Saturday, February 6, 2016


Siblings of faith through a common Abrahamic connection the adherents of these three religions have caused untold misery on planet earth just because of their faith.  I dare say that the death and carnage caused by the traditional barbarians of old such as The Vikings, The Huns, The Goths and The Mongols pale in comparison to what this unholy trinity comprising of Jews, Christians and Muslims have done in this world.

These religions are supposedly peaceful religions following God’ commandments known as  the ten Commandments.  All three also believe in the same God of Moses(pbuh)but are yet to agree on his name.  The Jews are monotheistic like Muslims but do not acknowledge Jesus (pbuh) to be the promised Messiah.  Christians not only believe that Jesus (pbuh) is the Messiah but have alleviated to him to the position of Son of God.  Together with the Holy Spirit it is an article of faith among Christians to believe God as trinity comprising of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost/Spirit.

Now Muslims acknowledge all the twenty five prophets mentioned in the Holy Quran who are also mentioned in the Holy Bible but believe Muhammad (pbuh) to be God’s last and final messenger.    Christians and Jews do not acknowledge Muhammad (pbuh)as a prophet of God.  The Bible has 73 prophets mentioned in it.

But it is a proven fact that Jews, Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for a long time despite the minor differences.  For starters all were originally desert dwellers with more commonalities than differences till more recent times.  Pork is forbidden in all three religions going by the scriptures.  All three groups are supposed to be circumcised as a covenant between God and Moses.  Even Christ was circumcised.  In fact the Holy Quran has special mention of the Jews and Christians as “People of the Book” and relaxes on social interaction between the three religions even in matters such as food and  marriage.

Most observers may find it difficult to understand the rivalry between these three faiths.  For
instance, the Jews and Muslims insist God is one.  Most Christians of today do not believe this although two of their ten commandments speak of the oneness of God as found in the Exodus and Deuteronomy chapters of the Holy Bible.
All I can say is that Satan (another entity found in all the three religions) is having a field day at drawing people away from the truth as he has challenged God that he would do.  

Today it would seem that most Christians, Jews and Muslims have indeed wandered far away from the basics of their respective thanks to Satan.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Between Spirituality and Religiosity: Striking a Balance

Religion has played a crucial part in the lives of human beings ever since when.  The Abrahamic religions would place this right from the first human being that is Adam.  Whatever said and done any religion is just a belief system that can neither be proved or disproved and since anyone can believe in anything Islam puts it bluntly in Surah Al Kafirun 109 : 6 -  " To you your religion and to me mine."  This would also indicate that it would be pointless to do anything else like argue or fight about it.
Religiosity is a general term that is used in the scientific study of religion to refer to the beliefs and behaviors of individuals that address ultimate or transcendent concerns and sometimes just considered to be synonymous with such terms as religiousness, orthodoxy, faith, belief, piousness, devotion, and holiness.   I would simply put it as something that is more visible and more tangible that way.  Hence you can identify a person’s religious belief merely by his or her outward manifestation in the form of dress and/or other related social trappings.
Thus humans have had a clear divide in matters of religion which can be easily seen in the outward manifestations of appearance, behavior and even speech.  To me this is the easier part.  For example, even a child of six can complete the Ramadan fasting faithfully for an entire month or pray five times a day.  And it is also not uncommon to see children wearing crosses or going to the church every Sunday.  But wait, if such outward manifestations of religiosity are that easy to follow then it must be a piece of cake to be a “religious” person but mere outward manifestations alone in any religion  do not make anyone religious.

The second and more difficult of being religious has to do with spirituality aspects and tenets which deal with the more practical  aspects of the values prescribed in each religion.  The Christian faith, for example, demands its adherents to follow the Ten Commandments.  Loving your neighbor as yourself is something that is almost impossible.  Other acts of goodness like caring for your neighbors, society and the environment are more easily said than done.  One common value is well outlined in what has been termed as the Golden Rule. The odd thing here is that this is one area which all religions preach the same thing but it is not that easily followed.  The degree of adherence to any article of faith also differs between people of the same faith.  Some take it more lightly than others.  Muslims are generally very “fussy” about the Friday congregational prayers.  Followers of other religions may not have similar forms of congregational prayers but may be more religious in following the true essence of what their  the religion demands in terms of values.

Most people feel that a sensible balance between the two aspects of religiosity and spirituality can be maintained.  Of course that would be ideal I suppose but look around the real world and see how much of these two aspects are really balanced.  There are people on both ends of the spectrum as well as others who are in between.  Whatever said and done it is up to each and every individual concerned to decide where to position oneself.  Therein lies the choice.

Monday, September 7, 2015



I first began tinkering on a piano in 1976 at MPIK/STTI where I also first learnt what a treble clef was. I was aged 32 then. No piano cikgu but only relied on ownself with my knowledge of guitars and chord progressions learnt. I was much inspired waching all my lecturers play it – Mr. Khoo Soon Teong, Mrs. Ranji Knight, En. Nazri Ahmad and Puan Shamsiah.

I asked my lecturer Mrs. Knight to tutor me on the piano. I went to her house and started playing chords and hummed the tunes along.....she was flabbergasted and did not know where to start with me and, instead,  asked me how I was employing chord movements on my right hand and playing the bass line / chords on my left hand.....and that was the end of my piano tutoring. She recommended me to get the John Thompson series of books and I bought two and started practicing simple exercises on my right hand and with a severely handicapped left hand (till today).

And thus began my “piano playing”.  I also listened a lot to the piano music of Richard Clayderman besides observing other piano players esp. the professional musicians whom I performed with – Ahmad Wan Yet and others but could not decipher their chords but could figure out their adlibs.  When I went back to schools as an itinerant music teacher covering four schools I kept on practising and playing the piano for simple children’s songs.  In this way, I reached some level of pano playing which still, BTW, baffled those who played especially classical piano style….they envied me much more than how I envied them and their fingering techniques.

