Monday, October 28, 2013

What life is

I always wanted a happy ending...
Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme,
and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end.
Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and 
making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next. 
Delicious ambiguity.
 - Gilda Radner (1946 - 1989)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The size of your heart

It isn't the size of your house as such

That matters so much at all.

It's the gentle hand and its loving touch,

That make it great or small.

The friends who come and the hour they

Who out of your house depart,

Will judge it not by the style you show,

But rather by the size of your heart.

It isn't the size of your head so much,

It isn't the wealth you found.

That will make you happy -- it's how you touch

The lives that are all around.

For making money is not hard --

To live life well is an art:

How people love you, how they regard,

Is all in the size of your heart.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Speech by Dato’ Mohd Zaid Ibrahim – Melbourne 2013 “The Path to Unity”

Speech by Dato’ Mohd Zaid Ibrahim – Melbourne 2013 “The Path to Unity”

Ladies and gentlemen,

I was six when Malaya became independent. I wasn’t yet old enough to understand what that meant, or why self-determination should be so important to so many people. Like others my age I was swept up by the euphoria that had possessed my elders, but I could not reason why.
It was only much later—when I was a young student, such as you are—that I began to think about nationhood; about independence and the duties they implied. These are the duties required of us beyond our obligations to ourselves, our families, our friends, our clans and even that which we are so proud to call our “race” and our “heritage”.
We have a greater duty to society and to our country as a whole, and the true test of the strength of our independence lies in how much each individual is able to fulfil that duty according to his or her means, desires and abilities.
This is a test that we have failed repeatedly in the 50 years since the formation of Malaysia. We have failed it because we have not truly understood it. We have not understood our duty to our fellow-citizens, nor our collective aspirations and dreams as a nation. We have not understood the terms of our Constitution as it was laid down at Merdeka.
Today, we do not speak about the “dreams” and “visions” of our Founding Fathers, as other nations do.  We talk only of conspiracies wherein the enemies amongst us seek to strangle our sovereignty. We wail at the death of patriotism. And every day, we are reminded that there are “Bumiputera”, and that there are “Others”, and never the twain shall meet.
This is due to our inherent racialism. I do not mean “racism”, but rather the tendency to interpret social reality through the lens of ethnic origin. You may choose to call it “communalism”. You may even call it an “ethnically-structured worldview”. You may choose whichever euphemism that helps you sleep soundly at night, secure in the knowledge that you have offended no one, for these are sensitive times we live in.
But what you may do is not always what you should, and the problem of racialism in Malaysia is an old one. A cursory reading of our history will show you that the genesis of Malaysian racialism lies in the consequences of colonial immigration.
The British were, after all, obliged to manage ethnic relations involving a native population supplanted by various waves of immigrants from China and India, whom they had themselves uprooted for the sake of increasing the supply of labour in the colonial economy.
Thus, the original premise of Malayan independence was based on the ability of the Alliance Party to continue the British practice of “keeping the three major races happy”. This is a euphemism for “balancing the interests of the Malays, Chinese and Indians”, which itself is a euphemism for “keeping them from one another’s throats.”
The racialism, and racism, that so many of us condemn today has always been a feature of our multiracial history. To say that things were “better” in the old days, or that the “races were closer together” is to paint half a picture. To say that each of the races is represented at the political table is to ignore the fact that such representation is possible only if the races are kept firmly separate.
So, we can say we were lucky that the Alliance Party was popular with the people at the time of Independence, but this tells only half the story. We were also lucky that our first Prime Minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, was an honest man—a man of integrity who had an unshakeable commitment to fairness—but, likewise, this tells only half the story. We were also lucky that the Tunku’s Cabinet was composed of people like him. Again, this tells only half the story.
The popularity of the Alliance must be viewed in the light of the revulsion with which many held the socialists and—with justification—the militant communists at a time when the Cold War was raging. The Tunku and his Cabinet were good men and women, but the dynamic that put them in power and kept them there was the same
paternalistic and absolutist structure of colonialism. It was the same mixture of feudal obeisance and commercial oligarchy that kept the British in power for so long; and—when the British finally had to go—the same mixture replaced them with British-friendly local aristocrats and magnates.
The new elite of young Malaya had a choice. But in their choices they failed to understand that what they were creating for themselves was not an egalitarian society. In terms of political ideals, yes, they were certainly spot-on—but they also fashioned themselves into a new economic, social and political class that was quite removed from the everyday lives of ordinary Malayans. As such, they failed to see the gathering clouds that would soon unleash a terrible storm.
Many mistakenly thought that their own paternalistic interests were shared by everyone else in the country. Many assumed that their leadership naturally implied that others would follow. Many of us make the same mistake even now. So, when Partai Islam Se-Malaysia took control of Kelantan in the 1964 general election, the cosmopolitan multiracial elite was profoundly shocked.
PAS was not then the Islamist party that it is today. It was led by the late Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmi, a leftist nationalist who, amongst other things, sought political union with Indonesia and Brunei under “Melayu Raya”, or Greater Malaya.
