Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PM Lee Hsien Loong Explains the Siblng "feud"

All eyes on the island republic,
Maju lah Singapura.
Undoubtedly, well-handled by PM Lee under such circumstances.

The Victorian Muslims of Britain

Here's an interesting article with names that I've come across in my readings. An eye-opener for some people, I am sure.
I've posted the full article minus the pictures. Click here to go there.
By Josef O'Shea
London, UK - When Londoners elected Sadiq Khan as mayor of their city, it sparked fresh debate about the place of Islam and Muslims in Britain.
Khan became one of the most popular Muslim politicians in Europe when he won 57 percent of the votes in London's mayoral election as his Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith, faced accusations of running a divisive campaign.
Today, Britain has a large and diverse Muslim population with just over 2.7 million Muslims living in England and Wales. 
In the late Victorian era, Britain presided over a vast empire in the East, which included millions of Muslims. When some of the most privileged sons and daughters of that empire embraced Islam, it was met less with hostility than mild curiosity and slight bemusement. 
In 1913, the Daily Mirror newspaper responded to Lord Headley's conversion in a story headlined "Irish peer turns to Islam".

"That the lure of Eastern religions is affecting an increasing number of Europeans, is again shown by the announcement that Lord Headley, an Irish peer, who spent many years in India, has become a convert to Islam," the article stated.
Like Headley, many of the early British converts to the religion were young aristocrats or the children of the mercantile elite. Some were explorers, intellectuals and high-ranking officials of empire who had worked and lived in Muslim lands under British colonial rule.
The stories of these converts, says Professor Humayun Ansari of Royal Holloway, University of London, reflect the turbulent times in which they lived, as well as the profound questions that were being raised about religion and the nature and origins of humanity. 
"There was the carnage and chaos of the First World War, the suffragette movement, the questioning of imperialism and the right of the British and other Western empires to rule over vast numbers of people," says Ansari. "In many ways, [those who converted] were living in a very troubled world. In Britain's wars in Sudan and Afghanistan, and later Europe, they saw terrible slaughter, with armies and governments on all sides claiming God was with them.
"They had experienced what they saw as the peace, the spirituality and simplicity of Islamic societies, and it appealed greatly to them," Ansari adds.
These stories point to an era when Islam could be seen in a far different light in the West than it often is today. These scholars, travellers and spiritual explorers could, in what were times of great upheaval and conflict, look to the East and see in the Islamic faith a religion which one convert, Lord Headley, characterised as being of "peace, brotherhood and universal values".
They may be figures of a now distant era. But their personal journeys and their quests to understand Islam and the East reveal how questions and conflicts we may see as unique to our times were, in fact, being raised over a century ago. 
Here are the stories of some of Britain's Victorian Muslims: 

William Quilliam (1856-1932)

One of the first high-profile converts was William (later Abdullah) Quilliam, the son of a prominent Methodist preacher and watch-making magnate in Liverpool. Born a Methodist in 1856, Quilliam converted to Islam in the early 1880s. He had travelled from his native England to Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria when he was 17, seeking a warmer climate to aid his recovery from an illness.
Quilliam became fascinated with the Islamic faith and immersed himself in studying it. He converted in Morocco, returned to Liverpool and began promoting the faith under his adopted name, Abdullah Quilliam. 
Still in his 20s and a qualified solicitor, Quilliam founded the first mosque in Britain, which opened on Christmas Day 1889 in Liverpool and, in 1894, he was named leader of Britain's Muslims by the last Ottoman caliph, Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Quilliam wrote books aimed at introducing the Islamic faith to British people, even sending a copy to Queen Victoria, who is reported to have enjoyed it and asked for several copies for her children.
Quilliam died in London in 1932 and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, which has a large Muslim burial ground and is also the final resting place of other prominent Anglo-Muslims.

