Saturday, May 26, 2007

Of Tony Pua, Khairy and the civil service

I have been following the going-ons between Khairy Jamaluddin and Tony Pua over the latter's remarks alleging that the civil service has been “a dumping ground for the politically sensitive constituency of unemployed Malay graduates.”

Khairy said Pua’s comments, which implied that civil servants were the employees of last choice and unable to seek gainful employment elsewhere, were totally unacceptable and without basis.

I, for one, would personally say that both Khairy and Tony stand to be corrected in this issue. For the graduate of Oxford's Keble College, of which Tony is I would question where he had obtained the basis of such a claim, while for that academic offspring of Oxford's St Hughes I would say that an over-reaction should not have been in order as earlier deemed.

From observations and interactions on the ground with the group at the bone of contention, I have long found that most of them opted for careers in the civil service on the long-held assumption (myth) that the government is the best employer -- offering job security and prestige. Assuming that a majority of the graduates hailed from the Malay heartland and kampungs, it would come as no surprise if this belief was deeply entrenched in their minds.

Besides working the land or, in some cases, were themselves civil servants, the parents of these graduates were mostly ensconced within the confines of a civil service mindset. Even if their mainstay is to toil the land or harvest the seas, they cannot avoid facing up to the kerani, penghulu or Pegawai Daerah in the course of their lives. Being made to wait patiently along the corridors of powers that was the Pejabat Daerah & Tanah, they have long succumbed to this notion.

They saw the regimented lifestyle of the pegawai kerajaan as the ideal role model for their beloved sons and daughters.

And, as for the graduates themselves, the stint at the universities or colleges have caused them to absorb diverse thinking – from the “fundamentalist” to the right of the right wing. Yes, they may even have been rebellious in their quiet ways at campus but, still, deep within their mindset, the ideals of bagging a career with the civil service lurks.

Coming from an often-struggling rural family, I must say that these graduates are actually under the notion that they are acting sensibly. They look at their family’s station in life and would wish to ensure a certain continuum of security with the gaji bulan, kerja tetap and pencen that the civil service offers. They just do not wish to risk the future of their dependents otherwise.

Yes, I would agree that many might have difficulties in landing a job with top-notch private companies due to several factors that may range from an opposite mindset entrenched in the persons of the companies concerned or a culture that starkly differs from their much-polarised life at campus.

At the end of the day, what they aspire and wish for is to be with the civil service – not because of lack of ability to do otherwise or being the beneficiary of what Tony Pua alleged as the government’s aim to appease the politically sensitive constituency of unemployed Malay graduates, but to avoid taking unnecessary chances.

Henceforth, from such observations I would say both Khairy and Tony should wise up to the facts, too. Perhaps, they may want to do more homework before imparting their opinions?

Friday, May 25, 2007

May 13 "conspiracy" : hey! you invented it first!

So, James Wong in his blog (read his posting here) is of the impression that those who have not read the latest "interpretation" of the May 13 episode have a common train of thought. Of course, he would not hesitate to draw the focus to another "inventor" -- Hj Subky Latiff, no less. How convenient.

Regardless of who invented or who interpreted the incident and its causes, Malaysians cannot run away from the fact that it is something that ought to be given a rest. What is this new interpretation exercise for? From what I see it is just another political ploy of a near bankrupt alliance of opposition to stir up emotions. And based on some foreign intelligence sources at that, too!

No, I do not think that the book should be banned. Let it be freely available but just haul up the writer if he had transgressed upon the sacred area of racial sensitivities in Malaysia. The hell with following the right to freedom of expression as it is always to the advantage of the person who advocates it.

There are laws to look into these matters as much as one may just spend time in jail for uttering seemingly harmless remarks such as “I can hijack” this plane or “I have a bomb” to bring on board as a joke.
Yes, I wholly agree with Wong Sai Wan’s observations in “Learning to laugh again” – The Star, May 25). Perhaps, going by what he wrote we may have, indeed, lost our sense of humour, but for a good reason, too.

Over the years, from such a laid-back society where we did not take so many things said too seriously, we have become one that is too sensitive at a drop of a feather. As far as I can remember, without having to refer to some foreign intelligence sources, such sensitive personality of Malaysians came to be wrought from the ashes of that fateful day in 1969.

Hence, if we truly believe that it is so hurting to all parties concerned, the publication of Kua’s book notwithstanding, why bother to dwell on it? Is it just a matter of racial pride to gloat over the success at pushing some people to apologise?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Apa yang mereka mahu sebenar?

Oleh : A Voice

Perkara yang menjadi saya amat terkilan sekali dengan penerbitan Buku “May 13” adalah lakaran racis dan bolot yang melulu dan stereotaip terhadap usaha pemimpin lepas untuk membetulkan legasi yang telah dibawa oleh British.

Sikap “Xenophobic Ethno-centric”

Kalau dikaji sejarah negara ini, persoalan dan perjuangan penulis buku ini, Dr Kua Kia Soong terhadap kedudukkan keistimewaan Melayu, bahasa Melayu, agama Islam, dan lain-lain hak-hak legal dan warisan sejarah orang Melayu bukan perkara baru. Slogan politik “Malaysian Malaysia” bukan slogan baru tapi berakar umbi pada slogan cetusan Tan Cheng Lok “Malaya for Malayan” pada 1930an, di kemuncak polisi immigrasi tanpa had British.

Sekolah Cina yang diperjuangkan dengan gigih oleh Dr Kua Kia Soong, penulis buku ini pun asalnya sekolah sukatan pelajaran negeri Cina yang dibenarkan oleh British untuk memenuhi keperluan pelajaran anak-anak immigren untuk pulang kembali. Mengapa sudah jadi rakyat pun mahukan legasi pelajaran immigren?

Adakah tujuan kononnya perjuangan kemanusiaan sejagat SUARAM membawa kepada pembangunan negara (nation building)? Biar saya katakan rekod beliau menunjukkan sebagai seorang “xenophobic ethnocentric”.

Sifu saya seorang sosiologis baru menghantar komen SMSnya, "Same thesis as his earlier book. Strait jacket mechanical application of Marxism."

Yang Bangkit dan Yang Apathy

Ingin saya seterusnya memetik rencana tulisan Dr Nordin Kardi, bekas Pengarah Biro Tatanegara dan kini Naib Canselor Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) dari Utusan Malaysia yang diterbit dalam lingkungan tarikh Mei 13hb, 2007 baru-baru ini. Rencana bertajuk “Fahami pemberian orang Melayu” ini saya “potong dan tampal” dari rakan blog rakan karib saya, Biggum Digmannsteinburg.

Menurut Dr Nordin, “kebelakangan ini pelbagai pihak semakin kerap membangkitkan isu kaum di Malaysia”. Katanya, beliau sering mendapat kata-kata “sinis menyebut kata-kata ‘inilah demokrasi acuan Malaysia’. Kata-kata yang merujuk bahawa demokrasi Malaysia ialah demokrasi mengikut tafsiran nafsu Melayu.”