In the 80’s when my full 6 pc. band, The Shades of Time was not getting much gigs (tak laku lagi) I started playing on a Casio keyboard with the auto chord setting and performed nightly with a solo singer at pubs and clubs quite successfully too.  I had also bought my first upright piano and played it often at home. It was a Kimball. I got a 2 year gig at the Ria Hotel in Seremban as the resident 3 pc band with me on the piano accompanied by a bassist and drummer and we backed Filipino songstresses who were changed every 6 months.  These singers were not the type of dancer singers that flooded Malaysia later.  If the singer sang in B major I was not permitted to play in C (my favorite key till today) or Bb….I will get reprimanded immediately. So in this way I started also playing the dreaded sharp keys. I sold my Kimball off in 1984 when I went to USA on a government scholarship to study formal music. By then I already had my Grade 8 (Theory) certificate already.

Me playing the keyboards as a one man band in the 90's.  See

I learnt more jazz theory there and played it on the guitar and also the piano.  When I returned I was back in MPIK / STTI and “showed off” my piano playing and many of my students were “impressed” and/or inspired too.  Many classically trained pianists who were my students ( Grade 8 and LRSM requirement) came to Seremban to learn jazz voicing on the piano and how to solo” / adlib…and paid me handsomely too. By then I could play the keyboards on my own and started performing professional gigs and stints again with singers like Azizah Basri, Dorothy Barnabas, Ronnie Rajamoney and Augustine Manuel. Today ?? Yes,  I still play the piano alone for myself at home with very much “rusty” hands.  So there. That’s my story.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mengapa Muzik Patut Diadakan Dalam Kurikulum Sekolah-Sekolah

Written by Johami Abdullah @ Joe Chelliah
Seorang pendidik muzik harus dapat memberi rasional serta sebab-sebab yang wajar dan meyakinkan mengapa mata pelajaran muzik patut diadakan dalam kurikulum sekolah. Guru Matematik atau Sains boleh berbuat demikian untuk mata pelajarannya dengan amat mudah pada hari ini. Bagaimana pula dengan pendidik muzik?

Segala bentuk seni, termasuk muzik, merupakan satu saluran unik yang boleh menentukan tahap pencapaian mana-mana satu tamadun. Seni adalah amat penting dan unik kerana segala bentuk seni membezakan tingkah laku manusia daripada makhluk-makhluk lain. Malah kajian-kajian dalam bidang arkeologi dan antropologi menunjukkan dengan jelas bahawa setiap kelompok manusia telah mengadakan beraneka jenis aktiviti muzik sepanjang zaman. Para ahli falsafah dan psikologi yang diakui sebagai "gergasi" dalam bidang pendidikan sejak Plato telah mengesyorkan supaya muzik harus dipelajari oleh semua orang supaya proses pendidikan itu cukup sempurna. Di bawah ini tercatat beberapa sebab (berpandukan The School Music Program: Descriptions and Standards (Reston, Virginia: MENC, Edisi Ke-2, 1986) mengapa mata pelajaran muzik harus diadakan dalam kurikulum formal di sekolah-sekolah.

1. Adalah memang wajar bahawa setiap individu mempelajari muzik tanpa apa-apa sebab yang tertentu (muzik semata-mata untuk muzik). Muzik merupakan satu bidang yang begitu kaya dengan beraneka jenis pengetahuan, kemahiran, dan cara-cara berfikir yang amat berbeza dari zaman ke zaman dan dari tempat ke tempat. Kebolehan untuk bermain muzik, menyanyi, atau menghayati muzik sama ada untuk menghiburkan diri sahaja ataupun untuk memperkembangkan intelek seseorang itu adalah amat wajar bagi setiap insan.

2. Ia merupakan satu matlamat pendidikan yang utama untuk mewariskan budaya sesuatu bangsa itu termasuk warisan budaya manusia yang silam kepada generasi muda. Satu komponen utama dalam mana-mana budaya ialah amalan muzik bangsa itu sendiri. Oleh yang demikian, pendidikan muzik boleh dianggap sebagai satu lagi saluran yang sihat untuk mencapai objektif ini.

3. Potensi muzik yang terpendam di kalangan para pelajar boleh dicungkil dan dipelihara dengan amat baik semasa mereka masih bersekolah lagi. Potensi dan bakat muzik yang terpendam di kalangan para pelajar sama pentingnya dengan potensi dan bakat lain seperti kemahiran-kemahiran linguistik atau psikomotor yang juga boleh dicungkil pada peringkat sekolah. Dengan itu, adalah amat merugikan sesuatu bangsa jika setiap kanak-kanak tidak berpeluang untuk menguji bakat muzikalnya sewaktu bersekolah lagi.

4. Muzik juga merupakan salah satu aktiviti utama yang membolehkan kita menyalurkan sumber tenaga kreatif yang semula jadi. Selain itu, muzik juga dapat memberikan peluang kepada setiap individu untuk meluahkan perasaannya secara sihat. Aspek ini amat penting untuk mengimbangkan lagi proses pendidikan semasa yang memberi tekanan yang begitu ketara dalam bidang sains dan teknologi mengikut satu arah aliran di merata dunia. Muzik juga membolehkan setiap individu, malah setiap bangsa mempertunjukkan atau memperlihatkan identiti masing-masing.