Dr Burhanuddin was a complex man—he proposed in Parliament that all citizens of the Federation should be known as Malays. To him, “Malay” was a term of national and political—rather than racial or religious—identity. History might have unfolded differently had he and his allies succeeded—but they did not. In any case, PAS’ victory in 1964 was rooted in a growing Malay insecurity.
Rural Malays felt that the Alliance had failed them economically. Only the previous year, Ungku Aziz delivered a scathing lecture on rural poverty and income inequality. And more than ten years prior, the poet and committed Malayan, Usman Awang, had already warned of rural disenchantment with the ostentation and domination of the emerging national elite.
We must understand that if PAS successfully tapped into Malay racial insecurity in 1964, that insecurity was created by the racialism that shaped both colonial policy and Independence politics. I am not excusing racialism—I am merely describing its political and social effects.
Indeed, many Chinese were equally unhappy as well. Lee Kuan Yew, who was a Malaysian MP at the time, considered Article one hundred and fifty-three (153) of the Federal Constitution to be fundamentally wrong as it was detrimental to the unity of future generations of citizens. He said in Parliament that the special treatment of the Malays made the Chinese feel “unwanted”, while the Malays themselves would never be recognised for their true merit and talent. Singapore left the Federation in 1965.
As such, only the political Left made a strong attempt to de-racialise the politics of identity in Malaya and early Malaysia. But, as we know, the Left was entirely discredited by its association with the Communist Party. It was also immobilised by the detention of its leaders under the Internal Security Act. It never really recovered.
If the Alliance was shocked in 1964, it would be brought to its knees just five years later. But make no mistake: the tragedy of May thirteen, 1969, was not a national uprising, nor even a popular one.
It was a limited outburst confined primarily to Kuala Lumpur. And whatever the grievances of the Malays against the Chinese, or vice versa, I do not believe for a moment that ill-feeling alone motivated the riot.
Many theories have been put forward regarding the prime movers and underlying causes of the tragedy. Lately, debate has focused on who did or did not urinate on a certain flagpole, and that alone has been enough to create a major national issue. But whatever your feelings on the matter, May thirteenth resulted in the removal of the Tunku and the rise of the so-called ultranationalists who felt that the racial power-sharing arrangement of Merdeka had failed utterly.
On the positive side, it also brought into sharp focus the problem of national economic inequality, which the Government would address a few years later through its New Economic Policy. We should remember that the majority of Malaysians—of all races—supported the implementation of the NEP at the time.
And why not? Allow me a brief quotation from the policy itself: “The Government aims at providing such ssistance as may be necessary for all racial groups in the country to find employment, secure participation and acquire ownership and control in the various sectors of the economy […] What is sought is redistribution in a context of
dynamic growth so that no particular group experiences any loss or feels any sense of deprivation in the process.”
The idea, ladies and gentlemen, was to dissociate race from economic function while simultaneously enlarging an economic pie that was still dominated by British interests. Any gain to be made by the Malays was not to come at the expense of the Chinese or any other community.
Rather, all communities should gain and if the Malays should receive proportionately more assistance, why not? They were the largest and poorest community in the country. If the policy benefited more Malays, it was simply because there were more of them numerically.
These were indeed noble sentiments, but they failed in practice. Far from redressing economic inequalities across the board, the NEP enriched only a select few and further entrenched the racialised perspective in domestic policymaking. It would continue to reappear under different guises for the next half-century, and so the
inequalities have worsened.
Not only did the NEP impact adversely on the economy and society, it also created a new form of political thinking amongst the ruling Malays. They began to think that the power-sharing agreement with the non-Malays, established at Independence, could be dismantled at will.
Now, if the Alliance had failed in its attempt to “balance the interest of the three races“, it was not for lack of trying. It believed strongly that the politics of Malaysia depended on consensus.
To them, nation-building was a task that required the efforts of all citizens regardless of ethnicity or other difference.
Today, the Barisan Nasional is a very different political creature.
UMNO alone calls the shots and its Supreme Council is where all major decisions are made, not the Cabinet. The culture of consensus and consultation of the early years of Malaysia… is no more.
On the economic front   Government statistics indicate that the Malaysian poverty rate is amongst the lowest in Asia but that is only because the official poverty threshold is ridiculously low. In fact if your household of four has an income of RM2000 a month living in Kuala Lumpur many people would consider you  poor.  Only the Government doesn’t.  Also, the Government doesn’t tell you that Malaysian household debt is amongst the highest in Asia. They don’t tell you that we have the highest GINI score in the region at forty-six point two one (46.21). So, we might not be “poor” by the definition of the Government, but the rich own almost everything while the rest of us have mortgaged even the kitchen sink. The disparity between the Malaysian rich and poor is nothing short of sinful.
In this light, the racialised socioeconomic analysis of the NEP—as well as that of its latest incarnation: the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda—is obviously invalid. Poverty knows no creed or colour. What makes far more sense would be an actual plan for social and economic justice that addresses real poverty and disparities in real income across the board. But such a plan isn’t politically sexy, whereas any promise to “empower” the Bumiputera brings instant adulation.
And if UMNO leaders today are so keen to bow to the dynamic of Malay racialism, they are equally quick to froth at the mouth when it comes to non-Malays. They remain angry and unforgiving for the rejection of the Barisan Nasional by the Chinese during the last election. They keep asking: Why are the Chinese so disloyal?

