Monday, April 30, 2012

Spainish people rally to protest against ''cuts''

Yesterday, 'pretty large demonstrations were held in Spain 'to protest publicly against budgetary cuts in education and healthcare. The king recently offered apology to the nation for his scandalous hunting trip. The country has reportedly slided back into a double-dip recession as nearly 25'% of Spain's employable men and women are out of job now.

Tungku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim's influence not big

It is now fairly clear that Senator Tungku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim is not as influential as previously believed. Sekarang rakyat boleh fikir sendiri. Undoubtedly, 'Mat Sabu is more representative of folks in the streets.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Vital lesson to be learnt from Eurozone crisis

The impact of the financial crisis in Europe, especially Spain, which is hit the hardest, is multifaceted. The very vital lesson to be learned is that economists and also planners of economy ought to factor in non'-economic considerations in their analyses, discourses or strategising. The most essential and fundamental question is NOT whether for the Eurozone economies to impose austerity measures or not BUT, given the determination to reduce public spending, which categories in the expenditure should be cut so that the budget could be more balanced.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Observations on change & continuity in Spain

Like most of the countries in the world, Spain is never an unchanging or unchanged society. In the antiquity, Spain was very well known for its religious orthodoxy and also the Inquisition. Nowadays, the people in Spain enjoy not only the freedom of religion but also freedom from belief in their still culturally Catholic-majority country. 'There are still bullfightings but there are now also people who think the old tradition is pretty cruel and dangerous. Spain has also contributed to the world one of the greatest masterworks of literature, viz. Don Quixote de la Mancha written by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). 'Meanwhile, the Spanish language remains one of the 'six diplomatic languages of the United Nations ('UN'), 'lingua franca of the majority of the population in the Latin American republics and also the second most widely used second language in the United States. Many Spaniards are believed to be moving to the republics in Latin America to look for jobs. Most of these Spanish-speaking republics in Latin America are actually the ex-colonies that freed themselves in the late 18th or early 19th century.

Reflections in Spain on a scandalous monarch

Reportedly, many people in Spain have begun to ask critical questions after the very scandalous trip of their king was exposed to the public. Meanwhile, the economic conditions of the country have deteriorated with almost a quarter of the employable men and women out of work.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Historian urges Britons to be proud of empire

According to a British historian Lawrence James, there is no need for Britain to aplogise for its imperial past because it also did something good for the colonised peoples. 'Of course, there are other historians in Britain and other nations in the world on earth who may not agree. But, another British historian who may agree with Lawrence James is Andrew Roberts who wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 ('London, 'Phoenix, 2007') and several other history books from the perspective of an England-centered and Churchillian patriot.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Post-imperial Britain faces new Indian reality

Judging from news reports, there seems to be no material on India in the recently released colonial files in Britain. Once upon a time, India was the most populous as well as largest colony 'in the imperial realm of Great Britain until 1947. In 1950, India proclaimed itself a republic with no more foreign troops on its soil. Now, Britain has to conduct a qualitatively different relationship with an independent Indian nation which has not only become wealthier economically and more powerful in military terms, but also shown advances in science and technology. Certainly, India is also more flexible and pragmatic in the conduct of its foreign relations to make sure that it is able to secure a range of  national sources for the supplies of oil as well as advanced weaponry. The Indian republic, of course, could become an even more inspiring source of pride 'to the many former colonies of the British Empire 'if and when it has overcome several socio'-economic challenges within.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

P.G. Lim' s autobiography launched in Penang

P.'G. 'Lim attended the soft launch of her autobiography Kaleidoscope in Penang. In her memoirs, she also recalls her life as a diplomat in a very 'historic period when Malaysia was rebalancing 'its foreign policy. A study of Malaysia''s diplomatic history was conducted by the late Dr. Chandran M. Jeshurun and it was published in a book titled Malaysia'- Fifty Years of Diplomacy, 1957-2007 '( Kuala Lumpur, TOP, 2007 ). It is now available in paperback in most bookstores such as Kinokuniya.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sarawak & Brunei in Britain's colonial archive

The recently released imperial files in Britain are said to have entries on Sarawak as well as Brunei. What happened there and when ? Julian Thompson''s book The Imperial War Museum Book on Modern Warfare provides an account of an 'secret war' there from the perspective of a British military historian. 'How accurate and balanced is the account ? Are there other accounts that have not surfaced for various reasons ? Why did Brunei 'choose' not to join Malaysia like Sarawak (or Sabah) ? It is not immediately known whether there are ''stories'' on Singapore. Certainly, to render the many files intelligible, 'there is a need for an overall context for dots to be made lines '(and lines to form pictures). Seen in this light, 'Julian Thompson''s work is useful although readers may not share his interest and/or worldview when he wrote the book.

