Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I was in Singapore the other day, from 18th to 20th November 2011, with my Mrs and my precocious granddaughter tagging along. It was not a family holiday trip as I would be slightly gila to spend my holidays in a place where I would have to pay double for the same item or services that I could get at home. A taxi ride in Malaysia costing me RM 15 ringgit would also cost me the same in Singapore but in Singapore dollars. Times that by 2.4 and that same ride would have made me RM36 poorer.

I remember a time when Singapore was expelled from Malaysia and Lee Kuan Yew was worried about Singapore’s survival without mainland Malaysia as it’s hinterland. To ensure Singapore’s survival, Lee started the “Rugged Singapore” creed where Singaporeans were extolled to be tough, resilient and hardworking to survive. Fortunately at that time Lee did not have a Jew to advise him on a 1Singapore campaign otherwise Singapore would have been swallowed by the sea. Imagine a small, then 224 sq.miles country with a population of less than 2 million people and no natural resources beating the shit out of Malaysia, economically and administratively.

That was the time when Malaysians flocked to Woodlands, Singapore to buy Jaffa oranges, clothes, chocolates and electrical goods because RM1 is Singapore 1 dollar and stuff are way way cheaper in Singapore. What happened today? RM1 is only worth about 40 cents Singapore. Singapore Airlines is making money, Malaysia Airlines is going bankrupt. Singapore is having the highest paid civil servants in the world while Malaysia boast the most bloated civil service in the world. Temasek Holdings is giving $800 to Singaporeans last year as dividends whilst our very own Khazanah Nasional is bleeding Malaysians dry. Mana mahu taruk muka, meh!!

Back to the reason why I was in Singapore. I was there for my alma mater, Raffles Institution, class of 66-71 reunion dinner on 19th November at the new Raffles Institution campus in Bishan, Singapore. Joining Raffles Institution in 1966 as a secondary 1 student (form 1 in Malaysia), I left for Malaysia in 1969 on completion of my Cambridge Overseas School Certificate examination. For me it has been 42 years since I last saw my schoolmates and for those who continue up to pre-university studies, it has been 40 years since our Rafflesian assembly. We are Rafflesians and proud of it.

What is so great about the school that it made ex Rafflesians flew thousands of mile from Dubai, USA, UK, Australia and of course Malaysia to meet up again after 40/42 years. Until today, Raffles Institution is still the best school in Singapore, it’s annual student intake taken from the cream of Singapore’s brightest primary school minds. In Malaysia, that would be something like the Malay College Kuala Kangsar. The only difference being that at Raffles Institution, being a Dato’, a Tan Sri or a political bigwig son does not mean automatic entry into R.I. if you are dumb, you are dumb. You don’t deserve to wear the Gryphon badge of a Rafflesian.

So there I was with about 150 other Rafflesians, about half of the cohorts who made up the class of 66-71. We drink, we dine, we talk and we sang the school anthem, “Auspicium Melioris Aevi” . No dancing though. Everybody who is there that night is somebody except for one malaysian, a nobody who retires as a superintendent of the Royal Malaysia Police. Anyway, I am still thankful for what I am. I may be a malaysian small fry but I know I am not an idiot, unlike most malaysian ruling politicians who are on par with nitwits and goondos.

As class reunion goes, it is the usual catching up talks among friends, reminising about old days. About a time when we hoist up 5 bras up the flagpole during the school flag raising ceremony. Being a malaysian amongst singaporeans will definitely elicits questions and comments about malaysia. Unlike some indian HIndraf lawyer who is now hiding in London, when asked about my views on the malaysian state of affairs, I tried my best not to run down this country even though in my heart, Malaysia memang teruk. I choose to remain a Malaysian, so I have got to live with it and try to change conditions whenever I can. But then there are questions that I just simply can’t answer because to gloss things over, I would be lying. Questions like, “Why is your police force so corrupted?” or “Malaysia is blessed with a stable political climate, abundant natural resources and has enough intelligent population (among the rakyat not the politicians – words in bold, my own) but why can’t Malaysia be efficiently managed.” In answer to such questions, I just gave a sour smile.

The gathering of old Rafflesians in Singapore that Saturday brought one thing to mind. If Rafflesians regardless of race, religion and status could have that spirit of oneness that makes this gathering possible with old Rafflesians coming in from all over the world to attend it after leaving school 40 years ago, why can’t malaysians unite as one nation. Yes, we have 1Malaysia but that is only Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin. Come to think of it, this 1Malaysia is for whom? Is 1Malaysia for the rakyat or is 1Malaysia only for those in power. If the rakyat comes first why then the pilferage of government funds to line the pockets of ministers and their cronies. The Auditor General report says it all.

Until the next Rafflesians Reunion to be held in Malaysia, a saying from Uncle B. "Better to be a coolie but a smart one than be a minister but a bodoh one".


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