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Woven in Deception

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Book Review

By Chelvi Murugiah

Woven in DeceptionWoven in Deception is a classic Indian tale condensed in a 153-page book on the trials and tribulations of three generations of a wealthy Indian family, spanning over a century. The book relates the geographical move from India to Malaysia and the continuing struggles faced by three generations of the Kamelanathan family, apparently due to a curse inflicted upon them.

Although the theme seems heavy-handed, Woven in Deception is pretty much a light and easy read from start to finish. The author is able to keep the reader entertained with her tales that are easy to comprehend and, notably, identifiable individual and group behaviour within typical Indian households.

So, if you happen to be looking out for a good weekend read, nothing too mind-boggling, this book is quite straight forward, and would make an ideal selection.

The author, Nirmala Kasinathan, of Indian origin and a doctor from Ipoh, aptly reflects the Indian diaspora in Woven in Deception, beginning in the early 20th century. She takes readers through a litany of imaginary happenings, portraying  living conditions during the British and Japanese Occupation, right up to post-Independence and leading to incidences as current as 2010.

The historical background of Malaysia and evolution of the Indian origin compliments the unravelling of the extended family saga spanning three generations. The book tells tales of love, marriage, betrayal, despair, frustration and more. These emotions and manifestation of human sentiments are revisited through the unfolding of the descendants’ lives throughout the book.

Woven in Deception is centred on the belief that a curse so strong had been inflicted upon three generations of the Kamelanathan family by an angry, never-to-be father-in-law.  The reading reveals the customary practices (mainly superstition), within the Indian and Ceylonese communities where an elder of a family, takes on a superiority position to consult with an astrologer for predictions on their family members’ future. An astrologer’s word, however illogical, is seemingly held in high esteem and is considered the absolute truth, no evidence required. As spelled out in Woven in Deception, each member of the extended Kamelanathan’s family’s misfortune is decidedly due to the curse, inflicted three generations earlier.

Progressing through the chapters, are revelations and turning points in the lives of the protagonists in each generation. Secrets and personal longings are reflected upon to justify intentions and actions taken. The “sizzle” factor, however, takes on a rather passive note, as the author chooses to depict the main characters’ private lives and thoughts rather politely. However, the storyline does reflect, in reality, the workings of a typical class-conscious Indian family.

Whether by design or not, Woven in Deception’s storyline is, in my opinion “woven-in-deception” through the revelation of strong subliminal influences which form the crux of the Indian community’s identity. The Indian social organisation is, till today, structured on its culture, superstition, social norms, caste system and its discriminating patriarchal social system, that define roles of family members within an Indian household.

As an advocate for the equality for women, I abhor patriarchy, and commend the author, although she did so passively, for revealing the conservative traditional and restrictive beliefs practised by Indians and Ceylonese till today.

Woven in Deception is a good medium to create awareness to the readership on gender discrimination and social-class segregation, caste systems, traditions, norms and culture that inhibit the progress of the Indian community, per se.

To quote Arundhati Roy, an accomplished Indian author and political activist, “Our strategy should not only be to confront but to lay siege. To deprive it of oxygen, to shame it, to mock it, with our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance , our sheer relentlessness – in our ability to tell our stories. Stories that are different from the ones many are brainwashed to believe.”

Woven in Deception (166 pages) is published by Strategic Book Publishing in Houston, Texas. The book USD12.95 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website: http://sbpra.com/NirmalaKasinathan or at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

For Malaysian readers, the book can be obtained directly from the author at RM40 per copy (inclusive of postage and handling). Contact Dr Nirmala at 016 508 4263 or 05 527 6453, or email: nirmy78@hotmail.com. (Those interested can bank into Maybank account 108225181197 (Acc. holder: Nirmala a/p A K Nadan @ Kasinathan) the cost of the books as ordered and email the author the banking slip as proof of transaction. Kindly provide full mailing address. Books will be sent by Poslaju within 2-3 days or may be collected personally from the author’s residence in Ipoh.

