Saturday, December 31, 2005

Chinese New Year or Spring Festival

The 2006 Chinese New Year will fall on 29 January (Sunday). It will be the Year of the Dog.

In modern times, it is a multi-faith festival for all the Chinese in the sense that it is celebrated by Chinese Atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Confucianists, Free Thinkers, Muslims and Taoists.

Of course, non-Chinese are also welcome to join in as the Chinese culture has always been inclusive. My brother-in-law Rajah, for example, has been spending Chinese New Year with my family for the last 20 years or so since he first married my youngest sister.

In the early 70s, the first guests to visit us on the first day of the Chinese New Year were always Encik Hashim and his family. The late Encik Hashim was a petty clerk in a local government deparment, daily customer of my father's coffeeshop (always kopi-susu kau-kau, roti bakar kaya and dua batang rokok 555) and also secret supporter for Seenivasagam brothers' opposition People's Progressive Party (PPP).

I left for Australia on Qantas Airways on the eve of the 1982 Chinese New Year simply because on that day, the airfare was cheap and affordable. I spent my Chinese New Years of 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986 in Melbourne with my Chinese Malaysian, Vietnamese and Australian friends.

Our family's Chinese New Year in 1994 was also brightened up by the presence, in the reunion dinner on the eve, of Uncle Huang and his family from China. Uncle Huang, a former chemistry graduate from the Soviet Union in the 1950s and retired chemical engineer from Guangxi, married an aunt of mine in China. They visited Malaysia that year to thank our family's care for my aunt's mother during those not-so-good years over there.

While I was still the Kampar MP, I began to tour the various parts of my constituency from the fourth day on to greet everybody xin nian jin bu (wish you progress in the new year). The happiest stop would always be Mambang Diawan New Village - the second largest new village in Malaysia - where the working class youths in my age range who came back from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Singapore would gather en masse once a year to make the ex-tin mining area colourful, lively and full of metropolitan funs.

But nobody could beat this taiko or tailo in terms of beer-drinking. I never gamble.

On the nineth day, the Orang Asli community in the Kampar-Tapah area would also invite me to join them for their new year-like festival. There are a few Chinese youths in Kampar who married Orang Asli women. But, before that, on the evening of the eighth day, I usually attended the Hokkien celeberation of the Chinese New Year in the nearby Jeram New Village where there is a Hokkien minority amid the Cantonese-Hakka majority.

Even after 1995, I would still stop at Mambang Diawan or Malim Nawar for a few hours on my journey back from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur after the fourth or fifth days.

Chinese New Year Songs

Legend of Chinese New Year

Friday, December 30, 2005

Gov't fears inter-ethnic exchange of ideas ?

According to a report in malaysiakini today, private television station 8TV’s Mandarin talkshow 8 Corners might be axed by the end of next month after it conducted an interview with malaysiakini columnist-cum-filmmaker Hishamuddin Rais.

It is also reported that, in the interview with the popular 30-minute weekly programme, the former student activist shared his views on the recent campus elections, which was allegedly marred by serious irregularities.

For more details, please subscribe to read malaysiakini.

Nude-squat video: China Press to be suspended?

1,000 MCA members to join KeADILan soon

According the Tian Chua, 1,000 regional MCA leaders and members in Penang are crossing over to Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR) on 9 January 2006.

A ceremony to welcome them to join KeADILan is scheduled to take place in the Chang Hua Kor Hall in Tanah Liah, Bukit Mertajam in the evening of that day.

Those who need further details can call Mr. Law Choo Kiang: 016-4287383. Mr. Law (photo) is an assistant to Parti KeADILan Rakyat's president Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Happy New Year to all ...

Selamat Tahun Baru. Xin Nian Kuai Le. Eniya Puthandu Nalvazhthukkal. Happy New Year. Sawadee Pee Mai. Chuc Mung Tan Nien. Soursdey Chhnam Tmei. Sabai dee pee mai. Nawa Barsha ko Shuvakamana. Naya Saal Mubbarak Ho. Antum Salimoun. S Novim Godom. Bonne Annee. Prosit Neujahr. L'Shannah Tovah. Akimashite Omedetto Gozaimasu. Saehae Bock Mani ba deu sei yo! Manigong Bagong Taon. GOTT NYTT ÅR! /Gott nytt år! Sanah Jadidah

Anwar should set up his own blog now

As veteran journalist and former editor-in-chief of Utusan Melayu Said Zahari has observed in the manuscript of his second memoir, the editors of the Malay- and English-language mainstream media seem to have conspired to completely black out news of former DPM Anwar Ibrahim's activities and statements, inside and outside the country, since he was freed on 2 September 2004.

It seems that it is time for Anwar to set up his own blog to publish his own full-text statements and speeches as well as photographs of his activities, both inside and outside the country, so that he can regain the political and intellectual initiative by keeping mental contact or interactivity with the people, especially those in the sociological category of urban non-Muslim middle classes who do not usually attend political rallies or party activities.

The society and people now certainly need some new and serious ideas to rejuvenate the minds for paradigmatic shift and quantum leap in the country's political economy.

Developing human capital for NST first

According to PM Abdullah whose interview with the foreign media is published by the New Straits Times today, his emphasis "has been on the development of human capital".

PM Abdullah is quoted as also saying: " You can give soldiers the best weapon but if they do not know how to shoot, what's the use?" (by the way, could DPM and Defence Minister please take note?)

In terms of pure concept and abstract theory, no one can seriously dispute what PM Abdullah has said although in concrete reality and in specific practices, there are many issues relating to the development of human capital in Malaysia that can be debated in the public.

One of such issues is, ironically, the development of human capital in the mainstream media like the New Straits Times. It has wasted the whole front page today just to advertise a very normal interview with PM Abdullah by foreign media whose contents contain no ideas of news value, while the truly and internationally newsworthy "Proton selling Agusta Motor for RM 4.48" appears only in page 2.

One does not need a MBA like Jeff Ooi or political economics graduate from truly First World universities like me to tell my friend Kalimullah Hassan that the editorial decision reflects the lack of development of human capital in the Umno media. Any rookie in journalism or secondary school bulletin board editor knows "Proton selling Agusta Motor for RM 4.48 " is more important and newsworthy than "Is a Parliament loaded with BN MPs bad for Malaysia? No, says PM", for the front page.

So, I say: "You can give mainsteam media editors the best printing presses and computers, but if they do not how to make professional editorial decisions, what's the use? "

I also said in my earlier entry titled International conference reporting (11 December 2005; 10.37 a.m) that "there is no point even if you have the best and latest models of tape recorders, computers, cameras and handphones if your minds are void of the relevant, substantive and real knowledge".

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What're Dr.M and Anwar Ibrahim doing now?

Veteran Malay-language journalist Said Zahari says in the manuscript of his second memoir that the people of Malaysia have the right to know what their former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and ex-Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim are now doing, inside and outside the country.

Said, a former editor-in-chief of Utusan Melayu also observes that the editors of the mainstream media, especially the Malay and English segment, seemed to have conspired to completely black out news about the activities of Anwar Ibrahim inside and outside the country.

