Happy Birthday, America: It is the Fourth of July

July 4, 2015

4th of July

It is The Fourth of July for Americans at home and abroad. As a friend of your country and a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington D.C., I ( and my wife Dr. Kamsiah) extend to you our warmest wishes  and congratulations on your country’s birthday.

Once again, thank you for the generosity and consideration you gave me when I was a graduate student Kamsiah and Din4(1968-1970).  During my time at DC some 40+ years  ago–I visited your beautiful city again with my wife in June, 2013 as a guest of former US Ambassodor to Malaysia John R. Mallot–I witnessed you moan the loss of Martin Luther King and Robert Francis Kennedy and agonise over the loss of American lives in Vietnam.

I admired the manner in which you sought to end that bloody and costly war which destabilised South East Asia and brought untold tragedy and genocide to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia where I now live and work at the Techo Sen (Hun Sen) School of Government and International Relations, The University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

The idea of America is best summed up in these words in Latin e pluribus unum–out of many, one.  These words led me to read Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter’s  delightful and educational book, The Idea that is AMERICA: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World.  Maybe by sheer coincidence, I just finished reading it today. Anne-Marie’s book comes to you with my recommendation.

Adlai StevensonStatesman and Presidential Candidate

In the opening of her concluding chapter (pg.215), Anne-Marie quotes my favorite American Statesman, Presidential Candidate and Diplomat, Adlai Stevenson as follows:

When an American says that he loves his country,  he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistenng in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self respect.–Adlai Stevenson

In the opening paragraph of that chapter, Stars to Steer By,  she says in almost Stevensonian fashion, and I quote her: “American patriotism is grounded not only in our love for the values our country stands for–of the idea that is  America, no matter how far short we may fail in practice. It is the idea that knits us together in our vast diversity. It is the idea that our soldiers fought for. It is the idea that all patriotic citizens stand for, even against our own government. And it is an idea that ultimately belongs to all the world’s peoples.”

James Balwin and Msrtin Luther KingJames Baldwin with Dr. King

Grandiose indeed. But inspirational. And yes, the idea is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the United of America. Anne-Marie also quotes my favorite African-American novelist who said: “I love America more than any other country in this world; and, exactly for  this reason. I insist on the right to criticise her perpetually.”(pg.14)

On the occasion of the 239th Anniversary of your freedom from the tyranny of King George III, I have a simple message to the Obama White House, the members of the US Congress and captains of American Industry. Diplomacy is about making friends. Foreign policy is about the pursuit of peace and cooperation and building partnerships founded on mutual respect and trust.

It is time to put an end to the era of regime change initiated by George W. Bush and his neo-conservatives. Make friends, not enemies. The world does not need hegemons, and prophets of war. We need enlightened leaders, not egotists and dictators.

To celebrate the Fourth of July, Dr. Kamsiah and I have to chosen John Denver to entertain us. Mr. Denver,  may God Bless you and thank you for your musical legacy.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican.

Your Weekend Entertainment by The Mekong–Glen Travis Campbell

June 27, 2015

Your Weekend Entertainment by The Mekong

FCC in Phnom Penh

It is that time of the week when we all can hopefully relax after 7 days of political shadow play in Malaysia, the Land of Endless Impossibilities. As Dr Kamsiah and I promised, we bring on Glen Campbell as our guest entertainer.  We  except those who are averse to country music,can agree that Glen, who was a single handicapper in golf, joins the pantheon of the great exponents of this kind of wholesome American music like Hank Williams, Eddie Arnold, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, John Denver, and others.


Glen Travis Campbell (born April 22, 1936) is an American country music singer, guitarist, television host, and occasional actor. He is best known for a series of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, and for hosting a variety show called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS television.