Lady Evelyn Cobbold (1867-1963) 

It was Lady Evelyn, later Zainab, Cobbold who was one of the last of the aristocratic Victorians to convert. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1867, the daughter of the 7th Earl of Dunmore, Lady Evelyn seemed equally at home in the fashionable salons of Mayfair and Paris as in remote camps in the Libyan Desert. She was a noted sportswoman, a deerstalker and a crack shot.
In 1933, at the age of 65, she announced her conversion and became the first Western woman to make the Hajj pilgrimage. She penned a bestselling book, Pilgrimage to Mecca, detailing her experience. 
When she died in 1963 at the age of 96, she left instructions that her gravestone, on a hill in remote Inverness in Scotland, bear the words: "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth." 
She spent much of her childhood in Algiers and Cairo, where she was raised with Muslim nannies, and later wrote about how she felt to be Muslim from as early as she could remember, but only decided to profess her faith during a personal audience with the Pope. She recounted the meeting in Pilgrimage To Mecca: 
"Some years went by, and I happened to be in Rome staying with some Italian friends when my host asked if I would like to visit the Pope. Of course, I was thrilled. When His Holiness suddenly addressed me, asking if I was a Catholic, I was taken aback for a moment and then replied that I was a Muslim. What possessed me I don't pretend to know, as I had not given a thought to Islam for many years. A match was lit, and I then and there determined to read up and study the faith."  

Rowland Allanson-Winn, 5th Baron Headley (1855-1935) 

Rowland Allanson-Winn, better known as Lord Headley, would have been the first Muslim to sit in the House of Lords had he taken the position due to him when he became the 5th Baron Headley in 1913. That same year, instead, he converted to Islam and became Shaikh Rahmatullah al-Farooq. One year later, in 1914, Lord Headley headed the British Muslim Society.
Born in London in 1855 and educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, Lord Headley had been brought up as a Protestant before studying Roman Catholicism while living on the family's ancestral estate in Ireland. An accomplished engineer, early pioneer of martial arts, traveller and journalist, the Anglo-Irish aristocrat was considered a Victorian Renaissance man. He first encountered Islam in Kashmir in the mid-1890s while working for the British Raj in India.
He came to see Islam as a religion of tolerance and studied the faith in England with his mentor, the prominent Indian lawyer and Islamic scholar Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, before World War I.
Lord Headley was, by all accounts, an eccentric. One contemporary profile published in Time Magazine described him as "a man of many parts, a champion middleweight boxer in his day at Cambridge, a distinguished globe-trotter, an editor and excellent raconteur".
He was also one of the earliest exponents of what we know today as martial arts. In 1890, Lord Headley co-wrote one of the earliest manuals on self-defence called Broad-sword and Singlestick, before going on to write one of the first modern guides to boxing.
He made the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1923.
As he lay dying in England in June 1935, he scribbled a note to his son, his final request being that he be buried in an Islamic cemetery.

Marmaduke Pickthall (1875-1936)

Muhammed Marmaduke Pickthall was an English scholar, born to an Anglican clergyman. Before converting, Pickthall travelled widely, studying and working across India and the Middle East.
He was also a successful novelist, counting D H Lawrence, H G Wells and E M Forster among his admirers. He converted to Islam in 1917 and went on to publish a modern English translation of the Quran, which was later authorised by the famous Azhar University in Cairo and which remains a standard work to this day. When he published his translation, the Times Literary Supplement praised the work as "a great literary achievement". 
In the foreword to his translation, which he titled The Meanings of the Glorious Quran, Pickthall wrote: ... The Quran cannot be translated ....The book is here rendered almost literally and every effort has been made to choose befitting language. But the result is not the Glorious Quran, that inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy. It is only an attempt to present the meaning of the Quran and peradventure something of the charm in English. It can never take the place of the Quran in Arabic, nor is it meant to do so ...."
As a schoolboy at Harrow Public School, Pickthall was a classmate and friend of Winston Churchill. A gifted linguist, he mastered several languages, including Arabic, and came to see himself as no longer an Englishman, but a Muslim "of the East". 
He died in Cornwall in 1936 and was buried in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey, England. - Al Jazeera

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lee & Lee & Lee

Well, well, well.
What's been happening in our southern neighbour?

I really don't know what to make of this family feud in the Lee family. Lee being Lee Kuan Yew - Singapore's ex PM & Senior Minister and father of sitting PM Hsien Loong.

Hate to get "involved" in other people's affairs. But hey, this is Singapore's PM & his siblings. The two siblings posted their 6-page statement on Facebook early this morning for all to see.

It is a public statement.

Washing dirty linen in public? Some people will say it's sibling rivalry. Some people will sum it up and say it's all about greed.

Whatever.  But it sure got my attention.

Titled "What has happened to Lee Kuan Yew's values?", their angst is actually a long-running dispute over the demolition of their father's house at 38 Oxley Road.