He says that fact-based news about Anwar Ibrahim's activities should be published for people to make their own judgements.

The memoir is expected to be published early next year in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and English simultaneously.

Monday, December 26, 2005

China marks 112th anniversary of Mao's birth

China marks Mao's 112th annivesary

Commemorating 110th anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth

On the peril of "rootless liberalism"

Before my Christmas eve midnight mass began, a friend told me that she was worried about what she called "rootless liberalism". According to her, there is now a group of ' secular' and 'post-modern' people all over the world that tries to challenge and destroy almost all forms of established identity in the names "peace", "harmony" and "scientific or technological progress", except their own "rootless liberalism".

To a certain extent, I agree with her that there are elements of ethnic, religious, cultural, historical, national and ideological identity and core value that are positive in that they preserve a sense of community and prevent human society from degenerating into a state of leaderless, nihilistic and socially irresponsible individualism whose randomness of thinking or caprice of behaviour is more dangerous to the security, stability and sanity of the world.

The achivement of peace and harmony is not to destroy these elements of identity but to preserve them and encourage them to live in mutual respect.

Boxing Day in Ipoh, 1941

After bombing and machine-gunning Ipoh town for about ten days, the fascist army of Imperial Japan entered, occupied and brutalised Ipoh on 26 December 1941 with the 'co-operation' of quislings.

The underground resistance also began its 44-month just war and heroic struggles against the fascists, some in the name of God while many other under the three-star Red banner of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA). My prayer today is offered to all those who sacrificed their lives to defend my hometown and the honour and dignity of my grandparents and parents.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Silent night, holy night ...

Closer to national reality ...

Although Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR) has admittedly not registered a strong presence in the Parliamentary, State Assemblies and the Media yet, it is also undeniable that it is a political party in Malaysia whose multiethnic composition is the closest to national reality. One could even feel it if and when he or she was at the 2005 Congress.

According to its President Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (extreme left), the party's membership now stands at 160,000 of which 1,372 are eligible delegates to the Congress.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Being VIP of Parti KeADILan Rakyat's Congress

I just came back from Kuala Lumpur after attending the 2005 Congress of Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR) held at the Istana Hotel. I (third from left) was seated in the front row together with Mr. Lo Jeng Wung (Chief Leader Writer of Sin Chew Jit Poh), Mr. Syed Shahir bin Syed Mohamud (President of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress or MTUC), Mr. Ser Choon Ing (Chairman of the Civil Rights Committee of the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall), Mr. Lee Ban Chen (veteran Chinese educationist and malaysiakini columnist) and Mr. Mai Xiang (veteran Chinese educationist from Ipoh).

Both Mr. Lee and Mr. Mai were detained without trial under the notorious Internal Security Act (ISA) in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

My socialist friends were there too

In the 2005 Congress of Parti KeADILan Rakyat held today in Kuala Lumpur's 5-star Hotel Istana, I also met Dr. Mohamad Nasir Hashim (left) and S. Arutchelvan (right) who are the chairman and secretary-general of the pro-tem committee of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM). I first knew Dr. Nasir in the late 1980s as a professor of food technology in the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Later, he was detained with trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Operasi Lalang in October 1987.

Dr. Nasir has never changed his secularly austere lifestyle since I first met and knew him as a professor of secular science and technology. Those who are interested in the works of Antonio Gramsci, please look for him for more in-depth enlightenment and critical debate.

Best Russian painting to adorn ZAM's office

European painting for MAS staff, workers

MAS (Malaysian Airline System or more popularly known as Mana Ada Sistem) chairman Munir Majid reportedly ordered three paintings costing RM1.55 million to adorn his office.

Also, MAS senior general manager Chris Andrews is reportedly employed at RM7,525 a day while the company suffers from RM648 million losses in the first six months of its current financial year

I think all Malaysian workers, especially MAS's staff should hang this classical European painting to adorn their houses and union offices.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Be aware of FILTO

Xenophobia is certainly not good but at the same time we Malaysians must also be aware of Western crooks too, especially at this historical juncture where many people have lost self-confidence in themselves and the government in the fast changing world.

Some FILTO-type (Failed in London, Try in the Orient) Westerners may now sense a golden opportunity in Malaysia to sell their cure-all 'snake-oil', 'holy water' and 'magical stones' to those who suffer from cultural identity crisis, inferiority complexes and personal insecurity.

They may claim to be 'management', 'marketing' or 'educational' or 'governance' experts. Of course, not all Westeners who are designated as such are crooks. Some are genuine.

The point is that we must be alert and be always conscious of the possibility that no all Westerners are honest and smart. We cannot generalised and should treat them on their own merits on case-by-case basis.

Of course, there are also crooks among ourselves and within our own communities.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pak Rashid's concerns for M'sian youth

After giving the best of his life to fight for the real Merdeka! of this land, Pak Rashid Maidin now lives in southern Thailand. But that does not mean he is not concerned with what is happening in our tanah air.

In the recently publish booklet Islam Melayu Komunis - Wawancara Dengan Abdullah C.D., Rashid Maidin & Abu Samah (Kuala Lumpur, SIRD, 2005), the 88-year old anti-colonial fighter are worried about anak-anak muda being morally corrupted by, among other things, "yellow culture", "drugs" and "individualistic lifestyle".

He calls on our angkatan baru to get themselves involved in "healthy activities" and to play their role in developing the nation, upholding democracy and justice as well as promoting inter-ethnic unity.

Other veterans like Abdullah C.D. and Abu Samah also have something to say to our anak-anak muda in this pocket-size booklet.

A new book on East Asia's economy, security

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Professor Lee Poh Ping, who came back from China after attending an academic conference there, has passed to me on last Sunday evening a new book exploring East Asia's security and economic issues.

It is titled The Emerging East Asian Community - Security & Economic Issues (Bangi, Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 2006) and edited by Professor Lee himself and Tham Siew Yean and George T.Yu. I have not really gone through the book yet but it looks promising because, besides Professor Lee himself, another Big Name also appears as in the contents page as a contributor, namely Singapore's Professor Wang Gung Wu.

After I have read through it, I will discuss it with Professor Lee Poh Ping in an email interview. But then you have to subscribe to malaysiakini to enjoy it or to find something disagreeable to debate with him or me. Of course, please also let me or him know if you passionately agree with either me or him.

Professor Lee Poh Ping is a Professor and Principal Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS) of University Kebangsaan Malaysia. He is also a serious and no-nonsense old-school type of scholar who enjoys critical discussions.

Besides being a veteran observer of the politics and foreign policies of China, Japan and the United States, he is also the President of Malaysian Association of Japanese Studies (MAJAS).

My previous interviews with Professors Lee Poh Ping and Wang Gung Wu can still be read in malaysiakini (please subscribe)

US, Japan encircling China?

Is Iraq another Vietnam for US?

US future strategy in Asia-Pacific – a M’sian forecast (Two Parts)

M’sia should meet the challenges of a different America

History determines politics in Northeast Asia?

Changing China - views of a scholar (Two Parts)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Political lessons from real daily life

As I have said earlier in this blog, if I were still a DAP member who is eligible to vote in the sate election in Malacca, I would have cast a vote for Guan Eng. There is no doubt about that at all.