US president's father in UK's colonial dossiers

One pretty interesting discovery in the recently released colonial files in London is that Obama's father was 'reported'. In May last year, the US president revealed that there are Irish elements in his family tree. The republic in North America was established in an anti-colonial war which finally liberated the thirteen settlements from 'London''s  reign. In 1814, British troops returned and set fire in Washington D. C. and damaged, among other public properties, the White House. Between 1861 and 1865, a civil war broke out in the United States that ended with the emancipation of Black slaves. 'Racial segregration in the US was abolished in 1965 after a huge protest led by Martin Luther King whose birthday is now marked as a federal public holiday in the 'USA.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Britain's imperial history offers useful lessons

The study of Britain's colonial and imperial history is never a waste of time because its impacts are still being felt in, among other areas on earth, the Middle East that is undergoing a mass-based upheaval and a dynamic of intensification of inter-state competition and rivalry. In the USA, some historians and scholars of international relations have also been discoursing on the many lessons of "imperial over'-'stretch". Of course, whether the United States is "'imperial'" is open to debate. There is a body of political opinion that conceptualises the worldwide involvements and committments of the country as 'global' leadership'. But, like it or hate it, many people in, for example, 'Afghanistan and Pakistan, are difficult to be persuaded or convinced by the argument.

Imperial past of Britain under global spotlight

It is interesting to observe that the controversy over the 'lost' colonial files happens when the people in Britain have begun to rethink as well as reassess the imperial past which had impacted on so many lives of mankind on earth in Asia, 'Africa, the Middle East and North America. Lawrence James' book The Rise & Fall of the British Empire (''London, Abacus, 1998 ) 'provides a pretty comprehensive but readable history of the nation and 'its policies, strategies and activities for 400 years. The memoirs of Abdullah C.D and Rashid Maidin, among other works, tell how they and their comrades fought British colonialism in Malaya.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

UK's colonial files 'lost', found & de-classified

The BBC also reported the controversy over Britain's "colonial files" in a recent item. The surviving files could, 'if studied and understood in context, could affect the existing interpretation of history in many of Britain's ex-colonies in Asia, Africa and the Middle East ( West Asia ). These files can be examined with reference to earlier materials, such as Julian Thompson''The Imperial Museum Book on Modern Warfare. Meanwhile, 'it is not immediately clear whether there are files on the detention of Rashid A. Maidin and hanging of martyr S.A. Ganapathy. Under what circumtances was martyr (William) Kuok Hock Ling shot ?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Batang Kali files said to be 'missing' in Britain

The government in London has decided to declassify many files on its policies and strategies in the various phases of 'its worldwide colonial empire, but, according to a news report, 'those relating to the Batang Kali killings in 1948 appear to be missing. In 2008, veteran Australian journalists Ian Ward and Norma Miraflor, who had examined the case for years, published Slaughter & Deception at Batang Kali ('Singapore, Media Masters) that is still available in major bookstores in Malaysia. Ward and Miraflor also co'-authored Chin Peng''s memoirs, My Side of History ('Singapore, Media Masters, 2003') that has been widely read. In 1998, Chin Peng himself visited the UK to peruse some of Britain''s official ''Emergency'' ('in Malaya')' files open to the public at that time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

P.G. Lim recalls her politics in autobiography

Soft launch of P.G. Lim's memoirs Kaleidoscope will be held tomorrow ( 20 April ) in Penang. In the memoirs, the barrister and ex'-diplomat recollects her participation and activities in the politics of the 1960's. Also, P.G. Lim recalls how she was involved in the efforts to save the life of communist Lee Meng in the early 1950's. Some photographs in the autobiography are pretty interesting and its index is also helpful.  P.G. Lim''s' memoirs serves to enhance understanding 'of our country as well as society which have been multicultural for a fairly long time.

King of Spain apologizes over outrageous trip

Spainish monarch Juan Carlos has reportedly issued an unprecedented apology for his elephant-hunting trip in Africa, while his country is hit hard by economic disorders that have caused massive unemployment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lessons to be learnt from West's ups & downs

The Western world is a complex entity with a rich history. It has gone through many periods of progress and reactions as well as booms and busts. To learn good lessons from the Western experience, there is a a need for all of us to understand the many dimensions through more dispassionate studies 'as well as exchanges of angles or perspectives. The world on earth is 'highly unlikely to end 'in the foreseeable future and there is certainly no need to rush for tickets to board Noah''s Ark. There is also no need to spend too much on things to prepare for the Armageddon as feeding and educating children well 'is more pressing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

