Archive for July, 2010




Edited and published in The Sun today (30 July):

You have provided a coherent, comprehensive explication of the terms racism and racialism in your article  “7 sins of racial chauvinism” (The Sun 29 July)!
You are absolutely right in concluding that the politicians who play up the race issue are racial chauvinists rather than racists. The sad thing is that many ordinary Malaysians are buying into their skewed rhetoric and are in real danger of turning racist. The promotion (by a political party, an NGO or citizen group) of an organised and systematic form of oppression against another race is what the country must avoid at all cost.
Thus, I think your idea of having a “public declaration against racial chauvinism and for national unity” is worth pursuing. Besides educating people on the meaning and implications of these terms, it will  require individuals, civil and political groups, public and private organisations and the country’s leadership  to uphold the strictest standards of racial integration implicit in the concept of 1Malaysia.
Halimah Mohd Said 






I can’t say I have a studied interest in art or a highly informed one but I can say I am partial to works of art  especially the ones I can afford!

I respond rather instinctively to art in different mediums and from different schools although impressionism strikes me as being truly interpretative of life. I like  watercolours and pastels and charcoal as much as I do oils and acrylics and technical pens. I’m not snooty or elitist in my taste and think there’s a place for all kinds of development, skills and techniques, professional and amateur, naive and sophisticated. Let’s just say I’m eclectic and universal in my artistic interests…

…which was probably activated by my father’s modest collection of watercolours of Malaysian and English landscape and portraits in the Hossein Anas tradition, painted not by the master himself but by his lesser pupils. Besides, our Linggi saudara the late Ahmad Khalid Yusof gave Pak Ngah Nyet a couple of his early dabblings which the family “tore to pieces”.  Ahmad Khalid later became the first Head of the School of Art & Design in MARA Institute of Technology inspiring many batches of students and himself becoming a much respected artist who weaved Islamic calligraphy into his stylised artistic designs. I trailed Khalid’s shows and exhibitions picking up some pieces along the way at market price, not wanting to diminish their worth by bargaining for a family price. In return Khalid brought baskets of rambutan from his kebun and gave me a few of his sketches.

In school I was among the mediocre in art, and envied classmates like Gangga Devi and even my best friend Lee Har who showed unusual talent and skills. They say that some artistic talent is inborn but a great part can be nurtured in/ by a conducive environment. How true if you watch the child apprentices in Ubud, Bali practising their skills day in and day out with only a few emerging as veritable artists. You have to study and appreciate the masters before a bit of their artistic flair rubs off on you.

I’ve written three articles on three of my favourite artists – my first on Ahmad Nizar in Going Places,  my second on Ahmad Zakii Anwar and my third on Peter Liew both in Heritage Asia. They are each outstanding in their own way, faithful to their own artistic principles and philosophy, and consistent in their striving for excellence and perfection within their own tradition. For like all things in life, excellence and perfection come with varying interpretations. But the one thing that I look for in the artists whom I befriend or whose works I invite into my home is that they are nice people. Nice in the nicest possible sense of nice! Earnest, modest and kind!

I dabbled in art at different points in my adult life but decided to refresh my interest some five years ago, taking lessons in oil and watercolour from my artist friend Rafie Abdul Rahman. In the first spurt of enthusiasm four years ago I produced about twenty pieces – mainly interpretations of old masters  “forced” into the collection of family and friends. Two angles of our family home in Gedung Lalang , Seremban done in pencil watercolour hang  (rather handsomely I must say) in Galeri JASA.

I’m now into the second spurt of artistic zeal and hope to produce at least twenty oils over the next year or so. My collection will be simply entitled Pulang – pulang ke kampung halaman, ke tempat asal, ke tempat yang disayangi, ke orang yang dikasihi, ke rahmatullah…

I will be trying out new techniques, new styles and new strokes borrowing some and inventing others. All in all my efforts will be eclectic- some old-world and whimsical, some crisp and modern.

Art is interpretation after all!

July 2010