Thursday, June 21, 2007


(Picture taken on Tuesday Night at Dataran Merdeka during the Candlelight Vigil)

On Tuesday 19June morning, Nurainah Samad, Rocky, Stephen and I was at the Jalan Duta Court Complex to lend support to Jeff Ooi in his ensuing tug-o-war with NST. At 10.45am we crossed Jalan Duta and had a cuppa at Tony G's cafe. By 12.15pm we were at Ruslani and Maria's for mee rebus. I always looked forward to Tuesday; besides meeting blogger-buddies I always enjoyed the company of the effervescent Ruslani. If you enjoy literary discourse and repartee, you have found a soul-mate in Ruslani. I did. Of course I enjoy Maria's mee rebus, but I love her more for what she is, the still attractive, (physically and mentally) grandma who opens her house to ravenous bloggers hungry for her mee rebus and weekly interaction. This afternoon amongst other topics, The Satanic Verses crept into the conversation. Then someone said to another someone: If you insult my religion I will kill you. That jolted me. I didnt expect this outburst. I wanted to leave but it would be impolite, so I drifted to the dining table to chat up two new lady-bloggers, Norfalezah Arshad of cerita ibu and Wan Shana, who made their maiden visit to Maria's. I am usually the last to leave, but I was still disturbed and shortly later, I took my leave. Back at the condo, I got into my swim togs and did twenty laps to cool myself. I was still hot and bothered over what transpired. As the pipe-smoke swirled with a light breeze I went back to May 13 1969 in Sentul. Karen was giving tuition to the Korean Ambassador's kids in Jalan Pahang and on my insistence, the embassy car brought her back to Jalan Sentul, safe. In the meantime a crowd was already attacking the Sri Jaya buses that plied that route. Then Karen reminded me: What is going to happen to Hamid? Ronnie Hamid, our colleague is the only Malay renting a unit, like us, at Union Flats. I went down the two flights of stairs and went to where the commotion was. Identifying who the leader was, an Indian, I went up to him and told him that a chegu in a fiat PB 1173 would be coming home soon as he too had gone out to give tuition in Jalan Ipoh. This guy, slapped me, broke my spectacles and shouted: Are you Chinese or Malay? and threw a kanda stick for me to use. I still bear the mark of the cut on my right nostrils. Before I could reply another Indian man came up and told him that I was a chegu in La Salle. He apologised profusely but told me to get lost. Thank God Hamid got wind of trouble and never came back. During May 13 we hear of many stories of how Malays and Chinese protected each other. In this current situation and in such a polarised environment I wonder if the same protection will ever take place. I pray it will but I have become very pessimistic of late. RELIGION IS ALWAYS A BONDING,BINDING FORCE. RELIGION TEACHES US TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. WHICH RELIGION WILL ENCOURAGE FRIENDSHIP TO CEASE? WHICH RELIGION WILL TEAR FAMILIES APART? TODAY, WARS, GENOCIDE, ARE WAGED IN THE NAME OF RELIGION. RELIGION TODAY IS PITTING PEOPLE OF THE SAME RELIGION AGAINST ONE ANOTHER.
A phone called derailed my train of thoughts. The caller reminded me of our date at 8pm in Dataran Merdeka. It was a candlelight vigil for Revathi, who is under re-education. She is thus separated from her husband Suresh and their child is with her parents. A family torn asunder because of religion. It had rained at about 7.30pm. At 8.00pm Joe Xavier, Toney Yew and I and some 300 Malaysians gathered, lit their candles and prayed on their own. There were no organised speeches, no singing.....Malays, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs, Eurasians, Kadazans....all quietly bonding. I met up with many friends but was especially happy to meet up with former colleague Datuk A Vaithilingam, President, Malaysian Hindu Sangam. If you want a faultless definition of a gentleman, that's Vaithi. The police were around. They ensured that the crowd did not spill into the road for their safety. When the clock struck 9.00pm all quietly dispersed, some thanking the police for their presence and assistance. I got back a little of the faith in Malaysians that I thought I had lost in the afternoon. Allow me to leave this prayer for your contemplation and sustenance:


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Ah Yun Wong said...

