Monday, 29 December 2008

How Stupid, Really?

Now this is disturbing.

You know why gullible people exist?

Because they don't travel much. I cannot emphasize how much travelling broadens the mind, and heck - in this case, knowledge.

I'm certain you couldn't have fooled me with a stunt like that. But those people on camera seem to have bought it hook, line and sinker.

Now not all Americans are like that. The joke's on you if you think they are.

I've personally met enough Americans in my lifetime to know some of them are actually very intelligent.

Somehow, I suspect Americans are also distrustful of their government and media. I think they believe they are constantly being lied to and would rather believe anyone else.

I wonder when we Malaysians will become like that.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Malays On Ketuanan Melayu

I ran into Stevie of YouTiup this afternoon while he was waiting for his lunch.

He asked me to check out a particular link. Considering it was from the mainstream media, I hesitated, but heck - it was Stevie all the way from China, how could I not indulge him once in a while? ;-)

But interestingly, it was a good article about how urbane and educated Malays view Ketuanan Melayu or Malay Supremacy.

I'm surprised UMNO has not demanded that it be retracted, since it harms their agenda of divide and conquer.

Some excerpts from A middle class Malay perspective:

Fahmi Fadzil on the idea that the Malays are the natural leaders – or in some way the owners – of Malaysia:

"No. On my father’s side I’m the fourth generation born on this peninsula, on my mother’s side just the third generation, so I see myself as a pendatang too. I don’t subscribe to the idea of a natural leadership role for the Malays.

More than that, as a Muslim, I don’t see the need for this. There is no such thing as one group being ethnically superior to another."

Zahim Albakri on Malay rights:

“I was brought up (to believe) that every citizen in Malaysia was equal. I was never brought up believing that Malays should have more than everyone else.”

Dain-Iskandar Said on the concept of ketuanan Melayu:

"First, what is a Malay? Most Malays I know are some kind of mix, so who defines being Malay? Who are the guardians of the definition?

The definition of ketuanan Melayu seems to be Umno; it always seems to lead back to Umno’s agenda.

[It] exposes deep insecurity, because if you really believe you are leading this country, what are you so scared of? I don’t think any of the other races want to take that away from you. They can’t, because in the Constitution are enshrined certain precepts.”

Some of these things they say, are exactly what I've been pointing out for years. It's good to hear it from the mouth of a Malay himself.

The Mother Tongue Education Debate

A few of you may know that I've travelled a bit.

When I travel, I make it a point to experience the culture and everyday routine of the people in the country I visit.

I'm really not into visiting popular places of interest.

Those kind of tours require one to offer a frozen smile for the camera at each stop so that when one returns, one has mountains of photos to bore one's long-suffering friends and relatives with.

That's just not me.

So when I was visiting my colleague Tim in Australia, his wife Chris was obliging enough to arrange for me to come around and visit one of their playgroups for toddlers (which Chris organises).

That was where I met Evie and John.

Evie is an Indonesian Chinese woman who migrated to New South Wales about nine years ago. Her youngest son John, is two years old and Australian-born.

She speaks halting but almost conversational English. But what struck me most about her was that she told me that she'd insisted on bringing up her children to be bilingual.

Fair enough, I thought. Most Chinese ensure their children have a decent command of Mandarin or another local dialect.

But it wasn't Chinese that I heard Evie speaking to John. It was Bahasa Indonesia!

Coming from Malaysia, I was shocked.

Because top on the Malaysian-Chinese priority list of education is Maths and Science. And if Dong Jiao Zong has its way, it should be taught in Chinese, apparently.

These people have gone to the extent of threatening to launch a massive protest. I wonder if that would merit the water-cannon and tear gas. Perhaps someone ought to warn them.

Now I'm not claiming that the current national type education system is the answer to the solution. Frankly, this is a system that ensures that its students don't learn how to think, debate or be critical.

Sure, the Chinese vernacular schools probably build a solid foundation of knowledge in Maths and Science, while no amount of cramping students together is going to create national unity.

In fact, KTemoc gives an insightful opinion on why vernacular schools have flourished.