What game are they playing? Ladies and gentlemen, There is no game.

I ask that you recall what I said earlier about our greater duty to society; and how the true test of our independence lies in the extent to which each individual is able to fulfill that duty according to his
or her means, desires and abilities. In the pursuit of this duty, we must think clearly. We must make use of the good judgment that we all have.
Let us ask: does it make sense to you that the Chinese and Indian Malaysians—who have contributed their blood, sweat and tears to our nation—should be disloyal and have no pride in their country? Does it make sense to you that Malaysian minorities are deeply hostile to their brothers and sisters in the same country they have all helped to build?
“What more do the non-Malays want?” asks UMNO. Well, what they don’t what is UMNO and the Barisan Nasional. What they want a fair say in the policies of their government. They want their voices heard and not
ridiculed. They want the re-establishment of the Rule of Law and a just observance of due process—Teoh Beng Hock, Kugan, Ahmad Sarbani.
These are names that reverberate in their ears.
They want equal access to education and an equal opportunity to enter a public university without having to beg for it. They want a proper respect for the history of our nation—warts and all. They would understand if government do  not want to acknowledge  the role that the Chinese  played in the independence our country, but why revile and dishonour them after just one general election result? Like all minorities they want to be treated with fairness and respect as equal citizens of a democratic nation, which they certainly are.
They want the ability to give back to their country. They want the ability to help their fellow Malaysians for the common good. They want to share in the dream of our Founding Fathers that in Malaysia, there is a place in the sun for everyone. They want to be able to look upon any Malaysian and say: “There, ladies and gentlemen, is my sister. And I am proud of her.”

Is that too much to ask?

If the Alliance had failed to address the concerns of the people in the early 1960s, it was because it was unable to fathom the problems of a changing country. The Barisan Nasional’s failure today is a deliberate calculation to create a new history in which the elite rule and enjoy the benefits the nation, while dishing out largesse to
others at whim and only under great sufferance.

