Monday, 24 January 2011


FREEDOM of speech. To me, simply put, it is one's right to say whatever he or she wants to say. It is one of our basic human rights. Whether what is said is correct or wrong, that's another matter altogether.
This piece, and am sure, many others by Jeffrey Kitingan is well written. Its a good read. Factual? Fiction? Frankly, I cannot afford to keep looking over my shoulder as I journey forward towards the promised land. But I do not mind resting once in a while, even taking time off to oblige a drink or two and more, for old times sake.


KOTA KINABALU, 24 Jan 2011: United Borneo Front (UBF) leader, Jeffrey Kitingan, wants the people of Sabah and Sarawak to wean themselves off the habit of relying on the federal government for their future.

He said that it was time the people in these Borneo states learnt to be self-reliant, generated their own wealth, reclaimed what is rightfully theirs and determined their future.

“I realised very early on that we must not rely too much on the federal government for our development and that both Sabah and Sarawak must learn to be self-sufficient and self-reliant to generate our own wealth and reclaim what is rightfully ours,” he said in statement yesterday following his visit to Singapore to meet with former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Jeffrey, along with UBF co-founder Nilakrishna James and Sabah political writer Raymond Tombung, met Lee to seek his views on the birth of Malaysia.

According to Jeffrey, he was shocked to hear Lee say that he felt “deep collateral guilt” for not advising Borneo leaders what they were getting into.

“When Nilakrisna expressed her disappointment at the level of poverty in Borneo vis-à-vis the immense development and wealth of Singapore… and asked Lee why as an educated lawyer and a more advanced statesman, he did not advise the Borneo leaders on a more water-tight provision to secure their rights, equality and safeguards in the Malaysia Agreement of 1963, Lee could only repeat that he felt “deep collateral guilt”.

“Guilt, as far as we are concerned, will not reverse the situation. Tell the truth, repair the damage or provide solutions to our problems,” said Jeffrey.

He said that he could “only sense pity or condescension” from Singapore and the peninsula for the Borneo dilemma.

‘The Birth of Malaysia’

Meanwhile, Jeffrey also urged the government to consider making the book “The Birth of Malaysia” written by former SNAP president and Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee, Amar James Wong, a compulsory history textbook for secondary schools in the country.

The book contains key documents leading up to the Malaysia Agreement in 1963, including the Malaysia proclamation by the country’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Cobbold Commission Report and the Inter-Governmental Committee Report in 1962.

Jeffrey said that UBF would go all out to promote the book in its ongoing campaign to restore the historical facts about Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak in particular.

The UBF leaders recently held an informal meeting with Wong in Kuching to discuss cooperation between UBF and SNAP, as well as the genesis of the formation of Malaysia.

Jeffrey said that they discussed UBF’s direction and the amalgamating of various agendas between different racial groups in Borneo.

Wong, a prolific writer and now in his late 80s, has spent his life determined to tell the truth about the formation of the federation through the book, “The Birth of Malaysia”.

Shared experiences

A former ISA detainee himself, Jeffrey said that his shared experience with Wong under the ISA made them both determined to tell the story of Malaysia to the world.

“A former Malaysian prime minister told me that I should not teach the people what the people don’t know. He probably felt that ignorance would be a guarantee to the continual leadership of the present regime.

“I decided to defy this and believe that knowledge would empower the greatest among us and pave the way for a fairer system that would reward those who rise through merit. Wong and I have many things in common and he is one of the last of the true warriors.”

UBF officials will be making courtesy calls on various leaders who were pertinent at the time of the formation of Malaysia to find out more about the story of Malaysia.

Malaysia does not have a clear identity in the world because it does not have a true record of its history, they say.

“If you are ignorant about the political genesis of your own country and the true meaning of a federation, you can’t call yourself a Malaysian ambassador or politician for you are in no position to speak truthfully about your country,” explained Nilakrisna.