Satu perkara yang menyedihkan mutakhir ini yang saya lihat amat ketara dalam kepimpinan UMNO yang ada adalah sikap takut-takut pemimpin Melayu yang ada, Perkara ini ketara sekali dikalangan pemimpin Melayu dalam Parti Keadilan Rakyat. Saya memetik tulisan Dr Nordin berikut:

"Pemimpin-pemimpin Melayu terutamanya sangat defensif dalam menguruskan masalah kepentingan kaum ini. Kadangkala di Parlimen, ahli-ahli Yang Berhormat Melayu di pihak kerajaan seperti begitu ofensif dalam serangan balas mereka atas tuduhan perkauman. Namun, nyata tindakan ofensif itu pun hanya merupakan sebahagian daripada strategi defensif.

Seperti ada rasa bersalah di kalangan pemimpin Melayu setiap kali bercakap mengenai kepentingan etnik sehingga ruang rundingan kepentingan Melayu terutamanya tidak begitu terbuka, sebaliknya perlu ‘diseludup’ dengan cara lain. Pemberian terhadap orang Melayu secara terbuka ditakuti akan dilihat sebagai tindakan diskriminatif."

Permasaalahan kaum yang berlaku pada 13 Mei 1969 berakar umbi dari amalan “pecah dan perintah” British yang menyebabkan rakyat berbilang kaum dipisahkan antara satu sama lain melalui bahasa, pekerjaan, ekonomi, penempatan, dan lain-lain cara. Dari situ timbul jurang perbezaan dan syak wasangka yang amat mendalam antara satu kaum dengan satu kaum yang lain.

Tun Razak Selayang Pandang

Berbalik kepada perkara pembangunan negara, saya bersyukur dapat diperingatkan jasa arwah Tun Abdul Razak oleh Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh bin Hamzah pada Mac 30hb, 2007 baru-baru dalam ucapannya bertajuk “Pemikiran dan Visi Tun Abdul Razak dalam pembinaan negara-bangsa Malaysia merentas sempadan etnik” di Universiti Malaya. Langkah-langkah strategik Tun Abdul Razak begitu berkesan dalam usaha “nation building” dalam aspek pendidikkan, ekonomi dan sosial .

Tun Abdul Razak telah mengenalkan juga satu pembaharuan politik menerusi pembentukkan politik “berideologi” mesyuarah dan kesepakatan antara kaum yang diamalkan Barisan Nasional. Sehingga hari ini, belum kedapatan lagi formula mesyuarah dan kesepakatan kaum dikalangan parti-parti pembangkang, melainkan khusus untuk menghadapai pilihanraya. Kini kata Dr Nordin:

"Frasa popular yang dilemparkan kepada kerajaan semasa ialah bahawa kerajaan perkauman kerana dibentuk oleh gabungan parti utama yang berasaskan kaum – UMNO, MCA dan MIC. MCA dan MIC selalu dimomok sebagai parti bukan Melayu yang tunduk dan menjadi alat kepada UMNO untuk menegakkan kepentingan Melayu."

Ungkapan Clinton, It's the Economy, Stupid!

Kecaman terhadap orang Melayu sudah begitu lantang hinggakan pelbagai tomohan telah ditimbulkan, tulis Dr Nordin:

"Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB) yang diasaskan selepas Peristiwa 13 Mei, yang menekankan sasaran penyertaan Melayu sebanyak 30 peratus dalam semua sektor untuk tempoh 20 tahun (1970-1990) adalah ibu kepada segala dasar ‘jahat’ perkauman UMNO.

Orang bukan Melayu dilihat sebagai telah berkorban selama 20 tahun untuk membiarkan orang Melayu merebut segala peluang ekonomi, pelajaran, sosial dan sebagainya. Oleh yang demikian sebarang usaha melanjutkan sasaran itu selepas 1990 adalah suatu usaha diskriminasi yang menzalimi kepentingan kaum lain.

Pemimpin UMNO selalu mempertahankan keputusan-keputusan berkaitan kaum dengan mengulang-ulang cerita kontrak sosial yang telah lama. Ini berterusan sehingga mata masyarakat Malaysia, lebih-lebih lagi mata asing (mungkin dengan minat tertentu), melihat seolah-olah benar kaum Melayu terus menerus mendapat laba selepas kontrak itu, sementara kaum lain sentiasa memberi.

Orang Melayu sudah tidak memberi lagi selepas 1957! Orang Melayu menerima subsidi, orang Melayu membolot kuasa, orang Melayu kaum penerima!"

Orang Melayu juga di persoalkan:

"Bilakah orang Melayu memberi? Besar sangatkah pemberian orang Melayu itu kepada kaum lain sehingga kaum lain terpaksa membayarnya kembali tanpa kesudahan? Tambahan pula kontrak itu bukan dibuat oleh generasi pelbagai kaum sekarang. Dia buatan orang dahulu, mengapa orang sekarang harus terus membayarnya? Benarkah?"

Ikatan Janji Sudah Dinobat, Sama Bersepakat

Mungkin mereka sudah lupa, Dr Nordin memperingati hadiah paling berharga sekali:

"Memang pada tahun 1955, dua tahun sebelum merdeka, orang Melayu telah menghadiahkan sesuatu yang sangat berharga kepada kaum lain. Biasanya, orang akan cepat menyebut bahawa hadiah besar kepada kaum lain itu ialah kerakyatan."

Satu rangkap biasa dalam pantun Melayu ada menyebut “orang memberi kita merasa.”

Dengan pemberian kerakyatan dan perjanjian yang sudah dinobatkan dalam Perlembagaan, sebagai rakyat mereka bebas untuk mengumpul dan memiliki harta & tanah, mengamalkan bahasa, kebudayaan, dan ugama mereka, dan mereka berhak memilih wakil ke Parlimen.

Namun, ada yang tidak bersyukur dan sengaja berdalih:

"Itu pun kata mereka kerana pembesar Melayu dipaksa oleh Inggeris. Tidak ada pilihan. Namun demikian, saya lebih cenderung mengatakan hadiah besar itu bukan kerakyatan sebaliknya hadiah selepas kerakyatan itu diperoleh. Jangan lupa, hal ini tidak semestinya terjadi jika keputusan sedemikian tidak dibuat orang Melayu."

Mudah mereka terlupa atau sengaja lupa? Atau mereka tidak faham?

"Apakah perkaranya? Perkaranya ialah kerusi pilihan raya. Pada tahun 1955 itu diadakan pilihan raya dan orang bukan Melayu hanya mempunyai majoriti di dua konstituen. Namun demikian Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman telah memutuskan supaya orang bukan Melayu diberikan 17 kerusi. Lima belas untuk MCA dan dua untuk MIC.

Segolongan pemimpin UMNO meninggalkan UMNO kerana hadiah yang terlalu mewah ini. Namun, rupanya orang Melayu.

Kebanyakan pun bersedia merestui pemberian hadiah ini. Keputusan pilihan raya itu menunjukkan orang Melayu memangkah untuk berwakilkan bukan Melayu di kesemua tujuh belas konstituen itu. Maksudnya, keputusan itu bukan lagi keputusan Tunku berseorangan. Orang Melayu berani meletakkan kepercayaan dengan berwakilkan bukan Melayu untuk memperjuangkan kepentingan mereka."

