|Ali Rustam's son and new daughter-in-law|
What a lovely couple and very popular they seemed as guests totalling a humongous 130,000 turned up for their nuptials. Congratulations to the bride and bridegroom. And eat your hearts out, dear PM Najib, wouldn't you just love to have such a crowd at your functions, wakakaka?
Now, on to the dad of the bridegroom.
However, my story of Ali Rustam's generosity and deep pockets (or deep connections wakakaka) in feting 130,000 guests at his son's wedding, which earned him a note in the Malaysian Book of Records, has to start way back in ... ? ... anyway, way before our time, during Tunku's days.
I am about to indulge in what KL people termed as chong hei, or Penangites as t'ng k'ooi, which literally means 'long breath' or long-winded wakakaka. Tough, it's my blog so I'm entitled to do what I like ;-).
Yes, it's time for another uncle's story from kaytee, wakakaka.
But first, a wee explanation on a Penang Hokkien curse which Penang women frequently use, namely, 'eow siew teh mia', which means in simplified terms 'a short and cursed life to/for you', or what sweeties today would just exclaim in English as 'Die lah!' wakakaka.
|Ayer Itam village|
Mind, it's not as vicious as the evil and malicious genocidal 'harm-kar-ch'an', the favourite venomous malediction of a toothless lonely bitter old man who's beyond redemption for using such a terrible execrating curse.
Anyway, the key word in my t'ng k'ooi (or chong hei) is 'siew' which by itself means 'life', and which is also a common Penang name for both genders.
Now, in those early TAR-days, there were mainly two major political parties in competition in Penang, namely Perikatan (Alliance, BN's predecessor, comprising only UMNO, MCA and MIC) and Labour Party. Labour Party subsequently combined with Boestaman's PRM to form the short-lived Socialist Front - short lived only because most of its leaders were ISA-ed, in those Cold War and Konfrontasi days.
Ironically, the Labour Party was colloquially called 'goo t'au tong' or 'cow-head' party, a reference to Boestaman's PRM logo rather than its own logo of a pen (representing white collar workers) and a hoe (representing the farmers or peasants).
It could be said the two leading Labour Party Chinese politicians in Penang were the fiery Cambridge-trained orator, Lim Kean Siew, and the suave Ooi Thiam Siew (the latter at times Mayor of Georgetown).
|Lim Kean Siew|
In those days, apparently, pre-election campaigns whether for state, federal or Penang's city council seats were rather rambunctious, robust but rollicking affairs. Unc said the only police presence would be a couple of mata-mata in a black Landrover with huge tape recorder, and that was that, even in those Emergency days - compare that to the current 'no Emergency' times.
The campaign platform for the speakers would be surrounded by hawkers and spectators, adding to the colourful festive mood of the occasion. Young men would be prowling the site a la Chap Goh Meh to meet equally young women ;-).
Anyway, at one Perikatan rally, a MCA bloke, a guest speaker, got up on the makeshift stage to deliver his campaign speech in support of the candidate, and basically to attack the Labour Party, which in those days, as told by Unc, could even include sexist and racist attacks on the propriety and foreignness of Lim Kean Siew's American wife, a shameful precursor to Dr Mahathir's 'opinion' of western women.
Unc told me that original Mrs Lim (the American - Lim KS subsequently re-married a Chinese, Pamela Ong I believe?) could also be Farish Noor's university mentor or lecturer or friend/associate. Unc had once read Farish writing about visiting (presumably) the former Mrs Lim, having discussion on Palestine (she was like her former hubby Lim KS, an ardent socialist) and giving her a cartoon of cigarettes. Alas, like Lim Kean Siew, she has gone to a 'better place'.
So anyway, back to that campaign speech - our MCA kampung jaguh started off his support speech by negatively attacking Lim Kean Siew and Ong Thiam Siew. Unfortunately, due to his cultural insensitivity a la Ibrahim Ali (in fact, worse than Ibrahim Ali because he was a Chinese while Ibrahim isn't) he thought he would be a smart-ass by referring insultingly to those two Labour leaders as Lim Eow Siew & Ooi Eow Siew, a cursed play on their respective Chinese names of Kean Siew and Thiam Siew.
Now, recall that Penang Hokkien female curse of 'eow siew'.
