southwest of Aleppo. I stayed with them for a week.

In September 2007 after visiting my god-daughter at a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon close to the border with Israel this taxi driver drove me from Beirut across to the border into Syria and from there took another taxi to Qassabin.

Along the way to Syria we passed a bridge being repaired after being bombed by the Israel airforce during the war against Hezbullah.

Lebanon-Syria border check-point and immigration office.

Nejmo, head of my host family(extreme left), his son Mohammad and his grandchildren who were on summer holiday at his house.

Since I don't know Arabic I could not communicate with Nejmo. However, every now and then he would asked his wife to prepare thick Arabic coffee for me. At times he would roll a cigarette using locally growned tobacco, offer and light it for me. I smoked out of courtesy.

Little did I know that he was going blind with cataract in both eyes. He passed away about a year ago.

Mrs Nejmo, always a forlorn look in her eyes.

Overseeing ploughing her vegetable garden at the back of the house.
Children going to the village school.

Picnic under the shade.

Olive farm (R).

Raspberry (R).

After a week stay with the Nejmos, I took a flight from Latakia to Damascus to KL, and home.

Monday, September 19, 2011


6th August last, Hiroshima held its 66th anniversary of its devastation by the atomic bomb. The US first attended the ceremony only after 60 years.

In the eastern (WWII) theatre the Allies were winning. To force surrender and end war and human sufferage the mother of all bombs now ready by the Manhattan Project were put to destructive use.

The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hisroshima on 6th August 1945. Three days later another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

By all accounts the only remaining structures left aroung the epicentre of the blast were steel structures all others flattened.

Far from the epicentre those who survived the blast and radiation built temporary ramshackled huts.

The atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 weighed about 10,000lbs and contained 15 lbs of Plutonium-239. The energy released was equivalent to 20,000 tons (20KT), of TNT, which corresponds to 1.3KT/lb of Pu-239. It wiped out 40% of the city and killed about 35,000 people.

The destructive effects of such bomb size at Nagasaki include:

1. Ground burst crater - diameter 600ft, depth 40ft

2. Blast destruction of buildings, radius (in miles) - brick-ground burst 0.9 miles, brick-air burst 1.2 miles, wood-ground burst 1.5 miles, wood-air burst 2.0miles

3. Fire, radius (miles)- destroys everything combustible 0.7miles, people received 2nd degree burns 2.1miles,

4. Initial gamma radiation of 500R, radius (miles) 0.8

Devastated by the atomic bombs Japan was forced to surrender and Emperor Hirohito signed the agreement.

Friday, September 16, 2011


War is a neccessary evil they say. Somewhere in the world now (and then) powerful nations are planning and brokering wars be it at regional or global scale. The game is now in the middle East and Indian subcontinent - Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The spoils or war are too tempting for the would be winners to stay quiet - enemies annhilated, weapons tested, boundries changed, new countries and allies created, resources grabbed, greed satisfied at least temporarily as testified after the two World Wars.

After WWII the British partitioned Palestine to reclaim or regain what they lost in the crusades, the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Outreme. But the Jews violently drove them out at the expense of the Arabs too till now.

World War II leaders - Allied forces (L, Churchill far right) vs Axis powers (R, Hitler).

WWII dragged on too long and resources getting limited. The Allies were winning in many fronts though, West and East.

To end war they need something big to destroy the enemy. The two sides knew what they need, the mother of all bombs, the atomic bomb and the first to use it will annihilate the other. The technology was developing fast and the race for the atomic weapon was fast.

The mushroom signature of an atomic bomb - French testing on Bikini Island in the Pacific.

Einstein, a German Jew in 1905 came up with the theory of relativity, interconversion of matter and energy, E=mc2. Since then, physicists in Europe were experimenting to release the 'frozen energy' indicated in the formula.

Einstein fled to the US in 1934.