Masih Berdalih

"Itu dahulu. Sekarang bagaimana? Demikian lanjutan perbualan ahli politik generasi muda. Jawapannya tetap serupa. Semenjak pilihan raya 1955 itu UMNO secara berterusan memberikan konstituen majoriti Melayu kepada bukan Melayu. Jika tidak demikian semangatnya, MIC boleh dikatakan tidak akan diberikan satu kerusi pun.

Cuba perhatikan hadiah UMNO kepada orang calon bukan Melayu dalam pilihan raya terbaru iaitu tahun 2004. Ong Ka Ting, Presiden MCA menang di P165 Parlimen Tanjung Piai, Johor yang pengundi Cina hanyalah 40.14 peratus berbanding dengan pengundi Melayu 53.02 peratus. Kawasan itu boleh diyakini sebagai kawasan selamat menang kepada Ong.

Naib Presiden MCA, Ong Tee Kiat menang di P100 yang pengundi Cina hanyalah 42.56 peratus berbanding pengundi Melayu 51.42 peratus. Demikian juga dengan pemimpin MCA yang lain bergantung kepada undi Melayu seperti Chor Chee Heung di Alor Star (58.43 peratus), Lim Bee Kau, di Padang Serai (52.51), Tan Kian Hoe di Bukit Gantang (62.95), Yew Teong Lock di Wangsa Maju (52.67), Wee Ka Siong (55.26), Kerk Choo Ting di Simpang Renggam (54.29) dan Ling Ban Sang di Tebrau (51.09).

MIC pula mendapat konstituen yang majoriti pengundinya adalah Melayu di Hulu Selangor untuk Palanivel (50.50 peratus Melayu berbanding pengundi India hanya 19.04 peratus) dan Vigneswaran (50.05 peratus Melayu berbanding pengundi India hanya 27.30 peratus."

Tak Bolehkah Kerja dan Makan Sama-Sama

Perkara yang amat kuat dipersoalkan sehingga tuduhan konspirasi coup d’etat disebalik persitiwa 13 hb Mei adalah ekonomi. Kata klise, hidup dan mati orang Tionghua hanya memikirkan dan mengejar duit dan harta. Adakah mereka berhasrat dengan kiasu untuk membolot tanpa kekangan? Mungkin tidak terancang begitu.

Siapa tak tahu bahawa mereka memang boleh bersaing? Mereka mahu amat memperjuangkan ekonomi laisse fairre atau ekonomi bebas. Bagi mereka yang sudah maju kehadapan, bermodal dan rangkaian tertutup (exclusive networking) yang tidak lut, tahap competitive advantage mereka sudah teramat jauh di hadapan.

Padang permainan ekonomi bukan bagaikan liga bola Inggeris yang membahagaikan mengikut Premier League, Divisyen Satu, Dua dan seterusnya. Orang Melayu memang sudah menunjukkan peningkatan, tapi permainan catch-up tidak boleh menyaingi kadar pertumbuhan mereka.

Itu pun Dato Nordin menulis:

"Dalam konteks ekonomi pula adakah benar orang Melayu sahaja yang menerima sedangkan kaum lain sentiasa memberi? Orang berniaga atau orang yang mempelajari pengajian perniagaan akan faham bahawa dalam sesebuah ekonomi setiap ahli masyarakat menyumbang kepada pertumbuhan.

Tentulah tidak munasabah mengatakan Melayu hanya sebagai penerima sedangkan mereka setiap hari berurus niaga dan berperanan sebagai pengguna yang berbelanja.

Baik DEB mahupun Dasar Pembangunan Negara (DPN) memang ada memperuntukkan bajet negara atas nama Melayu. Contohnya Felda. Majoriti penerokanya ialah Melayu.

Namun demikian, jika katakan kawasan Felda itu adalah getah, peneroka akan menunggu tujuh tahun baharu getahnya boleh ditoreh untuk mengeluarkan hasil.

Sedangkan, kontraktor pembina jalan, kontraktor pembuat rumah peneroka, kontraktor memasang paip, kontraktor elektrik, kontraktor membina kompleks dewan, sekolah dan sebagainya yang menelan jutaan ringgit (berbanding beberapa ringgit yang bakal diperoleh oleh peneroka tujuh tahun kemudian!) yang umumnya melibatkan golongan bukan Melayu serta-merta menyejat peruntukan jutaan ringgit itu.

Inilah yang dikatakan oleh Tun Razak dahulu bahawa DEB yang memperuntukkan 30 peratus kepentingan Melayu dalam semua sektor dalam tempoh 20 tahun untuk dicapai bukan bererti merampas daripada bukan Melayu kepada Melayu, sebaliknya ia dilaksanakan dengan memperbesarkan kek ekonomi.

Walaupun sesuatu projek itu diluluskan atas tajuk Melayu namun nikmatnya tidak semestinya dirasai oleh Melayu sahaja."

Mungkin baik kita fikir bersama perkara ini.

Tiadakah Cara Lain?

Diakhir ucapan Tengku Razaleigh, beliau telah mengemukakan cabaran: “Apakah kita mempunyai apa-apa pilihan atau “model” lain yang dapat menggantikan wawasan Razak itu sebagai formula yang terbaik untuk memajukan negara ini atas LANDASAN PERPADUAN NASIONAL YANG SEBENAR?

Maka pengakhir kata Dr Nordin pula boleh saya anggap sebagai persoalan mengenai LANDASAN PERUNDINGAN YANG SEBENAR.

"Saya teringat kata Profesor Bazerman, pakar strategi perundingan Harvard yang menyebut jika ada dua pihak sedang berunding yang kesudahan rundingan itu satu pihak mendapat lapan dan satu pihak lagi mendapat 10 tetap lebih baik meneruskan rundingan berbanding jika setiap pihak mendapat masing-masing tujuh jika menamatkan rundingan.

Dari sudut politik, sehingga semenjak 1955 sehingga pilihan raya 2004 orang Melayu masih setia memberi apa yang mereka biasa beri. Ini akademik. Mungkinkah Profesor Bazerman pernah secara diam-diam belajar dari Malaysia?"

Tidak mudah untuk menahan seseorang untuk memikir dan memberi keutamaan kepada kepentingan diri sendiri, keluarga, masyarakat setempatnya, kaumnya dan pelbagai lain entiti. Yang penting, jangan kita tidak ambil endah fikiran kepentingan orang lain.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Apa agenda Dr Kua menerbitkan buku Mei 13 versinya?

Saya ingin berkongsi posting yang terdapat dalam blog Publius Melayu:

Hari ini saya menaip posting blog ini dengan hanya menggunakan tangan kiri. Tangan kanan tidak dapat digunakan mungkin disebabkan apa yang dipanggil Computer-related injury (CRI). Mengadap computer tidak kurang daripada 12 jam setiap hari mentelaah blog-blog sosio-politik dan ekonomi mengenai Malaysia telah mencabar ketahanan fizikal tubuh yang sudah separuh abad ini. Bagaimanapun, apabila terbaca banyak posting dengkil yang cuba menegakkan "benang basah" berhubung kesahihan kandungan buku Dr Kua Kia Soong (Kiasu?), saya rasa terpanggil untuk membantu secara pasifis sentimen perkauman yang dicaturkan beliau.

