Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weekend Nostalgia- The Quests

The first time I head of The Quests was when I was in Form 4 when one of my classmates asked me excitingly one morning just as class was starting whether I was interested in dropping by at his house after school to listen to a new single recorded by a new group from Singapore. By then there were already many bands sprouting out all over KL and I thought this would be interesting to hear how Singapore bands sounded like for a change. What I heard was amazing. The lead guitar has a touch of Hank Marvin's [The Shadows] fingerings and yet it has a distinct style of its own. The opening five notes of the tune I heard emitting from the twin portable speakers became embedded in my mind and from then on, the music became a staple opening for us at many of the functions we played. The tune - "Shanty".

The Quests were a popular Singapore band of the 1960s. Formed in 1961 by Jap Chong, Raymond Leong, Henry Chua and Lim Wee Guan, and later including guitarist Reggie Verghese and singer Vernon Cornelius, the band is considered the most successful local band of that era. The band started out by performing cover versions of British and American songs, but went on to record a number of singles and albums containing original compositions. The band is best known for its original hit song "Shanty".

In 1960, Chong Chow Pin (referred to by his nickname "Jap"), Raymond Leong, Henry Chua and Lim Wee Guan often listened to British music records featuring the electric guitar. Students of about 13 and 14 years old at the time, they were neighbours in the Tiong Bahru area. Inspired by music acts such as Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the four practised playing popular songs. While they did not have formal training in playing instruments or reading music, they acquired these skills through imitation and practice.

In 1961, the four formed The Quests, with Chong on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Leong on lead guitar, Chua on bass guitar, and Lim on drums. The name of the band was derived from the school magazine of Queenstown Secondary Technical School (now Queenstown Secondary School), where Chong and Leongwere students.

Early years
The Quests' first paid performance was at St Andrew's Mission in 1961. As they were just starting out, they had to borrow instruments and equipment from friends and family. The band was paid $20 for the event.

In 1963, Reggie Verghese, then of The Checkmates, replaced Raymond Leong, who left the band to pursue an engineering career. With the addition of Siri Pereira
as lead vocalist for a brief period, the band became known as Siri Pereira and The Quests. When Wilson David replaced Pereira, the band became known as Wilson David and The Quests. Due to David's reputation as the "Elvis Presley of Singapore", the band added a number of Elvis songs to their repertoire.

Read more here

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The Quests' first single:

The Quests' second release - TEABREAK

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hajjah Siti Inshah Mansor, the racist principal

Remember this face. It belongs to one Hajjah Siti Inshah Mansor, principal of SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra in Kulai, Johore, who made the racist remarks about her non-Malay students. The only way to deal with such bigots is to put her in front of her students with Muhyiddin asking her, "Did you or didn't you utter those racists remarks" If yes, it's Siberia for her. No transfer please. If she said no, ask the students in that assembly, and if they say "yes", it's also Siberia for her. Tolong sikit, no more task force. It is one too many and a waste of taxpayers money on a person like this woman.

Another one who should be sent to Siberia

I can't believe it. Only a week ago, we had one school principal in Johore making racist remarks about its non-Malay students. Now out popped another one, this time in Kedah. So, we had one in the centre (remember the Malay teacher/principal who used a methophor to compare a snake with an Indian, in Perak), one down south and one up north. Will the next come from the East Coast, namely Trengganu or Pahang. It is no point transferring such bigots as it would mean transferring the problem from one point to another. The best is to sack the whole lot of them and have them sent to Siberia to freeze it out.

To UMNO, now you can see what your racist policies have done to this country and especially the children

Barely a week after a secondary school principal in Johor was accused of hurling racial slurs at non-Malays, another is being denounced for having uttered similar derogatory remarks - this time in Kedah.

Several Chinese newspapers today gave prominence to reports of a Sungai Petani secondary school principal accusing non-Muslim students of "disrespecting" the fasting month of Ramadan.

chinese school inconvenience 190104 canteenAccording to the report the school cafeteria had closed for the fasting month and non-Muslim students were left to their own devices to find food.

But the sight of a group of them having breakfast at the canteen - a common area - had apparently raised the principal's ire.

Later, at the school assembly, the principal was alleged to have said that the Chinese students - comprising 10 percent of the student population of 780 - had been disrespectful and that "they should go back to China".