What the idiot did in front of hundreds if not thousands of Chinese spectators, right at the very start of his campaign speech, with his insulting Lim Eow Siew & Ooi Eow Siew was to effectively, insultingly and unforgivably curse the entire clans of Lim's and Ooi's, comprising not an inconsiderable number of Chinese in Penang.
With his unthinking too-smart-by-half words, he truly f* himself, MCA and the poor MCA candidate kau kau, well, at least as far as the Lim's and Ooi's and their friends and sympathizers were concerned.
|Lim Kongsi (Clan House)|
My Unc was staggered by the immediate withdrawal of a large section of the crowd, almost everyone save (probably) MCA members. Of course not all who left the scene were Lim's and Ooi's but the Chinese in Ayer Itam village were not only mortified but outraged by such a shocking vile condemnation of the Lim's and Ooi's to cursed short lives, and from a Chinese politician at that.
As mentioned, it was in many ways worse than Ibrahim Ali's insensitive peh-pows, where Ibrahim at least had the excuse of not being a Chinese, wakakaka.
By the guest speaker's insensitive choice of words, it became a case of MCA opening its big mouth and putting its own foot into it, and of course subsequently regretting that action which led to the immediate loss of many votes in that election. It was what Penangites described as 'ma-hwa ay tork kannon kau-giah gai' (very drastic ricocheting effect of MCAs vile venom, or 'MCA shooting its own foot').
Fast forward to Penang September 2012.
The Gerakan Party of Penang is in a political state of helpless Kafkaesque (wakakaka) desperation. GE-12 had seen the political party's gruesome demise wrought by a mighty political tsunami. Until then, Penang had been its stronghold for more than 40 years, and their members realize that GE-13 will be the cremation for an already decomposing corpse, a final action of closure which will forever consign the name 'Gerakan Party' to just a mere footnote in history books ... unless they do something ... but what?
In its desperate attempt to politically salvage itself, Gerakan unfortunately forgot how it had come to power in Penang in 1969 when it swept away MCA in an earlier Anwar-less Hindraf-less tsunami, wakakaka.
Basically it has forgotten the people of Penang and the might of their votes, and thus ignored the political necessity of convincing the voters of their continuing political relevance - though admittedly for Gerakan it will be a Sisyphean task because of its shameful subservient cringe to UMNO for the last 30 years or so.
|Sisyphus' impossible task|
Perhaps being aware of the Sisyphean task in a positive campaign, it decided instead to launch a negative campaign, specifically against the character of CM Lim Guan Eng, a personality it sees as the centre of gravity of Pakatan's credibility with Penangites.
So like an acolyte, it adopts UMNO negative strategy in the latter's various attempts to demon-ize Lim GE, via incessant harassments of the CM by rancid curry peddlers, fabricating outrageously salacious lies against Lim's son, wife and god-knows-what-or-who-else.
But alas, Gerakan has foolishly targeted Lim Guan Eng, believing in the saying that 'if one throws enough poo around, some might just stick' to the person of the Penang CM.
Wrong tactic, wrong target, wrong decision - after all, weren't they aware of Penangites' hero-worship of Lim Guan Eng, an admiration that PKR Mansor Othman had undiplomatically summarised as being that for a tokong. Thus, how can Gerakan unrealistically expect Penangites to believe Lim GE, a political leader they admire, adore and adulate for his integrity, honour, and righteousness, has been unscrupulously fiddling with his rental allowance.
|Guan Yu, worshipped for integrity, honour, righteousness, brotherhood|
Gerakan had alleged that Lim GE has been renting his own property, thus insinuating he pocketed the monthly 4 grand official rental allowance for the Penang CM - see The Malaysian Insider (TMI)'s Penang CM pays for own house rent, says aide.
Lim had to resort to rented property because the CM's official residence, Sri Teratai, is not fit for occupancy due to bad condition and termites infestation, where repairs would cost more than half a million ringgit. Why the residence had come to such an appalling state, we'd have to ask the previous CM, Koh TK, but that's not for this post.
Ng Wei Aik, Lim's political secretary, shot down Gerakan’s allegation, saying Lim was renting a fully-furnished house for RM5000 a month, and clarified:
“As CM Chief Minister he is entitled to a monthly rental allowance of RM4000. It means that CM has to fork out another RM1000 from his own pocket to pay the rental.”
“We have practised the highest degree of integrity all this while even to the extent of making public the tenancy agreement even though this is only CM’s rented property.”