Unfortunately, I have noticed that in vernacular schools, the emphasis on Chinese culture and perpetual glorification of China is detrimental to the products of its education system who mistakenly walk around thinking that the world revolves around China or Chinese.

It does not.

I have met Chinese who pride themselves in not being able to speak Malay fluently. "It's not important lah," they say.

Which is why it's such a far cry from Evie who has chosen to relocate to a foreign country but still takes pride in the country she grew up in.

Not the country her ancestors came from.

Brown In India

It looked like an ordinary news title which had me casually thinking, "Yeah well, it's normal to be brown in India."

Only a while later did I realise, that it wasn't refering to the common skin colour found in India, but to the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

I suppose it's a good thing they didn't send Condoleeza Rice or David Curry as well, to pacify the Indians over the latest terror attack in Mumbai.

Having Rice and Curry might have been a bit overmuch.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Think Before You Attempt Burglary

This was too bizarre to ignore.

Malaysia burglar stuck for 3 days in haunted house

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A news report says a burglar who broke into a house claims he was held captive by a "supernatural figure" for three days without food and water.

Police official Abdul Marlik Hakim Johar told The Star newspaper the house's owners found the 36-year-old man fatigued and dehydrated when they returned from vacation Thursday.

He says they called an ambulance to take him to a hospital.

The man told police that every time he tried to escape, a "supernatural figure" shoved him to the ground.

Abdul Marlik could not immediately be reached and other police officials declined to comment.

I call it divine retribution.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Danger Of Internet Journalism In Asia

If you ever thought blogging was safe, think again.

Because frankly, folks, there is no safety in internet journalism.

As the year draws to an end, journalists are continuing to go to jail across the world for attempting to report what governments don’t want them to report. And, despite the perception that there is relative safety in Internet journalism, bloggers are going to jail faster than members of the mainstream press, according to a survey by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

It's becoming increasingly evident to me that jailing dissenters is a common practice by Asian governments, such as China, Uzbekistan, Burma and not least, MALAYSIA.

Maybe we should make Cuba an honorary Asian country since it also jails its journalists.

Out of curiosity, why do you think Asian countries have so many despots?

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Robbing The Misfortunate

I rarely copy and paste whole articles.

But this one demonstrated how very low Malaysians have sunk in terms of morality.

‘Rescuers were cold-hearted’

KUALA LUMPUR — The family of a woman who recently gave birth has accused Malaysian rescue personnel of acting in a cold-hearted manner, resulting in the woman’s death in the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy.

This came as residents of the housing estate in Kuala Lumpur, hit by a landslide on Saturday which killed four people and buried 14 houses, said yesterday they were considering suing the government for compensation.

According to news portal Malaysiakini, Ms Ng Yee Ping’s husband was desperately digging through the earth with his bare hands to save his wife, a 30-year-old accountant who delivered a son two months ago. He thought help had arrived when rescue personnel reached the scene. But all they reportedly did was throw him a spade.

Speaking at Ms Ng’s funeral service on Monday, her mother-in-law, Mdm Wong Sai Mooi, said she, her husband, her sons and grandson managed to escape. “But (I) did not know that my daughter-in-law was buried alive. Then I heard my eldest son (Ms Ng’s husband) calling his wife, telling her to remain conscious,” she was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying.

“Later, a few rescue personnel arrived at the scene but they just threw a spade at (my sons) and did nothing ... (They treated her) like some dead dog or cat,” Mdm Wong added, claiming that Ms Ng would still be alive if the rescuers had rendered assistance.

Mdm Wong’s husband,Mr Ng Yong Shun, also accused the rescuers of looting his house after he returned to the house on Sunday morning. “My wife and I examined our safety box and found it opened. Several branded watches and jewellery were missing,” Mr Ng, 56, was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying.

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar came to the defence of the rescuers, citing their lack of training as a reason, according to Malaysiakini. He said the police will conduct a thorough probe into the matter.

Meanwhile, Bukit Antarabangsa residents said they have set up a legal team. Mr N Muniandy, chairman of the residents’ association, was quoted by AFP as saying: “If we have concrete evidence, then we will go against the authorities concerned. It is not our fault at all. We are the victims.”

In response, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said yesterday the government would consider paying compensation to the landslide victims.

I'm not convinced the woman would have been alive should the rescuers have done more than throw her husband a spade.

But it's the attitude that irks me. It's racism.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Yes To ISA

In tribute to the Bodoh Brigade (otherwise known as PERWARIS) who have no notion of human rights beyond what their BN masters have drilled into their atrociously empty heads.

May God keep and preserve their souls for an opportune moment when buses crash, houses collapse, and flood waters rise - which is when we need the token number of humans to be sacrificed.

Poster courtesy of Mob's Crib.

Act Of God

I'm old enough to remember the Highland Towers incident quite clearly.

It was the first time I could remember hillside soil erosion ever causing a massive multi-storey building to collapse.

I'd have thought that over 15 years later, we'd have learned our lesson. Evidently not.

We're left wondering in the aftermath of another disaster, why it still happens.

It's not that we have poor legislation to ensure the integrity of the environment. Or lousy technology when it comes to geology and material science.

No matter how many laws and regulations exist, frankly, they can all be flouted when we have corrupt bureaucrats issuing licenses & permits at their whims.

If those in power stopped for a moment to think about the consequences of approving something that does not meet requirements, we would have less to worry about. And we wouldn't be in this situation.

Just one thing irks me. It's about calling incidents like these acts of God.

Leave God out of this. It's the filthy politicians who are to blame.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Boys & Girls

When I was in Australia, my friend Tim decided to take me to the zoo to give me a comprehensive education on native Australian animals.

Now I'm fairly certain that peafowl are not native to Australia, so frankly, I have no idea what they were doing in that zoo.

Nevertheless, they were quite entertaining to observe.

For one, the male is really very attractive and majestic.

And the female? She's disturbingly ugly and haughty to boot.

This one in particular looked at Tim rather disdainfully as he snapped pictures of her, while the male had posed for the camera quite obligingly.

And then, without a word, she stalked off without so much as a goodbye, leaving the hopeful male surprised at her sudden departure.

"Where did she go, mate?" Tim asked the woe-begone peacock. "She's left you, has she?"

Both Tim and I tried to spot the peahen, but she obviously had some privacy issues to defend. Not a trace of her.

The peacock was obviously not going to get lucky. Not today, anyway. "Better luck next time, mate."

Saturday, 6 December 2008

When Malaysia Is A "Role Model"

I know most of you don't read the mainstream media, and for good reason too.

There's nothing but crap in it, and I know your time is more important to you than to waste on reading gibberish that either means nothing or is too far removed from the truth.

But I have a point to make, so I ask you to read: Clinton: Malaysia a role model.

I know some of you are rolling your eyes already. I did too. Especially at this statement:

The former US president said the world would be a better place if it emulated Malaysia’s harmony and social tolerance.

Malaysia's harmony is artificial and the social tolerance is slowly eroding. Someone hasn't been doing his homework.

But this post is not purely about Malaysia or Bill Clinton.

It's also a reminder to consider the other side of the story. And the bigger picture.

Take this article in the New York Times for enlightenment as to what he was doing here in the first place: Bill Clinton Speech in Malaysia Irks Investors.

We are informed that in this case, Bill Clinton was invited by the Petra Group. He was PAID to speak, he did not visit Malaysia voluntarily.

And he was paid $200,000. I don't know about you, but that certainly isn't pocket change for me.

In the face of these circumstances, we can no longer take Clinton's comments as sincere and unbiased.

Now this Petra Group has been suffering some bad press, apparently even before high profile Hollywood actor Bruce Willis demanded his investment back.

Malaysia has been suffering lots of bad press, with its incessant need to brutalise its citizens who do not share the political views of the government.

Now I have been casually following the career of Bill Clinton.

Apart from his indiscretions with various interns in the White House and the lies he spouts under oath, he isn't exactly stupid.

I was once quite impressed with his responses during a talk show, he had a great sense of humour and strong knowledge of world politics.