It was claimed that when the assembly was over, another teacher approached the Chinese students to say sarcastically that they should take an AirAsia flight, since the fares were cheap now.

Brickbats from BN politicians

The affair had several Barisan Nasional leaders up in arms.

wee ka siong interview 220310 04MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong (right) - who is also deputy education minister - said it was wrong and unbecoming of the school headmaster to make such a remark and that he would leave it to education director-general Alimuddin Mohd Dom to resolve the matter.

"The DG should remind principals to be racially-sensitive. No more such incidents!" he exclaimed in his public Twitter account.

However, Wee also agreed that non-Muslim students in secondary schools should be sensitive during Ramadan and that they should respect their fasting Muslim schoolmates.

"Regarding the place to eat for non-Muslims, the school principal should make proper arrangements to prevent any misunderstanding," he said.

Head must face disciplinary action

Meanwhile, Kedah Gerakan called for the principal's head, urging the government to take "stern action" against him.

"If it is true that the school head had made the racist utterances, then the person should face disciplinary action," state Gerakan chief Cheah Soon Hai said in a statement.

He said the government should be strict as schools are places for learning and such degrading and disparaging words from a principal should not be condoned at all.

Cheah - also Derga state assemblyperson - said the people should know from history that Malaysia gained independence because of the genuine efforts of all races.

"While acknowledging the fact that non-Muslims should be more sensitive towards Muslims uring fasting time, the school head's statement has clearly gone overboard. Making statements such as passengers (penumpang) of the country are totally unwarranted," he added.

'Racist' worms creep out of woodwork

Just earlier this week, the nation was shocked after several police reports were lodged against the principal of a secondary school in Kulai, Johor, for allegedly asking the "Chinese students to go back to China", and likening the Hindu prayer bracelet to a dog leash.

In a speech during the launch of the school's Merdeka celebration, she had also "reminded" the non-Malay students of their place in the country.

She had allegedly given the example of owning a Proton Saga and then letting 'Munusamy' and 'Chong' in as passengers.

"Munusamy and Chong are only passengers. They cannot claim any right to the car. This is the same as Malaysia in which the non-Malay students are passengers," wrote a 16-year-old student in his police report on what the principal had said.

[Source: Mkini]

This racist school principal should be sent Siberia

After coming across this news with regard to a Kulai school principal making racist remarks to her students, I wonder what is happening to our institutions of learning. One thing I know for sure. It is going to the dogs. Back in the sixties when I was in secondary, I had Malay teachers who were really professionals, and they were the ones who not only taught me BM, but also mathematics and science [and in English too]. You would never hear them uttering racist remarks because it is something no one would have thought off. Racism in schools was a total alien culture then. Compared with this principal, my cikgus were truly a class of their own. Why can't our educators teach our children to love instead of hate and fear. Isn't it is clear by now that the crappy 1Malaysia thingy is not working any more. So sad, really.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders have condemned Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for trying to sweep under the rug the latest outbreak of racism in the country involving a s school principal from his own Johor state who had derided Indians as dogs and said Chinese should go back to China.

“The behavior of the school principal is part of an overall problem not an isolated incident. Racism is rampant in Malaysia and racial polarization is even worse. If Muhyiddin fails to act, it not only shows his double standards but raises questions about himself,” PKR vice president Sivarasa Rasiah told
Malaysia Chronicle.

“To a large extent, the root cause for such arrogant and ignorant behavior stems from the examples set by Umno leaders and sad to say Muhyiddin has been at the forefront of this sort of racial superiority policies rather than throwing his support behind 1Malaysia or some other unifying plan.”

Differentiating himself from his boss

Indeed, in his haste to differentiate himself from his boss, Prime Minister Najib Razak, Muhyiddin has put himself on a slippery pole that could topple any time, leaving him disowned and staring at nothing but wasted opportunities.

In the past weeks, the Umno deputy president has been busy going after MCA for stepping on Malay rights. Together with ultra-Malay NGO Perkasa, he has hit the headlines issuing warning after warning against the Chinese party for a proposal it made to Najib suggesting that the 30 percent Bumiputera equity target be reduced and open tenders be conducted as a matter of norm.

