Down Memory Lane with Bobby Vee

September 24, 2016

Our Weekend Entertainment–Here’s Bobby Vee

Another Weekend is upon us and soon September will give way to October, and after that Americans will go to the ballot box to choose Obama’s successor in The White House. Who will she be? Your guess is as good as Dr. Kamsiah’s, or mine.

Our American friends are facing many challenges at home and abroad, quite reminiscent of 1968 when Din Merican was a 28-year-old student in Washington DC.

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At Pochengtong International Airport, Phnom Penh with Dr. Kamsiah Haider

America was then embroiled in the Vietnam War and engaged in the Cold War  with The Soviet Union. Today, the Land of the Brave and the Free is caught in a  Middle East mess over Syria  with a resurgent Putin-led Russia, and waging a war against international terrorism, while having to cope with social unrest and economic anxieties at home.

In 1968 , it was Richard M. Nixon and Hubert H. Humphrey and in 2016 it is Donald J. Trump and Hillary R. Clinton. In that election, Nixon won narrowly. Could the outcome of this  election be a Republican Presidency?   Although it is a toss-up at the stage and, therefore, too close call, that possibility cannot be ignored.

History could be repeating itself since the human race never learns its lessons, and we collectively are damned to repeat follies of the past.

We should be well advised  not to vex and wane over this since we cannot do anything about big power rivalry except to suffer the consequences when men with awesome power compete for supremacy.

Men and women, young and old, and children die as politicians in power and their advisors play  their war games in the comfort of their plush offices in their respective capitals, and at the United Nations, that useless relic of Second World War.

Dr Kamsiah and Din Merican are, however, happy to present Bobby Vee as our guest entertainer for this weekend. May Bobby bring back sweet memories of a bygone era for you. –Dr. Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican

Bonus No– Via Veneto by Dean Martin


Matt Monroe: From the Greatest London Bus Driver to Britain’s Voice of the 20th Century

September 11, 2016

Matt Monroe: From the Greatest London Bus Driver to Britain’s Voice of the 20th Century

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Greetings from Phnom Penh. Dr Kamsiah Haider is spending her Hari Raya Haji break with Din Merican.  We took a tour of some parts of Phnom Penh city. The rain did not damp our enthusiasm.

Politics aside, we have pleasure to introduce the singing London Business driver, the James Bond of British entertainment with his  unique clear voice with style that defines music of that era of 1950s and 196os, that is before the arrival of Cliff Richard and The Shadows and Liverpool boys, The Beatles on the scene. Dr Kamsiah  and Din Merican present this moving tribute to Terry Parsons/Matt Monroe. Enjoy.–Dr. Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican

Your Weekend Entertainment

September 4, 2016

Your Weekend Entertainment: Che Che Che Det

Thanks to one of my FB friends, Isabella Dalli, Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican decided to play this video for our entertainment in the first September weekend. The video should be given the 2016 Emmy Award for home entertainment. It is record of the Mahathir Administration in a song.  The music is good and the lyrics are biting but true. So relax and enjoy yourself.

We are sure that Rosmah Mansor and her supporters will find it amusing. Only Rosmah can checkmate the former  Prime Minister of Malaysia who destroyed our Judiciary, civil service and other institutions including UMNO which he replaced by creating the kleptocratic and corrupt UMNO Baru.

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Itu  lah Che Det,  hang ingat, hang pandai, akhirnya hang kena main oleh penuntut hang dari Pekan. Pahang yang dibantu oleh strategis dia, Rosmah Mansor–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Maybe this is more passionate than Che Det since this by Lionel Ritchie and  his charming companion.


A Weekend for Easy Listening

August 13, 2016

A Weekend for Easy Listening

Easy Listening? Well for that, there is no one than Perry Como who can do it in style. He belongs to a generation of crooners led by Bing Crosby. So here is as your entertainer for this weekend. All you have to do is to  sit back and take it easy and let Mr. Como do his thing with his opening number Papa Love Mambo, which was a hit in the 1950’s. With best wishes from Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican.



Enough Pressure, desegregation can occur

August 12, 2016

Enough Pressure, desegregation can occur

by Tunku Zain Al-Abidin


The (Malaysian) government’s role in regulating the things (some) Malaysians consider to be fun has punctuated our country’s political life for decades.  The first Prime Minister brushed off protests by students of Universiti Malaya over certain concerts in campus, but perhaps Malaysians of my generation will remember the controversy over Michael Jackson’s performance in 1996 being amusingly portrayed by cartoonist Dato’ Lat.