                                              Dr Lee Wei Ling & Lee Hsien Yang

It seems, Hsien Loong's younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang and sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling want it to be demolished as requested by their late father.

They've also accused their brother of of having a personal agenda that is driving his political ambitions and have drawn in Ho Ching, Hsien Loong's wife.

This morning Hsien Loong responded, expressing his disappointment and sadness over the statement that is "publicising private family matters".
"I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made. Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son.," said Mr Lee, in response to a six-page public statement issued by his siblings on Wednesday (June 14).
Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said in their statement that they had lost confidence in their brother, PM Lee.
Titled "What has happened to Lee Kuan Yew's values?", their statement centres around the long-running dispute over the demolition of their father's house at 38 Oxley Road.
                                                             PM Lee Hsien Loong
In response, PM Lee said: "While siblings may have differences, I believe that any such differences should stay in the family. Since my father's passing in March 2015, as the eldest son I have tried my best to resolve the issues among us within the family, out of respect for our parents."
He said his siblings' statement "has hurt our father's legacy".
In their statement, Hsien Yang and Wei Ling said they felt closely monitored and fear the use of organs of state against them and Hsien Yang's wife, Suet Fern.
The situation is such that Hsien Yang felt compelled to leave Singapore "for the foreseeable future".
The two siblings allege, among others, that since their father's death on March 23, 2015, there have been changes in Singapore that do not reflect what the late Mr Lee stood for.
The two siblings are joint executors and trustees of the estate of the late Mr Lee.
In their statement, they reiterated their father's wish that the house be demolished upon his passing, and said Hsien Loong and his wife  had opposed this wish as "the preservation of the house would enhance his political capital".
The two siblings alleged that preserving the house would allow their brother "and his family to inherit a tangible monument to Lee Kuan Yew's authority".
The two siblings also alleged that "based on our interactions", PM Lee and his wife harbour political ambitions for their son, Hongyi.
Hsien Loong called this an "absurd claim" and denied that he had any such ambitions for his son.
 "I will do my utmost to continue to do right by my parents. At the same time, I will continue serving Singaporeans honestly and to the best of my ability. In particular that means upholding meritocracy, which is a fundamental value of our society."
The statement from the siblings came 1½ years after Dr Lee,  Hsien Yang, and PM Lee issued a joint statement in December 2015 saying the brothers had each agreed to donate half the value of 38 Oxley Road to charities named in their father's obituary notice.
Dr Lee and Hsien Yang had said they would like to honour their father's wish for the house to be demolished after Dr Lee ceases to live in it.
Hsien Loong had said he had recused himself from all government decisions involving the house and, in his personal capacity, would also like to see this wish honoured.
He ended his response: "As my siblings know, I am presently overseas on leave with my family. I will consider this matter further after I return this weekend."
This is it so far. But, you and I know that's not the end.
It's just the beginning.

Maju lah Singapura!

You Go, MACC!

You'd know by now that the Malaysian Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been pretty busy these past few months.

The latest is the Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) case. Not an easy one this case. 

The alleged improprieties that warranted MACC investigations aside, the damn case is all about boardroom tussle. That seems to be something everyone recognises.
What a shame that it has got to that.

Meanwhile, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki was quoted to have said that FGV"s two key figures may be called up to assist in investigations. They are FGV chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad and chief executive officer Datuk Zakaria Arshad .

He also said another 50 people would also be asked to assist.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razk has appointed Pemandu Associates CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala as an independent party to establish the facts of the case behind the FGV controversy.

Last Saturday, Najib said in appointing Idris said it was important for all parties to establish the facts of the case in the FGV boardroom tussle as that was the best way for them to seek a solution that would bring the company forward.

Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad will be briefing Najib today on the issue.
Shahrir has expressed confidence that the issue could be resolved before Raya.

A real shame that this is happening to Felda - a rural resettlement agency that has grown into an economic powerhouse.
Back to MACC -- I say, you're doing a good job!

You Didn't Know About Volvo's Long History in Malaysia?

Hans, a writer of Carlist.my saw it fit to tell the Volvo Malaysian story in response to a 
a report by The Star on June 12, 2017 quoting Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Second Minister of International Trade and Industry as saying that locally-assembled Volvo cars will arrive in Malaysia by 2022, to be produced at Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant.