5. Pembelajaran muzik dapat membantu kita untuk lebih memahami sifat manusia dari aspek perhubungan antara manusia dengan manusia, manusia dengan alam dan juga tentang ibadah dan kerohanian manusia. Kita juga dapat mempelajari tentang beraneka jenis kebudayaan lain di dunia dengan lebih mendalam melalui saluran muzik.

6. Pembelajaran muzik di sekolah-sekolah boleh dianggap sebagai satu dimensi tambahan yang memberikan peluang kepada pelajar untuk menikmati kejayaan secara individu. Ini adalah lebih penting bagi mereka yang senantiasa kurang merasai kejayaan dalam bidang-bidang lain. Di sini kita diingatkan bahawa kejayaan dalam sesuatu adalah amat penting untuk membentuk satu sikap positif tentang keyakinan diri dan ego bagi setiap pelajar. Maka, proses persekolahan tidak seharusnya tertumpu kepada mata- mata pelajaran kognitif sahaja sehinggakan kepentingan pelajar-pelajar yang berbakat dalam bidang afektif lain seperti muzik dan seni lukis tidak diambil kira langsung. Situasi seperti ini boleh menghampakan pelajar-pelajar berkenaan dan ekoran daripada perasaan itu banyak lagi masalah sosial boleh timbul. Selain itu, pelajar yang berjaya dalam mata-mata pelajaran yang dianggap lebih kognitif juga harus berpeluang menceburkan diri dalam bidang afektif supaya proses pendidikan itu lebih seimbang.

7. Pembelajaran muzik secara formal dan sistematik boleh meningkatkan lagi paras penghayatan muzik di kalangan pelajar dan membantu mereka dalam menghayati muzik yang lebih canggih dan kompleks. Mereka juga berpeluang untuk mengenali muzik daripada budaya dan tamadun lain. Peluang untuk mempelajari atau menghayati bentuk-bentuk muzik tersebut amat kurang di luar proses persekolahan.

8. Melalui pembelajaran muzik para pelajar akan berpeluang untuk mempelajari sistem simbologi muzik yang juga merupakan satu lagi sistem simbologi manusia yang sungguh hebat. Setiap pelajar di sekolah diwajibkan supaya mempelajari sistem-sistem simbologi dan ikonografi yang terdapat dalam matematik, sains, dan bahasa-bahasa tertentu. Maka, para pelajar harus juga diberi peluang untuk mempelajari sistem simbologi yang digunakan untuk seni muzik.

9. Adalah amat mustahak bagi setiap pelajar menyedari bahawa bukan semua aspek kehidupan manusia boleh dinilai secara merata atau sejagat. Adakalanya sesuatu isu tentang soal kehidupan atau tingkah laku manusia boleh dilihat dan difahami dengan beraneka cara. Muzik boleh menyampaikan nilai-nilai seperti ini dengan amat berkesan. Dalam suasana yang mengagung-agungkan materialisme, pembelajaran muzik boleh memberi satu perspektif yang lebih seimbang terhadap kehidupan kita.

10. Muzik telah memainkan peranan yang utama dalam kehidupan manusia untuk mempertingkatkan kualiti kehidupan manusia di seluruh dunia. Manusia tidak boleh hidup dengan cukup bahagia tanpa muzik. Peranan muzik dalam sesuatu masyarakat adalah cukup jelas dan nyata. Maka, tidakkah harus memberikan pendidikan muzik yang sistematik kepada generasi muda untuk membolehkan mereka hidup dengan lebih sempurna dan bahagia?

Kesemua justifikasi yang tersebut di atas adalah juga sejajar dengan objektif-objektif untuk pendidikan di Malaysia seperti yang terkandung dalam Education in Malaysia (1985, hlm. 135) yang diterbitkan oleh Bahagian Penyelidikan dan Perancangan Pendidikan, Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia. Objektif-objektif itu adalah seperti yang berikut:

1. Untuk menentukan literasi yang berfungsi di kalangan rakyat Malaysia.

2. Untuk membekalkan para pelajar dengan kemahiran-kemahiran intelek dan psikomotor yang boleh menimbulkan satu tabiat di kalangan mereka supaya sanggup belajar serta bekerja secara lanjutan dan berterusan.

3. Untuk membentuk sikap-sikap tertentu yang sihat dan mulia di kalangan pelajar supaya mereka akan:
(a) menghormati serta menyayangi manusia yang lain
(b) mewarisi suatu komitmen dan rasa tanggungjawab terhadap kemakmuran dan kemajuan negara
(c) menghormati kerja-kerja buruh kasar

4 Untuk mewariskan budaya negara serta kebolehan untuk memperkayakan lagi budaya Malaysia kepada generasi muda (Digariskan oleh penulis).

5. Untuk membentuk etika tingkah laku sosial dan peribadi yang diingini di kalangan pelajar yang juga selaras dengan fahaman keagamaan dan moral kita Jika kita mengambil kira kelima-lima garis panduan tersebut, kita akan dapati beberapa aspek yang penting dari perspektif pendidikan di Malaysia seperti perpaduan negara dan moral tidak disebut secara nyata dalam senarai MENC yang telah dibincangkan tadi. Oleh yang demikian, kita boleh dan harus menambahkan lagi sekurang-kurangnya enam sebab mengapa muzik harus dipelajari oleh semua pelajar di Malaysia.

1. Muzik telah membantu manusia dalam hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan ibadah manusia sepanjang zaman. Elemen-elemen muzik yang terkandung dalam muzik ibadah daripada semua bangsa dan kaum sepanjang zaman adalah cukup jelas dan nyata. Maka, pembelajaran muzik sudah tentu akan dapat membantu kita dalam hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan muzik ibadah secara langsung ataupun tidak langsung.