During his 50 years in show business, Campbell has released more than 70 albums. He has sold 45 million records and accumulated 12 RIAA Gold albums, 4 Platinum albums and 1 Double-Platinum album. He has placed a total of 80 different songs on either the Billboard Country Chart, Billboard Hot 100, and/or the Adult Contemporary Chart, of which 29 made the Top 10 and of which nine reached number one on at least one of those charts. Campbell’s hits include his recordings of John Hartford‘s “Gentle on My Mind“, Jimmy Webb‘s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix“, “Wichita Lineman“, and “Galveston“, Larry Weiss‘s “Rhinestone Cowboy“, and Allen Toussaint‘s “Southern Nights“.

Glen Campbell in 1975Shelter from the Storm

Campbell made history in 1967 by winning four Grammys total, in the country and pop categories.[2] For “Gentle on My Mind” he received two awards in country and western, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” did the same in pop. Three of his early hits later won Grammy Hall of Fame Awards (2000, 2004, 2008), while Campbell himself won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. He owns trophies for Male Vocalist of the Year from both the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM), and took the CMA’s top award as 1968 Entertainer of the Year. In 1969 actor John Wayne picked Campbell to play alongside him in the film True Grit, which gave Campbell a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. Campbell sang the title song which was nominated for an Academy Award

Without further ado, here is Mr. Glen Travis Campbell in tribute for his great music and unique singing style.. –Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Let us hope this works–The Sioux  Falls Concert featuring Glen Campbell


Guest Artiste: Issac Hayes

Remembering Glen Campbell

June 21, 2015

Remembering Glen Campbell

Glen CampbellGlen Campbell

I thought about this great and talented country and western singer who was diagnosed with Alzheimer  a few years ago  as  I reflected on my days as a graduate student in the United States in the 1960s. It was during this period that Glen Campbell burst onto the music scene  with his hit song Wichita Lineman.

He had many hits after that, which Dr. Kamsiah and I will bring to you next weekend. But this one is inspiring. I dedicate this to you, my Malaysian brothers and sisters. We are facing challenging times and need to stand together. May Glen’s rendition of He ain’t heavy, he’s my Brother inspire all of us. –Din Merican

Ashley Campbell’s Tribute to Glen

Barry Manilow for Glen

Your Entertainment from Phnom Penh by The Mekong

June 13, 2015

Your Weekend Entertainment from Phnom Penh:Paul Simon

We are already into Saturday afternoon. It is time for Dr. Kamsiah (in Din MericanKKuala Lumpur) and Din Merican (here in Phnom Penh) to take  you away from the cares and woes of politics in the country that has produced a great Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Let Lim Kok Wing and the rest of those characters in the Prime Minister’s Department do whatever they can to rebrand Najib.  They are stubborn enough to believe that they can change public perception of Najib Razak as a weak, dishonest and incompetent Prime Minister who is being manipulated by Rosmah Mansor. But Lim Kok Wing who used to be Mahathir’s image maker does not care. He has no loyalty. What is important to him is influence and money. For that, he will sell his soul to the highest bidder. That is what he has done to this by becoming the Prime Minister’s propagandist.

Featuring Paul F. Simon

We have chosen for your listening pleasure a tribute to Paul Simon, America’s classic and contemporary  composer and entertainer. Paul is an American musician, actor and singer-songwriter. Simon’s fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote nearly all of the pair’s songs, including three that reached No. 1 on the U.S. singles charts: “The Sound of Silence“, “Mrs. Robinson“, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water“. The duo split up in 1970 at the height of their popularity, and Simon began a successful solo career as a guitarist and singer-songwriter, recording three highly acclaimed albums over the next five years.

In 1986, Paul released Graceland, an album inspired by South African township music. Simon also wrote and starred in the film One-Trick Pony (1980) and co-wrote the Broadway musical The Capeman (1998) with the poet Derek Walcott.

top10-phnom-penh-restaurantsWelcome to Phnom Penh for Fine Cuisine

Simon has earned 12 Grammys for his solo and collaborative work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2006 was selected as one of the “100 People Who Shaped the World” by Time magazine. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine named Simon as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. Among many other honors, Simon was the first recipient of the Library of Congress‘s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007. In 1986, Simon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees.–wikpedia.