Nampaknya agak ramai blogger dan pengunjung memberikan komen melulu menyokong karya Dr Kua yang diasaskan kepada apa dikatakan sebagai dokumen berhubung May 13 yang telah dideklasifikasikan oleh pihak intelligence British. Dalam pada itu terdapat ramai juga blogger Melayu yang bangun mengajukan posting menentang pendirian penulis itu.

Saya rasa agak terharu apabila mendapati di persekitaran belantara blog frontier ini ada juga mereka yang sejak sekian lama lantang menyuarakan kritikan terhadap parti pemerintah dan kerajaan sudi mengenakan moratorium demi mempertahankan kedaulatan perlembagaan yang begitu jelas menggariskan hak orang Melayu dan sebagainya. Ia mengingatkan saya kepada ungkapan Inggeris "Adversity brings us together".

Apakah agaknya tujuan Dr Kua menerbitkan karya sebegitu rupa? Apakah agendanya? Dari mata kasar kita hanya dapat melihat bibit-bibit menghasut, sementara jika diteliti secara mendalam dan memikirkannya kita tidak dapat lari daripada hakikat bahawa ia masih bersifat "jahat".

Biarlah apa yang berlaku pada hari ke 13, 1969 itu menjadi pengajaran. Tak payah kita menggunakannya sebagai alasan dan publisiti murah untuk memperjuangkan agenda buruk yang tersirat. Hakikat ini perlu disedari oleh ramai atau kesemua yang dikatakan tergolong sebagai "thinking bloggers" kerana sejak isu buku Dr Kua timbul tidak ramai mereka yang ingin melihatnya daripada perspektif Melayu , agama dan toleransi masyarakat pelbagai kaum di Malaysia. Pada mereka pemikiran terbuka tanpa sempadan mencerminkan intelektualisme dan status diri sebagai orang terpelajar dan bertamaddun.

Bukunya betul dan versi yang diterbitkan kerajaan pada 1969 tidak benar. Itulah yang ingin disuarakan oleh Dr. Kua. Bagaimanapun, jika dilihat dari segi rasa tanggung-jawab, versi kerajaan adalah versi mantap. Walaupun ditapis (demi memelihara ketenteraman awam) ia jelas menjurus kepada kebenaran.

Apakah salah bertindak secara bertanggung-jawab seperti yang dilakukan kerajaan dalam tindakan menerbitkan versi 1969 itu? Apakah demi ketelusan, demokrasi dan hak asasi segala-galanya perlu diluahkan? Apakah akhirnya?

Saya sendiri masih ingat detik-detik yang berlalu sepanjang tiga hari pada 1969 itu. Saya melihat betapa rakus dan biadabnya sesetengah penyokong parti politik ketika itu...

Hari ini ramai "mainstream" blogger jelas lebih cenderung berdiam diri di antara selitan mencari kecacatan dan kepincangan dalam pentadbiran negara sendiri yang dikira boleh diselesaikan secara lebih berakal.

Seperti Dr Mahathir pernah berkata kita hanya pandai "menembak kaki sendiri". Memang mendalam dan bermakna sindiran beliau itu. Tidak lupa juga pesanan beliau bahawa "Melayu mudah lupa".

Kita sering ghairah mencari kepincangan dalam bangsa sendiri. Menyuarakannya secara terbuka kononnya demi prinsip demokrasi tulen yang diteguhkan lunas-lunas hak asasi tanpa menyedari realitinya pada bangsa dan agama walaupun kesemua ini jelas dibutirkan dalam perlembagaan.

Di sinilah letaknya kelemahan kita untuk terus bangun sebagai bangsa. Kita tidak bersifat aggresif dan konsisten dalam mengusahakan sesuatu. Minda kita begitu mudah dipengaruhi buah-buah fikiran yang diajukan oleh puak yang mendabik dada kononnya lebih intektual walhal apa yang kita boleh rumuskan tidak memerlurkan pemikiran Einstein dan sebagainya.

Cukuplah saya membebel luahan hati dengan tangan sebelah kali ini. Kita lihat saja ke mana arah yang akan dibawa pengaruh "kebenaran" seperti didakwa Dr Kua sebagai terkandung dalam bukunya itu.

Monday, May 21, 2007

When pushed too far: The Siege of Bukit Kepong

Kampong Bukit Kepong Police Station, lay at the south-west apex of a big bend in the Muar river at around the 65km mark and upstream from its mouth on the west coast of the Johor. The village itself was small and isolated - consisting of about twenty shops and groups of accompanying houses - and by early 1950 the area had became a hive of CT activity.



From the month of January onwards, there had been a noticeable increase in the tempo of contacts & incidents - both road and river ambushes amongst other - but the most disconcerting of all, was the discovery of blazed trail markings showing the way towards the town. The nearest township of note to Bukit Kepong was Lenga, about 10km to the south along a rough enemy controlled dirt road in a vehicle or a 2 ½ hour foot patrol, but apart from this, it was just a few other like kampongs scattered about.

The station was commanded by OCPS Sgt Ray Dancey - an old Palestine hand and away at the time and a point not missed by the CT - and manned by a mixed platoon of 15 Malay Regular and Marine Police Constables under the stocky and redoubtable Sgt Jamil Mohd Shah.

At the time this force was complimented by three Special Constables (SC) and four local Auxiliary Police (AP) as needed by the post to assist with the guarding and other duty. A force of 22 all told. Thirteen police wives and children were also lodged in the married quarters at the rear of the compound.

Communications in and out of Bukit Kepong were poor - hence the marine police attachments and the station’s launch service down to Muar - and signals to and from its nearest neighbour Kampong Java at about a kilometre away, as with kampongs Gek & Tui further on, was by the use of gongs. Even the outpost’s name was ominously translated as 'Siege Hill’- but this was historically believed to have originated from it’s 186m namesake 5km to the east.



Now in the early morning darkness of the 23rd of February 1950, the 200 strong 4th Independent Company under the joint leadership of one of the few Malay Communist Terrorists within the MRLA called Muhammad Indera AKA Mat Indra from Muar (the main leader was believed the tactical mastermind & Commissar, Goh Peng Tun), well armed with a full compliment of infantry weapons, began its move in towards the Bukit Kepong compound (for layout see map).

The Communist Terrorist's aim was to teach the police post a comprehensive lesson and to use it as an example to others, and Mat Indra - who wore a talisman around his neck, which was believed bulletproof by some - was contemplating a quick and easy straight forward job.

The following is a reconstruction of the phases of battle which followed:



Lay out Map of BK Station under siege by CT


0400hrs - after some difficulty in the darkness, the Communist Terrorists deploys to complete the encirclement of Bukit Kepong. The group is accompanied by some of the wives and children and these are to act as medical staff and to carry away the Communist Terrorists casualties (mainly in gunny sacks provided). Half the force is deployed to the front and main parts of the compound (Group 1), with the other half in Pl group lots (Groups 2 & 3), deployed to the other three sides.