2. Muzik mempunyai banyak potensi dan skop untuk mempengaruhi kelakuan dan pemikiran manusia sama ada secara positif atau negatif. Oleh itu, kita boleh menggunakan muzik secara positif untuk beberapa keperluan kebangsaan semasa seperti menanamkan rasa taat setia dan cinta akan nusa dan bangsa serta meningkatkan lagi perpaduan negara. Perpaduan negara merupakan salah satu matlamat utama dalam pendidikan di Malaysia sejak merdeka lagi seperti yang terkandung dalam Laporan Razak (1956).

3. Pada masa sekarang, soal untuk memperkenalkan warisan budaya kebangsaan serta identiti Malaysia difikirkan amat perlu. Perkara seperti ini adalah lebih ketara di kalangan negara-negara yang sedang membangun seperti Malaysia. Maka, pembelajaran muzik tradisional kita secara formal banyak membantu dalam aspirasi kebangsaan ini. 4. Soal moral adalah sesuatu yang diutamakan dalam proses pendidikan di Malaysia dan juga dalam proses pembangunan negara pada amnya. Hal moral ini juga adalah amat penting dalam semua agama. Dengan itu, lagu-lagu yang mengandungi lirik berkenaan, nilai-nilai murni, aspek moral, dan aspek akhlak yang baik boleh diajarkan kepada golongan muda-mudi dari peringkat prasekolah lagi.

5. Muzik juga boleh digunakan untuk membantu pengajaran mata-mata pelajaran yang lain di Malaysia, khasnya pada peringkat sekolah rendah. Lagu The Alphabet Song, misalnya, boleh digunakan oleh guru Bahasa Inggeris. Muzik juga boleh digunakan dalam konteks Pendidikan Jasmani dalam aktiviti-aktiviti seperti gimrama, aerobik, dan tarian-tarian rakyat.

6. Muzik boleh disifatkan sebagai "jendela dunia" kerana muzik boleh digunakan untuk lebih memahami kebudayaan asing. Selain itu, muzik juga boleh membantu para pelajar menyedari serta memahami konsep persaudaraan antara manusia sejagat.

Kesemua sebab yang telah dibincangkan di atas menunjukkan dengan jelas betapa pentingnya setiap individu mempelajari muzik pada setiap peringkat pendidikan formal di Malaysia. Potensi melalui pembelajaran muzik untuk digunakan secara positif adalah begitu luas serta jelas dan nyata. Haruskah kita mengabaikan atau tidak mempedulikan potensi muzik ini dalam proses pendidikan kita?

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Either by accident, evolution or as God’s creation we humans inhabit earth.  Despite many physical and physiological commonalities humans always want to be considered different from others esp. in terms of physical features, race and other such external habits and culture.  The Malays, Chinese and Indians in Malaysia are no different.  Each community has prejudices, its own pride and of course stereotyping of others.  I am going to outline what little I have read and experienced personally on these matters.

Let us begin with the “tuans” - the Malays. Mostly earlier immigrants themselves from the border-less Malay archipelago of earlier times, Malays consider themselves the true natives while not ignoring the aborigines as the “more” original denizens.  Traditionally, as most islanders anywhere in the tropics, Malays are also prone to a more “take it easy” life and are not inclined to hard labor or work unless absolutely necessary as in the planting of padi or catching of fish.  It is my view that islanders generally are also more prone towards the more sensual pleasures in life that can involve activities like dancing, music making or just idling away with empty talk (borak2) and have a very low in-built resistance to “saying no” to many pleasurable things.  However, a Malay is just as proud of his heritage like any other Lim or Khan or Nair.  He can even run amok if you hurt his pride or his leader so beware.

Now,  we move on to the Chinese.  It is generally accepted that earliest Malaysian Chinese to arrive here were emissaries of the Ming emperors.  Their visits here were just to show them their superiority and glory of China which the sultans of Melaka immediately acknowledged and even sought protection from their then overlord - Siam.  This protection of a weak person from another toughie

or bully has even become a profession in Malaya till today – the well-developed protection racket that continues till this day.  But most if not all Malaysian Chinese of today are not descendants from the Ming emperors.  They are descendants of people who escaped harsh lives and conditions in China to “cari makan” here.  They soon became organized communities doing whatever economic activity that helped them earn a living.  There was much communal cohesion among Chinese which we can even see today, for that matter even worldwide.  They had their own secret societies, funeral  and massage parlors, coffee and makan shops, dhoby shops and similar joints to support their community which indulged mainly in tin-mining and vegetable growing over here initially.  As the initial waves of migrants were mostly men it has been claimed that the first Chinese females to arrive here were mostly comfort women. Used to hard work and united by language, color and physical features besides the inherited trend of toiling day and night, this community is known to have succeeded from rags to riches thorough sheer hard work and determination.  The laxity or lack of religious restrictions for most Chinese has also helped them to engage in almost any trade.  It is no surprise then that more than 40 of the richest men in Malaysia today are from this community.  Such economic “successes” have indeed also earned some degree of displeasure from the other two main communities even today in Malaysia. Now what about the Indians?

The earliest civilized foreigners to arrive in this region were the Indians as early as the 2nd century. Southeast Asia came under Indian influence starting around 200 BC until around the 15th century…a whole 13 centuries mind you. During this period, Hindu-Buddhist influence was absorbed by local polities. India had also established trade, cultural and political relations with other Southeastern Asian kingdoms in Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Malay Peninsula, Cambodia and to a lesser extent in Vietnam too. Their pervasive in almost all fields is well-documented and can be seen even today in Malay cultural practices and language.  Gujarati Muslims also introduced Islam to the Malay Peninsula and other parts.