In the face of religious objections to Selena Gomez’s recent concert, the Selangor Menteri Besar bravely replied “sexiness is God’s creation and subjective, do not be over excited by it”.  Prayers for her concert to be cancelled did not have the desired effect, but she dressed more modestly than usual, and 4,000 Selenators kept their hands to themselves.

Pokemon Go is the current target for calls for a ban. Apart from religious justifications, the mobile nature of the game has also led to arguments based on concerns about public safety and trespassing.

So far, only the Kedah fatwa committee has declared the game haram for Muslims, while the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has released safety guidelines. Earlier, the minister gave himself some wriggle room by saying: “Even though some countries may restrict it, we in Malaysia have not reached that stage.”

The same minister also stepped in to modify the awards for the upcoming Malaysian Film Festival so that the Best Picture category will no longer be segregated by language, which had been the case since 2011, though the awards have been running since 1980.

This year, two acclaimed films (Jagat and Ola Bola) were nominated in the Non-Bahasa Malaysia category, and actor Afdlin Shauki announced he would be boycotting the festival because of the segregation, asking “When will Malaysians, no matter the race, be truly recognised for their craft as Malaysian artwork?”

This move was publicly approved by Dato’ Seri Nazir Razak and Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, triggering viral support, but perhaps the most dramatic act was cinematographer Mohd Noor Kassim returning his two awards (won in 2009 for Setem and 2011 for Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa) to organiser National Film Development Corporation (Finas) Director-General in a garbage bag. “In film, the language of film is what’s important,” he said.  Indeed, this week at the premiere of Temuan Takdir — a fully Malay film — its Malaysian multiracial credentials were rightfully highlighted.

While the minister’s intervention might be hailed as a progressive move as a result of listening to the people, we should question the very idea of politicians having such powers over culture in the first place.

There is a fine line between government being a facilitator and promoter of culture as defined by the people on the one hand, and of actually being the arbiter of what constitutes Malaysian culture on the other.  (In pre-Merdeka times, some art forms certainly enjoyed royal patronage, yet folk art also prospered outside the palaces.)

The creation and appreciation of culture (including our enjoyment of non-Malaysian output) belongs to every citizen, not to politicians, yet during cultural controversies, agitators often cite the Federal Constitution, the National Culture Policy, Bangsa Malaysia, 1Malaysia and of course, their own religious beliefs to press the government to take their side and use the power of the State to enforce it.

However, another cultural controversy came and went without any political involvement last week when local television show MeleTOP parodied Yuna’s performance with Usher (of them singing “Crush” at the Roots Picnic music festival) featuring an actor in blackface.

The video was widely shared online, leading Yuna to post a forceful message asking those who found it funny to educate themselves on the practice now considered highly disrespectful in the United States.  Here was an example of cultural sensitivity being developed not by political fiat, but by an appeal to history and education — and the show duly removed the video and issued a “sincere apology.”

Last weekend at KLPAC, I witnessed another precious cross-cultural phenomenon — Ahmad Yatim’s adaptation of Trisno Sumardjo’s translation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet directed by Dato’ Faridah Merican.

The fact that a play written in Tudor England can resonate with a Malaysian audience in our national language emphasises the universality of storytelling.

While there are brave pioneers in the arts world leading the way forward, the political world remains stuck in the past, or at best constrained by what apologists will call “political realities.”

Our country’s newest political party has an explicitly racial name and there are two classes of membership based on race.  Our arts pioneers have shown with enough pressure, desegregation can occur.

It is up to voters to apply the same pressure in our politics towards towards the same objective.

* Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin is founding president of Ideas


Your Weekend of Songs–Rick Nelson

July 16, 2016

Your Weekend of Songs–Rick Nelson

After a short break when Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican were in New York and Washington, we are pleased to feature the songs of teenage idol of the 1960’s, Rick Nelson for your entertainment this weekend. He needs no introduction to men and women of Din’s generation. The millennials, however, can visit wikipedia. org for his resume which is indeed impressive.

BTW, our visit to the United States was always exciting with plenty to see. We also made new friends and renewed our contact with old ones.

We were fortunate to be in Washington on the Fourth of July and had the time to spend some time at Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington and Hanover, Va and revisit monuments around the capital and the campus  of The George Washington University, just a few blocks from The White House. The Fourth of July Fireworks in Washington DC was a spectacle. Smokey Robinson and other entertainers were there to entertain all of us. It was an unforgettable occasion, thanks to our host and friend, Ambassador John R. Malott.

Please have a good weekend.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican