Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tradition? (2) - new budget briefcase

Remember my post Tradition? just a week ago, in which I discussed the loss of many traditions, not just in Malaysia but elsewhere.


I have just read an article by Tunku Abidin Muhriz, one of my fave columnists in the Malay Mail Online, titled Saving money transparently. Tunku Abidin is also the founding president of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas). It's a good article in which he lamented, among many important budgetary points, that:

The Finance Minister’s speech is perhaps the only remaining guaranteed set piece of parliamentary oratory in Malaysia; rarely are there long speeches tackling constitutional issues to arrive at powerful conclusions.

Now it’s mostly short and punchy statements for easy media consumption, assuming the YB in question isn’t being shouted down by other members or being reprimanded by the Speaker. (For an example of a proper speech, see Tengku Razaleigh’s 20-minute tour de force in denouncing the 1993 constitutional amendments, available on YouTube.)


Surely it has been a gradual but inexorable sad loss of an important parliamentary tradition, one of beautiful or long-winded (wakakaka) debates where the people's representatives would demonstrate their mettle and competency in looking after the people's interests via their public show of understanding of issues and ensuing policy proposals (or counter proposals).

But on a trivial though indicative note, Tunku Abidin wrote (perhaps with tongue in cheek) on an aspect of our loss of 'tradition', as follows:

The budget speech is usually preceded by a photo session featuring the minister showing off the briefcase containing the budget documents outside the Treasury. I cannot find pictures of Tun HS Lee or Tun Tan Siew Sin doing the same, but I presume they did it too, since it’s a Westminster tradition, although in the UK they use a red ministerial box embossed with the royal cypher, of which only four have been used since the 1860s. Photographs suggest that the leather briefcase used last week is different to the one used in 2009.

tradition but with new briefcase

from Lederer de Paris or Montblanc Meisterstuck Selection?

Note in particular his words "... in the UK they use a red ministerial box embossed with the royal cypher, of which only four have been used since the 1860s. Photographs suggest that the leather briefcase used last week [by PM Najib merangkap-ing as Finance Minister] is different to the one used in 2009."


One thing about the Poms, just leave it to them to anchor themselves to and lay it thick on traditions a la Sixteen-K'ong-K'ong (1600 or 15th Century), where the Penang Hokkien word K'ong-K'ong means zero zero (kosong kosong) and also a dig at the pomposity of such declared or hinted vintage pedigree, wakakaka.

Once there was a certain brand of cigarette which avoided the prohibited advertisements of cigarette or smoking per se but laid it on thick about a piece of smoking accessory being made in the 'finest British tradition of craftsmanship of exceptional quality', etc etc etc, ... probably since the days when King Arthur lost his burning torch, wakakaka - that's what was meant by something-something K'ong-K'ong, wakakaka.


Mind you, observation of such traditions a la the Poms would have at the very least saved the taxpayers the cost of a new leather briefcase, wakakaka.

I trust the current taxpayers-owned briefcase is still with the Finance Ministry and not on 'permanent loan' to a lil' Napoleon, wakakaka, which will then require another purchase for a new budget announcement - maybe this time one from Bvlgari or Hermès or Bottega Veneta.

Hope the Auditor-General will make a point to check on this, wakakaka.
Bottega Veneta (crocodile skin)

aiyah, only US$30,000

My uncles, who were officers in the military and also the police, told me that whenever there was a new CO (commanding officer) in their battalion or station, or a new PMC (president of the mess committee) had taken over management of the officers' club, the officers would be instructed to re-do the mess, especially the bar - yes, in my uncles' days, officers' mess bars were standard features.

Of course with limited financial expenses coming from the officers' mess funds, contributed by the officers themselves, each re-do or attempted renovation was at best a limited or even superficial attempt.

When the British Armed Forces in Malaya/Malaysia went home, they left behind the facilities in excellent conditions, such as officers' and sergeants' mess (clubhouses), each with a good bar.


Many Malaysian officers felt that consolidating the already fine facilities left for them would have been a far more sensible and more effective 'renovation', but alas, many of those COs and PMCs obviously wanted something new which could be recognized as their 'personal' achievements, for their bosses to consider in their annual performance reports.

In more than many a case, the already excellent features of a bar left by the British military were unnecessarily destroyed in the do-over.

Anyway, the above discussion is moot since the officers' mess bars of our military don't have bars anymore but only machines dispensing cans of soft drinks, or what the Yanks call soda machines.

Officers' Mess with soda machine? Alamak, no class liao lah, wakakaka.

Officers' Mess bar, RAF High Wycombe

I think we can reasonably assume that in the general case, behind each vandalizing or destroying of traditions and traditional features of an institution in such frequent do-overs lies someone's personal 'interests'.

Yes, BTW what had happened to the previous Budget briefcase? Wakakaka, and like Tunku Abidin, we'll be looking at the Finance Minister's briefcase in the next budgetary presentation.



  1. no wonder u move to a white man country, u idolise the west n their tradition the way u kiss the turncoat ass.

    lets continue flowing with the tao, i never claim surrender or comply, my point is it is one of the trick to avoid giving any direct answer, which is very chinese indeed. historian ray huang claim one of the weakness of dynasty china is the lacking of preciseness in almost everything.

    n to that anon, if u truly read and finished the water margin, u should know at least 50% of the 108 demon (the first chapter use the term demon) is either govt officer n servant, or landlord n bourgeois. not many r peasant, in fact most of the top leader r from the formar class. chinese rarely put in writing any anti govt / emperor text. the tradition is still likely obedient, at least from the literate group. but of course u can interpret whatever that suit u, its a free world especially on literature (bible i dun know wakaka).