Ong also said that Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co (which owns Volvo Car as well as half of Proton Holdings) plans to make Malaysia as the Swedish car maker’s export hub for the ASEAN region.

Hans also mentioned another report by The Star that Volvo plans to use Malaysia as its base to penetrate the 620 million population ASEAN region in a big way.
The fact is, Hans, Volvo already has a sophisticated, export-capable plant in Malaysia, and Malaysia-assembled Volvos have been here since 1968. 
I am sure the younger generation of Malaysians are not aware of this. I'm surprised Ong doesn't know this.
Well here’s the problem: Volvo does have a sophisticated, export-capable plant in Malaysia, and Malaysia-assembled Volvos have been here since 1968. No need to wait until 2022 because Malaysia has been operating as Volvo’s regional hub for ASEAN since 2012.
Earlier this year, prior to Geely’s deal with Proton, Volvo Car Malaysia had already announced that its Malaysian plant will be expanding its export destinations to include Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and even Taiwan. This is on top of the company’s existing export operations to Thailand.
The oversight is quite embarrassing because the Swedes have long history of supporting Malaysia’s automotive industry.
Volvo was the first car company to establish a vehicle assembly plant in Malaysia and is one of the few brands that export finished vehicles from Malaysia.
Not only that, the plant in Malaysia was Volvo’s first outside of Sweden and until today, Malaysia is the only country outside of Sweden to assemble that XC90. Not just any XC90, but the most sophisticated plug-in hybrid variant that produces 407 PS of power - the Inscription trimmed XC90 T8 model! Not even Volvo plants in Belgium or China gets the honour!
Here’s a brief overview of the relationship between Volvo and Malaysia.
In the early ‘60s, Malaysia embarked on an ambitious plant to diversify its economic base to reduce the country’s reliance on agricultural produce, by establishing heavy industries. An important substitution policy was implemented and taxes were imposed on imported products.
At that time, our little country in South East Asia was only known for rubber trees, tin mining and little else. When we announced to the world that we want to establish a car industry, not many took us seriously but the egalitarian Swedes at Volvo were the first to raise their hands, and said that they will help us and teach us.
Volvo was the first car company to setup a vehicle assembly plant in Malaysia. Located in Shah Alam, the plant was then known as Swedish Motor Assemblies and the first Malaysia-assembled Volvo rolled off the plant in early 1968, a Volvo 144S sedan.
The British, Germans and Japanese came slightly later – Inchcape Motor’s Assembly Services plant opposite Volvo’s facility was setup in 1968. It assembled for several European brands before switching to produce Toyota vehicles exclusively.
The same year also saw Oriental Assemblers’ in Johor Bahru assembling Honda vehicles, before it was transferred to Honda Malaysia’s plant in Pegoh, Melaka in 2003.
By 1976, Nissan vehicles were being put together at the Tan Chong Motor Assemblies plant in Segambut. For a short period of time before Segambut plant was ready, Nissan vehicles were actually assembled in Swedish Motor Assemblies alongside Volvos.   
Back in 2012, Volvo Car was not in the best of health. The new generation of SPA platform 90-series and 60-series cars developed with Geely's money have yet to reach the market. Volvo had a plant in both Thailand and Malaysia and as their sales volume were very low, they had to choose to keep only one plant. In a very surprising move, the Swedes chose Malaysia over Thailand.
Today, the manufacturing facility is now known as Volvo Car Manufacturing (formerly known as Swedish Motor Assemblies). It’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sweden’s Volvo Car Group.
The plant might be very old but Volvo has invested RM20 million to upgrade the plant to accommodate Volvo’s latest SPA platform and plug-in hybrid technology. This does not include the investments made earlier. In 2013, it became the first car plant in Malaysia to introduce laser welding, for the V40.   
Currently, the plant produces the V40, S60, XC60 (outgoing generation), XC90. The S90 and V90 are currently imported but plans are underway to locally-assemble them later.
We hope the oversight, by a MITI minister nonetheless, will be overlooked by Volvo’s decision makers at Gothenburg and Hangzhou, because the rest of us Malaysians are truly grateful for Volvo’s contribution to Malaysia.
We should also point out that neither the Volvo Car Group nor its owner Zhejiang Geely has said anything about assembling Volvo vehicles at Proton's Tanjung Malim plant. These comments came only from the Malaysian government.