Hi, uncle Zorro,
Farish A. Noor has just written an article A Vigil for Malaysia
,touching the same topic as you wrote.

zorro said...

Tks Linken for the headsup. How are you doing. Things, plans taking shape. Do let me know.

J.T. said...

I love this prayer because it says so much. It is a universal prayer. If everyone can live by this prayer, there will be less trouble in this world caused in the name of religion.

Trashed said...

Since the end of the "Cold War", as marked by the fall of the Berlin War, conflicts in the world have been mostly either ethno-centric or religion-based or a mix of both. Examples abound - Rwanda, Bosnia, etc.

Memory may be fading but the last head-to-head skirmishes that I can recall between countries was the Falklands and Iran vs Iraq. The Gulf wars were multilateral, so they are not quite one on one.

Sadly, religion has increasingly become a factor in these conflicts, even between different sects. Perhaps if people can accept (instead of merely tolerating) differences, there will be peace on earth.

On a brighter note, the Northern Ireland conflict between Catholics and Protestants is coming to a peaceful conclusion, so there is hope.

An alternative thought is that if there were no religions, perhaps there would also be peace. In the TV series Star Trek, the Federation is a peaceful alliance of numerous communities in the Universe. As far I can recall watching those chapters, there was no reference to a Higher Being. Maybe that may be the solution in a thousand years from now.

Anonymous said...

Only evils lay hands on a good man like you, ZORRO.

You selflessly tried to protect a Malay from Indians, spouting off pacificist words and gets wallops on your face by a an Indian thug and later ever-willingly attended a vigil for an Indian.

It shows your colourless love for all humans and my high respect for you, sir. But I recommend you to be apathy in a future time to be as
you risk of endangering no one but
yourself. True to the creed, but was it worthwhile, sir?

John Lennon Jr.

BMahendran said...

Dear uncle zorro. Its has been some time since my last visit here :) ur post on this issue got me right down the nerve. I grew up among Malays. It was sooo tat close tat i spoke in Malay in my house for some time :p lol.

sad and pity tat other youngsters are not doing the same, they prefer to stick in the same crowd. fly with the same flock.

Sir, by the way..i need your email for something personal.
Leave me an email at :D thank you sir.

Alliedmartster said...

true. Zorro, the vigil has for me regained some hope in society.
Fact, I saw everyone there as equal, not black, white, yellow, brown, but as Humans who are deeply concerned for a fellow human being.

I met up with a couple of old friends too. Frankly, I never did think myself of being a supporter in these issues. Until what Audra and I experienced, it is support for others that gives us the energy to fight our own fight.

Thanks for sharing you deep wise thoughts.

Alliedmartster said...

true. Zorro, the vigil has for me regained some hope in society.
Fact, I saw everyone there as equal, not black, white, yellow, brown, but as Humans who are deeply concerned for a fellow human being.

I met up with a couple of old friends too. Frankly, I never did think myself of being a supporter in these issues. Until what Audra and I experienced, it is support for others that gives us the energy to fight our own fight.

Thanks for sharing you deep wise thoughts.

Anonymous said...

My dear Zorro

Thank you for the kind words.

Your are such a wonderful person & am glad that I got to know you. You are one soul whose love for your fellow Malaysians goes beyond colour & creed.

I respect you for what you stand & fight for. And you don’t just preach but practise what you believe in and which is reflected in the way you’ve brought up your children.

We don’t have many people like you no more Zorro.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

My dear Zorro,

As usual, I would be eager to read your new posting, but today my happiness was shortlived as I scrolled down your blog. Sigh.

The last time I commented something in Old Blue Eyes in respect of the law and religion, I was shot down really bad and labelled a liberal. That was uncalled for, I thought to myself silently.

