For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction

Yet, again, I was sent home and this time I asked the barber at Malay Street to give me an American GI crop and reported back at the headmaster’s office. Murugesu took one look at my skinhead and gave me a tight slap. (I wonder why they call it ‘tight slap’ when it actually loosens everything in your head). He then screamed at me, “Go home and don’t come back till your hair grows again”.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Newton’s laws of motion

Newton’s laws of motion are three physical laws that together laid the foundation for classical mechanics. They describe the relationship between a body and the forces acting upon it, and its motion in response to said forces. They have been expressed in several different ways over nearly three centuries, and can be summarised as follows:

First law: An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a force. An object in motion remains in motion, and at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.

Second law: The acceleration of a body is directly proportional to, and in the same direction as, the net force acting on the body, and inversely proportional to its mass. Thus, F = ma, where ‘F’ is the net force acting on the object, ‘m’ is the mass of the object and ‘a’ is the acceleration of the object.

Third law: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.


Godfrey Kneller’s 1689 portrait of Isaac Newton (as at age 46: Newton died at age 84)

Sir Isaac Newton was a British Member of Parliament, physicist and mathematician who lived around 300 years ago (1642-1727) and who conjured the ‘laws of motion’ above. This, of course, is different from the other law of motion: if you got to go, you got to go (and which would apply if you ate a plate of ‘seasoned’ fish-head curry rice for lunch today and your tummy is rumbling like hell).

Sadly, though, the more polite ‘passing motion’, ‘seeing a man about a dog’, or ‘answering the call of nature’ are terms no longer used today. Today, they call it pooping — and peeing for the more liquid type — although if you ate a bad plate of fish-head curry the poop and pee will more or less look the same.

Anyway, the Indians had come out with this same theory thousands of years earlier than that Englishman named Newton. And the Indians called it the law of karma — you receive the same reaction that befits your action. Hence the Indians were already extremely enlightened at the time the ‘Whites’ still believed in witches, relics of ‘holy men’, and all such nonsense.

In fact, at the time of Newton, the English were still burning witches alive at the stake and it was reported that the last known witch killing in England (John and Ruth Osborn) was in 1751 and in America (Salem, Massachusetts) in 1692.

Hence the ‘Whites’ were not really very clever people and I was constantly reminded about this when our Victoria Institution (VI) headmaster, Murugesu, caned me because of my Beatles hairstyle. “Why do you want to ape the West?” Murugesu screamed at me as he laid six-of-the-best upon my very delicate bum. “Don’t you know that civilisation started in the East?”

I was then sent home to get a haircut. I then reported to the headmaster’s office as instructed and received another six-of-the-best when my haircut still did not meet Murugesu’s satisfaction.

Yet, again, I was sent home and this time I asked the barber at Malay Street to give me an American GI crop and reported back at the headmaster’s office. Murugesu took one look at my skinhead and gave me a tight slap. (I wonder why they call it ‘tight slap’ when it actually loosens everything in your head). He then screamed at me, “Go home and don’t come back till your hair grows again”.

I think Murugesu may have been a closet opposition supporter. Long hair also cannot, no hair also cannot…sigh. Anyway, those were the days when teachers could physically abuse you and you could not take them to court and sue them for RM1 million.

Today, 65 Pakatan Rakyat lawyers would rush to that school to serve a writ of summons on the ‘criminal’ concerned with the Prime Minister and Education Minister being jointly sued plus the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) and mass ‘Black Slap’ demonstrations being simultaneously organised all over Malaysia.

‘Black Slap’ demonstrations? Well, Murugesu is ‘Black’ and he did slap me. And did the VI boys not call Murugesu ‘Black Hitler’? And the chap who called him ‘Black Hitler’ was none other than another Indian, Rajadurai — who we called ‘Tengku’ because of the ‘Raja’ in front of his name. (He was ‘Tengku’ and I was ‘Aneh’ — so as to not confuse people by calling both of us ‘Tengku’).

