Monday, December 30, 2019

Happy New Year plus Advice

Wakakaka, let's start 2020 with a more moderate forum, thus:

1. Keep to thread - eg. don't post Taiwan Straits barrages and counter barrages in posts on wholly Malaysian affairs, and vice versa. Stay relevant to the topic-thread and don't just dump your anger, anxiety and annoyance on any post.

2. Strong hurtful abusive words should NOT refer to an entire ethnic group - eg. I don't want to read statements such as 'The Chinese are tai-seow piggies' or 'The Malays are eff-ing zombies' or 'The Indians are too eff-ing handsome for their own good', wakakaka. When you insult an entire race, you are an A$$h*le of a Bigot ...

From Malaysiakini:

“... Orang asing berasa selesa dengan negara kita dan mereka ingin tinggal di sini. Nak tak nak pun, kita terpaksa terima, kalau tidak kita tidak akan mencapai kemerdekaan

(The foreigners felt comfortable in this country and wanted to stay. Like it or not, we were forced to accept or we would not have achieved independence) 

... nor to a religion - eg. I don't want to read 'Islam is an XXXX religion' nor 'Hinduism is YYYY' nor 'Christianity is ZZZZ' etc, though you could criticise clerics, idiotic adherents, etc but never the innocent religion, wakakaka. [Only sweet innocent naive kaytee has exemption, wakakaka]

3. No slandering of personalities eg. 'A stole RM1 Billion', 'B eff-ed so-and-so 6 o'clock' nor 'C sucked D's dingaling', wakakaka.

Happy New Year mateys, wakakaka.

From VN Express International:

... ABBA’s “Happy New Year!” is probably the most spirited and revered song of Vietnam after "Tiến Quân Ca", the epic national anthem written and composed by Văn Cao in 1944. How it came to be seen that way is very telling about the history of Hanoi.

Back in the 1980s, in the middle of the subsidy period, Vietnam was mostly closed to the outside world. The only links with foreign countries were with brotherly nations in the Soviet Bloc. Foreigners were rare in Hanoi. There were just a few Russians around, visiting as part of cooperation missions. Comparing with the war period, Hanoians saw them like “Americans without the dollars”.

But there was one, only one, Western country that maintained a close relationship with Vietnam. That country was Sweden. Driven by strong ethical principles, and rightfully indignant about the absurdity and the carnage of the American War, Sweden was unusual in having an embassy in Hanoi, and a large development cooperation program with Vietnam.

Olof Palme was the Swedish Prime Minister at the time. A fierce critic of the foreign policy of both the United States and the Soviet Union, he was known for his uncompromising non-alignment, and for his support of Third World countries. Among other daring initiatives, he was the first Western head of government to visit Cuba after its revolution. In 1986 he was assassinated in the streets of Stockholm, as he was leaving a movie theater with his wife. He was probably the only head of state who didn’t have personal security, or body guards. Why and by whom he was murdered remains a mystery.

Olof Palme was adamant in Sweden supporting Vietnam’s priorities, whatever these were. In the late 1960s an agreement was signed between the two countries to build a paper mill that would tap Scandinavian expertise in this sector. The paper mill would be located in Bãi Bằng, about 90 kilometers northwest of Hanoi. With an investment close to 500 million dollars of the day, the project was very large for a small country like Sweden. And in the end the cost escalated to almost four times the original budget. This was no doubt a very generous undertaking, paid for by Swedish taxpayers.

It took many years to get the paper mill up and running. But eventually a small Swedish-looking village made of wooden cabins emerged in North Vietnam. Tall blond inhabitants and sauna spas gave it a look that was unmistakably non-Vietnamese. But many of the Swedish experts that came to help with the project fell in love with the country. Quite a few ended up getting Vietnamese partners, marrying locally, and never going back.

Together with the paper mill, the sauna spas and the tall blond Swedes came the music of ABBA. The Vietnamese authorities of the time were very suspicious of Western influences. There was a fear that foreign cultural products could surreptitiously corrupt socialist ideals and values among the population. But Sweden was a trusted and tested ally.

From the time of Reunification to right before Doi Moi [period of market based economic reforms since late 1980s], the Swedish band ABBA was one of the most successful groups in the history of popular music, worldwide. Its songs were officially welcome in Vietnam, indeed celebrated as part of the culture of a close friend. But for ordinary Hanoians the glossy looks of the group and their easy music became the synonym of affluence and cheerfulness

The official acceptance of ABBA songs happened at a time when scarcity raged and there was very little to be celebrated in Vietnam. Hanoians could be queuing in endless lines with their ration cards in hand, just to get some meager portion of rice. Cultural life was minimal, debate was almost non-existent. But ABBA’s songs were there to remind them that there was a prosperous and optimistic world outside of Vietnam, one that reflected the deep aspirations of Hanoians for their country and their own families.

There is however some irony in the unwavering love of Hanoians for ABBA’s “Happy New Year!” In reality the lyrics were not that cheerful:

No more champagne

And the fireworks are through

Here we are, me and you

Feeling lost and feeling blue

It's the end of the party

And the morning seems so grey

Few people in Vietnam spoke Swedish at the time, and the English version was only released many years later. So the sorrow of the lyrics went mostly unnoticed. But it contained at hint of disappointment with ideals of brotherhood and love. “May we all have a vision now and then, of a world where every neighbor is a friend […] “may we all have our hopes, our will to try, if we don't we might as well lay down and die.”