What, then, is to be done?

There are those who demand that our leaders be “fairer” in their dealings with the races that make up Malaysia. There are those who look to the Prime Minister for leadership in disowning racial discrimination in the affairs of the nation. There are those who hope that UMNO itself will put a stop to the pernicious idea of special rights and privileges for the Malays, which have done nothing but stunt the social and economic development of the nation as well as the Malays.But we cannot look to politicians for a quality of leadership that most of them have lost.

Instead, let us look to ourselves.

Let us acknowledge that we are a fundamentally flawed nation. Let us bury Caesar, so to speak, and not to praise him. Let the good of our nation lie covered for the moment, but let its evil linger so that we might see it for what it is and put an end to it.
Let us acknowledge that Malaysia is not the multicultural utopia that it is often portrayed to be. Let us acknowledge that the process to build this nation must begin afresh, and that it will depend on young
Malaysians such as you.
Let us acknowledge that the Malay Agenda has failed. If it hasn’t why do the Malays still represent 80% of poor households in the country? Why do the Malays still require special treatment after more than fifty years of government ostensibly by, for and of Malays? As such, the new Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda, as it is currently conceived, can do nothing but fail and alienate even more of our non-Malay fellow-citizens.
Let us acknowledge that Malaysia is a young nation in which the roots of democracy do not run very deeply. Concepts of individual rights and freedoms—of belief, expression, religion—are poorly understood, as is
the respect for the rights of minorities. Even the Rule of Law, which suffered tremendously under Dr Mahathir, is now recovering at a snail’s pace—so great has been the damage, and so narrow are the interests of those charged with its defence.
We cannot place too much faith in our institutions of state because there is no guarantee that our liberal and democratic Constitution has actually survived. There is no guarantee that our Common Law tradition, which we share with the Commonwealth, commands the respect of Malaysians even now. There is no guarantee that the minorities in Malaysia will not suffer a terrible fate at the hands of an uncivilised majority.
Today the fortress of our liberal democracy is assailed upon all sides. Race is conflated with religion. Both are put in service of political expedience and opportunity. The paternalism that motivates our politics is in danger of descending into full-blown totalitarianism, while too many of those who can do something, do nothing. In the words of Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
We are born of different ethnicities, but that is not a choice that any can make. However, we can choose to cherish our greater common humanity. We can choose not to be cowed by the narrow interests of race and religion. We can choose to discover the truth of this world for ourselves. We can refuse to be dictated to by those who claim a superior right to tell us what to think, and how to think.
We can choose conscience above self-interest. We need not demand that others conform to our view of what is right and wrong, but we can choose to be Malaysian first and to build our dreams together.

And we all have dreams for our nation. I am sure that yours are no different from mine.

Tunku ‘s  dream  was of an “independent and sovereign democratic State founded upon liberty and justice, ever seeking to defend and uphold peace and harmony among its people and to perpetuate peace among
I have a dream that one day, my children, and their children, will not be judged as deserving of special treatment because of the colour of their skin. I dream of the day when those who ask “What more do you want?” ask only because they wish to know how they can help.
Many Malaysians also dream of the time when they  will rise up together in the spirit of fellowship and shared destiny to help those who cannot yet stand on their own feet. They dream day when each and every Malaysian has the equal opportunity to help chart the course of the nation, and not a single one of us will be left out in the cold because of race, gender, religion, language, political creed, economic inequality, ability or any other human difference.

That day, ladies and gentlemen, will come. It must. Not in my lifetime, perhaps, but maybe in yours.
If such a Malaysia is to be, then the journey on the path to unity must begin right here, right now, in this room. It must begin in our hearts and our minds, our speech and our actions.
Thank you, and good luck.


By Bob Perks

1.  On the far side of; past: Just beyond the fence.

2.  Later than; after: beyond midnight.
3.  To a degree that is past the understanding, reach,
or scope of: an evil beyond remedy.