She added that UBF would be making bulk orders of Wong’s books to distribute and help promote it as an important textbook on the nation’s history. FREE MALAYSIA TODAY

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


12 Jan 2011. Hey all. This is my first 2011 posting. This article was among the scores of mails I received recently. Am not sure of its real source. Or whether its facts and figures, and the story itself is correct or otherwise.
Last week, I did read something like this too, though, about P Ramlee in the MAS inflight magazine.
I post this because I simply love P Ramlee. The Ampas Man in this article has his/her own interpretation. And I respect his rights in doing so.
I also post this because today is my second darling, Allyshandhra 12th birthday. Parents, and everyone, for that matter want only the best for their children. At times I have sleepless nights thinking about my children, my family.
In this new decade, the 21st century, I hope my experience yesterdays will enable me to face today in the best way possible so that my tomorrows, and their future are 1000 times better than mine.
Its hard work. And luck and fate, they say. Deep down in me, I humbly believe a whisper or two prayers are the key.
Whatever it is, the sun light which enters my office is so wonderful because a few hours ago, I had experience what darkness is.
A properous 2011 and the Year of the Rabbit, one and all. Happy birthday to my Pengawas (her position in SRJK (C) Yue Min). Allyshearha, Alexshandhro Eebot, Allysha, Nelly and this Bingkasan love you so very much, forever.....

Ramlee was poached and enticed to return to Malaysia which he did in 1964. Wrong step it seems. All promises “back home in Malaysia” were not kept by his new masters. Sounds very very familiar here.

By The Ampas Man

Question: Di Mana Kan Ku Cari Ganti?

Answer: Not in Malaysia

Those who watched the heart wrenching P. Ramlee documentary on the History Channel on 31st October 2010 must have gone to bed with a heavy heart. It transpires that Malaysia’s one and only film icon had died penniless and shunned by the public including his own colleagues. And the way it was done appears to have uncanny resemblances to what’s happening today in Malaysia, almost 45 years after Ramlee returned to Malaysia.

The documentary, narrated by British actor, Timothy Watson and 12 years in the making included precious interviews by some of his friends, actors and actresses who had passed on. The underlying tone was one of profound melancholy.

Ramlee, borne out of poverty along Caunter Hall Road at an Achenese community in Penang, had to endure a brutal Japanese occupation whose schools incidentally inculcated a certain discipline in him. In his formative years then, this discipline proved crucial as a founding platform for his eventual brilliance, creativity and innovation in film and music.

He subsequently gained phenomenal success at Shaw brothers' Jalan Ampas studios in Singapore. His success at Jalan Ampas was the apparent result of the studio’s incredible milieu of experienced film crew, choreographers and directors which the Shaw brothers had assembled from India, Hong Kong and Indonesia. With the load of management and finance off his shoulders, Ramlee was able to thrive and focus on his talent of creating music, acting and eventually direction, screenplay and editing.

The Shaw brothers invested and created such a conducive environment at Ampas that Singapore became the mecca for the Malay film industry for an entire genre of actors and actresses from the whole of the Malay Archipelago from Pontianak, Penang to Medan. Apart from Ramlee, Ampas provided careers for other actors and actresses like Nordin Ahmad, S. Kadarisman, Ahmad Daud, Normadiah, Saloma and Saadiah.

But this talent could not have been developed without the expertise of directors such as B. S. Rajan, L. Krishnan and Phani Majumdar. Directors such as Majumdar already had something like 15 years experience in directing films in various languages in Calcutta and Bombay before they came to Singapore. It was on this wealth of experience that the Malay film industry flourished.

Majumdar directed Ramlee in “Anakku Sazali” which won Ramlee Best Actor in 1956. And when Majumdar returned to India, he discovered another great Indian actor, Feroz Khan and directed Khan in his first big hit “Oonche Log” in 1965. Yes it was happy times then at No.8 Jalan Ampas and Boon Keng Road. But it had to end. Or so it seems.

Things appear to have taken a turn for the worse during the confusion of the Malaysia-Singapore separation in 1963 when Lee Kuan Yew had trouble reigning a tight leash on Trade Unions involving Lim Chin Siong, and his own PAP leaders led by Che' Awang and Devan Nair. Ramlee appears to have been an inadvertent victim of the unions’ unreasonable demands leading Shaw brothers to call it a day at Jalan Ampas when they couldn’t keep up with unions’ demands for higher pay.