Unknown to Hanoians, what this most beloved ABBA song exposed was not so much the contrast between Western happiness and Vietnamese frustration. Or between the prosperity of a market economy and the deprivation of the subsidy period. “Happy New Year!” is about the shared hope for a better world, against the odds, even if we are “feeling lost and feeling blue”. Which is what we all wish when we say “Chúc mừng năm mới!”, with a bittersweet smile on our faces.

* Martin Rama is the Chief Economist for the South Asia region of the World Bank. The views expressed here are his own.


  1. And Ktemoc calls Lim Kit Siang boh Lampar.

    The last time I checked, it is not a polite word.

    1. Ah Moc with his new year resolution forbids stuff which only he himself is allowed, wakakakaka, his blog maa....he learned fast from the US...Ah Mok's exceptionalism

  2. i read somewhere 3 abba member hardly speak eng except andersson, is it the reason their songs very catchy bec simple lyrics? when i was very young, i asked my cousic which band is the most popular, he told me beatles, abba n bee gees, after many years, i think he is right.

  3. I have no right to "advise" the host but may I "suggest" that besides "keep to thread" there should not be a continuous stream of threads always hentam Toonsie, Kit, Guanee, DAP etc but never the opposite. It becomes quite a bore to keep defending them, as is my "job" (unpaid though ha ha ha).

    Sometimes six or more consecutive threads all attacking DAP, Toonsie, Kit, Guanee but never mention anything that happened between 2003-2018.

  4. The Perlis Mufti forgets that Indonesia banned all vernacular schools during the Sukarno/Suharto years, even public display of chinese characters was not allowed, yet there was a lot of communal problems culminating in the slaughter of the chinese in the late 90s.

    Perlis mufti blames vernacular schools for communal friction

    30 Dec 2019

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — Disagreement among the country’s various communities will exist so long as vernacular education is allowed to remain, Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin claimed today.

    Mohd Asri’s Facebook post appeared to refer to the Dong Zong conference that was barred after rival groups threatened to hold counter-rallies, but did not specify if this was the case.

    “As long as vernacular schools that do not use the national language are not eliminated from the country, then the conflict and unrest between races will remain,” he claimed.

    The Perlis mufti went on to make a veiled call for unity and solidarity to restore political power and strength to face down what he called “insolence.”

  5. QUOTE
    I travelled to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims, I travelled to the East and saw Muslims, but no Islam
    UNQUOTE......Muhammad Abduh

    Maybe he visited Sweden, ha ha ha...I wonder what he would say about Malaysia if he visited today......

  6. DAP Ministers dominate Top 10.

    So please don't resign, otherwise Toonsie (ranked 19 will fill up DAP spots with more of 21 and below...ha ha ha...)

    Harapan ministers - how do they fare?

    POLL | The Pakatan Harapan cabinet has been in the job for almost 19 months and this is how Malaysiakini readers rated all 28 of them.

    They gave either a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” for each minister, based on their performance.

    A huge number of readers participated in the seven-day poll and during this period, Malaysiakini detected many spammers who tried to skew the results.

    Those votes were removed to ensure the integrity of the survey.

    Overall, only 10 of the 28 Harapan ministers received 50 percent and above in approval rating.

    Here are the results - and some surprises…

    1) Anthony Loke
    2) Gobind Singh Deo
    3) Yeo Bee Yin
    4) Dzulkefly Ahmad
    5) Lim Guan Eng
    6) Mohamad Sabu
    7) Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail
    8) Saifuddin Abdullah
    9) Salahuddin Ayub
    10) Saifuddin Nasution Ismail
    11) Teresa Kok
    12) Darell Leiking
    13) Khalid Abd Samad
    14) M Kulasegaran
    15) Dr Xavier Jayakumar
    16) Baru Bian
    17) Muhyiddin Yassin
    18) Liew Vui Keong
    19) Dr Mahathir Mohamad
    20) Mujahid Yusof Rawa
    21) Zuraida Kamaruddin
    22) Rina Harun
    23) P Waythamoorthy
    24) Azmin Ali
    25) Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman
    26) Mohamaddin Ketapi
    27) Maszlee Malik
    28) Redzuan Yusof

  7. I also "suggest" that as we navigate the narrow Taiwan Straits we refrain from digging up and debating the Canny Ong murder, out of respect for her family.

    That case has been settled. No one is complaining. So stop digging it up.

  8. In the last decade, Sweden has increasingly found its formal neutrality a difficult act. The Russian intervention in Ukraine was a wake-up call..".that could be us" as some Swedes now understand.

    The Swedish Parliament has passed laws allowing Sweden to coordinate with NATO on matters of national security, and there have been several NATO-Sweden exercises on Swedish soil and waters.

    Russia, as expected, has warned Sweden against aligning with NATO, which Sweden has not formally done.

  9. The good news,this new year coming out of Putrajaya is the resignation of the dunggu education minister.From black shoes to Jawi,please give the morons a break.The resignation or sacking of Azmin will be better news.Then the rest of the dunggus followed by Mahathir.Then there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

  10. Kaytee,are you still on sabbath?It is almost two weeks since you started your penance.

  11. Kaytee Matey,having sometimes one to five postings a day,seven days a week,it is highly unusual to see someone like you absent for more than six weeks from your blog.

    Doing your sabbath in the Himalayas do not take this long.So,I have to ask you this question.Did you eloped with Donald Trump?The last time I heard,he has been squealing like he got raped by a horse.Cheers Matey.

    1. wakakaka, rather Melanie lah or his daughters (Ivanka or Tiffany, or both), yummy