The US State Department needs to review what he says and endorses to avoid taking conflicting stands in future.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Seaplane In Sydney

The seaplane at the Barrenjoey Boathouse at Palm Beach.

If I'm not mistaken, it's a deHavilland amphibious Beaver.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Friendly Reminder

It's relatively easy to recognise an Asian-owned store in Australia. Every square inch of space is occupied with items for sale except for the token space necessary for customers to walk.

The Hot Dollar shop in Eastwood was no exception.

You obviously got your money's worth here.

But a good bargain always attracts the menagerie. And sometimes they have dirty hands.

So Hot Dollar is compelled to put out a sign in impeccable English as a friendly reminder to ...

... actually, I have really no idea what it means.

Possibly, "Do not open".

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Beach Bum

I met her at Shelly Beach, in Manly.

She'd just laid her eggs and was burying them in the sand. Of course, I didn't want to get too near just in case she took offense at the intrusion of her privacy.

With legs like that, I reckon she could run pretty fast.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Kiama Blowhole

It looks like an ordinary hole in the rocks by the sea.

But it's no ordinary hole. It's a blowhole, and possibly the world's largest one. It can be found in an otherwise sleepy little village of Kiama in New South Wales.

It channels water from the treacherous and fearsome sea, spraying it up to 25 metres into the air.

It all happens when waves enter the mouth of the cave and the pressure within the cave chamber funnels it all up. Way up into the sky.

No small feat indeed.

Getting too close can be dangerous. Especially during stormy weather conditions.

It was awesome.

Malaysians may be forgiven for thinking there are no blowholes in their land.

Geographically, it may be true.

Politically, blowholes remind me of Barisan Nasional in particular, whose politicians - under pressure - make sky-high promises that never materialise into anything.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Irene Fernandez Acquitted

I've been reading a lot of depressing news about Malaysia.

How yoga is banned, and how homosexuals are a shame. About those 7 individuals arrested at an anti-ISA rally. And some.

But I was happy to get some really good news today. Irene Fernandez was acquitted of the politically motivated charge of “maliciously publishing false news”.

Now if you have two brain cells to rub together, you'd know that the Malaysian government does treat its migrants in an inhumane and sadistic manner. Tenaganita is not the only one documenting such treatment.

Human Rights Watch does too.

Of course, her acquittal does NOT mean the Malaysian government has decided to come to its senses. Far from it.

Prosecutor Shamsul Sulaiman said the prosecution decided not to oppose the appeal because typed records from earlier court proceedings contained "systemic errors."

The errors occurred when a court official typed up the judge's handwritten notes, Shamsul said. He told the AP he would have been "quite confident of fighting the appeal" had the records been in order.

I wonder if they know exactly how stupid they sound when they say that.

But there's an idiot born everyday, and I suppose there's one who would believe it hook, line and sinker. And of course, one who would spout it.

We Need Bicycle Lanes Too

An Indonesian ex-colleague of mine once mentioned in passing that we Malaysians expect to be dropped off at the doorstep of our destination. That's why we drive everywhere in our prized little cars.

It's true.

I realise a portion of Malaysians dislike walking and thus sweating (God forbid we release a drop of fluid from our glands!!). But another portion dislikes dying.

And yes, given our lack of proper facilities (like sidewalks and bridges) for pedestrians, we could easily get run over by a truck or bus, you know, and die!

But you know what I really like about Australia?

They have special lanes for their cyclists - even on the highway!

They encourage people to use renewable energy (calories) instead of non-renewable forms of energy like petrol. This is a country that is sincere in its efforts to go green.

Now when do you expect to see that in Malaysia?

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Australian Idol At Opera House

I've never been a big fan of singing - either good, bad or horrendous.

Even less a fan of reality shows.

Much less, any of the Idol shows.

But when I was at the Opera House on Saturday, I caught them rehearsing for the grand finale which was scheduled for Sunday at 7.30pm.

Sunday happened to be one of the coldest days since the winter. I don't know how the spectators survived it but they did. Wes Carr won it, in case you're wondering who did.