To Delay is Human but to Will is Divine

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To Delay is Human but to Will is DivineMore people are beginning to realise that human life is indeed fleetingly short. However, for most, this realisation seems to stop short at just this point, and does not extend very much further beyond this. We understand that when we leave this life we leave the world we knew and all its attachments. What we do not seem to grasp or perhaps we do, but do not really see the urgency to act on, is the importance of ensuring the loved ones we leave behind, will be able to physically go on with some semblance of financial comfort.

We often hear of friends and family who pass on suddenly and this is tragic as in almost all cases, there is no will, thus making things very difficult for the loved ones left behind, who not only have to deal with the painful loss but also now have to be burdened with a financial disaster too. If the deceased is the main income or even the sole breadwinner, things can get to a point where the loved ones left behind wish they were given the relief of death too, as living in the nightmare of trying to survive without the deceased financial contribution would be impossible. Then there is the scenario where the deceased leaves behind substantial wealth, which then becomes the doom of all, fighting for it.

Peter Lee’s book To Delay is Human but to Will is Divine is a revelation to the very real pain and suffering loved ones endure when there is no will in place. The implications for all members of the family having to deal with someone dying intestate, dealing with lawyers and all the nitty gritty details of sorting out the remains of the estate and when particularly large, is a nightmare.

The simple style chosen helps the reader truly understand the implications and importance of ensuring there is a will in place. The cartoon characters lend some humor to an otherwise deadly serious topic. The urgency to have a will drawn up will be an action the reader is likely to want to jump into even before finishing the book.

This would make an ideal gift for anyone and everyone, if we could just understand and look upon it as a loving gesture and not the taboo that anything involving death conjures up in our imagination.

To Delay is Human but to Will is Divine (96 pages, RM28) is available from Peter Lee (012-507 8825/05-255 4853) at 108 (2nd Floor), Jalan Raja Ekram, 30450 Ipoh, email: excelsecms@gmail.com; Rashi Mini Market (019-510 6284), 37 Jalan Perajurit, Ipoh Garden East, 31400 Ipoh and Ipoh Echo. It will also be available at all major bookstores in March 2013.

Serena Mui

UMNO-NOMICS: The Dark Side of the Budget by Teh Chi-Chang

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Book Review

Teh Chi-Chang, book review by Sandra RajooWhat do we know about government spending? What are ‘contingent liabilities’? Are wastage, corruption and mismanagement eating up our financial resources? Ultimately, does the Budget provide for a good quality of life – a high standard of living at a reasonable cost – for all Malaysians? These are but a few of the pertinent and fundamental issues underlying the Budget which need explaining. UMNO-NOMICS  is a book that strips the federal Budget down to the nitty-gritty, presenting its stark reality minus the mind-boggling jargon and embellishments.

Author Teh Chi-Chang writes unequivocally and judiciously, giving us hard facts which are backed by research and analysis. Adding large doses of biting satire and wit is cartoonist Johnny Ong who breaks down the multifarious topics into rib-tickling illustrations. His succinct cartoons wickedly depict the unsavoury implications of uncontrolled spending and the repercussions of damaging policies.

Inevitably, comparisons of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat fiscal and economic policies and practices are made. Whose are prudent and more inclusive and whose are reckless and benefit a select few? Teh’s objective is to keep us up to date with the current situation, hence empower us to make informed choices.

Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Wan Saiful Wan Jan, in his foreword, says concisely, “Pakatan supporters must read this book so that they have more cogent arguments for their allegiance beyond ‘because Umno is wrong’. And those who support Umno or BN must read it to understand why the other side is so upset with them.”

Teh’s engaging writing style ‘speaks’ to the reader. Direct and explicit, he articulates the many complex issues coherently. Together with Johnny’s clever cartoons, an otherwise difficult subject is made easily digestible and comprehensible. An easy and enjoyable read best sums up this insightful book.