However, I also told a Chinese-language journalist who asked me for comments just now that if I was able to give Guan Eng advice before he made the decision to contest in the state election, I would have adviced against it.

That means, in my opinion, Guan Eng should not have chosen to contest in the state-level party election at all in the first place.

The reason is that, as the secretary-general of the party as well as an opposition leader who is well-known nationally and internationally, Guan Eng has already been well recognised and respected. Who dare to publicly shame a leader who has gone to jails twice if there is no very strongly-felt grievances that serve to break the psychological barrier?

Many DAP leaders and members at the grassroot level, including those in Malacca, would have been very happy to see him performing at the national arena while they themselves continue to serve the people or slug it out with MCA, Gerakan or one another at their level. But once their local games, opinions, works, roles, initiatives, plans, networks or alignments of forces are 'disrupted' or not respected, they would become resentful.

Leaders are often respected only from a distance and as long as the perception of impartiality is not shattered by excessive involvement in localised micro-management.

As I also told the journalist, nobody in the entertainment, crime, sports or any other desks in the press room would like their Group Editor-in-Chief to join them everyday for the daily discussion or planning meetings and to give them exact micro-orders to, say, publish Chow Yun Fatt's, but not Michael Jackson's pictures in Page 4A2 on 24 August, 2005.

As running a newspaper is not like publishing a personal blog, managing a modern supermarket in the 21st century certainly needs different types of managerial skill from my late father's style of operating his own one-man coffeeshop which was registered only as single proprietorship in the 1960s and 1970s.

A booklet for holiday reading

Sick and tired of window shopping or doing nothing in the house during holidays? Why not read a little book to enhance our knowledge on the alternative or critical history of our land and people which the school textbooks do not tell?

Serikandi Suriani Abdullah (Kuala Lumpur, SIRD, 2005) is a little autobiography of a forerunner of our own modern women and labour movements as well as a real fighter for true Merdeka!

Born in January 1924 in Setiawan in Perak as Eng Ming Ching, Makcik Suriani Abdullah studied in Setiawan's Chinese-language Nan Hwa and Ipoh's English-language Methodist Girls' School (MGS). She joined the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in 1940 at the age of 16 and literally fought the Japanese fascists as an underground armed partisan of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) in the Kinta Valley.

She was captured in Tanjong Tualang and tortured by the dreaded and accursed Kempeitai in Ipoh but no stick or carrot could change her deep love for this land and the people of all races.

She learnt Bahasa in the late 1940s from Indonesia's independence fighter and first generation of Southeast Asian Marxist, Sutan Jenain.

In 1947, Makcik went to tour Indonesia to express solidarity of the Malayan people with the Indonesian people's revolutionary struggle for independence. She spoke in the Madiun University and also on the air through the Radio Republik Indonesia. Above all, she met Bung Karno at the state commemoration of the second anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Indonesia.

After coming home, she continued to be active in the peaceful as well as armed struggles for true Merdeka!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Merry Christmas to all

Sincere greeting and warm regard from James Wong Wing On @ Huang Yong An @ Ah On and his family to all relatives, neighbours in Ipoh and Subang Jaya and friends all over Mother Earth.

Being guest of my ex-boss

Last Saturday evening (17 Dec), my wife and I were invited by Sin Chew Jit Poh to attend its Floral Trail International Literary Awards at the Auditorium of the Securities Commission in Bukit Kiara. The invitation card was issued in the name of my ex-boss Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King.

Because I arrived late, I was not able to meet him up to greet him but I did meet my Chinese journalism sifu C.C. Liew and my former patron Ms. NC Siew who is now the Group Editor-in-Chief of the Sin Chew Group of Publications. Together, we did many interviews with important people before in the late 1990s like former US embasador to Malaysia John Malott, ex-IGP Tan Sri Rahim Noor and CPM secretary-general Chin Peng. I was also sent to the Philippines, Thailand, Oman and the United States by them to write something that could broaden the minds of the readers in this multicultural world.

A common question in the streets now ...

Foreign governments legitimately and effectively protect their citizens in Malaysia from rogue police's brutality, who protect us Malaysians from the same menace on our own land?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A VIP invitation from Parti KeADILan Rakyat

Yesterday, I received a VIP invitation from the Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR) to attend the official opening of its 2005 Congress to be held on 23 December in the Grand Ball Room of Hotel Istana in Kuala Lumpur. The entire Congress itself will last for three days from 22 to 24 December.

I will certainly attend to meet up young friends like Zunar, Nora, Mei Ling, Raju, Pei Nei, Ginie and Jasmine and as well as veterans like Anwar Ibrahim, Dr. Syed Husin Ali, Ban Ah Kam, Siva Rasah, C.C. Yong and Irene Fernandez again. I was also invited to attend the inaugural congress of the Parti KeADILan Nasional in April 1999 in the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Last year, I was invited as the non-partisan and independent chairman of the party's 'Election Commission' to ensure that its election in Ipoh was conducted honestly, fairly and with transparency. That election was the first one after the successful merger of Parti KeADILan Nasional and Parti Rakyat into an organic movement for national reconciliation and solidarity.

The great personal satisfaction I derived from the Ipoh Congress was that the 1,500 Malay-majority delegates and observers could understand what I said in my boleh-tahan Bahasa Malaysia as well as accept and respect my professional and independent authority.

Parti KeADILan Rakyat's Homepage

Rolling back Umno's agitprops ...

Now that the ear-squat scandal victim has been confirmed to be a Malaysian Malay, Umno's agitprops seem to have found a 'weapon' to attack DAP for many things.

It is, for example, said that by making a mistake on the identity of the victim, DAP has tarnished Malaysia's image overseas, particularly in the Sinosphere of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. This claim presupposes that Malaysia had had very good image abroad before the scandal was exposed.

But is it a true presupposition? The answer is NO.

Malaysia's image has been tarnished long before the ear-squat scandal. The 1998 'discovery' of former DPM Anwar Ibrahim wearing a black eye has already caused the world to see Malaysia negatively. Don't forget also all the public utterances yang bukan-bukan against the Jewish, American, European and Australian peoples and the equation of Chinese education with communism (and communism with Chinese), online media as 'Western propaganda tool', the Utusan Malaysia report of a ghostly 'John Malott' appearing in a Petaling Jaya hotel room as well as an Umno MP's racial slur against the Indians in the Parliament.

As a matter of fact, the political and security authorities in Beijing in early December were not concerned with one ear-squat case alone in Malaysia, but also other cases of "Chinese citizens being successively humiliated and assaulted in Malaysia" (People's Daily Online, 2 Dec), including "the rape of a Chinese businesswomen by four men in a Malaysian hotel who were wearing military or police uniforms" (AFP, 1 Dec).

In other words, Beijing at that time was seriously concerned not with one dot but several dots which seemed to have formed a line or pattern.

This was the entry in my blog on 2 Dec commenting on the first Utusan Malaysia's report that first said that the victim of the ear-squat scandal was a local Malay girl, not a PRC citizen:

" According to a 'report' in the Utusan Malaysia yesterday, the female who was stripped naked, humiliated and video-taped was a local Malay girl, not a citizen of the People's Republic of China.

