8 March 2008 – Keeping in mind our dissent

This  month brings back the memories of the vote of dissent by 49% of  Malaysians in the last General Election against the ruling political party. In  West Malaysia there was a 51% opposition vote. For the first time  the Barisan National was denied its 2/3 majority in Parliament.

Many Malaysians had hoped to see a fairer, freer and  friendlier country since then. We wanted a clearer separation of powers between political party and government, religion and government,  race and government and law and government. This is our country and it does not belong to any political party (ruling or otherwise). Has there been much change?

We would like to see the government uphold the rule of law, to look after the welfare of its peoples and not use its system to just protect the ruling political party’s elite members and their abuse of powers. Has there been much change?

Our legitimate political dissent and opposition to the ruling party is our constitutional right. It  also plays a vital role of check and balance and must not  be misconstrued as our being enemies of the state which is what the ruling party has been doing in the last fifty years. Has there been much change?

Most of us do not cherish the idea of living under these extreme conditions  any longer. Do you?

There are more then 4.5 million Malaysians eligible to vote but they have not registered yet. Let’s get as many as possible to do so for the next election. Let’s vote our way to a fairer, freer and friendlier country. Can we make the changes ourselves and for our children?

Listen and watch Malaysians speak, sing and dance their hopes and aspirations for the future…

Ipoh, Now and Then.


Distinctive and mineral rich limestone outcrops surround Ipoh city.

Limestone outcrops  dot the Kinta Valley in Perak. The capital city, Ipoh, is surrounded by these geological features. These natural structures, formed over millions of years,  greet you as you enter or exit. The geology of this area was and still is  its natural assets. Tin was like its gold. Ipoh was a place tin and its peoples built.

The history of Ipoh was a continuing  fight over tin and other natural resources.  Today,  the battle is over the governing of the state and what’s left of its natural heritage and its peoples – for those in power to exploit. This week’s  news, from the Federal Court, that the people of Ipoh will not be given a second chance to decide their own government but instead have been forced to accept one they didn’t elect, is another dark chapter of its history.

How can the people of Perak deal with the present situation in Perak?  Over the last weekend, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia brought some useful ideas to more than 120 participants in Ipoh.  At that forum, they got to know about the history of the struggle of all Malaysians  against their rulers and those in power, then and now.

Here is my video of some of the highlights of the event.

Swee’s memory of our mother


My mother passed away almost three years ago. My mother was diagnosed with congestive heart condition in late 1999.  Seven years later, on 31st October 2006, she was admitted into University Hospital to have a heart by-pass surgery.


My mother never regained consciousness after her surgery.  Sadly, 40 days later on 9th December 2006 at 7.00pm, she passed away at the age of 80 still in the Intensive Care Unit.  I did not get to hold my Mum’s hand or stroke her face one last time as she passed away before I got there.


I remember vividly the day when my brother rang to tell me that my mother was critically ill.  My husband and I were our way to do our weekly groceries shopping.  It was 12.30pm in Auckland where we live and over in Kuala Lumpur it was 7.30am in the morning.  My instincts told me that it was not good news.

I had no empathy about death until I lost my dear mother.  My heart was like a vase smashed by a hammer. Baffled and bereft, I somehow muddled through in the days after her death. Her death taught me that life is fleeting and family counts. Conjuring her voice, her infectious laughter and our frequent long distance calls have become a way for me to keep her close, to gather together the bits and pieces of her that reside within me.


Born in 1926, my mother’s life spanned the Great Depression, World War II, the repressed ‘50s, the stormy ‘60s, disco, Y2K, 9/11, mobile phones, the digital revolution, emails and beyond.
I love the twinkle in Mum’s eyes whenever she talked about Seenum, my brother’s son.  Being a traditionalist, having grandson to carry on the Chin’s family name was her ultimate desire in her life.  My nephew fulfilled my Mum’s joy and pride.

Now when I go back to the house where Mum lived, I can almost see my mother’s face peering out the lounge window as my husband and I arrive even before we get to the door bell. She’s been gone nearly three years and her presence still permeates through out the house, her bedroom, the kitchen, the garden, the verandah, everywhere.
My mother left me with lots of famous sayings and lots of funny stories. This is how I get through the loss of my mother — by telling stories of her exploits, by laughing at her infamous mispronunciations, by remembering her strength, by following her Hakka recipes (“harm gai” which is her secret Hakka recipe of soaking a steamed “kampong” chicken in her concoction of home brewed rice wine and granulated salt).

In a letter she wrote for my brother and to read after her death, which we found in her drawer beneath ancient bank statements, I never really thought about death until I lost my mother. But losing someone close to you gives you clarity. It helps you see what matters most; it allows you to appreciate the precious pieces a person leaves behind.
It’s my mother’s voice I hear whenever I am worried, in response to my worries about money or work or weight.


My mother may be gone, but she is never gone from my heart as I replay fond memories of her. My mother and I shared a great mother and daughter relationship and bond.  She had an irrepressible love of a good mother and will be unforgettable.  I don’t ever recall saying out loud “I love you” to my mother.  Words may be missing but we had a deep affection for each other.  Most of the time, even before she opened her mouth to say something, I already had an inclination what my mother is going to tell me. I still miss her very much and I know she is always watching over me, my brother and her immediate family members.