Ipoh-born Teh Chi-Chang holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation and degrees from the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge. He is currently the Executive Director of independent think-tank REFSA (Research for Social Advancement). He had spent 16 years in the corporate sector, including as a director of investment research and has headed Malaysia country-research teams. UMNO-NOMICS is the sequel to his 2009 best-seller The Budget: How the Government is Spending OUR Money. UMNO-NOMICS sells at RM35, inclusive of delivery, and is available at www.refsa.org, or email: admin@refsa.org to place your order. You can also purchase the book for RM29.50 at Rashi Mini Market (newsagent), No. 37 Jalan Perajurit, Ipoh Garden East, Ipoh.

The Last Post – Story of The Emergency (1948-1960) & Commemorative Events

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Book Review

 ipoh echo issue 138, book review, The Last Post – Story of The Emergency (1948-1960)This is a true story about the magnificent roles that everyone played, particularly those in the planting and mining sectors, the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Royal Malaysian Police and its ancillary units, members of government and non-governmental agencies and the ordinary civilians who lost their lives during the Emergency (1948 to 1960). It contains the Rolls of Honour of combatants – Commonwealth and Malaysians – who participated in the containment and the defeat of Communism. Graphic accounts of some of the tragic incidents are also included.

The book was written by R. Thambipillay, a combatant himself, after years of fruitful research, locally and overseas. The author explained the methods used in bringing the conflict to an end. He alluded to the roles of the Special Branch and the Psychological Warfare Section of the Government, which used intelligence, garnered by the Special Branch, to their advantage. The use of armour is also featured in the successful prosecution of the insurgency war. The book also attempts to describe how Communism developed world-wide and how it arrived at our shores.

This book, in essence, caters to the many visitors attending the various remembrance ceremonies in Ipoh.

The Last Post – story of the Emergency 1948-1960 and Commemorative Events (ISBN 978-983-41340-1-3) is published as a keepsake. It is a limited edition of only 1,000 hard-bound copies consisting of 298 pages with about 370 photos, of which over 300 are photos of tombs of Commonwealth military personnel, Royal Malaysia Police, planters, miners, civilians buried in Batu Gajah’s God’s Little Acre and other cemeteries in Malaysia. After almost 64 years there are still loved ones, colleagues and friends keen to know the final resting place of their loved ones. The chapter under Memoriam contains more photos of tombs.

The book provides detailed accounts (with photos) of commemorative events, such as the one initiated in 1980 in Batu Gajah popularly known as “God’s Little Acre”, the service for the fallen Gurkhas at Kem Syed Putra, Ipoh and a composite remembrance service revived in 2008 at the Cenotaph, opposite the Ipoh railway station ending with the popular “Troops Night” sponsored by the Chan brothers at the Royal Perak Golf Club.

The hard-bound book is priced at RM80 a piece. Those keen to purchase one can contact the author at 012‑2352557 for details.

Ed

Selvamany – More than a Teacher

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Book review - Selvamany - More than a teacherThis is a biography of a teacher with a great heart. His mission in life was to teach as best as he could and to be always there for his students. As a teacher, he was able to inspire, discipline and motivate his students towards success. He cared for his students, their studies, their welfare, their health and their families. He also fortified them with universal good values.

Many students whom he taught in Anderson School Ipoh, as well as Sekolah Menengah Idris Shah and Sekolah Menengah Seri Teja, Gopeng, and others who had the chance of being associated with him, feel so grateful for having been given the opportunity of knowing him and learning from him.

This biography was produced with the intention of recording for posterity and sharing with others the goodness of humanity in Dato’ Seri N.S. Selvamany.

The biography starts by tracing his “roots and routes” and describing how Selvamany’s great grandparents left Pondicherry, India, to seek their fortune in Malaya in the late 19th Century. It then relates how and why Selvamany became a teacher after his tertiary education at Raffles College, Singapore. His teaching career started in Anderson School Ipoh from 1952 to 1972 and then on to Sekolah Menengah Idris Shah, as its Principal from 1972 to 1979 and as Principal of Sekolah Menengah Seri Teja, from January 1980 to January 1981 when he retired. The book documented how Selvamany was being bestowed with honorific awards such as the Tokoh Guru Negeri and Kebangsaan in 1996 and 1997 respectively and several state awards in 1995, 1997, 2008 and 2009. However, his “most treasured asset” and reward has always been his family, extended family, former students and friends whom he considers as his “sons and daughters”.