Not only did Muhyiddin immediately torpedo the MCA proposal, he did not consider any of its positive aspects which included preferential pricing to help Bumi firms tide through the open tenders or the possibility that the endemic corruption currently hidden behind the 30 percent quota could be reduced.

“Muhyiddin is again proving to fail 1Malaysia with inept handling of the racist remarks by the principal of SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra,” DAP information chief Tony Pua said in a statement.

“The 1Malaysia concept was further debased when Alimudin told the press yesterday that
'there is no change, the issue was only a misunderstanding and the problem has been solved between the principal and students', indicating also that the principal may not even be transferred as a punishment.”

Disdained even by his own Umno mates

Pua was referring to Education director-general Alimudin Dom for declaring the issue resolved after a cursory investigation to appease the public outcry that has erupted. Muhyiddin is also the Education minister.

Even Muhyiddin’s own colleagues in Umno, including Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, have expressed disdain for the remarks made by Hajah Siti Inshah binti Mansor.

“We cannot drag our feet or prevaricate on things like this. Blatant racism. By a school principal no less. And if proven that she said those things, she must be sacked and charged appropriately. She shouldn’t be allowed back pending the result of the investigation, which shouldn’t have to take long,” Khairy had tweeted.

Last week, at a
Merdeka celebration held in her school, Siti Inshah had allegedly said in a speech:

“Pelajar-pelajar Cina tidak diperlukan dan boleh balik ke China ataupun Sekolah Foon Yew. Bagi pelajar India, tali sembahyang yang diikat di pergelangan tangan dan leher pelajar nampak seakan anjing dan hanya anjing akan mengikat seperti itu.”

“Chinese students are not needed and can go back to China or Foon Yew School. As for the Indian students, the prayer strings that they wear around their wrists and necks make them look like dogs and only dogs are chained up like that.”

The Rocket Takes Off Again!

The Home Ministry has approved DAP’s application to renew the publishing permit for its organ The Rocket in English and Chinese.

National publicity secretary Tony Pua said today that the party received a letter from the ministry to the effect.

He said DAP will be making the mandatory RM50 payment immediately to ensure the permit is issued.

The Rocket was among three opposition tabloids whose permits were not renewed. The other two were PAS-owned Harakah and PKR’s Suara Keadilan.

However, Harakah has since returned to print, while Suara Keadilan is still in limbo.

PKR, however, has gone on to publish one-off issues under different names.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Nostalgic Sunday - The Saints

Starting from this weekend, I am not going to talk about politics. They are so depressing to say the least. So to lighten things up, I am going to take you guys, those in their fifties and sixties, down memory lane, especially visiting the works of some of our local musicians who made the headlines in the sixties and seventies. This was an era we will long remember and will never come back again, simply because of these artistes who have endeared themselves to us for many years, long after they ceased recording. One significant point to note is that all recordings were done in English and the fans cut across racial and religious lines. We cannot say that there would be one household without at least one of their albums in their collections.

Let's rock and roll ........

Malayans (then) and later, Malaysians, were truly blessed for they were greatly influenced by pop music from both sides of the Atlantic. Back in the fifties and early sixties, we were brought up on a diet of Elvis Presley, The Ventures, Bobby Vee, Bobby Darin, Richie Valen and The Drifters from the States, while from UK, we had Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Adam Faith and Tommy Steele to keep us entertained. When 1963 came around, suddenly there was a burst of bands emerging from the local scenes and some went on to record their works.

This Sunday, I would like to talk about The Saints. A group born out of Kuala Lumpur who initially got my attention when they performed at "The Young Ones" contest held at the Capitol Theatre in 1961 in conjunction with the film of the same name which starred Cliff Richard and The Shadows. They emerged as the second runner up in the contest and after this event, they were seen regularly performing at the then Radio Malaya live show and concerts at the Merdeka Stadium. They were also a regular feature at the Si Rusa Inn in Port Dickson. When television was later introduced, they were the first of many bands to appear on the "Serbanika" show together with the Sonny Ho dance group.

The first single was "Jo's Monkey" which went on to receive a placing on the local chart for many weeks. On the "B" side, they recorded "I saw Liliane last night".

Here they are, once again, The Saints ....

Since Singapore was part of Malaysia then, artistes across the Causeway will also be featured on alternate weeks, showcasing their works and talents.