At this point, there is only L/Cpl Jidin bin Omar and SC Abdul Kadir Jusoh within the Charge Room, and two APs in Samad Yatin & Osman Yahya on guard in the compound backed by SC Jaffar Hassan with a Stengun. There is also every indication, that the latter had become aware of the CT’s movements,

0430hrs - SC Jaffar challenges and fires on a CT who is seen to fall and the attack on the wire begins and builds up to the accompaniment of screaming and bugle blasts and although all forward sides are attacked simultaneously, the CTs mainly concentrate on the penetration of the front of the installation and where the post’s main strong-points are housed. They had expected to totally surprise the station - but are in turn! Caught completely by surprise by the volume and intensity of the return fire. This, particularly, from the two Bren Guns embedded underneath the Charge Room - it being a raised structure on posts - but also as from within the C/R itself as well as from the back and sides of the compound. Around this juncture, AP Osman is KIA and SC Jaffar is wounded, with the wives and children of the policemen fully noted assisting their menfolk with the defence of the base,



0450hrs - the initial CT assault is beaten back after a protracted exchange but at the loss of Sgt Jamil who had been manning one of the Brens under the C/R, and who is now seen slumped lifeless over one of the weapons. There were trapdoors in use for access down to the Bren guns. Command is now assumed by the junior NCOs like the youthful and diminutive Cpl Mohd Yassin and the much larger L/Cpl Jidin bin Omar (later fatally WIA)and combined casualties for both sides at this time, are placed at a dozen plus. The police wives and children left sheltering in the flimsy walled and also elevated married quarter building behind, make up a good portion of this. Also as such, at around this period. Four of the wives and five children manage to make their escape out of the compound,

0500hrs - Auxiliary Police and small groups of citizen volunteers are mobilised around Kampong Java under the headman Penghulu Ali bin Mustaffa, and these react to the attack by going to Bukit Kepong's aid. They’re expected by the CT rearguard, however, and in turn ambushed and held engaged in skirmishes and suffering casualties. About this time the defenders main firepower in the two Bren guns back at the station, are knocked out,

0530hrs - the CTs continue a number of assaults on the wire and lighting and which provides them with a small breach at the front side and with which they attempts an envelopment of the C/R but are still held and beaten back from within and from the interlocking fire from the married quarters. Some of the weapons are at this point wielded by the wives remaining.

Mat Indra is reported frantic at the lack of progress after an hour and wary of the approaching daylight, calls for an all out bayonet charge at 0600. Both the compound and CT casualties had mounted and are being treated in situ by the wives and children as before. The CT casualties had been retrieved under fire, and it was noted how the police would not fire at the women and children so involved.

0600hrs - visibility is now better and the CTs hit the wire again in a frantic mass as ordered, but are again surprisingly beaten back with the exception of some further gains at the SW rear and left hand side by the married quarters. Mat Indra now calls for a pause to reconsider his options. During this period and as it had been throughout the engagement, loud hailers and personal voice addresses had been used on the defenders in an attempt to get them to surrender. But to no avail - in spite of the fact that they had suffered badly - and just as the many alternate offers of ‘safe conduct’ out of the area had been treated with defiance and derision,

0700hrs - the frontal targets are now isolated by the CTs and all efforts concentrated in the vicinity of the previous gains around the rear and SW side and this providing them with an instant result. One of the police wives captured in this thrust, Mariam Ibrahim the wife of Constable Mohamad Jaafar, told her captors that only an other woman and her young child were left alive in the married quarters. The CTs force Mariam to appeal to the men to surrender but this is duly ignored. About this time, Fatimah Yaaba and her son Hassan are also taken, also asked to appeal to the men, and on refusal Fatimah is executed. Her husband Constable Abu Bakar Daud the base’s MP launch driver down at his duty station on the Muar river - perhaps aware of the personal tragedy which had just taken place - elects to fight to the death in a skirmish with the CT sent to capture and sink his launch. In the final outcome he is shot through the chest & arm.

There are indicators that some others were either sent or also went to assist him with getting away for help. But this group is also assumed engaged by the CTs. And although its also believed that the MP Constable could have saved himself if he chose by starting his motors and casting off, he never ever did.

At this point, the CTs consolidate their hold on the rear of the complex through the torching of both the launch (which sank) and the married quarters - with the reported wife Saadiah and daughter Simah still alive inside and refusing to come out - and throwing the executed woman’s body into the flames as well. Also about this time, the villagers of Durian Chondong a riverine kampong to the west, dispatched a boat down to Lenga to inform the police of the attack,

0800hrs - full daylight and with the rear of the compound ablaze, the CTs execute a determined grenade ‘pincer’ attack against the C/R and are finally successful. Setting it ablaze as well. Then picking off both male and female survivors attempting to get out with rifle shots - some seen with their clothing fully on fire at this point - and capturing Hassan bin Abu Bakar the young son of badly wounded MP Constable Abu Bakar in the process.

Hassan was caught in the vicinity of the silenced Bren guns, with some believing that he was the last person seen standing or perhaps even attempting to fire, one of the weapon at this duty station. Perhaps he was just too shocked to leave his comatose father nearby or his dead mother Fatimah’s burnt body. But either way! The brave lad was thrown live into the raging flames of the C/R along with all the dead and wounded police defenders including Sgt Jamil. Also about this time, news of the attack is relayed to Police District HQ at Pagoh, and a relief force of Jungle Squad and Seaforth Highlanders is prepared for a forced march to Bukit Kepong,

0930hrs - Mat Indra finally declares the objective taken - five hours after the commencement of what had been considered a simple action - and stating that they the MRLA ‘had dealt a glorious blow against the Imperialists and for the Liberation of the Oppressed People’ (some say that Mat Indra would was later be killed in an ambush)-- but it was reported that he was captured and later hanged in Taiping Prison in Perak. Also around this time, a boatful of villagers from Durian Chondong and coming to investigate and to assist, are also engaged by the CT force as they pull out,

0940hrs - a spotter aircraft also sent out to investigate, calls back to base that there is nothing but a charred ruin - ‘with no signs of life in evidence’

1030hrs - the exhausted relief force from Pagoh led by OC JJ Raj Jr, finally arives to take charge and is greeted by scenes of massive devastation. But the refurbishment of the BK station area, at times a slow refurbishment, does now begin,

12 Regular Police, two Special Constables, all of the four Auxiliary Police and four dependants, a total of 22, fought to the death at the Battle of Bukit Kepong. AP Constable Ali Akop bin Ahmad, who had earlier been cited for a Colonial Police Medal for Gallantry for a previous action, and once out of rounds, was last seen charging the barbed wire with his parang as example. A further four constables were found severely wounded within the compound. Of these survivors, as apart from the women and children who had managed to slip out much earlier, only PC Yusof Rono and well in his seventies now, is still alive today. A further two APs were also killed in action and a number of locals WIA during the relief actions as mentioned.