Other views suggest that Ramlee was poached and enticed to return to Malaysia which he did in 1964. Wrong step it seems. All promises “back home in Malaysia” were not kept by his new masters. Sounds very very familiar here. Merdeka studios was poorly equipped and its rookie staffing meant the legend had to multitask which ended up eventually in him churning out shoddy movies. All 18 movies he directed in Malaysia flopped. Sounds like the same stories we hear from some of our Malaysians “trying” to return home from overseas.

Ramlee lost his glitter, his money and apparently so his fame. His partner and colleague, H.M. Shah, tried to form a company called PERFIMA to enable Ramlee to relaunch his career and produce his dream of colour films. But PERFIMA apparently ended up in the hands of inexperienced and connected cronies leaving the talented Ramlee then, as in now, even as a Malay, blatantly unrecognized, ignored and out in the cold.

The documentary brutally exposes how Ramlee tried in vain to set up P. Ramlee productions, but was again shut out by this country’s media and entertainment industry including RTM. He had to sit in the canteen at Ankasapuri while Saloma had her own show in RTM! He could not secure any government aid, grants or “Private Financial Initiatives” despite his passion for Malay music and culture.

He tried to reinvent himself and sought a bank loan – but was rejected! With his wealth of experience and in his early 40s then, he should have easily qualified. Poor Ramlee didn’t know that in Malaysia it is the “know who” that counts than the “know how”. If he had known George Tan from the Carrian Group then, Ramlee may have received a few million from BMF without even having to pay back. Or he should have “nurtured” some connections like how Daim, Halim Saad, Tajuddin Ramli, Syed Mokhtar and Amin Shah did.

Ramlee by now, tragically stressed out, overweight, disheveled, completely down and out with passion and spirit broken, had to now do almost any job he could including running mahjong tables and singing at weddings and other functions to put food on the table for his family. He had to live on rice and eggs. It was truly Air Mata di Kuala Lumpur for Ramlee. A court summons a day prior to his death for being a guarantor finally tipped the balance and done him in when he suffered a massive heart attack and he died on 29th May 1973 at the age of 44 years.

On the day he died, there was no rice in his house. And Saloma had no money for his funeral. The man and legend, P. Ramlee paid a very heavy price returning to Malaysia. The country just did not have the infrastructure, manpower and expertise to accommodate his enormous talent. He would have been better off in Singapore even with the unions there. He would not have gone broke in the club and wedding scene there and perhaps Singapore TV could have given him a break as compared to our own RTM. All the belated accolades and titles were a waste of time as far as the man himself was concerned. He died hopelessly broke and broken.

The documentary is not only an eye opener but a very good case study for anyone contemplating returning home to Malaysia. Whether you are a scientist, engineer, accountant, doctor, etc beware of the conditions enticing you to return. If your kid is an aerospace engineer, a naval architect or a transplant surgeon, it’s a no brainer that he /she should not return at all unless you are absolutely sure the country has the infrastructure and skilled manpower to support these fields. Don’t believe in these stories that you should come home to “help” and “develop” your areas of expertise. That’s not going to happen. That sort of thing will only go to the chaps who have the connections. Assess any offer carefully and do not trust anyone including this government. Make certain all agreements are enforceable in Singapore and the UK .

In retrospect P. Ramlee, with no formal education but was able to compose more than 360 songs and 66 movies, probably returned to a society that was not developed nor had the brain power and skills to match up to his vision. In short he was just surrounded with a whole lot of officials and journalists with serious hang ups who were not interested in the industry itself. There was no driving force like another Shaw brothers.

And the prevailing attitude at that time and probably even now was and still is a third class mentality. In an environment such as this, no one with creativity, innovation, skills and brains can ever hope to survive let alone thrive. Its better they stay back where they can develop and nurture their talent. If a star as bright as Ramlee could be extinguished with such impunity, the rest are nothing. Ramlee and his entire family had been wiped out financially despite his immense talent. But he remains still till this day, the Malay Archipelago’s cinematic legend. With apologies.

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