“On Gerakan’s attacks on CM’s rented house, it seems that Lim Guan Eng is the only CM or MB in Malaysia who is asked to explain his renting a house to stay as compared to BN leaders who need not to explain even though they buy houses some like palace resort owned by Khir Toyo.”
|Khir Toyo's palatial mansion|
Gerakan's allegations have been so pathetic, implausible and distasteful that I cannot help but wonder who had been the muddled-headed strategist in Gerakan?
But wait, there's more, and worse to come for Gerakan.
Once the ownership of the rental property was known, Gerakan switched its attack formation towards alleging the owner of the rental property, a business woman by the name of Phang Li Koon, has untoward business connections with the CM, implying CM Lim is involved in corrupt practice. By default of its allegations, Phang Li Koon is allegedly also corrupt.
That triggered off an angry response from the Phee clan, with a threat of legal action for defamation against Phang, one of the clan's members.
|40 of 100 Chinese surnames which account for 85% of Chinese|
The surname Phang and Phee are the same in written Chinese, in the same way as Ooi is to Wang, Ng is to Wu, Beh is to Ma, Teoh is to Zhang or Cheung, Tan is to Chen or Chan, etc - just the wicked Chinese confusing non-Chinese wakakaka - no, seriously, it's a result of different regional pronunciations of the surnames. Sometimes the differences between the earlier Wades-Giles and the current mainland Chinese pinyin Romanized spelling systems also add to the confusion.
Clan advisor Phee Boon Poh warned Gerakan to cease and desist from libelling the character of an innocent business woman whose only 'sin' has been to legitimately rent her property to Lim GE.
Phee demanded that Gerakan stop imagining others are like BN in having dodgy 'business links' when in Phang's case and their allegations about the tender for Taman Manggis, it is clear they couldn't and can't find any evidence or substance, yet are still persisting in their wild allegations. For more, see TMI's Penang clan card played in row over Guan Eng’s house.
|1000 surnames text|
So aeons ago, the MCA in an attempt to attack its political opponents, had instead insulted the Lim and Ooi clans just prior to an election. And George Santayana had advised us: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".
Indeed, today, we have a similar situation where Gerakan, in a desperate attempt to attack Lim GE, has instead unwittingly insulted another Chinese clan just prior to GE-13, through its reckless unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against Phang Li Koon and Lim GE.
Way to go, man. But wait wait, there's more, wakakaka.
Now, didn't we start off with Ali Rustam's 130,000 guests at his son's wedding, an affair that journalist Mariam Mokhtar has succinctly described as tacky! See Free Malaysia Today's The tackiest wedding of the year. I just love Mariam's delightful use of the word 'tacky'.
We don't have to go into the impropriety of government agencies being used to serve the CM in a private wedding, or the quantum of expenses incurred by a man who is supposedly living on the salary of a CM, but what we need to ask is, ... no, not about MACC, f* that agency, ...
... why has Gerakan been quiet as a mouse on this glaring issue, unlike the way they had without substance attacked Lim GE and poor Phang Li Koon?
But my dear Gerakan friends, your action, or lack of, in such blatant and arrogant ostentatious display of power and questionable opulence by Ali Rustam for his private event, his son's wedding, has not escaped the eyes and ears of Penang voters, especially when contrasted with your fierce actions against Lim GE.
What do Penangites now think of you as their representative?
For our dear Indian friends, reputed to have returned in droves to the BN banner, please be aware that Ali Rustam as an UMNO man has not been a pleasant person, if you recall how he in 2007 as the guest of honour at a PPP annual assembly publicly humiliated his host kau kau - see my 2007 post The total humiliation of PPP - a lesson for BN parties.
Ali Rustam's disgraceful discourteous disrespectful behaviour on that day of his infamy, as a guest of honour of PPP, a conduct so unbecoming and totally out of character with the old world courtesy of a Malay guest, had and still does raise the question on why (then PM) AAB and (then DPM) Najib did not offer a single word of consoling mollification to PPP, yes, let alone rebuked Ali Rustam!
PPP is essentially an Indian-based party and a member of BN. If UMNO allowed that gross and totally unacceptable humiliation to afflict its ally PPP, how would UMNO treat you, my dear Mama, Maa'mi, Aneh, Akka, Tambee and Tangechee?