4.  To a degree or amount greater than: rich beyond his
wildest dreams.

5.  In addition to: asked for nothing beyond peace
and quiet.

Where you are right now.
There is so much...beyond.
I am always telling everyone to live in the present.  I suggest that
there is nothing we can do about the past. We can hope for the future.
We can prepare for it, but it is never guaranteed.
There is a place I go, however, that really does no harm.  It takes
so little time to get there and back that it never interferes with
the present.
Like dwelling on the past and worrying about the future truly is
a waste of time.
Thinking "beyond" the present circumstance, the pain is like dreaming.
"Beyond" the sunset and sunrise there are possibilities so great that
we call them "hope."
Beyond the stars we find the infinite, unimaginable past and future.
I can lie on my back in a field and looking up I am freed from the
earthly chains that hold me down.  For the moment I am far beyond
the sorrow, I am far beyond the seemingly impossible.
"Beyond" for each of us is a private space and time kept deep within
ourselves and set aside for visiting at will.
Like love beyond death.
Eternity beyond present circumstance.
"Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them."
Albert Einstein
"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered,
you will never grow."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beyond, for me, is where God let's me dance to my own music even when
I am the only one who can hear it.
God is far beyond our ability to understand or even imagine. His
power is vast beyond anything humans have ever experienced.
Your potential is far beyond your own imagination.

"I believe in YOU!"
Bob Perks

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lesson in forgiveness

A story to illustrate forgiveness
Forty-three years seems like a long time to remember the name of a mere acquaintance. I have duly forgotten the name of an old lady who was a customer on my paper route when I was a twelve-year-old boy in Marinette, Wisconsin back in 1954. Yet it seems like just yesterday that she taught me a lesson in forgiveness that I can only hope to pass on to someone else someday.

On a mindless Saturday afternoon, a friend and I were throwing rocks onto the roof of the old lady's house from a secluded spot in her backyard. The object of our play was to observe how the rocks changed to missiles as they rolled to the roof's edge and shot out into the yard like comets falling from the sky. I found myself a perfectly smooth rock and sent it for a ride. The stone was too smooth, however, so it slipped from my hand as I let it go and headed straight for a small window on the old lady's back porch. At the sound of fractured glass, we took off from the old lady's yard faster than any of our missiles flew off her roof.

I was too scared about getting caught that first night to be concerned about the old lady with the broken porch window. However, a few days later, when I was sure that I hadn't been discovered, I started to feel guilty for her misfortune. She still greeted me with a smile each day when I gave her the paper, but I was no longer able to act comfortable in her presence. I made up my mind that I would save my paper delivery money, and in three weeks I had the seven dollars that I calculated would cover the cost of her window. I put the money in an envelope with a note explaining that I was sorry for breaking her window and hoped that the seven dollars would cover the cost for repairing it.

I waited until it was dark, snuck up to the old lady's house, and put the envelope of retribution through the letter slot in her door.  My soul felt redeemed and I couldn't wait for the freedom of, once again, looking straight into the old lady's eyes.

The next day, I handed the old lady her paper and was able to return the warm smile that I was receiving from her. She thanked me for the paper and said, "Here, I have something for you."

It was a bag of cookies. I thanked her and proceeded to eat the cookies as I continued my route. After several cookies, I felt an envelope and pulled it out of the bag. When I opened the envelope, I was stunned. Inside was the seven dollars and a short note that said, "I'm proud of you."

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Compassion is in the eyes

It was a bitter, cold evening in northern Virginia many years ago. The old man's beard was glazed by winter's frost while he waited for a ride across the river. The wait seemed endless. His body became numb and stiff from the frigid north wind. He heard the faint, steady rhythm of approaching hooves galloping along the frozen path.

Anxiously, he watched as several horsemen rounded the bend. He let the first one pass by without an effort to get his attention. Then another passed by , and another. Finally, the last rider neared the spot where the old man sat like a snow statue.

As this one drew near, the old man caught the rider's eye and said, "Sir, would you mind giving an old man a ride to the other side? There doesn't appear to be a passageway by foot."