Of course, the truth must be investigated leaving no stone unturned for the purpose of criminal prosecution or disciplinary actions, and to repair damages that have been done to Malaysia-China bilateral relations.

However, does it matter politically and morally whether the female was a Chinese national or local Malay girl?

Does it mean that the police actually cannot do any nasty things to Chinese, American, British, Australian, Canadian or other foreign nationals because these countries are strong, powerful and rich, but it is fully empowered or allowed to torture and humiliate our own fellow citizens who have no power or powers (economic, financial, political and military) for protection?

Does it mean that the police could order Norazimah Mohd Nor to strip naked and do pumping in public, or to beat up former PM Anwar Ibrahim with impunity because they are not citizens of China, the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada or some other rich and powerful countries?

If that is the line of reasoning, then I am afraid I have to say that the minds of the writer and the newspaper that publishes the message are absolutely evil. Go for prayer and ask God to remove the evil thoughts in your minds, restore a sense of common humanity and forgive you."

Celebrating X'mas in Ipoh, 15 December 1941

" ... In these December days the town, sparkling under the Malayan sun in its lovely setting of forest-clad, limestone hills, looked as quiet and peaceful as it had ever looked. The casual observer would have noticed little that was out of the ordinary in the life of the streets. Cars, buses, bicycles, rickshaws, thronged the road; hawkers tortured the air with their raucous cries; people of all races - Europeans, Chinese, Malays, Indians - seemed to be going just as usual to work or to market. The schools had closed for the Christmas holidays, and children were everywhere at all hours, dragging their parents round the shops and gaping at the bright treasures they contained. One big store among the many gaily decocrated shops was the particular focus of children interest. There in the entrance stood a tall, scarlet-robbed Santa Claus, nodding his head and beckoning the children to step inside and admire the wonders of Toyland. Beside him was a post-bag into which children, anxious not to be forgotten, dropped their letters. From morning until evening he was surrounded by an eager crowd, excitement and joy ...

" This was the scene I passed when, on the morning of the 15th December, I set out in a small car to visit a maternity case in the little town of Chemor, on the main road, some ten miles north of Ipoh ... when I noticed a number of aircraft circling like hawks above the hills. Mat Yunus, the chauffeur, noticed them too. 'Look at the planes, Missy,' he said. 'Why should we fear when the R.A.F. is guarding us?' The aircraft did not look to me like the R.A.F. Bufflaloes with which we were familiar, nor had their engines the characteristic sound of the American planes ...


'The Japs are over Ipoh,' he said. Many bombs have fallen in Brewster Road, and I think your house is on fire.'

It was a moment before I was able to speak. Then, 'I must go back at once," I said.

'Don't do that, Missy. You'll never get through. It's terrible. The planes are still over, and they're machine-gunning the streets. I was nearly killed."

'I must go. I must find out what has happened to my children. Besides, I may be needed.'

+ Excerpts from Madam Sybil Kathigasu's wartime memoirs, No Dram of Mercy (Singapore, Oxford University Press, 1983; pp. 18-19).The Chinese translation of the book was published last year and its English original will be reprinted soon to honour this great Christian Malayan of Eurasian origin who sacrified so much to save lives and to fight those shameless fascists who brutalised our land and people with barbarity beyond human comprehension and imagination +

Britain's Malayan Campaign

Communist Party of Malaya's Defend-Malaya! War of Resistance

60th Anniversary of the Victory of Anti-Fascist War

BBC History - World War Two

Friday, December 16, 2005

ZAM left in the lurch by his ex-boss

Now, it is very clear that former PM Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has changed somewhat in his view on online alternative media. The old man is quite positive about it now.

It has, however, left his ex-hulubalang in the agitprop department Zainuddin Maidin in the lurch. ZAM, inspired by the then crusading attitude of his ex-boss against online alternative media, attacked it as tools of "American imperialism" or things like that.

I don't know what ZAM has to say now about his ex-boss' change of attitude.

By the way, it has also been amply demonstrated that even Utusan Malaysia of which he is an ex-Chief Editor, also reported the victim of the ear-squat scandal as a "wanita rakyat China bogel ". So, don't just blame the Chinese-language newspapers, dude.

Of course, I still remember how Utusan Malaysia reported that ex-US embassador John Malott appeared in a close-door meeting with Dr. Wan Azizah and her supporters in a hotel in Petaling Jaya while the former envoy was physically in California.

Asean must also condemn war shrine visit

With the public reprimand of Burma on its human rights violation which is right and appropriate, Asean has finally breached its 'non-interference' policy.

However, I think, it is equally important for Asean to summon up its moral courage to condemn any more visit to the Yakusuni Shrine by any Japanese prime ministers, ministers and other top government officials, distortion of history books or any other rightwing attempt to justify or glorify the greatest and most systematic violation of human rights against human beings in Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore.

On the issue of Yasukuni Shrine, China and both Koreas are certainly right and PM Junichiro Koizumi's government is definitely wrong. Period.

Let me repeat what I have said (in the context of Malaysia and Singapore but equally applicable to other Southeast Asian countries) in an earlier entry:

Amid the China/South Korea-Japan row over Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine which honours, among other, 14 convicted war criminals, some Malaysians seem to see the issue only as an China/South Korea-Japan dispute to be mediated by the 'disinterested' and 'more rational' us who often posture ourselves to be happy and peaceful creatures living outside world and regional history since time immemorial.

It is time for critical re-thinking and soul-searching.

Are we blissfully disinterested or woefully ignorant of the history of our own land?

Or, knowing the true history privately, we decide to publicly distort and whitewash it to serve domestic political agenda or as quid pro quo conditions for receiving foreign aids, loans, scholarships or investments? If yes, then are we economically so pathetic or morally so degenerated that we have to almost literally sell the honour and dignity of our parents and grandparents for money now?

As for PM Jonichiro Koizumi, I am afraid I have to say I am not convinced at all by his latest claim that he visited the Yasukuni Shrine repeatedly "to repent".

Genuine repentance in deeds necessitate, among other concrete and specific measures, the removal of whatever icons representing the 14 convicted war criminals out from the Yasukuni Shrine and the ban of any public display of the military banners or symbols associated with Fascist Japan before 15 August 1945.

Words are cheap as the simultaneous diplomatic negotiation in Washington and preparation to strike at Pearl Harbour in December 1941 demonstrated.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Yati's very clean, orderly & colourful shop

Just went to Yati's mini market to buy a packet of Benson & Hedges and find someone in the neighbourhood to chat about the weather, traffic condition, latest movies and gossips in town before going on reading Michael Leifer's Selected Works on Southeast Asia. Yati's shop is getting more and more laku because it is always very clean, orderly and colourful. It also always makes me feel to be still in Melbourne's suburb Clayton, although sweet Yati always speaks Malay with heavy Indonesian accent because she came from Surabaya, a beautiful city in Java which I visited twice many years ago.

Umno's ZAM now believes in universal human rights, attacks DAP's racism and prejudice ...