But these are not the Indians from whom our Malaysian Indians of today are descended from. They are descended from mainly two types of Indians whom the British brought over here.  The smaller group, mainly from Kerala and Sri Lanka, were English educated and therefore served in clerical and supervisory positions initially and therefore served as a conduit of communication with the Tamils for the British masters.

However, the bulk of the “imported” Indians were hardcore menial workers from also very harsh backgrounds in India.  With hardly any education, most of them were illiterates but these folks, both the men and women,  could work like mules.  They were also the ones who turned the Malayan secondary jungles and forests into rubber plantations.  They were also the ones who laid the basic infrastructures such as roads, telecommunications, railways, ports and the various other public works and utility boards. The Malays called this group somewhat condescendingly as “ keling kaman”.  To provide some form of rest and recreation for this group to unwind from a hard day’s work, the British introduced toddy shops for them in the estates and towns.  Tamil schools were also started to allow some degree of primary education which also seldom got them anywhere.  Such was the reputation of the Indians that even the BTN has reportedly referred to Indians en bloc as “si-botol”. By virtue of their darker color and lower socioeconomic status other Malaysians also tend look down on Indians in general….forget Anandakrishnan and Tony Fernandes.  Of course, the English educated Indians had beers and whiskies and at times even behaved more British than the British themselves eben till today.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


TDM was not pushed out of office...he resigned after openly admitting on several occasions he had failed to change the Malay mentality, whatever that is. As for his love and concern for Malays, he has cried, openly rebuked them and done so many things in favor of Malays to bring some dignity to the Malays who before his time were still rural based and living mostly on some kind of "kerja kampong" and farming incomes. Perhaps they were a much happier lot then.
The culture of back-biting and scramble for power has always been there since time immemorial in the upper echelons of Malay societies, here and in the archipelago too.... The degree of this is certainly much more now as the economic cake is much bigger.. So politicians are in the forefront of fighting for this or that while most people support them in silence. The Malay's endearing loyalty to the Malay rulers was utilized to the hilt by the colonial British who did their utmost to placate the royals who in turn gave them a free hand to literally rule the country while they remained sovereigns with pensions and other perks c/w huge stone palaces.
Vestiges of such things are still around us if you haven't noticed....its Malay culture for better or worse.
Common sense would tell us also that the bulk of the social problems in this country today are also Malay related and also disproportionate to the population demographics. Of course, all this has been put aside.
Instead, an apparent effort at Islamization / Arbization with empty rhetoric of any meaningful development except free give-aways distract us from the harsh realities of the myriad of social problems in the country..... That the many social problems are afflicting the Malays mostly has been overlooked or at best given some semblance of concern.
The following list of social maladies among Malays is neither complete nor exhaustive...
1. drug abuse,
2. widespread corruption,
3. single divorced mothers who are left to fend for themselves with some
even turning to the sex-worker industry,
4. abandoned babies and teen pregnancies,
5. CBT,
6. bankruptcies,
7. disciplinary problems at schools and residential institutions
8. school bullies,
9. the tiga line gangsters,
10 religious extremism,
11. the protection and bouncer trade,
12. Mat Rempit
13. Bohsiah problems,
It is not my intention to decry the Malays with this over-simplistic and over-generalized stuff if you see it that way..... but the truth is the truth whichever way one looks at it - anyway, these things are open secret overall dismay is that the national leaders of today just go around without addressing the aforesaid problems that are getting worse by the day. Yes we have more schools and universities but with much lowered standards to enable "brilliant" results which opiates an unsuspecting crowd into over-estimating their academic prowess....while the leaders send their kids to international schools or better still overseas...Najib is one such child BTW.
The ostrich syndrome has to go. Malays have to see that they are being screwed left and right and by their own kind......playing the religious and racial cards are nothing but a smokescreen to hide all the shit.
And now TDM is up again "shouting" but the problem of 1MDB is nothing compared to the overall moral and ethical decay that has reached levels that may not be controlled easily short of having a military or dictatorial has been going downhill for a long time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015