It was actually quite intriguing watching all that happen live.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

On The Sydney Harbour Bridge

I can't remember how many times I've seen the Sydney harbour bridge on TV or magazines.

I've always thought it was lovely, but there's something awe-inspiring about actually driving on the bridge and watching the steel arches pass by.

The damn thing was opened up for use in 1932 and it is still the world's widest long-span bridge. After all those years.

You'd have thought some Malaysia-Boleh type on a testosterone overdose would have tried to up that with the Penang bridge or the Singapore causeway. Evidently not.

Apparently, the bridge is a hotspot for fireworks during New Year celebrations. Crying shame I'd be home long before that.

It would be a spectacular sight to behold.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Australian Inventions

Before I set foot in Australia, I was under the impression that the general population consisted of the descendants of a bunch of convicts, whose creativity was limited to stealing a loaf of bread.

Or along those lines.

Considering they got caught doing it and were thus banished to the bizarre island called Australia (and you have no idea how bizarre), they couldn't have been all that innovative or creative, I reckoned.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Hill's Hoist.

Now it looks like a simple, unassuming invention, but that's exactly what's brilliant about it!

Apart from having rotary arms (which means it moves with the wind and thus, clothes dry faster) it also has a pinion winding mechanism (which means it can be raised and lowered).

If your dog is fond of chewing up your freshly washed clothes, the Hill's Hoist will have it looking mournfully at the washing from a distance.

And the Australians are not limited to merely erecting clothes lines. Among their other inventions is the Esky, the portable insulated cooler which keeps drinks cool at the picnic.

If you're Malaysian, you'd know what a valuable invention that is - especially when your throat is parched after a marathon search for the perfect (but elusive - especially on a public holiday) picnic spot with no ants, flies or bird poo.

I'm sure there's a longer list than this, but here are some of Australia's greatest inventions.

The Classic Australian Icon

Coogee Beach

It's a lovely beach, very windy with huge waves crashing onto the sand.

Frankly, it did have a celebrity flavour to it, but the super-famous ones apparently can be found at the northern beaches like Newport and Palm Beach.

I was more stunned at the amount we had to pay for parking though. It was AUD1.00 for just 20 minutes.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Australian Dailies

Forgive me for thinking I was someplace in Asia.

The newspapers were found in Eastwood, a notably Asian suburb of New South Wales.

No dogs, cats or possums were sighted though.

Strange Creatures In Australia - Spiders

Now if you know me well enough, it's no secret that I like dangerous creatures. :) So of course I have to go snooping around for them, even in Australia!

This particular spider is called the St Andrew's Cross and I ran into it (not literally, though) by accident in Tim's backyard.

It chose to pointedly ignore us while Tim snapped various close-up pictures of it and its rather unusual zig-zag crossed web.

I wasn't the least bit offended. Tim said it hurts like a bitch if it bites you, and travelling without medical insurance, I thought it wise to stay clear. The St Andrew's Cross can ignore me anyday if it wants to - I really don't mind.

Of course, that's probably nothing compared to the infamous Australian funnel-web, which is indigenous to the Sydney area.

The funnel-web is one of the most poisonous spiders in the world. It usually makes an appearance when the rain washes it out of its funnel-shaped web on the ground.

It then woefully decides to find a new home in people's shoes but unapologetically injects a potent dose of venom when agitated. I expect it wouldn't be too anxious to share its personal and private space with some toes.

I have since been faithfully knocking out my shoes every morning - before putting them on - in anticipation (or not) of one.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

We Stick Together

I'm still angry.

And because I am, it's probably not wise for me to say much.

Frankly, I don't think it is possible for me to properly understand how low the government can stoop. Because each time they do something so spectacularly stupid, they manage to outdo themselves the next time.

Take the arrest of Paula Khoo for instance.

Only the week before, the government sent in their running dogs, the police to brutalise a peaceful crowd while they were singing the national anthem.

This only goes to show how much respect the government has for the nation it is supposedly entrusted to govern. I certainly have no part for them being in Putrajaya, so I make no apologies.

Of course, in the aftermath of their shenanigans, the modus operandi is to deny everything, including their heavy-handed actions, in spite of the fact that there was clear evidence of it.