Is our Deputy Minister of Information going to publicly call for the withdrawal of Malaysia's apology delivered by his Home Affairs colleague Azmi Khalid to China in Beijing on 6 December 2005?

'Dr. Ng Seng' and my foot reflexology

When I read Jeff Ooi's blog yesterday about that 'Dr. Ng Seng', I could not stop laughing at the pasar-malam standard agent provocateur who has probably learnt his or her special operations skills at SOT 101 (Sekolah Otak Tiada 101). However, during my foot reflexology session later that evening, a great question of national security appeared in my totally relaxed and clear mind: how could even that kind of pasar-malam standard agent provocateur infiltrate into the unit that operates the official homepage of the Prime Minister's Office so easily?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Malaysia was part of the history too, dudes

Amid the China/South Korea-Japan row over Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine which honours, among other, 14 convicted war criminals, some Malaysians seem to see the issue only as an China/South Korea-Japan dispute to be mediated by the 'disinterested' and 'more rational' us who often posture ourselves to be happy and peaceful creatures living outside world and regional history since time immemorial.

It is time for critical re-thinking and soul-searching.

Are we blissfully disinterested or woefully ignorant of the history of our own land?

Or, knowing the true history privately, we decide to publicly distort and whitewash it for domestic political agenda or as quid pro quo conditions for receiving foreign aids, loans, scholarships or investments? If yes, then are we economically so pathetic or morally so degenerated that we have to almost literally sell the honour and dignity of our parents and grandparents for money now?

'Thanks' to the 'Emergency' and long-time anti-communist extremism on the part of the security and academic elites in Malaya and Malaysia, many young Malaysians are shockingly unaware of the atrocities - both the scale and cruelty of them - committed by Imperial Japan's troops in Peninsular Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak as well as Singapore.

According to an estimate cited in a public memorial service in Kuala Lumpur in 2003, during the 44 months of invasion and occupation of Malaya by Imperial Japan from 8 December 1941 to 15 August 1945, about 70,000 people of all ethnic communities were killed, while another 80,000 perished as the result of tortures and imprisonments and also an additional 300,000 died because of malnutrition and physical exhaustion in performing forced hard labour.

In the total number of those who perished, an estimate of 300,000 were Chinese. That figure represented 17 percent of the then entire Chinese population in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Also, in an estimate presented by Professor P Ramasamy in a 1984 study of Indian Malaysians' socio-political development, " 60,000 Malayan Indians died while working for the Japanese to build the Death Railway on the Thai-Burmese border.

Hundreds of British, Australian and Indian prisoners of war were interned and tortured in Kuala Lumpur's Pudu Jail, Singapore's Changi Prison and other POW camps.

However, thanks to the still surviving old men and women like Abdullah C.D., Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin, Suriani Abdullah (aka Eng Ming Ching), Abu Samah and Shan Ru-hong who never give up hope of sharing their personal experiences with younger Malaysians (and Singaporeans), we now know the real history of our land better than before.

It is now widely known that not all the Malayan people were timid or opportunistic. The brave and upright ones got organised and fought under the three-star red banner of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) which commanded 10,000 fully armed partisans and 50,000 reservists and civilian supporters. Abdullah C.D., for example, organised and operated a band of 100 armed youths along the Perak River to fight the fascist army to protect everyone while his sister Kamariah worked for the resistance's united front.

To raise the consciousness of the true history is not to generate more ill-wills but to forewarn the remnants of fascism not to be funny again and also to educate younger Japanese not to repeat the tragic follies by uncritically accepting rightwing revisionist history of the unjust wars against the Chinese, Korean, Malayan and other peoples in Asia or anywhere else in the world.

Malayan Campaign

60th Anniversary of the Victory of Anti-Fascist War

Holocaust in the East in cyberspace now

English website launched to reveal Japan's wartime crime 2005-12-12 21:51:58

NANJING, Dec. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu province, launched on Monday an English website to advocate world peace and reveal Japanese wartime atrocities in 1937.

"December 13 will be the 68th anniversary of Nanjing Massacre. We launch this website to make more people around the world know about the Japanese wartime crime," said Zhu Chengshan, curator of the Nanjing Museum Commemorating Victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

Japanese troops occupied Nanjing on Dec. 13, 1937, and launched a six-week long massacre. Historical records show that more than 300,000 Chinese people, not only disarmed soldiers but also civilians, were slain in the holocaust.

"The website will post the latest research findings and more than 300 pictures and video about the massacre," said Zhu.

The website's Chinese version was launched in December 2004. It has registered a total of 300,000 visitors since its inauguration.

James's recommended references

(Warning: some of the sites contain photographs detailing brutalities that are beyond human imagination but they are nevertheless real and true as proofs against the Mitigators, Deniers, Revisionists and Apologists)

Malayan Campaign

60th Anniversary of the Victory of Anti-Fascist War

Nanjing Massacre Record

Australian War Memorial

UK's Imperial War Museum

US National Museum of the Pacific War

WWII in the Pacific

Children of the Far East Prisoners of War

The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Lesmis 101 for " the man who saw it all "

and Merry Christmas and/or Happy New Year to all my family relatives, sifus, teachers, friends and readers across the Causeway.

Les Misreables

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Good question

Reader of this blog Siew Foong emailed to ask why do political leaders in Malaysia and Singapore who once enjoyed intellectual freedom in Western universities and institutions of higher learning often came home to use the knowledge they gained in free societies to suppress local freedom, including intellectual freedom in local universities?

I think this good question is too big for this small brain to answer for the moment. It may be better to direct it to, say, DPM Najib Tun Razak and Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, or Singapore's MM Lee Kuan Yew and PM Lee Hsien Loong. They should know better because they were overseas students in UK before and they have been in the governments for some years already.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Financial Times' tribute to Devan Nair

SINGAPORE'S political leaders and state-guided media have been lavish in their praise for Devan Nair, the city-state's former president and trade union leader, who died this week at age 82.

That would not be unusual except for the fact that Nair was living in exile in Canada after a very public falling out 20 years ago with Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore.

Nair became one of Mr Lee's bitterest critics, saying that he had created a repressive regime. He also accused Mr Lee of being an elitist whose views linking genetics with intelligence were demeaning to Singapore's ethnic Indian and Malay minorities.

None of those remarks appeared in this week's media coverage, which focused instead on Nair's beginnings as a communist agitator who campaigned against British colonialism and was imprisoned before he switched his support to the People's Action party, which has ruled Singapore since 1959.

Nair was instrumental in taming the labour unions by creating a partnership between the government and the dominant National Trade Union Congress he headed, which served as a hallmark of Singapore's corporatist model. He later regretted his role, saying the trade unions were "no longer free".

Historians welcomed the extensive media attention on Nair because it highlighted the role that others besides Mr Lee played in creating an independent Singapore.

Singapore newspapers, which have rarely mentioned Nair in recent years, have now published comments citing him as a role model. "Nair went to jail believing what he was doing was right. How many of us are willing to do that for what we believe in?" asked one columnist.

