Not quite dead enough

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

The latest, and needless, controversy over the return of the ashes of Chin Peng to his home state of Perak is much ado over nothing. 

It was reported on Tuesday that the ashes of Asia’s last revolutionary and the former leader of the Communist Party of Malaya had been quietly returned in September and scattered, partly in the sea and partly in the jungles of Perak, his home state.

Ever since the peace agreement with the Malaysian government in 1989, various CPM leaders have returned home under the terms of the accord. All except Chin Peng who was refused entry despite his oft-stated wish to be, at least, buried there. 

It was not for want of trying. The unrepentant communist took his desire to return to court and finally lost in the Federal Court only because his lawyers could not prove that he’d been born in Malaya. 

Even when he died in 2013 – in Thailand, of cancer – he continued to remain in exile as the then-government barred the return of his ashes. 

Be that as it may, his ashes have not only returned but have been scattered in Malaysia. But the tumult over the matter is astonishing. OK, so some octogenarian ex-colleagues of the former insurgent may have brought back his remains without permission. 

That’s a crime?

It’s a waste of time and money to devote resources to investigate the matter. More astounding was the hypothesis put forward by at least one UMNO leader: that the return of said remains might somehow re-ignite a communist revival in Malaysia. 

That is about as absurd an idea as the notion of chocolate-covered ants.

First off, the communists were not at all popular by the time the 1970s rolled around. Although its movement persisted until the late 1980s, the fact that it agreed to almost all the Malaysian police’s demands showed that its back was broken and it was more or less a surrender, albeit an honourable one. 

The fuss over the late communist’s remains also underscores no little hypocrisy on the opposition’s part. The reason why the CPM lasted so long was because it was, for the longest time, supported by the Communist Party of China.

It is also something that all Malaysian governments – past and present – prefer to conveniently forget. When it comes to China, it appears, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

A resurgence of communism?


The collapse of the USSR has almost completely strengthened the hand of capitalism in one variety or another. Lenin is dead and the old Communist order represented by Chin Peng and his ilk have vanished along with the Berlin Wall and the Warsaw Pact.  

If you disregard a paranoid North Korea, the only remaining communist countries in Asia are the three that essentially practice state capitalism – China, Vietnam and Laos. 

It is clear that it isn’t an issue of communism, it’s just the politics of nuisance and race. 

“What do you expect us to do?” asked Dr Mahathir quite reasonably. “Pick up all his ashes?”


The man is dead after all. There is nothing left there but the ghosts of Communism Past. As the police chief character in To Kill a Mockingbird says towards the book’s end: “Let the dead bury the dead Mr Finch.”

“Let the dead bury the dead.”


Rural dwellers in France are feeling threatened by city slickers moving into the countryside. 

Indeed, a series of court cases lately have pitted the traditional way of life in rural France against modern values which, country-dwellers say, are creeping in from the city.

It all started with Maurice. 

Maurice was a loud, strutting rooster who was so cocky that he was the pride and joy of his owner Monsieur Louis Gaspard who extolled its virtues to all and sundry. 

But Monsieur Sundry did not like the cacophonous cock. He had newly moved in from Paris, a civilised place where roosters did not frighten the daylights out of neighbours at daybreak. 

A civilised city such as Paris would know what to do with the raucous rooster, thought the much maligned neighbour vengefully. Render it into a mouth-watering marsala perhaps?

Some hot fowl curry on a cold winter’s day is always nice, thought Monsieur Sundry wistfully. This shocked the prudish Monsieur Gaspard: he knew that fowl was a four letter bird. 

And that was how it ended up in court. 

According to Reuters, the case was heard in Soustons, 700 km south-west of Paris, which just showed how far Monsieur Sundry had fled to obtain some peace and quiet. 

His lawyer said the piercing noise emitted by the cacophonous cockerel each morning exceeded the permissible levels permitted any rooster holding French citizenship. The ensuing bedlam, argued the lawyer, prevented the Sundrys from sleeping with their house-windows open. 

In short, he wanted damages for his anguish and suffering.

The judge thought the barrister was talking cock and he said so. He ruled that the consequential cockerel was free to do what it did best which was to cock-a-doodle-do until the cows came home or the buffalo roamed.  

He was not known as Monsieur Cliche for nothing. 

