Young and Flag
Image by muhd amirull / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Happy Independence Day, Malaysia!

There is so much that is wonderful about my homeland, but there is so much that’s wrong with its governance. At the weekend hundreds of thousands of Malaysians came together across Malaysia, and overseas, to do something about it.

The 4th Bersih rally went ahead as planned, calling for free and fair elections, reinstatement of the independence of public institutions, and an end to political corruption – and this year was dominated by calls for the Prime Minister to step down. I don’t think a simple change of PM will change much, as it’s just replacing the name of the problem, not dealing with the actual issues. But I do believe that being able to say so, and calling for a change like this sends a strong message to the entire government that the people will not be taken for fools.

It was a sight to behold – a beautiful act of civil disobedience (among other things, large public gatherings are highly restricted), with the police acting truly as peacekeepers and not just government pawns as in previous years. This is muhibah (harmony, goodwill, respect for others) in Malaysia at its finest.
Bersih 4.0 (10)
Image by Pocket News / CC BY 2.0

The rally in Kuala Lumpur started on Saturday, and ended peacefully on Sunday night as the clock struck midnight, signalling the start of our 58th Independence Day. I was unable to participate in any events here in Aberdeen, but seeing the images of masses of people in yellow, I was proud of my friends and family and fellow Malaysians, and with them in spirit.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!
Happy Independence Day!

Election, reflection, progression


So the UK General Election has come and gone, and despite everyone and their grandmother saying it was going to be terribly close and drawn out for weeks, it turned out we had a majority government by the next morning. Not my choice of government, but I’ll have to deal with it. I was very conflicted this year – as one who usually identifies with Lib Dem / Labour ideals, I was fed up with the Lib Dems and sorely disappointed with Labour; I’m entirely for the UK union, but intrigued by the SNP and their other, progressive policies (and I was never a fan of Nicola Sturgeon but I’ve been impressed by her since she took on leadership). I stood at the polling booth longer than I thought I would.

Though many seem to think the SNP are the reason Labour didn’t pull it off, the maths tells us that even all 59 seats in Scotland would not have made up a Labour majority. I strongly believe that it was Labour themselves that played a big part in the SNP result – their split personality (trying to out-Tory the Tories) and lack of understanding of Scotland’s ideals regardless of the independence issue. And I don’t even know where to begin with the huge number of votes UKIP received, but I take comfort in knowing that Nigel Farage, a crucial part of this one-man-show of a party, will no longer be joining us.

Onward with the positives: A record number of women and ethnic minorities in this parliament, and while it is certainly not enough (in Westminster or in Holyrood), it is these gradual steps that finally get us there.

Most excitingly of all during this election period, the Women’s Equality Party was formed, and they aim to put forward candidates in the 2020 general election. Sandi Toksvig left her Radio 4 News Quiz role to help set up the party, having decided that she’s had enough with making jokes about politics and needs to participate in changing politics. This may be a single-issue party, but that’s how the Greens started, and they now have a comprehensive manifesto and are right up there with the other main parties. Equality is a huge issue, and I have great hopes for what this party can achieve (and gleefully look forward to being a ‘card-carrying member’).

So, interesting times…what did you think of the election outcome? And is the saying “may you live in interesting times” a blessing or curse? Perhaps it depends on what one considers interesting. I have no control over when in history I live – these are the times I live in, and whether interesting or not, I shall do what I can to make the best of it.

Easter gardening

Since moving into our home Easter has brought us nice weather, and usually marks the start of ‘proper gardening’ for the year.

In front the big daffodils aren’t out yet, but round the back the little ones are happily enjoying the sun.
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

2015-04-05 Easter gardening

The back garden has been (mostly) weeded and tidied, and Wilf is back out to supervise progress. Rocket, chard, and cornflower seeds have been sown today.
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

Gareth’s also constructed a wigwam, ready for sweet peas. This year (like the past years) we have declared we won’t plant too many seedlings that later turn into a sweet pea jungle. We’ve been restrained and sown only 20 seeds, so hopefully we’ll have a controllable mass of flowers this time!
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

Over in the far corner the hellebore has been flowering for some time and still looking well, although I often think it’s a shame the flowers face downward, as they are very pretty.
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

2015-04-05 Easter garden

In the same corner you can also see that the ‘fairy flower’ plant on the ground has spread well. The more it grows the less we’ll have to weed each year, so I’m glad they’re doing well! We inherited this plant with the house, and moved them here from another part of the garden – the photo below shows last year’s pretty flowers, which will appear in the next couple of months.
They are very delicate and fairylike, hence my name for them, but they are a type of saxifrage.
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

Lots to look forward to as the new season gets going. Happy Easter, and Happy Spring!
2015-04-05 Easter gardening