Appointed to the largely ceremonial post of president in 1981, his feud with Mr Lee came to a head three years later when he suddenly resigned.

Mr Lee said Nair quit to get treatment for alcoholism. Nair said he was forced to resign because his questioning of Mr Lee's government had resulted in a clash between the two.

A former Nair aide said both versions were correct. Mr Nair began drinking heavily because "he felt trapped and frustrated" as president. "But Nair was also seen by Lee as potential source of opposition to his rule."

The resignation led to an ugly public debate between Nair and Mr Lee that lasted for years. As late as 2001, the two were engaged in rival libel suits over the incident.

Nair's death has led to calls that he should be given a state funeral, an honour that has been bestowed on several other deceased presidents. That places Singapore's prime minister, the son of Mr Lee, in an awkward position since he must decide on the issue.

While the prime minister has issued a public letter of condolence marking Nair's passing, a similar gesture by Mr Lee has been noticeable by its absence.

(by John Burton in Singapore for London's Financial Times; published on December 10, 2005)

Why didn't Umno's Hishamuddin Hussein call in the King's African Rifles to suppress these rebellious Oriental masses in the Far East?

4,000 of them met last Saturday in Kajang to demand the government to:

1. Intensify the teaching of English, based on the principles of language acquisition, to upgrade the standard of English among students;

2. Review the negative impacts of teaching mathematics and science in English;

3. Revert to the use of mother-tongue to teach the two subjects in primary schools and as the language medium for examination; and

4. Urge all political parties and groups to support mother-tongue education and fair treatment for the existence and development of all streams of primary schools.

Dr. Mahathir can't be all wrong either

The big-bang reappearance of former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in the public discourses and debates has certainly been noted by many people throughout the world. As I have said before in this blog, there are still some people who dislike him for the many terrible things he did and said when he held supreme powers in Malaysia, like the 1987 Operation Lallang, the 1998 sacking and continuing smearing of Anwar Ibrahim as well as the stereotyping of the Jewish and European peoples. I share some of these verdicts on him in the court of public opinion.

However, now that the old man is without executive power, why should we still fear or hate him for merely expressing his personal opinions in the public domain unless we feel we are intellectually more inferior than him? Why not let him say whatever he think is right so that we can have second thoughts of what we think is right? After all, he is certainly more intelligent and articulate at least on certain issues than many currently serving ministers and deputy ministers like Noh Omar and Zainudin Maidin.

One may still argue that Dr. Mahathir's mercantilist economics is outdated but he is still better than those politicians who have no basic ecomonic knowledge at all. His opinions on international relations may be controversial but he is now at least not enthralled by pomps, pageants, ceremonies and the feel-good (FG1), feel-great (FG2), semua-pun-baik (SPB1) or semua-pun-boleh (SPB2) rhetoric. He goes instead directly into the fundamentals of power relationship as Realists E.H. Carr did for Britain or Hans Morgenthau for the United States once upon a time.

So, our attitude toward the arguments and ideas of the old man should that of buang yang keruh, ambil yang jernih on case-by-case basis

Again, welcome back to public discourses and debates, Tun, but don't get too personal, racial or emotional either.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Less rosy news & views on Asean, EAS

(To give just two highly credible samples to serve as antitodes to reports and commentaries in the local Malaysian media which is going to be as 'positive' as possible to make us, especially the less educated and less informed ones at home feel-good and feel-great. But, dudes, time has changed: we need realistic views about the new world outside to ensure the survival of our businesses and our families' economic well-beings. There are more credible news and views on the subjects outside Malaysia if you can spend sometime to surf. JW)

UPDATED: 16:59, December 07, 2005

East Asia Summit: in the shadow of sharp divisions
People's Daily Online

The two-day First East Asia Summit will open on December 14 in Malaysia. Leaders from 16 countries are expected to exchange views on international and regional issues in political, economic and social fields and release a Kuala Lumpur Declaration. However, participating countries are still quite divided over some questions.

Political divisionsThis summit finally fixed at a 10+6 pattern, that is, attendees include ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), plus China, Japan, the ROK, India, Australia and New Zealand. Currently they are quite split over the content of the expected Kuala Lumpur Declaration and drafting work came to a halt.

According to insiders, some countries including Thailand sided with China over the claim that "this entity must take ASEAN + 3 (Japan, China, the ROK) as its core" and demanded no mentioning of community in the draft. While some others led by Japan hope to write into the draft "to build a future East Asia Community" and names of the 16 countries.

By doing so, ASEAN diplomats believe, Japan is trying to drag countries outside this region such as Australia and India into the community to serve as a counterbalance to China.

To grab the upper hand at the meeting, analysts say, Japan would most probably dish out the "human rights" issue and draw in the United States, New Zealand and Australia to build up US, Japan-centered western dominance.

At the same time, it will particularly highlight the differences in political and economic systems between developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the ROK and developing ones including China and Vietnam, in an attempt to crumble away cooperative forces and weaken Chinese influence in East Asia.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang pointed out last week that China has no intention to play a dominant role in East Asia since every country is an equal member of this region; peace, development and stability in this region are in the interests of all members and China hopes to achieve common development and win-win results through regional cooperation.

Economic divisions

Differences in this regard mainly fall on the process of economic integration. Some countries led by India expect to push forward the process. India hopes to build a free trade area extending from Bombay to New Zealand's Christchurch, and finally expand the area, which covers 3 billion people, into the world largest of its kind. But India's proposal is not warmly responded as each country has its own considerations.

Since participating countries have failed to reach agreement in many aspects before the meeting, some foreign analysts don't expect much from this summit, saying it can only probably produce intangible results if there are any.

A Malaysian researcher on strategic studies even believes that the East Asia Summit will finally collapse, because actually it is only an empty shell unable to yield any substantial results; while an Indian official said they only regard the summit as a piece of brick in building the free trade zone.

United States, Russia shunned out

Russia and the United States are also very interested in this summit, but are shunned out, sources say. This is because of ASEAN's three requirements on participating countries: having substantial relations with ASEAN, being a partner of ASEAN dialogues and a signatory to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. To obtain an "admission ticket" to the summit, Australia followed India and New Zealand to say it would join the treaty as soon as possible. As a result, the First East Asia Summit finalized at a 10+6 pattern.

ASEAN turned the United States down, giving a technical reason that it is not a member of the treaty. Russia, although a signatory to the treaty, also failed to get entrance. It is learned that before the summit opens ASEAN will hold a separate 10+1 talk with Russia, whose entry into the summit is perhaps only a question of time.

Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 10 December 2005 1537 hrs

ASEAN admits trade talks hit troubles
Channel News Asia

KUALA LUMPUR - Negotiations over a raft of free-trade deals between Southeast Asia and its neighbours have run into problems, but the region remains committed to striking deals, a top official said Saturday.

"Not all of them are moving along satisfactorily as we would like to see," Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chief Ong Keng Yong said at a business forum on the sidelines of the bloc's annual summit.

Ong said that deals with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand had hit difficulties over reaching common standards, as well as balancing the interests of different business lobbies.

"We are carrying on our negotiations with China on trade and services and investment groups," he said of the ASEAN-China free trade agreement, which is targeted to be struck by 2010.