King in Spain under fire for controversial trip

Reportedly, Spain' s monarch Juan Carlos is under fire for his hunting trip to Africa while the country is still hit hard by the economic crisis. Spain''s monarchy once ruled much of the central and south Americas as well as the Philippines. Beween 1936 and 1939, a very bloody civil war was fought between the newly set up republican government and fascist forces backed by 'clergies and landlords loyal to the monarchy. The civil war 'ended with the victory of the fascist and restorationist forces, but all the ex-colonies of Spain in central and south Americas have upheld republican polities ever since they gained independence. The Spanish language and culture as well as Catholicism are still well preserved in those republics in the Latin America, such as Argentina.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Multiple impacts of economic crisis in Europe

Now, 'it is abudantly clear that the impacts of the financial trouble in several parts of Europe is multifaceted '('and not only confined to the markets). While there are countries that are hit very hard, there are also other economies which, due to a combination of factors, do well.

Germany's economy under spotlight in Britain

Several countries 'in Europe have been hit hard by financial problems. But, Germany is still doing fairly well or, at least, 'better than Britain. Still,, there is a body of opinion in Britain that questions whether the economic 'model' in Germany is to be emulated by other countries. It is, of course, also pertinent and legitimate to debate the question of how relevant is the British 'model' to other countries, like France and Russia 'where Vladimir Putin 'has been elected as the president again and whose oil-and-gas supply plays a role in the European economies. How Britain sees 'Germany, 'France, Russia and also other nations on earth at this juncture of world history and how it is seen by other can indeed be an interesting focus for observations, studies and debates.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Malaysian legend P.G. Lim's memoirs out now

Legendary barrister and forer diplomat  P.G. Lim's autobiography has been published and it is being distributed. Born into a wealthy family, she championed and fought' several just causes' for the downtrodden. Given P.G. Lim's vast experience in politics, diplomacy and practices of law, she must have many exciting stories to share with the nation. Kaleidoscope will certainly enrich our understanding of the Malayan / Malaysian society and its history which is not as simple as it appears in, 'for example, those pretty colourful brochures for foreign tourists.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Port city in Greece uses alternative currency

To live in hard times, some people in Greece have operated a system of alternative currency . It is a form of community solidarity network. What if' the idea becomes attractive to more and more Greek people who are being adversely and seriously affected by the ongoing crisis ?

Hard times in Europe impacts on human lives

The financial crisis in Europe has not only affected the protection and preservation of its cultural heritage but also more tragically impacted on human lives. In the long run, the problems may be over as a result of the working of the "hidden hands" but as Keynes remarked: "in the long run, we are all dead'". In the mid-19th century, Marx had already shown with analyses the destructive tendency of  unmanaged market (while he also saw capitalism''s liberating effects vis-a-vis feudalism). At almost the same period, great novelist in England Charles Dickens had also discerned the not-so-rosy sides of  the dog-eats-dog system. It is time to understand capitalism with a more balanced perspective. There is a real need to rekindle an intellectual interest in the studies of history and philosophy of economic thoughts in economic faculties as the Cold War was over in 1991 following Soviet Union's dissolution.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Economic woe hits Greece's cultural heritage

Reportedly, the economic crisis in Greece has begun to undermine its ability to protect and preserve its cultural heritage that, in a complex interaction or articulation with the Roman, Judeo-Christian as well as Germanic elements, 'forms the foundation of civilisation in the West. The economic crisis has also caused a criminal riot in England as well as many socio-economic protest movements in other parts of Europe. Also, Europe's law and order is challenged by faith-inspired terrorists, neo'-'Nazis and psychopaths with relatively easy access to small arms. Influx of  migrants, whether legal or illegal, from the Middle East and North Africa, which is not in good condition, is an additional concern.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Critical questions for history of science buffs

Clearly, there was no Nobel Prize or any other now globally fairly well'-known international awards in the ancient world. So, what motivated scientists and technologists at that time to think and do great stuff ? What drove ancient Arabs and also Indians to study the stars  ? Issac Newton ( 1642-1727 ) died before Nobel was born. Was - or was not - Newton a great scientist  ? What led him to learn science  ?  Why did Nobel ( 1833-1896 ) himself not choose to be a lawyer or theologian ?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Basic books on Chinese & Western philosophy

British scholar Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy 'has also been available in Chinese-language edition for a long time. Fung Yu Lan''s A Short History of Chinese Philosophy remains a pretty good reference book for people who are interested 'in comparative studies. Some very well-known universities in China such as Peking and Fudan offer courses' - of various levels - in Chinese and Western philosophy. Philosophy is often made an entry point 'for dialogues of civilizations.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

P.G. Lim's memoirs to be published very soon

Malaysia' s well-known lawyer and former diplomat Dato' 'P.G. Lim has completed her memoirs in English. It is titled Kaleidoscope. The book ('Petaling Jaya, SIRD, 2012') is going to be printed and launched soon.