The CTs would only ever admit to around 10 casualties, but a quadruple of this would be very much closer to the mark. From the outset, the garrison had been outnumbered ten to one yet it never slackened in its resolve to do its duty. Even after the death of Sgt Jamil, and who is credited with the setting of the tone of the resistance, no one nor at anytime, appeared to consider the numerous offers of surrender or ‘safe conduct’ held out to them by the CT.

Bukit Kepong was also the first real indicator for the MRLA, that the affable laidback Malay, might just not be the easy mark that had been estimated. And that they would clearly constitute an additional factor in their the MCP’s, over simplistic overview of Red independence and rule in Malaya.

It was also noted how quickly the humble kampong Malays, reverted to the fatalistic strength of their Muslim faith when cornered. In the final analysis, the words of an SEP who was one of the attacking force expresses it all - ‘I admired them at the time, and admire them to this very day’.

by A L (Paddy) Bacskai (National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association)

Digging-up the ghost of May 13, 1969

Many comments have been posted on the so-called new 'revelations' sourced from Britain by Dr Kua Kia Soong in the publication of his book, "May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian riots of 1969”.

Many of the comments merit deeper analysis and thoughts while some are so shallow and blinkered -- perhaps, posted based on immature observations and reactions by those who were too young when the events on that fateful day unfolded.

While saying that the book should not be banned as it will only push it underground on the internet, etc., I seriously believe that one way to dispel the allegations by the author based on some "de-classified" documents and British intelligence sources, is to come out with the Malaysian side to the story.

I believe many apolitical Malaysians not driven by raw and unbridled communal sentiments who lived through those turbulent times do not want it to be remembered anymore. It is not about blame. It is about lessons learned. For the level-headed they will consider the unsung heroes who went out of their way to shelter non-Malays at the height of the riots and vice versa, as well as the un-tiring work of all communities to patch the torn fabric of multi-racial Malaysia in the aftermath of the incident.

If we want to dig out such black marks in the past, maybe we should look further than that...we may want to look at the turbulent times during the opening up of Selangor's tin fields hundreds of years ago, among other things.

With reference to this perhaps someone would want to do some research on the incident that caused the alleged decimation of the Malay population of Selangor. This was mentioned by Tun Haniff Omar in his observations published in The Star as well as his web log: http://pointofviewtunhanifomar.blogspot.com/ .

Excerpt: "...Sir Frank Swettenham wrote that in that struggle to control the tin fields, Selangor’s Malay population was decimated and years later, when they were building Kuala Lumpur’s first rows of shops, they were unearthing numerous skeletons of victims of that war...."

Friday, May 18, 2007

"Bocor" : Dua Ahli Parlimen mohon maaf kepada semua wanita

Sehingga melarat tak pasal-pasal, isu "bocor" yang hangat dipertikaikan sejak kebelakangan ini nampaknya berakhir walaupun dikira mungkin masih ada pihak yang tidak berpuas hati.

Siang tadi Ahli Kinabatangan Bung Mokhtar Radin dan Ahli Parlimen Jasin Dato' Mohd Said Yusof memohon maaf kepada kesemua wanita.

Jika dilihat dari satu sudut yang praktikal,walaupun tidak memenuhi sepenuhnya kemahuan pihak yang terguris hati, saya kira cukuplah di situ saja. Banyak lagi isu yang memerlukan perhatian.

Bagi wanita dan perjuangan ke arah peradaban yang lebih mantap di kalangan Ahli Parlimen ketika di Dewan Rakyat, sekurang-kurangnya ia meningkat positif setakok lagi.

Bangga pemimpin Melayu dari Oxford memahami hati rakyat


Saya berasa begitu bangga dan "heartwarming" apabila mendengar Raja Nazrin menolak tawaran peruntukan pembiayaan bagi majlis perkahwinannya. Setidak-tidaknya ada juga seorang pemimpin Melayu graduan dari Oxford University betul-betul menggunakan ilmu dan asahan kematangan yang diperolehi dari universiti elite itu untuk kebaikan masyarakat.

Raja Nazrin begitu peka dengan keadaan. Dalam kegembiraan meraikan berakhirnya zaman bujang, beliau tidak lupa menjalankan ibadah sedekah dengan mengadakan jamuan bagi anak-anak yatim serta masyarakat miskin.

Tindakannya ini mengingatkan kembali sewaktu saya masih menuntut di Oxfordshire. Walaupun kampus kami agak jauh dari pusat bandar Oxford, Raja Nazrin tidak berasa payah berkunjung di hujung minggu untuk makan bersama kami di dewan makan. Selain seorang rakan yang rapat dengannya, kebanyakan kami tidak menyedari bahawa dia adalah seorang putera raja. Dia hanya memperkenalkan dirinya sebagai Nazrin dari Malaysia.

Saya mengucapkan selamat pengantin baru kepada Raja Nazrin yang bukan sekadar Raja Sehari justeru perkahwinanya, malahan memang begitu wajar status berdaulat itu mendampingi personanya.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pendirian "Sexist" Ahli Parlimen: Mohon Maaf Sajalah!

Pertama, bukannya sesuatu yang meghina untuk meminta maaf daripada kaum wanita termasuk Ahli dari Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan yang dilaporkan menjadi sasaran pengucapan kata-kata "sexist" oleh Ahli Parlimen Kinabatangan Bung Mokhtar dan Ahli Parlimen Jasin Dato' Mohd Said Yusof.

Kedua, walau apapun percubaan untuk mencari dalih namun rakaman video di Parlimen jelas menunjukkan apa yang berlaku. Kedua-duanya ketara menghalakan kata-kata tersebut kepada Fong.

Ketiga, jika Dato'Nazri Aziz berkata media sengaja menggembar-gemburkan isu tersebut, kita cuba bertanya kepada beliau: "Apakah sanggup Bung Mokhtar dan Dato' Said mengeluarkan kata-kata demikian ketika berhadapan dengan mana-mana Raja?" Sudah tentu tidak mungkin. Oleh yang demikian jelaslah apa yang diucapkan oleh kedua-dua ahli itu sesuatu yang serius.

Ini bukan isu keperluan mengikut arus parti tetapi isu tata-susila/peradaban ahli Parlimen sebagai pemimpin rakyat. Meminta maaf secara "unequivocal" tidak mungkin menghakiskan keutuhan UMNO malahan boleh memberikan kesan lebih positif.

Kualiti air paksa Jabatan Perikanan memilih hanya 3 daerah

Daripada sembilan daerah di negeri Perak, hanya tiga layak dipilih oleh Jabatan Perikanan bagi projek menternak udang galah.

Menurut Menteri Besar Mohd Tajol Rosli daerah tersebut ialah Selama, Hulu Perak dan Batang Padang. Beliau berkata pada mulanya sejumlah 185 hektar kawasan menternak udang galah di sembilan daerah dikenalpasti. Bagaimanapun, disebabkan faktor kualiti air, hanya tiga daerah berkenaan didapati layak.

Tajol berkata usaha yang sama di Manong didapati tidak menggalakkan kerana kualiti air yang tidak sesuai. Beliau berkata kerajaan sedang menyiapkan kertas kerja bagi menjadikan Perak pengeluar utama udang galah.