In 1932, Chadwick, a British physicist discovered neutron, a new atomic particle with no electric charge. In 1937, Ferni, an Italian physicist using neutrons experimented bombarding Uranium-235 with neutrons but it was 2 years later that Lise Meitner, an Austro- Jewish refugee from Hitler and Otto Frisch provided the correct explanation of the outcome.

The U-235 nucleus, absorbing the neutron, splitted into two fragments ie. fissioned. In the course of such event, more neutrons are emitted.

By the summer of 1939, German physicist Werner Heisenberg commented there were 12 people who knew an atomic bomb could be assembled.

By 1941, the race for an atomic bomb was going neck-to-neck between the US and Germany. By 1945, by all accounts Germany had lost the race mainly because many of its nuclear physicists had fled to former.

On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb, code-named Trinity, was exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico. The code-named Manhattan Project, headed by Robert Oppenheimer took 3 years to make it happen.

Oppenheimer was stunned by the sheer magnitude of the blast. 'I am become death, shatterer of worlds', a passage from a Hindu scripture came across his mind.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Accept the fact that part of Najib's foreign policy is to pay a visit to the Pope at Vatican - a visible event that may or may not add to his political mileage. He thinks it does at the same time to wash himself, feet and all after the recent bible furor.

Vatican City is the world's smallest country within the city of Rome devoted to the spiritual guidance and temporal management the Roman Catholic Church. The state's monarch, the Pope reigns as the Vicar of Christ.

It is "costly religious Disneyland" according to Vatican observer Paul Hoffman.

The piazza of St Peter (L) was designed by Bernini in the mid-17th century. The Church of St Peter (R front) adjoints the piazza.

Frescoes in the Sala Regia, the royal reception room was done by Giorgio Vasari among others in 1538.

Gathering of the College of Cradinals (1985), advisers and electors of the popes since the late 11th century. Of more than 150 cardinals only a few live in Vatican City, others are in their native lands.

N.B. Don't mistaken me that I was with his entourage!

Reference: National Geographic, 1985.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Origin of civilisations

In the distant past, great civilizations had lasted for thousands of years. Basic needs were simple and resources were abundant to feed small populace. Food production improved with settled agriculture allowing relative peace and stability for nation building.

Organized governance of settlements and city states over time developed into a civilization. War, tyranny, murder, palace intrigue, greed and other human infirmities of the governing and governed led to stagnancy and downfall of a civilization.

The Sumerian civilization was perhaps the earliest and lasted for more than 1500 years (c.3500BC-2006BC). It was a pioneering civilization established in the region of Mesopotamia, the fertile land between the two rivers of the Euphrates and Tigris (present day Iraq).

The Egyptian civilization (c.3100BC-431AD) enriched by the Nile lasted for 3500 years.

Other major civilization were the Assyrians located near the Mesopotamian region, lasted more than 1700 years (2371BC-612BC), the Indus Valley civilization of India for 700 years (2300BC-1600BC), the Greeks for over 2000 years (2000BC-146BC), and Rome over 1000 years (753BC-476AD). To expand or secure their borders and power, these civilizations fought many wars. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Western Europe lingered for two centuries in the so-called Dark Ages.

In the Far East, the Chinese began its kingdom with the Shang Dynasty. It lasted for 3500 years from 1600BC until1912AD when the last Manchu emperor of the Qing dynasty was overthrown and China became a republic under Sun Yat Sen.

The Japanese according to its oldest book, the ‘Kojiki’ (completed in AD 712) describes the nation’s history from its mythical origins to about AD 600. The Khmer empire of Cambodia began in AD 900.

Melaka Sultanate

It was at the turn of the 15th century that Parameswara, a Hindu warrior prince fled from Palembang to Tumasek and then to Melaka. He established the Malay Sultanate at the Melaka River-mouth in 1402 and when converted to Islam took the name of Sultan Iskandar Shah.

Setting up a new kingdom was not an easy task. Although Parameswara might had exposure to palace rule in Sumatra but there were not many capable hands to help set up a new kingdom. He needed wise right-hand men, the Bendahara, a brave Laksamana, a deligent Shahbandar , several hulubalangs so on and so forth. One could imagine that he had to undertake many of the ruling tasks by himself at the beginning years.