Meanwhile, the legal cases have spread. Case in point: the ducks and geese on a small French smallholding may carry on quacking, a French court ruled on Tuesday, rejecting a neighbour’s complaint that the birds’ racket was making their life a misery.

About 60 ducks and geese had been kept by retired farmer Dominique Douthe in the foothills of the Pyrenees and the daily commotion they made had driven the neighbour, newly moved from Paris, to distraction, not to mention drink.

Madame Douthe felt compelled to defend her flock lest her goose be cooked. Her lawyer rose to heights of eloquence in court arguing that her newly moved-in neighbour was on a wild-goose-chase and Madame Douthe’s flock was no less than nature’s bounty.

Even their occasional trips to town were a treat, he argued. It  was sheer “poultry in motion.”  

The disgruntled neighbour is planning to appeal on the grounds that the judge was biased. 

The judge was well known in his rural neighbourhood for his unrelenting dandruff. During the trial, he was only seen to perk up when a witness for the defendant – an expert on shampoo – testified. 

The expert testified that his company only obtained its dandruff-resistant shampoo after a study on the dietary habits of geese. It showed that the addition of gluten to the final formula worked wonders on the scalp.Bread was good for the birds and so, what’s good for the goose was good for the dander.

Listen to what the man said

You’d think the Minister would leave himself some wriggle room. 

But no, there was Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Yusof in Parliament, stubbornly sticking to his story that the country could see its “flying car” take off by the end of the year. That’s a month and a half away. 

In Malaysia, there is only one vehicle with wheels and flies. It’s called a garbage truck. 

To Malaysians tired of Dr Mahathir’s near-delusional obsession with a “national car of our own,” this flying car idea seems like more garbage of the sort first trumpeted in 1984. Mr Redzuan should get real. 

If after more than 30 years in the business, we are still incapable of nurturing a genuine auto industry that can innovate, we should give up the ghost, stop throwing good money after bad and call it quits. 

Proton, Dr Mahathir’s brainchild and the country’s first national car, has been a monumental failure. Even with continued protection, it began bleeding because its models were of inferior quality and the company had to be delisted to prevent a national embarrassment. Only after China’s Geely bought into it in September, 2017, and took over its management, did its fortunes improve. 

A smart leader would have declared a Malaysian victory at this point and moved on.

But no, this administration is a glutton for punishment and has since announced plans for a third national car. It has promised, however, that no government funds will be involved in the venture. Unfortunately, no one believes it for a minute.

All this is, of course, separate and distinct from Mr Redzuan’s flying car. No one will be surprised to hear plans for a “car without wheels” next. I bet they’d work on it tirelessly too.  

Mr Redzuan was speaking in Parliament because Khairy Jamaluddin had asked him a question about the “ecosystem” for flying cars. Methinks he shouldn’t take the Rembau MP too seriously. Let’s face it, he really didn’t do anything remarkable when he was the Minister of Youth and Sport in the previous administration apart from bemoaning the fact that Malaysian youth rarely exercised. 

You could not say the same about YB Khairy and exercise: he was generally surrounded by dumbbells.

Indeed, the one thing that sticks in the memory about the MP was a videotaped conversation between him and the former Prime Minister which was widely distributed over social media just before the general election on May 9 last year.

Mr Khairy can be seen talking soberly to Mr Najib about the challenges posed by the election. He ticked off three points that he said the opposition coalition was using against the government. In order, it was “slander, incitement and false hopes”. 

I’m not sure about the “incitement” bit and there might be something to be said about the “false hopes”. If I remember right, however, most of the so-called “slander” revolved around 1MDB and its alleged pillages of government institutions. 

Earlier this week, Mr Najib was asked to file his defence against seven charges of abuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering all involving 1MDB, brought against him by Malaysia’s Attorney General. 

In response, Mr Khairy tweeted something to the effect that the ex-PM, and his former coffee shop mate, was still innocent until proven guilty. 

That is an obvious and quite unnecessary statement and one wonders why the Rembau MP felt compelled to issue it. 

Almost like saying that any car can be damaged. Like Mr Redzuan driving his car into a tree to show how a Mercedes bends. 


Despite allegations at him hurled,

The fat fraud’s been circuiting the world,

With a ‘ticket, and a ‘tasket,

A whopping currency basket, 

A heist so big, Dr M’s hair did curl.

It wouldn’t do; a million or three,

It had to be billions going to me. 