Although Selvamany has long retired from active service, he continues helping the underprivileged, especially children; living up to his motto “Serve man, serve God”. He keeps in touch with his former students, occupants at the various charitable societies and homes as well as friends and acquaintances at all levels of society. His reminder would be, “This is my life” and that is the way he likes to live it.

The lead writer, Dr Rokiah Talib, was from the Form 6 class of 1962/63, ASI and a former Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Malaya. The biography project was undertaken by an Organising Committee under the chairmanship of Tan Sri Nuraizah Hamid. The bio-graphy was launched by DYMM Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah on January 15, 2012 at the Royal Chulan Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Almost every feature of the launch programme was provided by former students of Selvamany – the funds needed, the reception and editorial team, the “Andersonians Forever” choir and the accompanying music, the emcee and even the Ustaz who recited the doa selamat. It was the former students’ way of saying “To Sir, with Love”.

The biography is not for sale. However, it is available privately at a nominal donation of RM50 per copy. This donation will help to defray printing costs and postage. The Organising Committee certainly appreciates any extra contributions that readers wish to make. When all copies of the biography are finally distributed, any surplus funds will be channelled to charitable organisations dear to Selvamany’s heart. Those interested in securing a copy, please contact Yeong Sek Yee at 012-2019739 or email him at ysyoricom@yahoo.com.

Ed

For more information on the biography launch, visit www.andersonians-arts.blogspot.com.

 

Book Review: The Dulang Washer

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Irishman Paul Callan and his Ipoh-born wife, Eve, shuttle between their homes in London and Kuala Lumpur. Paul is the author of first-time novel, The Dulang Washer, which tells the often troubling tale of suffering, hardship and brutality 19th century Chinese immigrant labourers had to endure while working the tin mines of Kinta Valley and beyond.

In a hard-hitting portrayal of their lives and times, Paul tells a fascinating and captivating story through the eyes of dulang washer, Aisha, a beautiful young Malay girl striving to support two families, while carrying a dark and terrifying secret.

Fook Sin, the mine’s treacherous, thieving proprietor, sees Aisha as his ultimate prize: the most desirable object he can add to his secret hoard of already ill-gotten treasures.

Aisha also becomes the object of obsession of the lonely, isolated and homesick Donald Redfern, an English overseer and only European at the mine. The human contact she offers him during language lessons she gives him, and the small gestures of compassion she shows him, fuel his desires for the dainty maiden.

Meanwhile, Hun Yee, an ambitious young Hakka miner shakes off the opium addiction that has insulated himself, and all his fellow miners, from the harshness of their daily struggles. He seeks to win Aisha over by attempting to start a mine of his own.

But the most disturbing of all is the dulang washer’s own feelings for those close to her. When events at the mine move towards their shocking conclusion, she is forced to re-examine her life.

Confronted with the love of a man prepared to turn his back on his country for her, will she finally seize her chance at happiness?

In an enjoyable page-turning read, The Dulang Washer is a book that is hard to put down.

The most difficult part about the book, according to Paul, was trying to write about tin mining without getting technical. Paul admitted to being a “technical dyslexic”. “I am hopeless in technical matters,” he says.

When researching for the book Paul had to travel regularly between Kuala Lumpur, where he lives, and Perak for two years. The journey has been painful but it was worth the effort. His next book is about Tamil Indians. “It’s a love story set in an oil palm plantation and will be available next year.”

The Dulang Washer (ISBN No: 978-967-5997-55-6) is published by MPH (Malaysian Publishing House). This 357-page book, priced at RM39.90, is sold at MPH and Popular outlets all over the country.