"For Korea, we have moved forward, although there are still some difficulties," he said.

"For Australia and New Zealand, we have intensified our negotiations and there are various activities ongoing which will be facilitating" discussion.

With the economies of regional heavyweights Japan and India, Ong indicated discussions were tough.

"We are undergoing very hard negotiations but we believe we should be able to come up with something satisfactory that is good," he said, without elaborating.

The ASEAN chief said that despite the hurdles, it was vital that the free-trade agreements (FTAs) were reached.

"We are committed to concluding all these FTA negotiations because we don't just believe in the economic value of these FTAs, we believe that the FTAs will help ASEAN to secure our future and compete well with the rest of the competitors in the globalised economies," he said.

Underlining the difficulties, Thailand on Friday refused to sign a trade agreement between South Korea and ASEAN, baulking at Seoul's insistence that rice be protected from tariff cuts.

Ong said that ASEAN was still optimistic that the two sides will come to an agreement on the trade accord, which is a precursor to a full FTA.

"There will be problems but at the end of the day, it will happen in a slow way," he said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi deflected criticisms that the array of free-trade agreements being thrashed out in the region could undermine global talks under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"It has no intention to replace the WTO but it will be like building blocks towards a global kind of FTA," he said at the business forum.

Abdullah said the ASEAN agreements were not aimed at shutting out other countries, but at staying competitive in the face of the economic powerhouses of China and India.

"It should be welcome news to all international traders that regional integration within Asia will not create barriers to trade with the rest of the world," Abdullah said.

"Asia cannot afford to adopt such a policy, as it will then limit the flow of much-needed goods, service and capital."

"While many of these Asian countries are involved in one or more bilateral or regional trading arrangements, these countries remain open to goods, services and capital from countries which are not members of such arrangements."

Abdullah said that a study investigating the potential for a giant East Asian free-trade area embracing the 10-member ASEAN and its "plus three" partners, China, Japan and South Korea, was making good progress.

"I believe it should become a reality," he said. - AFP/ir

Boycott divide-and-rule game now

In responding to Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's statement that the Opposition is too weak, Parliamentary Opposition Leader and my ex-boss Lim Kit Siang again described the New Straits Times as " Umno-owned". I think Kit Siang is right.

But what I don't understand is that, given the correct understanding that the New Straits Times is " Umno-owned", why should some DAP leaders seem to be taking pride in having their press statements, writings, letters and photographs published by the mouthpiece.

Lim Guan Eng, the secretary-general and Kit Siang's son, for example, wrote a long piece on PAS for the New Straits Times' op-ed page not too long ago. Why lend 'democratic' legitimacy to an illiberal mouthpiece of Umno after they had been de-legitimised by the Reformasi , and lend it at the expense of another opposition party?

The New Straits Times is not stupid although many people have become even smarter now. It only promotes DAP as a "non-Muslim voice" to discredit PAS and KeADILan on certain issues when the two parties threaten the Malay/Muslim raison d'etat of Umno's power-that-be of the day but when it has achieved that purpose, it would certainly rebrand DAP as "Chinese chauvinists" to frighten the Malays/Muslims, Indians and some 'identity-phobic' Chinese as its editorial on the ear-squat scandal testifies.

The essence of the trick is nothing new. Doesn't Kit Siang remember how, in the 1980s, these mouthpieces promoted certain " moderate doers" among some DAP top leaders (and in MCA, of course) to contrast them with the " radical rabble-rousers" like Kit Siang himself? Seen from a longer and historical perspective, the little trick of the little men becomes clear.

The 'grand strategy' of these mouthpieces now is to promote 'advisorial' opposition and NGOs to window-show to the West (especially the Anglosphere) that it is 'democratic' while preventing the emergence of a mass-based and organic alternative force that can effectively change policies in critical areas like the laws governing the national security, media and insitutions of higher learning.

Given the mushrooming of alternative media and advance of information technology now, surely DAP can afford to cease playing 'engagement' game with Umno's mouthpieces and allow itself to be used as cheap strike-breakers or scabs its divide-and-rule strategy.

I think my feedback to DAP equally applies to some well-meaning but a bit vainglorious small "l" liberals in PAS, some NGOs and also individual intellectuals in the civil society.

Welcome back to public discourses, doc

It is clearer than clear that former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is back to active public discourses and debates.

Although some people still do not like him for his many mistakes and errors in the past, I think as long as he now allows other to talk back to, or debate with, him freely, we should welcome the old man back to our public discourses and debates to stimulate the timid, lazy and lethargic minds and to provide alternatives or balances in our views of the fasting changing world.

Of course, by welcoming him back to public discourses and debates, we do not have to agree with everything he says (especially those which stereotype or profile people) but we should neither deny that, like him or not, he reads a lot and has gathered vast experience in his political life streching back to 1940s. So, we do not have to disagree with him for the sake of disagreeing either.

Let us now deal with his arguments and ideas on a case-by-case basis.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Asahi Shimbun: Japan's war was wrong

Editorial/ Lesson from the war

Sixty-four years ago, Japan attacked the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Most people tend to think that huge event sparked the Pacific War. But the war had actually begun about an hour before the surprise attack when Japanese forces landed on the British-occupied Malay Peninsula.

Japan, feeling the squeeze of U.S. oil embargoes, attempted to seize oil fields in Dutch-occupied Indonesia. The landing was part of a military operation aimed at securing oil. In terms of the number of troops involved, the Malayan operation was greater than the attack on Pearl Harbor.

War spread to the entire Pacific area and soon reached the Indian Ocean. Japan celebrated many early victories, but eventually, it followed a path to ruin.

After the opening of the Japan-China War in 1937, an estimated 3 million Japanese soldiers and civilians died. They included kamikaze pilots who crashed into enemy targets and people killed in ground battles on Okinawa and in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Of course, Japan was not the only country that suffered damage.

The war left deep scars throughout Asia. Japanese researchers estimate that China had more than 10 million war dead.

After Japanese forces seized the U.S.-controlled Philippines, U.S. forces counterattacked. The situation led to intense battles in which about 1 million Filipinos were killed.

Many people also died in the Korean Peninsula, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries in the region. Countless families mourned over the deaths of their loved ones.

Some people still say the war liberated the people of Asia from colonial rule.

It is true that during the early stages of the war, some parts of the Philippines and Indonesia welcomed Japanese forces as "a liberation army." In some areas, the war expedited independence.

But even in Indonesia, which is considered pro-Japanese today, history textbooks for high school students state that Japan was the most brutal country that occupied Indonesia. Indeed, that was the situation during the war.

Speech and behavior that try to justify war by shedding light only on certain parts will do nothing but estrange the conscientious people of Asia.

Times have changed and now a move to create an East Asia community is emerging. All of the partners of the proposed community are Japanese neighbors who suffered the agony of the war.

At the time the war started, former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was an 18-year-old university student. In his memoirs published by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Lee states that although he underwent hardships during the Japanese occupation and knows the Japanese have a hidden cruel side, he still thinks they are admirable people.