The Background
I write this short article not without a great sense of grief for my fellow Malaysian Tamils especially those who come from the estate backgrounds like me. We see that Malaysia has made tremendous progress since my days as an estate boy in the 1950’s.  While the Malayan Tamils lived and worked hard a little above slavery under the British they were a satisfied lot.  They knew very little about the world and the country.  They did follow some developments in India but knew very little about the Malays or Chinese.  Except for an occasional quarrel or fight among themselves the majority were quite contented with their monthly Tamil movies, Tamil schools, toddy shops, temples, little vegetable gardens and lived happily in their own “little Indian villages”. In short they lived in “cocoons”.
Now all this has changed slowly but surely beginning with the economic growth of the country that became very evident around the 70’s onwards.  As such, this community is very much urbanized today.  Almost all the large rubber plantations have morphed into oil palm estates and manned mostly by cheap foreign workers.  Most of the rubber estates that were close to the major towns like Kuala Lumpur, Kajang, Sermban, Melaka and so on have developed into housing estates, industrial parks or even extended townships.  This single factor has forced the estate Tamils to seek a living in the towns.  The urban drift of the Tamils had begun.  The town Tamils who also worked at menial jobs were attached to the JKR, LLN, Malayan Railways and the port authorities (in places like Port Klang and Penang).  This urban Tamils had understood the Malayan ethnic diversity and had adapted well.  The same cannot be said of those who “migrated” from the estates.
Both these urban and rural menial laborer groups of course shared certain commonalities like the Tamil language and schools, Hinduism, general poverty, toddy shops (closed down later), Tamil movies and so on.  While the urban lot had adapted to town life the rural group had not.  Their mentalities too were different somewhat.  The urban lot lived in quarters provided by their respective employers - the government, JKR, LLN and the port workers.  Those from the rural drift lived in illegal squatter properties or were allowed to live in their estates that were yet to be developed.  When surely and eventually development  did reach these yet-to-be developed places the squatters, temples, houses, schools and so had to be removed to make way for a big development that began in the 1980’s.  To their credit, some of the developers did provide some sort of compensation to take over their properties 100%.
The Current Realty
Today, many from this rural group are yet to fully integrate themselves with the mainstream Malaysian community. They still have their Tamil schools, temples and TV entertainment and other ways to satisfy the loss of toddy shops.  The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) is the party in the government that is/was supposed to take care of this community.  But most of the finances appropriated by the Malaysian government and channeled through MIC for the development of the Indian community at large were “misappropriated” and seldom reached the grass root Indians.  The MAIKA Holdings venture which took even life savings from the Tamils to become members went kaput due to mismanagement and other factors I do not wish to mention here….anyway everyone knows it.  Of course there were also some from this community who have uplifted themselves economically through education, business and professions.  A few even enjoyed governmental scholarships and loans.
The Dilemma
The larger majority of these Tamils descended for both urban and rural Tamil communities found themselves handicapped to even seek employment.  Grounded almost totally in Tamil background, many could not seek meaningful or higher paying jobs.  The government’s affirmative policy for the Malays also worked against this group.  Other job opportunities in the private sectors required language proficiency in English or Malay languages both of which were non-existent most of the time.  Thus it became a “pandai-pandai lah cari makan sendiri” affair with little help from MIC or the richer Indians in Malaysia.  This was quite unlike the Chinese community which thrived and survived well with their own community support through their many guild and associations.  The Indians had no such guild or associations.  So how?
About this time around the late 70’s and 80’s Tamil movies glorified stories of fights against injustice in a society.  This theme was well portrayed by M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) in all his movies even as far back as the 1950’s. MGR is labeled as “puratchee thalaivar” or loosely translated as reformist struggle leader”.  Stuck in an urban situation with little avenues for earning a proper living many  Tamil youngsters became “pukau” with the Tamil movies and heroes like MGR and Rajinikanth fighting for social justice.  Films like “Bashaa” come to mind.  Such films are still being produced in India like “Pollathaven” starring Danush…the new screen idol who is so very thin but can take on an army like Rambo.  The only difference is that in India the film goers know its all about fantasy.  Over here, our folks take it on as a reality.
In the light of the aforesaid, the otherwise peaceful Tamils now started “producing” the likes of Bentong Kali.  Secret societies, protection rackets, illegal gambling, prostitution and drugs were at one time exclusively controlled by the Chinese triads.  After the May13th incident the Chinese learnt well not to be or behave like street gangsters and moved up their “ladder” in the criminal world, sometimes even with open connivance with the authorities .  Strangely I hear that some crime world chiefs are even datuks. 
The street fighter jobs thus had many vacancies.  This vacancy began to be filled by Tamil youths who saw this as a way to instant fame and more importantly riches.  The police lock-ups suddenly were filled with Tamils.  Many died in custody.  The Malaysian police ( the special branch and UTK) were fully authorized to handle the situation.  Shoot to kill was often a common operational thing. Thus many Indians died this way at the hands of the police.  Seldom did they want to be arrested and be whacked by the police, charged and condemned to the gallows.  It was better to die fighting.  This still goes on.

The Indian community in Malaysia is far more complex than presented in this short article.  The clearer black and white distribution and distinction of Indians in Malaysia has always been separated by education.  Those who came over to Malaya with already a reasonably good education in English did well under the British administration and even later on till today.  This group is not the Indian group this article is about.  Meanwhile, the groups described in this article are still living as a marginalized community in Malaysia with almost no meaningful thought and strategies planned for them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


The study of music in the formal Malaysian curriculum for the primary schools under the present system was first introduced in 1983. It has undergone some cosmetic changes which have not changed the situation much but I dare say worsened in recent years with the removal of 30 minutes out of the 60 minutes allocated for music.  In any case, the bulk of these students end up leaving the primary schools with hardly any appreciable levels of knowledge in music theory, notation, sight-reading, solfege or even practical skills on the only instrument they learn which is the recorder.  The few musical ones who might have performed with the school choir or recorder group may exhibit some musical behaviour  but sad to say, this only applies to a negligible few.  In summation this is what one may observe of our Malaysians who have gone through formal music since 1983 and who may be aged around 40 and downwards. They :
  1. Are not too well-informed about music in general and also local musical traditions.
  2. Are incapable of any serious thought or discussion on music even at the lowest levels.
  3. Have very narrow musical tastes if any and if so only influenced by popular musics.
  4. Cannot sing the national or state anthems properly in pitch and rhythm.
  5. Cannot identify most musical instruments except for the recorder, guitar and piano.
  6. Cannot even name the main instruments in say, a "keroncong", ghazal or string quartet.
There are many others but I think I have said enough and better stop here before I receive a shower of slippers or brickbats from some of my own collegues.  Surely all the aforesaid would indicate that we have not been too successful with our music education programs even with the so many changes and "updates" and the billions spent.  These children then go on to secondary schools and nothing much happens there either to shout about.  Then some of the more musically inclined ones pursue diploma and degree courses at the higher institutions of learning where the basic rudiments of theory have to be repeated again right from scratch except perhaps for those who have had private music lessons.  The truth of the matter is that we have bungled and fumbled at music education for over 30 years mind you.  A good tree is only good if it flowers, blooms and fruits….so what do we do if all
 these do not happen.  Cut the tree down ? That is exactly what the government, to its credit, has done by slashing 30 minutes from the original 60 minute allocation.  Merely re-instating the 30 minutes may not be the answer as we go back to square one again and for another 30 years????  A complete re-vamping of our music education program in the primary schools from aims and objectives to methods and curricular content is a must…..nothing short of that will work.