FZB

Ipoh, My Home Town: Reminiscences of Growing Up in Ipoh, in Pictures and Words

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Penned by 47 different authors, all of whom spent some or all of their childhood days in Ipoh, this is a book like none other. Here they share their memories of their beloved “Home Town”, good and bad, which together provide a rich tapestry of sights and sounds of days gone by. The writers have reminisced about growing up in Ipoh, in 64 different, heart-warming and absorbing tales, the earliest from a young man born on Market Street in 1920 and the youngest just turned 13.

The stories range across a wide spectrum of subjects – from food to fashion, geese to girlfriends, opium to opera, schools to squalor, toilets to Towkays and rubber seeds to rocking horses. Indeed the book seems to cover every aspect of what growing up in Ipoh was all about and how life changed as the years rolled by.

The list of authors, many of whom live overseas, is also impressive for there are representatives from all the major races of Peninsula Malaysia, plus a couple of Europeans and even an Iban, born in Ipoh. Truly “Bangsa Malaysia”, they come from all walks of life, Captain Ho Weng Toh, a “Flying Tiger”, Professor Wang Gungwu, a Greentown boy before the war, Malaysia’s most famous ‘Kampung Boy’ Lat (who has also written the Foreword), a famous Towkay’s daughter, well-known representatives from stage, screen and radio and successful businessmen and women, housewives and mothers, but no politicians.

Obviously a book like this needs an editor and compiler and here is another surprise for no one would guess that this exceptional book is the work of an expatriate, Commander Ian Anderson, who has adopted Ipoh as his “Home Town”. But then again, Anderson is an exceptional person who plays a greater part in Ipoh than many locals. He is the man behind www.ipohworld.org, Tenby Schools Ipoh’s history project. He is clearly dedicated to Ipoh and its history, as this book demonstrates.

But this is not just a collection of stories for each one is backed up by photographs, many never seen before. Around 450 in all and there is an added bonus for Lat’s own story which has original cartoons to illustrate his piece.

Hard bound, with 276 pages, beautifully laid out with tasteful pastel colours that enhance the overall feeling of enjoyment, the book sells in all the normal outlets for the surprisingly economical price of RM100. Worthy of a price tag significantly higher, the publisher has set this on a “Non Profit” basis in the hope that this will allow more people to enjoy this unique venture.

I thoroughly recommend this book as an important and significant work, a book for all ages, even if you do not come from Ipoh. It is for those who have already grown up and love to look back to their happy days when a cardboard box, home-made toys, a few rubber seeds or a matchbox and a spider could become the nucleus in the making of a champion. But it is also for those who are still growing up to find out that walking an hour to school and back was quite normal, 5-cents pocket money was enough to survive on and girls were just for looking at.

Published by Media Masters Publishing Sdn Bhd, based in Ipoh. Available at major bookstores, online at www.ipohworld.org and Ipoh Echo. Tel: 05‑2495938 or e-mail: info@mediamasters.com.my.

SFCK

Effective Sales Force Recruitment

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By See Foon Chan-Koppen

According to Dato’ Daniel Tay, who wrote an endorsement on the cover of this book, this is “a must have for both an intending employer and employee”. He also implores people to “read this book before either conducting or going for an interview”.

Joshua Tan who is currently a Sales Manager in one of the growing organisations in Ipoh, has written a ‘how-to’ book for those looking to recruit a powerful sales force. Although the emphasis is on recruiting sales people, the book is a veritable treasure trove of tips and tactics for the whole recruitment process in any department.

The book has many practical and useful examples and is laid out in chapters on all the topics pertaining to the recruitment process from pre-interview to selection, to the post-interview and the final words which details the various Malaysian laws around employment.

The appendices are useful with a sample application form, an interview rating form, part 3 of schedule 3 of the Employment Provident fund and SOCSO rates.

Joshua Tan has been in consumer sales for 20 years and has written several short training materials for the company he works for. He holds an MBA from Nottingham Trent University and is involved in several NGOs like the YMCA, the Haggai Institute and FGBMF.

This 90-page paperback is available for sale at MPH and Popular bookstores for RM24.90. Also from Joshua Tan at 016-5127635.