Like I said, there are no limits for low.

Low, I recently have discovered, is relative. Especially when it is in reference to the BN government. I once thought ankle height was low.

Evidently not. Then I thought the sole of one's feet was low.

Perhaps I could be kind. I could say that the BN government only stoops as low as the dust that settled under the fungus that infests the maggot that has crawled under the turd that was dropped by a sick animal, right before it keeled over and croaked.

Perhaps I could describe my relationship with the BN government. You could just imagine my disgust if I'd just stepped on the aforementioned turd - that's precisely the contempt I feel.

And why not?

That's not a government ruling our nation; it's a freaking side show!

You don't quietly go and bundle up the organiser of a peaceful demonstration and take her to the police station.

That's cowardice of the highest order, you fools!

But forget the police and their masters. To devote even a single braincell to their memory would be sheer waste.

Let's talk about Paula. I brought Paula to her first candlelight vigil opposite Amcorp Mall, PJ. It was incidentally the first time I was meeting her, but we hit it off immediately.

Now I'm passionate about my country and about making change happen. But while I attended the candlelight vigils (albeit faithfully) and blogged about it, Paula is a woman of action.

She was not merely an observer, she took charge and organised the Penang event at the Esplanade. I would have attended, were I not abroad, purely to support her.

Well, if the truth be told, I was planning to bum a night over at her place and catch some Penang food with her since she's a native. Don't say it, I know I take shameless liberties. But since she was planning to match-make me with someone - less than 2 minutes after we met in person - I'd say I have a right to. ;-)

The space on my fourth finger is, thankfully, still vacant (only because she went back to Penang), but like I said, Paula is a woman of action - while I am passive, Paula is active.

I am proud to be a friend of Paula. But I'm not in Malaysia at the moment and won't be until next month, and while I would dearly love to be with her on November 28, I can't.

If you can, please do so on my behalf. Not purely for me, but for Paula and for the country. We all need you.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Does Malaysia Have a Newly Independent Judiciary?

The decision Friday by High Court Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad to free the Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the editor of the internet publication Malaysia Today, has kicked off an intense round of speculation in Malaysia that the courts might be breaking loose from the thrall of the United Malays National Organisation, the country’s biggest ethnic political party.

Are the courts free of UMNO's grasp? What do you think? Read more to decide if you agree or disagree.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Government Of Abuse And Misuse

My sentiments, exactly, about the Internal Security Act or ISA.

If a government had to resort to a detention without trial in order to "protect the country from a security threat" caused by all but ONE person, then that government does not deserve to govern.

It was a blatant abuse and misuse of power. An abuse which was reflective of the government's inability - or unwillingness? - to engage the people in connection with every grievance which the people had.

An abuse which was reflective of a governmental mindset that did not respect criticisms; did not listen to the voice of its own soul, ie, the people which it sets out to govern; did not give 2 sen to the people's rights and freedom.

An abuse which was vile. And depraved.

- Art Harun on RPK's arrest


RPK has been freed, but we must always remain vigilant.

More atrocities will be committed on the citizens, by brutally assaulting peaceful crowds and arresting to intimidate.

It is not over yet - far from it, but we will fight the fight and restore our country to its past semblance of glory.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

'Confused' Is The Right Word

It can be frustrating to live with confused people. I know how it feels.

Bernice Chauly: Her love-hate conundrum with Malaysia

by Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Ubud, Bali

Malaysian multi-talented artist Bernice Chauly loathes and loves her country at the same time. She says she loves her home country but she is also toying with the idea of moving to Bali.

In Ubud, Bali, she told The Jakarta Post: "I thought of moving to Bali. But it's not that easy. It would need a leap of faith." She was in the Island of the Gods for the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival last month.

Being a single mother of two daughters, her children come first when considering moving to another country.

"It's an exciting time (being in Malaysia). It's a really frustrating time as well. I'm not going to leave. If I leave it must be for a good reason. I love my country, it's my home," she said while sitting in an antique wooden Balinese chair in one of Ubud's resorts.