Tajol berkata demikian ketika merasmikan kompleks pembiakan kolam udang galah di Kampung Kerian Gunung, Sungai Jernih, Ijok baru-baru ini.

Komen Blogger: Mungkin ada perlunya Tajol mempersoalkan kenapa kualiti air di negeri Perak semakin merosot. Sekarang kesan negatif terasa pada projek pembiakan udang galah, selepas ini apa pulak?

Tajol membayangkan tidak ramai muka baru dalam UMNO Perak pilihanraya depan

Ketua Perhubungan UMNO Perak Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali membayangkan tiada banyak perubahan dalam senarai calon UMNO bagi kerusi negeri dalam pilihanraya umum akan datang.

Menurut beliau penyusunan besar telah dilakukan pada pilihanraya umum yang lepas apabila 21 daripada 34 Ahli Undangan Negeri merupakan muka baru. Tajol berkata kesemua 13 ADUN yang selebihnya masih kuat, popular dan berpengaruh.

Tajol yang juga Menteri Besar Perak menyifatkan ADUN UMNO seperti pemain bolasepak dalam ertikata mereka mungkin malas menghadiri sesi latihan tetapi kedudukan mereka payah untuk digantikan kerana mereka pemain hebat semasa di padang. Dalam pada itu, beliau berkata, ada juga yang berlatih secara tekun tetapi tidak sehebat mana semasa di padang.

Tajol Rosli diminta mengulas samada ADUN UMNO Perak yang tidak aktif akan diganti pada pilihanraya umum akan datang.Beliau berkata demikian kelmarin semasa majlis pecah tanah bagi membina kompleks pejabat baru Lembaga Air Perak di Seri iskandar, 40km dari Ipoh.

Dipetik dari The Star (edisi utara) 17 Mei 2007

Komen Blogger: Saya rasa ada baiknya Tajol mengkaji semula pendirian berhubung perkara ini dalam konteks suasana politik UMNO yang semakin mencabar kini. Baik juga beliau meneliti di akar-umbi apa sebenarnya kriteria yang layak bagi sesorang calon menjelang musim pilihanraya akan datang.

Sejak kebelakangan ini tidak kurang ramai ahli yang menyuarakan ketidakberkesanan sebahagian besar daripada ADUN sedia ada. Penilaian mereka banyak berpandukan minda analitik mendalam berhubung iklim politik kawasan yang kini banyak mempengaruhi peringkat negeri dan nasional. Dalam pada itu ada juga banyak rungutan berhubung "connected-ness" ADUN dengan perubahan pesat teknologi (terutama ICT) serta pemikiran baru dalam UMNO itu sendiri.

Three districts picked for prawn breeding

POOR river water quality has forced the Fisheries Department to identify only three of the nine districts in Perak suited for the breeding of ‘udang galah’ (freshwater prawns).

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali said the three districts picked were Hulu Perak, Selama and Batang Padang. He said the Fisheries Department had initially identified 185ha of potential freshwater prawn breeding sites in all nine districts for villagers to participate and help them increase their income.

“But since good water quality is of prime importance to ensure the harvest of high quality prawns, the activity will now be concentrated in Hulu Perak, Selama and Batang Padang,” he said when opening a freshwater prawn breeding complex in Kampung Kerian Gunung, Sungai Jernih in Ijok recently.

Tajol Rosli said villagers in Manong, Kuala Kangsar who had indulged in the activity several years ago, were not doing so good now due to deteriorating water quality.

He said the Fisheries Department was in the process of preparing a working paper to turn Perak as the main producer of freshwater prawns for the country. Tajol said by 2010, the national output of freshwater prawns was expected to be about 10,000 metric tons.

“Presently, the total area involved in the activity is 89.51ha while freshwater prawns harvested last year was 73.25 metric tons valued at about RM2mil,” he said.

Tajol Rosli also approved an allocation of RM50,000 for a prawn hatchery and processing workshop to be built in Selama following a request made earlier at the gathering by Larut MP Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar. He later released 42-day-old prawn fry into one of the ponds. They can be har- vested within a few months to be sold at RM30 per kg.

Speaking to reporters, Tajol Rosli said the activity suited rural areas where vast tracks of land, especially padi fields, remained idle.

By: Raslan Bahrom, The Star (northern edition) 17 May 2007

Kuala Kangsar all set for royal wedding

KUALA KANGSAR: About 15,000 people are expected converge to this town on Saturday to celebrate the royal wedding of Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah to Zara Salim Davidson.

Kuala Kangsar OCPD Supt Zakaria Pagan urged visitors to heed directional signages, which will be put up by the police to avoid congesting the town. Supt Zakaria said with the royal wedding reception at Istana Iskandariah in Bukit Chandan and jamuan rakyat (people’s feast) at the Arena Square here from 8.30pm onwards, traffic along several roads had to be streamlined.

“This is to enable invited guests and the public to attend both events without difficulties,” Supt Zakaria said.

In Seri Iskandar, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali said political parties in the state would hold their own charity programmes to celebrate the royal wedding.

He said on his part, he would give a lunch treat to children of an orphanage in Pengkalan Hulu. “A fireworks display, sponsored by the MCA and the Chinese community, is among the events lined up for the celebration,” he said.

Tajol Rosli said the prince had initially requested the celebrations to be on a small scale but relented after he was informed that the money would not come from the state’s coffers. Meanwhile, Bernama reports that heads of state and federal departments as well as statutory bodies in Perak, were barred from buying advertisement space in newspapers in conjunction with the wedding.

Raja Nazrin, 50, will marry Zara, a grandniece of first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, in a simple ceremony at Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar today. This will be followed by a special proclamation ceremony tomorrow in which Zara would be bestowed the official title of Raja Puan Besar of Perak.

The Mentri Besar’s press secretary Khuzaini Anuar Bek clarified that the special lunch treat for 2,500 orphans and old folks held in conjunction with the marriage would be sponsored by the Perak Barisan Nasional and not the state government.

Report by The Star, 17 May 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wajah blog-blog UMNO sekitar Lembah Lenggong



Klik disini untuk ke blog UMNO Kuala Kangsar



Klik disini untuk ke blog UMNO Lenggong

Tak perlu banyak cerita. Lihat saja kandungan blog-blog UMNO terpilih dari kawasan Lembah Lenggong. Kesemuanya kosong belaka sejak dimulakan pada awal tahun...



Klik disini untuk ke blog UMNO Grik

Wastage for unecessary ceremonies

When Pak Lah took over the reins of the country's premiership from Tun Mahathir, I was among the thousands who waited with abated breath following his promises to alleviate wastage and steer our civil service to a higher level of integrity and efficacy.

It was, indeed, heart-warming when during his early days he called for less wastage on ceremonies for ministerial functions and the like. He said it was not necessary to spend on ordering expensive corsages to pin on the shirts of VIPs (only to be thrown away soon after) and check indulgence on food spreads (how much can the VIPS eat in any day?)