Look after Boss was the remit, 

Beyond that, the sky’s the limit.

All one had to do was remain free.

For six glorious years all was fine:

A yacht, a plane, women, fine wine.

Until the cracks began, 

Which the Edge duly fanned

Into the blaze that became May 9. 

With one voice the people had spoken,

Finally, the Bee-N got broken;

Umno-cat was belled;

The mighty were felled;

From slumber, the voters had woken.

Shocked, the Boss could run but could’t flee.

“It’s all someone’s fault, not me” wailed he.

As for Jho,

He laid Low

And deeply dreaded the IGP.

The plump pirate planned to run forever,

So far so good, but never say never.

St Kitts was a bust,

Macau bit the dust,

A haven was what he needed, if ever.

The Boss himself had little or no shame, 

To Sharol, even Jho, he assigned blame.

While playing his fiddle, 

The country got diddled.

In court, he now has his fair share of fame.

Jho thought he’d everyone paid for and bought.

But all his best laid plans had come to naught. 

The moral of this story

Is positively hoary:

A crime isn’t wrong until one gets caught.

The global noose for Jho is tightening,

And in nowhere is it ever  brightening.

Like this plain rhyme,

It will take time.

Alas, poor Jho, it must be frightening!

For Fatso, all roads are leading to jail, 

That’s enough to make even Rosmah quail.

He will only know his fate after he loses some weight,

During the time he’s imprisoned without bail.

One man’s pleasure is another’s treasure

Indonesia has struck a mighty blow against inflation. 

In a battle for market share in South-East Asia’s biggest economy, e-hailing rides Gojek and Grab are giving discounts of as much as 50% and more on purchases made online or with e-wallets.

It’s making food more affordable especially fried rice, the country’s national dish, whose price has dropped by half. It’s even allowed the country’s central bank to cut interest rates. 

The Indonesian obsession with fried rice, or nasi goreng as they call it, goes all the way back to 1842 when the country was still under Dutch colonial rule. 

Pa’ Kapuas had been one of the cooks in the kitchen of Pieter Van de Voort, the then Dutch Governor when the word came down that the great colonialist was sick of pea soup and would appreciate something different.

PK was racking his brains for an idea when his eye fell idly on some steamed rice, salt, eggs, onions and chilli in that order. A superstitious man might have shuddered and thrown some of the salt over his left shoulder to avoid the evil eye. 

A weaker man might have gone for the safe option and prepared an omelette. But PK was made of sterner stuff and he stir-fried the whole combination, delicately garnishing the result with some crisply fried garlic.  

Laid before the potentate, it made for an appetising sight and it pleased Pieter powerfully. Indeed, the personage pronounced it patently pleasurable and promptly named a river after the delighted chef. 

This was how Indonesia’s longest river – the Sungai Kapuas – got christened. And if the dish was good enough for a Governor, it was good enough for the people. 

In fact, Jakarta is considering applying to UNESCO to recognise its fried rice as an “intangible treasure”, a valuable heritage not unlike India’s yoga, the US’ Dylan and Italy’s pizza.

The Italians knew they deserved the honour because Dean Martin himself had equated it to love in his famous Amore.  But they weren’t happy that Chinese fried noodles had also been given the same status. 

It made the Italians furious actually because they thought it was nowhere near its Roman equivalent. That’s why they were convinced it was an impasta. 

For their part, the people in that country could not understand why everyone kept referring to its cuisine as “Chinese” food. In China, everyone just called it food. 

Like the Indonesians, the French also yearned for its breakfast roll – the baguette – to be UNESCO heritage-listed. In fact, when not marrying his teacher, France’s President Macron was constantly writing letters to the UN organisation reminding it of its forgetfulness. 

The baguette has a proud and noble role in French history. 

It sustained many a French army marching towards surrender.  Marie Antoinette even lost her head over a careless reference to the revered dish. 

When told sometime in the 17th Century, that the French people were starving and needed food, the queen replied irritably: “Let zem eat baguette.”

You could see why some people might get testy over such a remark.

Malaysians might be pleased to learn that the traditional dance of mak’yong has been heritage-listed by UNESCO as far back as 2005.  Unfortunately, the Kelantanese traditional dance has also been first banned, then degraded by the Islamic party PAS which takes great pride in being Holier than Thou. 

“Holier Than Thou” is also the name of a tattoo and piercing parlour in Jinjang.