Just relax and listen to Paul Simon’s compositions. You will understand why Dr. Kamsiah and I think he is one of greatest personalities in the American music.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican



Your Weekend Entertainment by The Mekong with Joni James

May 29, 2015

Your Weekend Entertainment by The Mekong with Joni James

FCCPhnomPenhForeign Correspondents’ Club in Phnom Penh

This is a long weekend in Cambodia as Monday is the public holiday. Most Cambodians, like those of us who are not from Kuala Lumpur, will return to their respective towns and communes in the provinces to be with their parents and relatives and friends. The expatriates who remain in the city will  gather at The Foreign Correspondents Club for a hearty meal with wine and some booze to wash away their blues. But the night too early for revelry. Things wont hot up till around 10 pm. local time.

Saturday May 30 is my beloved wife Dr. Kamsiah’s birthday and I regret that I am unable to be withKamsiah and Din4 her. Fortunately, she is now in Jakarta with her daughter to celebrate the occasion. I take this opportunity to convey my love and affection on the occasion of her birthday. To commemorate the occasion, I dedicate the songs by Joni James to wish her good health and happiness on behalf of all of us. I am sure she will be okay as she is in very good company.

I promised my friend, Cheam Tat Phang who is a diehard Joni James fan that I will feature this fabulous singer again. I am glad that after a long lapse of time I am able to do that today . Here’s to you my friend with my good wishes. Without further delay here is Joni James.– Din Merican

Your Weekend Entertainment– Nat King Cole

May 23, 2015

Phnom Penh

Your  Weekend Entertainment– Nat King Cole

I turned 76 today. What better way to celebrate the occasion than to be entertained by one of dinat UC crooners of my generation, Nat King Cole, the man with a velvet voice and a heart of gold. I regret that I cannot be with my wife, Dr. Kamsiah, to share the occasion. Her duty to her patients prevents her from being in Phnom Penh for the occasion.

Seven decades plus 5 have gone too quickly and when I look back and take stock of my life and after my reflection in the dying hours of my 75th year, I find I have not achieve very much except for being a constant irritant to my widowed mother when I was growing up, and now for crossing swords with our corrupt and dishonest Najib regime and his UMNO predecessors. There is still much that remains to be done; it is never too late but I must now make haste slowly.

At The University of Cambodia, I will be able to do research  and write my memoirs with the help of some of my able research assistants and eager graduate students, catch up with my reading outside of my fields of specialisation. It has been quite some time since I read a poem, the classics and other novels, and books on history, religion and philosophy.

I remain forever indebted to my departed mother for giving me a priceless gift of a good education which enabled me to travel and work in many countries, for teaching me to know the difference between right and wrong and not to compromise on principles, and how to be humane and considerate to and do no harm to others. I am also grateful to my dear wife Dr. Kamsiah for allowing me to answer my call for service in Phnom Penh at the University of Cambodia in education and capacity building.

The environment here in Phnom Penh is liberating and quite inspiring since Cambodia’s leaders and Cambodians are busy rebuilding the civil war ravaged country. What Prime Minister Hun Sen has done to politics is to create a political culture based on dialogue and  win-win discourse, and cooperation among all stakeholders. He believes that politics should not be adversarial and confrontational if everyone is focused on development of the human character and mind and the economy. The much respected and admired Prime Minister Hun Sen is revamping the education system to make it world class so that his people can integrate and compete in ASEAN and the rest of the world,  and I am here at the University of Cambodia to partake in making his vision a reality. For this reason, at 76 today, I am perked up and excited.

Let me assure you that I will not lose sight of my beloved Malaysia.. I will be active on my blog to expose the rampant corruption and abuses of power of the UMNO-BN regime without fear, and keep a close watch on what the political opposition is saying and doing, not hesitating to criticise them when they fail to keep to their cause.

Thank you for good wishes on Facebook and look to your support and encouragement for this blog. To worth anything, a blog must be read by discerning readers and visitors. So keep those comments coming.–Din Merican