Now, after three years and his seat has warmed enough, I still remember his reminders for austerity. Most of it have come to nought. Its back to the old ways of splurging on unneccessaries again.

At functions across the country daily we still see people waiting hours for a function to start while the fiscal calculator of event organisers ticked away happily. We see even more corsages being ordered to weigh-down the the already harrased VIPs eager to get it over with and hop to another re-enactment of the same scenario elsewhere.

It would be good if we can revisit such reminder from Pak Lah.

Monday, May 14, 2007

One species of modern humans

So, from a diversity of early human species who used to occupy the globe, we have reduced dramatically to just one species of modern humans alive today.

Therefore, looking back and thinking really hard, there are lots of lessons to be had from all these evolutions. Nothwithstanding, the thought may come down hard to the reality we see before us in Malaysia right now. The reality that speaks of a more complicated future and disparate polarity of needs and demands.

To me, in nutshell, it all points to a proper coming together of our minds, regardless of race, creed, religion or political affiliations. Our children, who will bear the consequences of what we have wrought for the nation, should be considered.

In spite of all the political frailties, misgivings, misdeeds and ommissions, we must put the future of the country before us. Let us not split it assunder with endless tussles and arguments of who is right and who is wrong.

Let us just concertedly come together to right the wrongs and work things out. This will give a truer meaning to the nation's 50th Merdeka come 31st August this year.

Welcome to Lenggong Valley

If you are wondering why I pick the Lenggong Valley as the focus of my blog, I suggest you continue reading this posting further.



Much has been made of the evidence from the so-called Adam and Eve genes, which support the notion that all modern humans alive today have descended from ancestors living in Africa within the past 200,000 years. A recent find of skeletons in Ethiopia, dated to 160,000 years ago, confirms the final transitions between pre-modern and anatomically modern humans in Africa. But the fine details and dates of early human explorers do not just come from advances in the study of genes and bones. Traces of a great natural disaster may allow us to pinpoint just when humans first left Africa.

The scene of the disaster is Lake Toba which today is a popular tourist spot in Sumatra. Toba is the largest lake in South-east Asia - 100km long and 31km wide - and, at 450m deep, it is one of the deepest in the world. Tourists may be unaware that Toba is also the world's largest active volcanic crater. About 74,000 years ago the volcanic eruption of Toba caused the biggest explosion of the past two million years. This "mega-bang", dwarfing the historic eruption of Krakatoa, caused a six-year "nuclear winter" and released ash in a huge plume that spread to the north-west, covering the Indian sub-continent in a blanket of ash between one and three metres deep. The Toba eruption is a valuable date mark, since the ash covered such a wide area, and can still be chemically identified today.

New genetic evidence, using genes only passed down through our mothers, suggests that the ancestors of all non-Africans left Africa, as a single group, via Aden as much as 80,000 years ago. If the date is correct, their descendants could have reached South-east Asia well before the Toba explosion, most likely by beachcombing along the coast of the Indian Ocean. Stone tools have been found covered by volcanic ash from Toba in Kota Tampan in the Malay Peninsula. Were these the tools of modern humans, therefore backing up the genetic evidence for modern humans reaching Sumatra before the Toba explosion? Or were they the tools of an earlier human species? Recent re-dating of the volcanic ash layer at Kota Tampan, which is several metres thick, has forced an extraordinary reappraisal of the significance of the site.

The Kota Tampan site with its evidence of a Palaeolithic human culture is located in the Lenggong Valley, two-thirds of the way from Africa to Australia. This culture was first identified by the find of large pebble-tools, fashioned on one side only. In the absence of skeletal remains at Kota Tampan, the tools were initially thought by archaeologists in the 1960s to be the work of an earlier human species. On the face of it, these were not sophisticated tools.

No one has done more research into Kota Tampan and the Lenggong Valley culture than archaeologist Professor Zuraina Majid, of University Sains Malaysia (USM. Her extensive work at a number of sites in the Lenggong Valley suggests that the local pebble-tool culture may have persisted continuously right up until only 7,000 years ago. If so, it implies that the oval pebble-tools really were made by modern humans.

Professor Zurainaa's trump card is the much-publicised finding by her team of "Perak Man" in the Lenggong Valley in 1990. Surrounded by the same class of pebble-tools, this complete skeleton of a modern human was dated to about 10,000 years ago. This clear recent association of the pebble-tool culture with modern humans undermines the argument that the Kota Tampan pebble-tools were too crude to be the work of modern humans.

Only with recent re-dating of the thick volcanic ash layer at Kota Tampan has the penny finally dropped. When it was first dated several decades ago, the result came out at 31,000 years old. More recently, several geologists, including the one who did the original dating, have agreed on the evidence that the ash overlying the tools belonged to the 74,000-year-old Toba eruption and carried the same geochemical fingerprint as Toba ash found throughout India.

The dating is critical. If the Kota Tampan pebble-tools were made by modern humans, they would be the oldest precisely dated evidence for modern humans outside Africa. It therefore looks as though the ancestors of the Australians left Africa and arrived in Malaysia on their beachcombing trail well before the great Toba explosion. Perhaps as important as the precision of the dating, this connection between stone tools and ashes in Malaysia puts the first Indian and Pakistani colonists in the direct path of the greatest natural calamity to ever befall any humans.

It is difficult to see how the first colonies in India could have survived. So, we could predict a broad human extinction zone in India placed between East and West Asia. Population recovery from the Indian extinction would have added fresh shoots to the Asian genetic tree with a discontinuity between East and West. This prediction is confirmed by a deep East-West genetic division, still clearly seen in Asia's genetic record. Although descended from the same root lines of the single exodus, Indian maternal branch genetic lines are completely different from those of the Far East and mostly different from those in the West.

Another prediction we can make from the scenario of Asian colonisation before Toba, is that genetic lines both inside Africa and in Asia should show the same tight genetic bottleneck - low diversity followed by dramatic expansion - dated to around 71,000 years ago - and probably the effects of worldwide extinctions resulting from the prolonged volcanic winter. This is indeed the case, providing further evidence that our ancestors had left Africa before the great Toba disaster.

Last but not least, there are also local genetic links near the Lenggong Valley with those first explorers out of Africa. With collaborators in England, Italy and Malaysia, I recently performed a genetic survey of the various aboriginal groups living in this part of the Malay Peninsula. Our results, which have just been completed, combined with dental studies, are consistent with the view that these groups have remained isolated in the jungles of the interior ever since the out-of-Africa trek and may have been descended from some of those first pebble-tool makers in the Peninsula.

One might ask how there could be any surviving links if their ancestors had been buried in volcanic ash. Luckily, Kota Tampan was just at the eastern edge of the great ash fall and there would have been survivors in the rest of the Malay Peninsula re-occupying the Lenggong Valley - bearing the torch of humanity into the modern age.

The archaeological, geographical and genetic evidence from this small region of Malaysia all help to pinpoint our ancient relatives as a part of a single small group who left Africa 80,000 years ago and then went on to populate the rest of the planet. So, from a diversity of early human species who used to occupy the globe, we have reduced dramatically to just one species of modern humans alive today.

Reproduced from: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_medical/