Music is a part and parcel of one’s life from birth till death.  Like other life skills it is there throughout one’s life and at any social occasion….even at funerals.

I am a firm believer and advocate of "learning music for music's sake". No leading scholar or philosopher in any culture have said otherwise.  Confucius insisted that a true scholar must study music too.  Even the famed Arab genius Al Farabi was an accomplished musician cum mathematician and so was Einstein.  No math educator needs to justify the need for our children to learn mathematics, do they?  Some music educators do and cite research that shows the learning of music improves brain function and other positive or similar correlations......It's like PE teachers suggesting that PE is a must in the education process because it also improves the human digestive functions.  Every child today learns mathematics not necessarily to become an engineer nor does every child who undergoes Physical Education becomes a national athlete like Dato' Nicole.

Now with all that said, the approach to music in all primary schools should be a twin approach with firstly, an emphasis on general music for everybody first with some practical activities too (singing, percussion, recorder and notation).  Performance comes next with students who exhibit good musical ability but in school ensembles during extramural time - choirs, bands etc.  Theory fundamentals related to time, pitch, texture and harmony can be taught from the 3rd year or so but still in an incidental way.

The ultimate goal of music education program in the primary schools should be to teach music appreciation on a wider angle.  This can be done in short segments within a lesson itself during which time children are exposed not only to different genres of music but also from all cultures.  Such things will widen their musical horizon.  Aural and visual recognition of instruments can also follow.  They can then be given opportunities to discover how a musical note is generated.  In this way they begin to realize that sound is produced by vibrations of bodies- air, strings etc.. In this way by Standard 6 they will be able to understand the basics of the  Hornbostel-Sachs system of classifying musical instruments from any culture.

Coming to the recorder, I am yet see anyone who has acquired a life-ling habit or love for blowing the recorder after they leave the primary school.  The instrument, sadly or not, is discarded for good after Standard 6.  It is my sincere view that the ukulele would be a much better choice to replace the recorder which I see as an obsolete instrument forced upon the kids and totally divorced from ground reality.  Besides, playing the ukulele involves bigger muscle movements than the more difficult use of small muscle involvement for the recorder. Besides, the ukulele also resembles the popular guitar with which kids can more readily identify themselves with.  It is also an easier harmony instrument to play and sing along. Other neighbouring countries have been using them since the 70's at that.

Monday, March 9, 2015


My first electric guitar was an F-hole Suzuki acoustic guitar. I bought an external pick up and
A 1960 Suzuki Guitar
screwed it onto the guitar.  There was no proper amplifier so I just plugged it into the back of our Philips radio and played on gleefully.  Now this was in 1960 by the way. The “new” electrified sound thrilled me and many of our contemporaries who did the same.  A radio shop Chinese technician built his own amplifier with the tubes open and visible.  It had 3 inputs and we plugged three guitars to it for the bass, rhythm and lead guitars.  By today’s standards this would be something of a cave-dweller’s gadget.  By 1962, the same technician had developed his own tremolo channel…quite an ingenuous chap he was. By that time some of bands in KL and Penang were already using the early Gibson and / or Fender amplifiers which I could not afford.  I used a Fender amplifier complete with tremolo effects at a recording at Radio Malaya Melaka once and it was an exhilarating experience.

Notice Reverb Unit and the William's amp at bottom right

In 1964, there was a company in  KL named Williams and if I am not mistaken became Bentleys later.  This company made their own amplifiers with Goodman speakers and my band bought two of them using our savings from our gigs.  One was a bigger one with two 12 inch Goodman speakers inside.  In 1963 a friend of ours bought an external reverberation unit with a spring inside that generated the reverb effects.  I remember using it to play “Telstar” by The Ventures.  While playing the guitar, I “kicked” the reverb unit and we got “space effx”.  Of course these were tricks to sound different from the other bands and competitors.
The much coveted Swiss Tape Echo Unit
The Schaller Disc Echo Unit

Then in 1964 the tape echo units became available and brought a new dimension to guitar players to sound like the Shadows.  The best one was the Swiss Echo and that cost some $ 800 which was like paying RM 10,000 today….a good second hand car cost that much.  There was another option - The Schaller Echo unit which also cost about $700.  As usual I lost out on buying either one and settled for a Watkins Copicat that cost about half of that amount.  This is the unit that I used for all my commercial audio recordings with The Jayhawkers and TV appearances.

Later on the wah-wah pedal made its appearance and I bought one.  At about the same time the fuzz-box also became available and this became a must for playing rock music even then.  The last one I bought was a Roland Phaser in the late 70’s. 
The Roland Phaser

A Modern Guitar Effects Rack

These days, I am happy playing the guitar only with a little reverb and some delay effect.  Of course many of these gadgets for guitars are taken for granted but if one has gone through what I have gone through, only then would one begin to understand and appreciate the wonderful array of guitars and effects that are available today.

Friday, March 6, 2015


The Founding Fathers

Many of the things that we see, witness or read about in the news these days in matters related to interfaith and inter-racial matters in Malaysia do not amuse me and probably many others like me who are septuagenarian Malaysians.  We can proudly say that  we were the pioneers who have made Malaysia become what it is today. It stands tall in the international of nations having been transformed from a backwater country to one that is well-recognized by everyone as a moderate, peaceful and progressive country.

Now with all said and done, the main schism and division evident in Malaysia today is principally caused by the racial divide between the Malays and the non-Malays.  This divide is caused mainly by that human frailty called economic greed of wanting more and more. Only a fool will deny that the affirmative actions for the Malays crafted by the earlier British government and the subsequent locally elected government has born fruit  in the past fifty odd years.  Local politics too have not helped in this matter.
To add to this the efforts by Islamic parties to want to make Malaysia more Islamic than it already is.

