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Showing posts from February, 2011

Censoring Interlok

Interlok saga update

The independent panel set up to examine with a view to removing parts of Datuk Abdullah Hussain's novel Interlok described as sensitive by the Indian community met for the first time on Wednesday.

Panel chairman Distinguished Professor Datuk Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said after the meeting that "no time limit has been given but we want to complete it fast".

Yes, please do that panel members. You have to think of the poor fifth-formers who have to spend time learning about the literature component of the subject Bahasa Malaysia.

My nephew is one of them. He is understandably confused about the whole thing and is annoyed that the dispute has dragged on for nearly three months. Fifth formers have to take an examination -- the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia -- later this year.

It is understood that students in some schools in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan (these are the schools which are using the student's edition of the novel: see …

Guest Post: Nasi lemak, sambal pedas and Coca-Cola!

The following post was written by Distinguished Professor Shamsul Amri Baharuddin (picture) -- his retort to John R. Malott's article entitled The Price of Malaysia's Racism (The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2011).

Malott was the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, 1995-1998.

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I am quite certain we can savour Malaysia's famous nasi lemak (picture) in New York and Washington DC as well as in Paris, London and Tokyo. But I guarantee that the one with the hottest sambal (condiment) can only be found in Malaysia.

You can choose between the hot but sweet sambal (condiment) from Kelantan and the pedas (spicy or hot) cooked-in-coconut-milk sambal (condiment) from Negeri Sembilan.

Visitors to Malaysia would be impressed by the wide variety of sambal (condiment) on offer, a topic even the Asian Food Channel on ASTRO channel has not dealt with.

John R. Malott’s article (The Price of Malaysia’s Raci…

Ties that do not bind

Former ambassador to Malaysia John R. Malott's piece on the One Malaysia concept and its attendant problems (The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2011) did not shed anything new on the subject.

He merely regurgitated information acquired from here and there. For those who wanted new insights into the state and study of ethnic relations in Malaysia, Malott's article was disappointing.

The recent Interlok controversy prompted me to ask Distinguished Professor Datuk Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, founding director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, to explain the recurring ethnic tensions in Malaysia, a point which Malott elaborated with relish.

See the article (Learning Curve, New Sunday Times, February 13, 2010) below for his views on the subject.


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The tourism industry has managed to flaunt Malaysia's diverse cultural life. But this diversity has neve…

Shan's perfect Monday

The following post was inspired by the frequently asked question: how was your Sunday?
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My friend Shan works at the weekend. He gets two days off -- Monday and Thursday -- in a week. It has been like this for the past 10 years.

He likes the current arrangement and would not have it any other way. There would be an amused look on his face when people asked him about his Sunday.

"I work on Sunday," he would say.

The response was entirely predictable: "Really! How sad. I never work on Sunday."

Those who regard Saturday and Sunday as days of rest can never understand how doctors, nurses, journalists, waitresses and musicians, among others, work very long hours everyday including over the weekend.

Oh, that's a pity, they say. These unfortunate souls have missed out on the pleasures that create the perfect break.

Shan disagrees.

He says that Monday is his perfect Sunday.

He wakes up …

Year of the Rabbit

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

May fortune, wealth and good health be with you!

The Lunar New Year is almost here and most Chinese in Malaysia and elsewhere will celebrate the occasion tomorrow by offering mandarin oranges or red envelopes stuffed with cash to family members especially children and close friends.

The 12-year cycle of the Chinese calendar returns to the Year of the Rabbit and people expect good fortune throughout the year.

Chinese tradition views rabbits as social, sensitive creatures and their homes and families are important to them. They symbolise beauty, composure and wealth.

If you are a Rabbit, click here for more about yourself.