And today I am not going do it again. But I am sorry you for what happenend. And I thought, the statement at Kak Marea's on Tuesday last was uncalled for too. But I wasnt there. I might be wrong.

You in my eyes are just like the father I no longer have. Your wits guide me when I am looking for direction. Your colour and religion never bug me thus far.

Take care. Oh, I missed the mee rebus again! Sigh

zewt said...

i really hope one day i will be there at the mee rebus session.

zorro, since you were there... should give a detailed account of may 13... dont u think?

zorro said...

Maybe some other time was traumatic but lessons were learnt....but lessons learnt are now exploited.....if we refuse to change, then nothing can change. It is sad, after 50 me there is nothing to celebrate....50 years of what? Tall buildings, good roads, but the CORE, our hearts and minds are still locked in rabid religiosity and racism. Maybe later Zewt.

The Ancient Mariner said...

I wouldnt really blame these young fellers. They are the product of the system, which sucks big time. And we have voted in the same govt for the last 50 years.

The time has come not to talk about issues and problems, but about SOLUTIONS.

Shanghai Fish said...

Hey Zorro,
I was there, bro and that yelp was perhaps said in jest of course...but if it was really said with malicious intent then this clown will not be invited for any/ all further gatherings...but as I said..I think it was said in a irritated and in a joking manner,knowing what dramatic this canine would like to potray in the company if gentleman and intellects !...sign...Zorro if this operative did offend you, I will tell this moron to retract the words or I shall personally whip him tonight ! (may I borrow your whip, sir ?)

Unknown said...

Dear Unc Zorro, your first hand account would really benefit us young uns' who are born yet on that fateful day. It would help us to understand more. In understanding, maybe we could learn and grow from there. The polarisation of race is really prevalent nowadays. It is a sad reality and hard to break out of.

I long to live in a peaceful Malaysia. Amen to the prayer.

svllee said...

Dear Zorro,

sad to hear read what you wrote, any person who simply use the k word should be given a wide berth.Can you imagine what is going on inside their heads..

A Voice said...

Mr Wise Zorro

I own and read the Satanic Verses. Compared to the book "Shit", it was really revolting. God knows how angry I was.

My anger did not reach the point of agreeing to Ayatollah's death decree on him.

Its a shame for he had great books like Midnight Children and such.

I like the idea of Silence, Non Violence and Compassion.

Unless everyone learn the meaning and do the act of "silence", it is difficult to withold aggression and bring out sympathy.

Lets start by holding back insults, confrontative, and sweeping statements. Too much of late.

Anonymous said...

uncle bernard, your malay neighbour on the other side r bunch of stuck ups and how i wish they live in a dump. just glad having u in between. perhaps u can differentiate between 2 malay families and not all malay r a**holes...hahha!

and having u and nick the everton guy sitting over some pipes and puffs at the garden bench, what could be more malaysian than that?

zorro said...

Voice, I was given an opportunity to read the Satanic Verses. Because of the publicity over this book and it being banned and condemned, I refused to read this book, primarily because it is said to insult the Quran. i personally do not take kindly to the belittling of any religion.It is sad that SR used his prodigious talent of the written word to smear the Quran. However I did enjoy Midnight Children and the Black Moor.Agree with you that especially at this particular time we must be more proactive, less vindictive and more accommodating to others preferred views. Sometimes, by engaging a person instead of instigating that same person, we can both change and have a better world-view of things.Thanks for your comment....always value it.

zorro said...

My dear neighbor Kerp. Yes our meeting in the garden, Indian Nick father of Mikel, You, my kampong boy, and me uncle chinaman....if that serani uncle Gerry comes out more often we would be an ideal quartet. Kerp, who are the people I rojak with nowadays....Malays. I have always had had malay friends...I was introduced to black label fire-water by the PM's father-in-law (God Bless him), I learnt how to play mahjong from chegu Mohd. Nor whom my children call uncle bumi. The reason why I bought the unit next to yours is because I liked your dad Shah and your mum Sophie. And I enjoyed it everytime I crossed over for a meal with you all. I am picky about friends, but when I chose them to be my friends, I VALUE them.