    1. aiyoyo, your 1st paragraph indicates you've gone ad hominem - running out of reasonable arguments? wakakaka

    2. perhaps the reason is bec i dun have any uncles in police / military, or to be precise, british police / military. i dun know anything abt mess bar. i think mamak store with teh tarik is a much better tradition we shd preserve. of course u n yr idol can only talk abt bar n coffee.

    3. Officers' Mess bars, kopitiam,beneath the buah cherry tree, hainan kopitiam, mamak teh tarik store, they are all Malaysian traditions depending on which social group one is in - one can be in all deopending on circumstances and timing, as my uncles and I have been. Why do you behave so childishly? lack of confidence in your self?

  2. In my kampung the officers' mess bar was converted into a mosque. The mosque is still there. Recently, they built a new mosque about 800 meters away. Now my kampung has got two mosques.

    - hasan

  3. KT,

    Let’s talk about the tradition of migration. (U might think that I'm using yr blog to rant about RPK. No. It's NOT. Besides, he has probably junked my response, just like many previous cases)

    Yr half anmoh sifu has brought up a rebuttal wrt whether the Malays pendatang in M’sia as mentioned by the Johore Gerak representative - cf :

    His main contention is that the Malay Archipelago, which has been defined as an island group of Southeast Asia between Australia and the Asian mainland and separating the Indian and Pacific oceans, has been ‘governed’ by the might of the Srivijaya Empire & Majapahit Empire until the 16th Century.

    It was in the 16th Century that the Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese started coming to the Malay Archipelago and began dividing up the territory, just like what the Europeans did to the Ottoman Empire after the First World War (and the cause of all those problems in the Middle East today).

    Hence it would be incorrect to say that the Malays are pendatang or immigrants, at least not the original Malays of the 600s to 1800s. There was certainly movement of people between the different islands as well as the Malay Peninsula plus Thailand. But these people were not immigrants because this movement was still within the same empire or territory.

    For purposes of history, all those people who came to British Malaya since 1850 could be correctly referred to as pendatang or immigrants (the date when the British immigration policy was launched to bring in Chinese and Indians from China and India). Prior to 1850, we cannot call the Malays from Java, Sumatra, etc., as pendatang.

    Hmmm…..very interesting!

    But, there is a BIG loop-hole in that argument!

    Actual historical records, pin points that NEITHER Srivijaya &/or Majapahit Empires managed to control the whole of the Malay Archipelago (as defined in Encyclopædia Britannica).

    1of 2

  4. cont 2of2

    In the case of SEA, neither of them, (in fact NONE of the any past empires) governed a territory as wide as within that boundary as defined in “The Malay Archipelago” by Alfred Russel Wallace.

    For example, nobody knew how wide/small the boundary of the Bugis Johor-Riau Empire was. Thus, the British and Dutch had to arbitrary drawn up their individual claims & compromised on those claims to divide up the land!

    In fact, within the context of Golden Chersonese (that’s ancient Greece name for Malaya Penisula), even though the concept of the fiefdom boundary is very unclear & not well defined. There MUST still be boundaries created by these fiefdoms since there were occupants within that land.

    Called it tribal instinct or territory building or what not – it’s a process to define one’s ownership of what one created via group/communal effort.

    So - ‘Hence it would be incorrect to say that the Malays are pendatang or immigrants, at least not the original Malays of the 600s to 1800s. There was certainly movement of people between the different islands as well as the Malay Peninsula plus Thailand. But these people were not immigrants because this movement was still within the same empire or territory.’

    Was that movement within the same empire? Not likely, as there was no such extensive empire boundary, though it could very well be within the same territory under various fiefdoms?

    What do u call someone form a different ‘area’ coming into yr kampong? Pendatang , right?

    So, the Malays are NOT pendatang or immigrants, at least not the original Malays of the 600s to 1800s! Well, wrong - they bloody WERE, bcoz, they crossed fiefdom boundaries, created by different authorities!

    The half anmoh’s twisted argument can be liken to the modern day EU. The rakyat of EU can move about within EU freely. But to the local, the new-commers r pendatang, even though they r from within EU!

    Michael Chick, who used to contribute to this anmoh’s blog, could give a much better historical/archeological accounts. Unfortunately, his writings no longer ‘appear’ in the blog, ever since that anmoh suffers a massive dosage of bruised ego after 2008 GE12.

  5. Hurrrah!!!

    Yr half anmoh sifu has changed theme now - from geo-political based assumptions (ie empire boundaries) to ethnocentric based relevancy!


    Now, the Malay M'sians r not pendatang bcoz they r of the same race as those of the other inhabitants within the Malay archipelago!

    Hmmmm... getting more interesting.

    I can only hope that he had read my take about migration within the EU to knock this 2nd attempt of his hypothesis off the cliff.

    Remember, most of the EU populace r of Caucasian origin & their languages r majority Latin based.

    BTW, right now I strongly believe that RPK doesn't arbitrate his blog 100%. He has some helpers known as super admin to do most of the donkey job. Many of these super admin r NOT the same as those that were with him prior to his wounded pride episode after GE12. Many of these super donkeys r NOT doing justice to heal the bruised ego. Rather, they reinforce it nth times!

    I'm dying to read part3....& hope again hope that Michael would contribute his say.

  6. Ooop.. forget to add that he is not that ambitious in territorial claim anymore.

    He casts his sight now to ONLY the Alam Melayu. A vety much smaller 'region' than the previous Malay Archepelago that he so claimed. Smart of him to exclude Siam, too.

    But then, a small catch - who define this Alam Melayu? Any peer reviewed consensus?

    Or a royally wet dream?