Anyway, enough digressing. What I want to talk about today is the ‘emergency’ being declared regarding the air pollution in some parts of Malaysia (plus Singapore), the result of the forest fires in Indonesia. And why do the forest fires always occur around this same time of year?

Simple! This is because at this time of the year the winds blow from the Southwest: from Indonesia towards Malaysia. At year-end it blows from the other direction (the Northeast or from the South China Sea). Hence we get the East Coast monsoons at year-end.

So this is the best time of the year for the slash-and-burn operation since the wind would blow the smoke away from Indonesia towards Malaysia. Indonesia would then be spared the pollution and since the plantations are mostly Malaysian-owned it makes sense to send the smoke back to Malaysia. (If not then Jakarta would be smokey instead).

That is what is meant by karma. 

An Indian doctor friend of mine in Kuala Terengganu who smoked said that it is better for a smoker to live in Kuala Terengganu than for a non-smoker to live in Kuala Lumpur. A non-smoker in Kuala Lumpur has a higher chance of getting lung cancer than a smoker in Kuala Terengganu. 

I am beginning to suspect that this is true. When I used to live in the Kelang Valley from 1994 to 2009 I would be perpetually on antihistamines. I would have them beside my bed, in my pocket, all over the place, so that I can pop them into my mouth when I suffered an attack of sneezing.

And I would be sneezing so much and most of the time that it gave me a migraine. Hence I would also need to pop two Panadols into my mouth and could not survive with less than six of those tablets each and every day.

Since I came to Manchester four years ago, I have not had a sneezing attack and have not needed any antihistamines or Panadols. So maybe it is true that the air in Kuala Lumpur is very bad.

So, smoking has been banned in public places — to be kind to those who do not smoke. However, every Malaysian is in reality a smoker and has a higher chance of getting lung cancer than a smoker in Manchester. Is this not ironic?

In fact, Manchester is sometimes called Winchester (after that famous gun manufacturer from the US) because it seems there are more guns than people in Manchester (at least in some parts of Manchester such as Salford). However, you are in more danger of getting shot to death in Kuala Lumpur than in Manchester. Ironic, is it not? 

And how does karma come into all this (the subject of today’s article)?

Well, according to the police, they are slightly handicapped in combating hardcore criminals since the removal of the detention without trial law (and I am not talking about the ISA).

In the past, the police just rounded up the hardcore criminals and detained them without trial. Today, because of the human rights issue, they can’t do that. So crime is becoming a bigger problem. Is that, therefore, not what we call karma? Human rights improves but crime goes up.

I suppose the same goes with the school system. In the past, people like Murugesu could cane me twice a day and give me a ‘tight slap’ for good measure (which he did for even minor offences like when he did not like my hairstyle). Today, because of human rights, school kids take over the schools and beat up the teachers instead.

Can you imagine in our days in the 1960s the students beating up the teachers? In fact, even the prefects had so much power that we feared them as much as we did the teachers or headmaster. In one incident when I was in the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), one prefect, Azizan Abbas, came to my dormitory with two pairs of boxing gloves and invited me to meet him behind the swimming pool for a one-on-one.

In the UK it is even worse. Kids here are more brutal than the triad members in Malaysia. They can literally get away with murder because even their own parents cannot physically punish them. Do you know you also cannot physically accost a robber who comes into your house? If you do you would be sent to jail.

In one incident here in the UK, a robber who was breaking into a house fell down and broke his leg. He then sued the homeowner and won the case. The robber was awarded damages even though he was committing a crime at that time and it was his own fault that he broke his leg. 

I suppose the old English saying, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, holds true here. We are more concerned about the human rights of the criminal than the human rights of the victims. And this is the problem with both Malaysia and the UK. People of my generation were well-disciplined and that is why we turned out the way we are…hmm…come to think of it, that did not do any good either seeing how we turned out…sigh….