Anonymous said...

me, mom and dad cldnt have asked for a better neighbour. u r most welcome here anytime of the day, and night.

will be looking forward to meet up with u and find out more abt your and aunty karen's experience during those trying times back in may '69.

perhaps if i drink, i can always cross over to your place for a pint or 2...hahha..

Nowhere Man said...

I was there too...It was probably my first gathering with you guys too..
Was monitoring the conversation and i thought that it was meant in jest...But, i may be wrong( hopefully not).
Living in Indonesia, had taught me that it is indeed possible to live in harmony and respecting one's rights but Malaysia amazes me..On one hand everything looks ok but it is so fragile where a wrong word uttered, intentional or otherwise meant no turning back !
A bit edgy, if you ask me, to the things and balance that i've grown accustommed to.

Anonymous said...

We may have reached 50 years but sad to say we are still enveloped by the demons of racism, religious extremism, bigotry. Religion is supposed to heal the world but sadly it has become a tool to fan the flames of hatred. When can we ever learn? When? Probably never. Take care Zorro, but never give up the fight against oppression, hatred, lies, bigotry.

Anonymous said...

Zorro, your account on May 13,1969 reminded me of how my father and his mostly Indian friends fished out a Malay man probably attacked overnight before being thrown in a nearby river to die.They gave him first aid before the ambulance came.I was also reminded of what my mum who stayed in Klang during the Japanese time used to say about her dad who sheltered the chinese neighbours in their farmhouse during raids as the Japs targetted Chinese homes.They normally let off the Indian homes saying the respected Gandhi in India.


Anonymous said...

bolih tak siapa yang makan cili tu memang dah rasa pedas kan.... so apa lagi stand up la and minta sure you will be pardoned....come Tuesdays we meet to makan the delicious mee rebus at kak maria' my dear Zorro...ampun kan la mereka tu ok.... anonymous 917

KH Lim Blogs said...

Dear Mr Bernard Khoo, Sir!

Yes, I remember those days even though I was still in Primary School LSS 2.
Reading your little adventure makes me proud. But then, you were the "much feared" discipline master and football coach, so we would not expect any less of you!

ME136 said...

My response is in relation to what Zorro said about the remark made at Maria's mee rebus shop, and to Shanghai's comment about how such people should not get away with such remarks.

I like to read blogs because it reveals the state and quality of public discourse. There are times when people make slanderous statements about the personal lives of others (i feel such statements are unwarranted and unnecessary); pass unfair and unsubstantiated generalisations about another religion/ ethnic group/ profession/ gender/ etc.

I'm torn between two schools of thought here: do we condone such outbursts and statements because everyone has the right to voice his or her opinion because the Internet is after all a public sphere and an avenue for democratic discussions; OR do we put curbs on what can be said and what can not, in other words do we play Cyber God. Then again, if we did have some form of policing, we will never know the state in which public discussion is and if it is moving towards a more constructive discourse.

tony -stand-up philosopher said...

Zorro Sir,
I will not judge any religion by the words and actions of an individual contrary to the teachings of the religion he or she professes. And I hope my religion is not judged by my actions contrary to the teachings of my religion.
Just a reminder from Milton, 'He that studieth revenge keepeth his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well'-John Milton

zorro said...

SUP - noted with appreciation, as always.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take a genius to figure out the who and what. I'm glad I was at the table n not down there.

I grew up with all kinda slurs to my race and faith, so I tak heran with slurs laa.

But the funny thing is, it is those who practice a philosophy who are more tolerant and understanding...know what I mean?

I've never had problems with patently wiser comrades like Kak Maria n her hubby, Nuraina, Rocky, Voice (who's honesty n sense of humour always helps)apart frm u n regulars Shanghai,Tony, Mob, Elvi.

Decency n tolerance comes at a premium these days. and the blog fraternity is already unravelling bit by bit.

glad someone else actually feels my unease at what's happening these days...