Otherwise, we are generally okay and much better off in almost all ways compared to all of the former British colonies and also  many other countries in the world.  - why even some of the so-called developed countries without even mentioning the Middle East countries stretch up to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Politicians have been the main cause to aggravate and to keep the divide wide open instead of taking the bull by the horns. The new wave of misguided Muslim leaders too have and are still playing their part in keeping people divided and it is always to their benefit, not the people at large.

It is my observation that Malays have nothing to fear from the non-Malays simply because power (almost absolute) is in their hands...The King, the sultans, the judiciary, the parliament, the PM, the DPM, the majority of ministers and representatives in Parliament, State Assemblies and town councils, the majority work force in the civil service, military, police, heads of many commercial organizations up to the distict officers and ketua kampongs are all one can ask " Apa Melayu mahu lagi" or "What else do the Malays want?"  It is a well-known fact that almost nothing can be done in this country without Malay approval right - why even in economics ?  

On the other hand, non-Malays still live quite comfortably in this country. They are free to pray to anything or any deity, trade successfully, eat whatever is desired, drink alcohol, live out of wedlock and even choose the medium of instruction till Std. 6 (for Chinese up to secondary level), gamble (Magnum, Toto, Damacai, Genting casino etc) , run massage parlors and so on - all of which Malays cannot engage one can also ask in return " What else do the non-Malays want?".

So all this " What else Malays / non-Malays want" nonsense is counter productive to the country and national unity.........we should not allow ourselves to fall into the hands of politicians who survive in this country by harping on such things.  

Live and let live in this land of plenty I say ........ it still invites millions of foreigners to come here even by risking their lives and arrest .....Think my fellow Malaysians, think.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


My music has been a continual change since I first started playing on stage in 1960.  During this time I have played all sorts of music - country, Malaysian folk, cabaret /dance, jazz, rock, dangdut and what not.

Listen to this recording of my music in 1965 here. 

Now all this was over a period of about 35 years between 1960 and 1995 when I more or less gave up active on-stage performances and went strictly into managing entertainment events. Now that I am 70 I wanted to leave an impression of what sort of music I played last compared to, say, the Malay  pop music of the 60's which I had recorded commercially and for which I am mostly remembered.

By 1993 I was already playing the keyboards and piano solo ( a one man band concept - no midi files though) and performing with some good singers like Azizah Basri for gigs.  Here is what we sounded like here.

In 2002 I was invited to put a jazz band together for a 60 min program for Astro on "JAZ"....and I manged to get a good band together and performed for the last time as a big band

So listen to this singles album that we completed in January 2015 with the help of my music industry friends....all are top-notch musicians who have helped add a little class to my music.  Listen to it here

"The Prophets of Doom" (POD) in Malaysia

Since the late 1960's I have met many PODs. It also coincides with the emergence of DAP as a political party to replace PAP when S'pore was asked to leave Malaysia. Many PODs still walk among us or have left the country for "greener" pastures. These PODs may not be happy about the politics and/or politicians and resultantly tend to condemn everything in sight. Get real I say.

But the higher the prophecies of impending doom predicted, the higher becomes our standard of living besides the higher influx of legal and illegal immigrants into our country from Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, India and Bangladesh.....besides even China. How come ah ??

Look around and see how we Malaysians are peacefully celebrating our various festivals after year. We are smack in the middle of one right now. We have more to eat than ever before and in greater variety. We drive better cars and live in better homes with better comforts from showers to waste disposal systems.

All our schools are much better in infrastructure with increasing enrollment to bear. The ports are busy as are our airports. The police and all other essential services are doing their work well. The malls, if they can also be considered indicators of the economics in the country, and other places of retreat and entertainment seem to be always full. More people are travelling overseas than before....just go and sit quietly at KLIA and KLIA 2 and see what is going on there. We have a better as well as choice of medical care ............ in short, the country is fine but some people are not.

Yes, Malaysian politics suck but there is no need to condemn the whole country which is a blessed country with such varieties of people, food, culture, religions etc..

Yes we do have problems and the main one, in case you do not know, is the "Malaysian Malaysia" first shouted out by PAP in the early 60's. This problem is yet to be resolved....otherwise we are fine. So get out and enjoy Malaysia.

BTW all govt. servants and pensioners (like me too) sudah dapat gaji awal....I believe no other country in the world does this.

The Chicken Chop - A Malaysian-Western dish ??

Is the chicken chop a local Malaysian creation: I’m not able to provide a history of how it came about, but it may have something to do with the Hainanese in Malaysia. No one outside of Malaysia or Singapore seems to know what the heck a chicken chop is. It is not even to be found on Wikipedia. Pork or lamb chops yes but chicken chop? Only in Malaysia. 


My first chicken chop experience was definitely in the 1950's at The Tanjung Club in Muar. Later on in the 60's I have eaten this superb dish at rest houses, railway restaurants, army messes and some Chinese restaurants.
Today there are at least three varieties . One is the dry type which is quite rare. The other two types come with some thick gravy. The gravies are of two types. One is mainly tomato ketchup and reddish in color. The one that I would plainly say is the more "original " Hainanese Chicken has hints of taste from the HP sauce and Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire sauce. The chicken chop as I remember it from the rest houses and army camps of colonial days had this sort of brownish gravy. The one that is more easily found these days is the tomato ketchup variety.
Whatever it is, there are two halal places that I know of in Seremban that serve that "original" variety      with the brownish sauce  ( see picture) .....The Royal Sg. Ujung Club and Jayamas Resaturant.