Elsewhere in the world, in Europe, Middle East and the East, major events and were taking place or had passed – wars and conquests, coronation of kings, explorations and discoveries, advances in literature, architecture and philosophy.

Oblivious to Parameswara, the Tartars (Mongols) were already the masters of Central Asia. Their army under the leadership of Timur (Tamerlane), a descendent of Genghis Khan sacked the Ottomans (Turks) under Sultan Beyazit I (“Yilderim” or Thunderbolt) at Ankara.

The Chinese under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) made the first official contact with Melaka when Admiral Cheng Ho (a Muslim eunuch) visited Parameswara’s court in 1405. Apart from other gifts, Cheng Ho gave the hand of Hang Li Po, a Chinese princess to the Sultan.

The Chinese invented gunpowder. Did the Sultan and his able-bodied men took interest to learn about firepower or other technological skills from the many Chinese expeditions that passed by Melaka? Evidently not. When the Portuguese were conquering Malacca in 1511 the locals were thus of no match.

The chronology of events as given below would give an overview or backdrop on the state of world affairs and developments about the time Melaka being established. Hopefully we could deduce certain perceptions and plausible explanations as to the success and longevity, or failure of a kingdom. Internal as well as external events and factors affect the social and economic fabric and stability in one way or another of any government.

World events of pre-Malacca establishment:

1389:   Ottomans (Turkish) victory at Kosovo over Serbs, Bulgarians and Albanians gives Ottoman control of the Balkans for 500 years. Their sultan, Murad I (b. 1360) gets killed in the battle and also the Serb leader.

1389:   Vasili I, Grand Prince of Moscow begins his rule of Russia until 1425

1392:   Yi Song-gye (1335-92) founds Yi Dynasty in Korea

1395-1400:   Timur’s (b. 1336), a Tartar conquests of Central Asia.1395 – conquers the Golden Horde in Russia;
1398 – devastates Delhi, India;1400 – conquers Anatolia, sacks Damascus and Baghdad

1396:   Beyazit 1, son of Murad 1 defeats a combined European crusaders under the Hungarian king, Sigismund at Nicopolis (now Nikopol), Bulgaria

1397:   Building of Gothic architecture of Westminster Hall, London begins, ends in 1399

1399:   Henry IV becomes king of England, rules until 1413

1400:   Western Europe begins development of three-masted ships making possible major voyages of discovery.

Events at founding of Malacca kingdom:

1402:   Founding of the Malacca Sultanate by Parameswara

1402:   Timur vanquishes Ottomans at Ankara

Events post-establishment of Malacca Sultanate:

1403:   Korean printers become the first to cast movable type in bronze

1405:   Admiral Cheng Ho begins his seven voyages to Malacca, coasts of India and Africa until 1433. On his fourth expedition he took a fleet of 63 ships and 27,000 men, including 180 doctors, as far as the Persian Gulf. His largest vessels well over 1500 tonnes, were more than 180m (600ft) long.

1405:   Timur was killed in China.
(Timur’s bones rest in a mausoleum in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. His tomb, topped by an enormous slab of jade, was opened in 1941 by Russian archeologists, revealed that he had tuberculosis in his right thigh and shin, and both his right knee joint and right arm were immobilized)

1406:   Death of Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun (b. 1332), famous Muslim philosopher who applied the principles of philosophy to the study of history and sought the universal laws operating behind the flux of events. Author of ‘Al-Muqaddimah’ (An Introduction to History)

Certainly the Melaka Sultanate and other empires in the East were oblivious to the great events occurring elsewhere in the western part of the world. There was no contact between the East and West until the Portuguese under Vasco da Gama reached the West coast of India in 1498. Being isolated as such, efforts towards kingdom building was seemingly unworrisome for Sultan Iskandar Shah. Hence, ignorance (of major events elswhere) was blissful to the palace.