Reining his horse, the rider replied, "Sure thing. Hop aboard." Seeing the old man was unable to lift his half-frozen body from the ground, the horseman dismounted and helped the old man onto the horse. The horseman took the old man not just across the river, but to his destination, which was just a few miles away.

As they neared the tiny but cozy cottage, the horseman's curiosity caused him to inquire, "Sir, I notice that you let several other riders pass by without making an effort to secure a ride. Then I came up and you immediately asked me for a ride. I'm curious why, on such a bitter winter night, you would wait and ask the last rider. What if I had refused and left you there?"

The old man lowered himself slowly down from the horse, looked the rider straight in the eyes, and replied, "I've been around these here parts for some time. I reckon I know people pretty good."

The old-timer continued, "I looked into the eyes of the other riders and immediately saw there was no concern for my situation. It would have been useless even to ask them for a ride. But when I looked into your eyes, kindness and compassion were evident. I knew, then and there, that your gentle spirit would welcome the opportunity to give me assistance in my time of need."

Those heartwarming comments touched the horseman deeply. "I'm most grateful for what you have said," he told the old man. "May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion."

With that, Thomas Jefferson turned his horse around and made his way back to the White House.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Attitude is Everything


More than any other characteristic, quality, or trait of human personality, an attitude of positive expectancy is the companion of success in every achievement, every worthwhile venture, and every upward step in human progress.

William James, the founder of American psychology, said:

"The one thing that will guarantee the successful conclusion of a doubtful undertaking is faith in the beginning that you can do it."

Believe in yourself!

 When you believe in yourself, others will believe in you.

 They will put their trust in your ideas

 They will cooperate with you.

 And they will receive the same benefits of this positive expectancy from their own experience.

Believing in yourself and in your work enables you to multiply your efforts and magnify your results.

Develop an Attitude of Positive Expectancy!

An attitude of positive expectancy provides the slight edge not only in athletics but in every area of your life.

Positive expectancy:

 Transforms you into a self-starter.

 Pushes you to develop your potential.

 Inspires you to use your imagination and creativity.

 Impels you to take purposeful action.

 Produces determination.

 Forces you to improve and to change.

 Enables you to gain the slight edge!

With positive expectancy, you can surpass your prior levels of success and often achieve a great deal more than others who lack that essential quality. There is magic in positive expectancy!!!

To gain the slight edge and to become even more like your Creator intended you to be, begin now to adopt these beliefs and make them operative in your life:


You are unique. Your dreams come from the essence of who you really are.


Helping other people recognize their potential and use it meaningfully provides a rich, fulfilling sense of

accomplishment. Always encourage others and be willing to give them an opportunity to prove what they

can be and what they can do. Helping others find their slight edge sharpens your own.

3. A no-limitations belief in potentials and possibilities.

 The greatest dreams are yet to be dreamed.

 The most constructive concepts are yet to be formulated.

 The most successful plans are yet to be drawn!

 Positive Expectancy Works!

It gives you the power of concentration.

By focusing all of your thoughts, plans, and actions on the object of your belief, you:

 define your priorities,

 block out your obstacles,

 maintain your enthusiasm, and

 take responsibility for actions necessary to reach your goal.

It activates the law of attraction:

 You attract positive influences and positive situations, and

 You are drawn to positive results.

It works through visualization:

 You can only be what you visualize yourself being.

 You can do only what you visualize yourself doing.

 You can have only what you visualize yourself having.

i. Develop an attitude of positive expectancy.

ii. Mental images act as stimuli to both the conscious and subconscious mind.

iii. When you meet any kind of obstacle or roadblock, try again immediately.

iv. Setbacks are supposed to be temporary', they become permanent failure only if you stop trying.

v. Refuse to let what anyone says, thinks, or does discourage you!

vi. Put into action the power of positive expectancy and proceed and persevere!

vii. The slight edge, bolstered by the power of positive expectancy, empowers you to build a storehouse of accomplished goals.

viii. Take time to record your accomplishments in writing. A written record serves as a source of satisfaction, providing a warm glow of achievement that can sustain you through tough times and serve as a wellspring of encouragement to yourself and to others.