He goes on to point out that the Japanese are well united in power and have good discipline, intelligence and diligence. He attributes Japan's strength to these qualities.

In order to respond to such thoughts, we must squarely look at history and frankly admit that what we did was wrong. Based on such standing, we should get together with our neighbors to build our future.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 8(IHT/Asahi: December 9,2005)

Could Pak Lah please remind PM Koizumi ...

According to an estimate cited in a public memorial service in Kuala Lumpur in 2003, during the 44 months of invasion and occupation of Malaya by Imperial Japan from 8 December 1941 to 15 August 1945, about 70,000 people of all ethnic communities were killed, while another 80,000 perished as the result of tortures and imprisonments and also an additional 300,000 died because of malnutrition and physical exhaustion in performing forced hard labour.

In the total number of those who perished, an estimate of 300,000 were Chinese. That figure represented 17 percent of the then entire Chinese population in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Also, in an estimate presented by Professor P Ramasamy in a 1984 study of Indian Malaysians' socio-political development, " 60,000 Malayan Indians died while working for the Japanese to build the Death Railway on the Thai-Burmese border.

Hundreds of British, Australian and Indian prisoners of war were interned and tortured in Kuala Lumpur's Pudu Jail, Singapore's Changi Prison and other POW camps.

Friday, December 09, 2005

War shrine row now in Kuala Lumpur

China cancels meeting with Japan, South Korea in shrine row

KUALA LUMPUR : China said Thursday it had pulled out of a meeting of foreign ministers with Japan and South Korea, blaming Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's "arrogance" over a controversial war shrine.

"The leader of a certain country is still worshipping war criminals. Surely this is wrong," China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told reporters on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting.

"For an important leader of an important country to be so arrogantly and blatantly hurting the feelings of the people of other Asian countries, what sort of behaviour is this?"

"Can one accept this? Nobody can. This mistake should be corrected," he said, when asked why the meeting had been cancelled.

A Japanese government official confirmed that the lunch meeting scheduled for Thursday had been called off. "We have heard that China has pulled out. Because China holds the chairmanship of the trilateral forum, there will be no meeting of the three nations this time," he told AFP.

"There's no way we can hold it without China."

China on Sunday also called off a customary meeting of the leaders of the three countries due to be held here next week on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit. China and South Korea have been repeatedly angered by Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, which honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 convicted war criminals.

China and South Korea, which were invaded and occupied by Japan in the 20th century, see the shrine as a symbol of Japan's militarist past.

Koizumi has defied protests and visited the Shinto sanctuary five times while in office, most recently on October 17. He says he goes to the shrine to mourn Japan's dead and recommit the nation to pacifism. - AFP /ct

Who is uniting the people & who is dividing?

According to reports, Dong Jiao Zong's objection to the teaching of science and mathematics in English at the primary school level has gained support from Indian groups and prominent Malay intellectuals like Hassan Ahmad. At the same time, Umno Youth's Information Bureau chief Azimi Daim is reported to have warned Dong Jiao Zong not to "dragged other races" into its campaign.

Is it not clear that it is Umno which is trying to continue the divide-and-rule strategem of the bygone colonial era? Is it not clear also that Dong Jiao Zong has succeeded in uniting more and more Malaysians of all races on the issue?

Unfortunately for Umno's Anglophiles separuh masak (half-baked) and tiruan (imitative), there is now no more Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement for them to invoke and to call in the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve and King's African Rifles to suppress the "native rebellion" of 2,000 "Malay extremists", "Chinese chauvinists" and "Tamil trouble-makers" who are going to meet peacefully and to form a united front tomorrow inside a huge private property.

Observations on Asean, East Asian summits

Yesterday, China's Chinese-language Guangming Daily published excerpts of its interview with me on the Asean Summit and East Asian Summit (EAS). Its Manila Bureau's Chief Correspondence Burd Wang met me on the evening of 7 Dec in PJ Hilton for the one-hour exchange.

The published report quotes me as saying that because EAS's membership has been over-extended and Asean's coherence has been eroded, EAS would become a "talkshop".

My friend Abdul Razak Baginda, the Executive Director of Malaysia Strategic Reserach Centre (MSRC) who was interviewed separately is also quoted as saying even more critically that EAS is " another failure" of Asean and that it is also an "empty shell" that would not "bear fruits" because of its "over-emphasis on form rather than substance".

Of course, it also quotes what our former PM Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and also Singapore's Minister Mentor Mr. Lee Kuan Yew have said on the same subject. Their views are well-known and I don't think I should waste time to reproduce them here.

However, it is noteworthy at least for myself that Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Abdul Razak Baginda and I share the same pessimism, although our assessments may be based on different modes or lines of reasoning.

My more detailed analysis of Asean is available at:

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Former president of Singapore, ex-Malaysian MP and anti-colonial fighter Devan Nair passed away in Canada at 82.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You're walking alone too fast, dude

I find this piece from Singapore Democratic Party's official homepage simply interesting. JW

Merkel surprised: Confused Prime Minister from Singapore
(Translation of an article:
3 Dec 05

An embarrassing mishap happened at chancellor Angela Merkel's first reception of a foreign guest with military honors: During the passing of the honor formation, Singapore's Prime Minister failed to halt on the red carpet and to bow in front of the German flag as is international protocol. Merkel, dressed in a long dark coat, had welcomed the guest in front of her office during clear skies and freezing temperatures. After the two national anthems had played, the two had begun to pass the honor formation while walking next to each other.In the middle of the formation Merkel halted and bowed according to protocol in front of the flag. A short call to the prime minister apparently went unnoticed as the head of state simply continued to walk far away. Only a protocol officer was finally able to stop the guest of honor so that the two could continue the passing of the formation.


Now, it is Lee's turn to decry perfidy

In his interview with the latest Time magazine, Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is quoted as saying that "(t) he day before yesterday, I was an old friend of China; today I'm a new eneny. It's volatile."

Believe it or not: it is now old Harry's turn to decry perfidy.

Is that new? Doesn't the cover of the Time magazine advertise Lee as " the man who saw it all"? I would have thought that only 'losers' or 'those who are on the wrong side of history' like Chin Peng, Abdullah C.D. and Rashid Maidin decry perfidy of the 'winners' like the British Empire.

Younger American friends really need to study area history more seriously in greater details by cross-checking what Lee have told them with other old men and women in the region. There are always two sides in historical narratives and discourses. Also, human history has never simply moved 'forward' and 'upward' on an absolutely straight and unbroken line from earth to heaven as Manicheans, Christian and Islamic fundamentalists or Francis Fukuyama believe.

Measured in one man's life time, history is usually full of ironical twists and dialectical turns as well as random ups and downs. So, tomorrow, Lee may again become China's friend. He knows what China knows he knows.

Chin Peng's musical cells

In Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History, Chin Peng reveals that he once joined the Methodist Church's all-boy choir in his hometown Sitiawan and sang hymns in Hokkien for either Christmas or Easter (p.34).

Uncle Choy from Ipoh has just sent me this photograph he found in a Chinese book, confirming that Chin Peng, like Pak Rashid, has indeed some musical cells inside his heart and mind.