She looked beautiful in a simple elegant black tunic dress. She wore thick-rimmed glasses that gave her a slightly nerdy character, her straight, long black hair tied behind her head.

This year she published her second collection of poems, The Book of Sins, independently. Her first one, Going There and Coming Back, was published in 1997.

Chauly is an actor, filmmaker, photographer, writer, lecturer but foremost a poet. She is also one of the many Kuala Lumpur-based talented artists struggling to create works of art in an unsupportive atmosphere under an authoritarian government.

Malaysia has some of the toughest censorship laws in the world. The authorities exert substantial control over the media and can impose restrictions in the name of national security.

"I have a love-hate relationship with my country. It's a great country but I think our politicians are running it into the ground and creating a lot of stress and turmoil for people such as myself who want to continue to live, work and create (works of art) in Malaysia. But it's becoming really really hard, because you have a sense of frustration that things are just not going to get better," she said.

"The situation in Malaysia is very bad, very uncertain. There's no bloodshed but it's brewing. All it would take is one small stupid incident to ignite some sort of riot. A lot of racial tension has been building since the election.

"I don't want to sound like a prophet of doom, but things are really really bad. I'm really worried about the future of Malaysia. It's very worrying and I think people are trying to downplay it as much as they can."

Malaysian politics have been in turmoil this year. The March election shook five decades of status quo with voters shifting from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition parties to opposition parties.

Meanwhile, racial tensions have caused minority groups in the multiethnic and multireligious country to rally against discrimination. Ethnic Malays comprise some 60 percent of the population. The Chinese constitute around 26 percent, while Indians and other nationalities make up the rest.

In November last year about 5,000 ethnic Indians held a rare rally organized by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf); a larger one with some 10,000 protesters occurred in Febr. 2008. The Malaysian government banned Hindraf in mid-October. The state also jailed vocal anti-government blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin in September.

The authoritarian quality of the rulers has made some artists leave the country.

"A lot of people are leaving. A lot of artists, a lot of people with great talent in this country, because they don't want to live under that (repression)," she said.

For others who have stayed, they must find creative ways to produce art that, at the same time, does not betray their idealism.

For Chauly, it is by using English. She uses English in her daily life. Her poems and prose are mostly in English, with one or two written in Malay.

Born from a Punjabi father and a Chinese mother, English is her first language. But that is not the only reason she uses the language. According to her, writing in English in Malaysia is somewhat safer.

"Just in terms of the ratio, English-speaking Malaysians and English-reading Malaysians are a very small minority. When you write in Malay you're appealing to a very large cross section of Malaysian society and if you're saying something that is subversive and politically offensive or slightly provocative then you're in trouble. And the police will investigate you.

"But if you write in English, you know (that) they don't really care. As long as it's not too offensive and it's not too overtly political and provocative, it's actually still OK. It's allowed."

She said that her book, The Book of Sins was not subversive in a political way but that it was too personal. "Too personal can be very subversive. You don't talk about yourself in Malaysia. My poems are very, very personal, almost to the point of being subversive."

The Book of Sins deals with issues of relationships, love, identity and motherhood.

She is currently writing a memoir she began 20 years ago, which will take shape in different genres. "It can be a play. It can be a novel. A series of a memoir. A series of vignettes. But it's one complete family story."

Chauly said that her memoir was an attempt to voice her complexity. Her late father was born Hindu and her late mother Buddhist. They raised her a Catholic.

"I'm Malaysian but I'm not Malay. I'm Muslim by virtue of conversion for my ex-husband. It's really complicated. Now that I'm divorced I still have to remain a Muslim. If I want to marry again, I have to marry a Muslim. It's a very strange situation."

She said that her memoir-in-progress was also an attempt to address a certain sense of place.

That is "because Malaysians are very confused".

Monday, 10 November 2008

FRU In Action

Check out what the IGP has to say about why the crime rate in this country is rising:

The IGP said it saddened him when politicians, who represent the welfare and voice of the people, were sometimes the same people who incited hatred and discord among people.

“Some of these politicians cry about human rights but when they encourage people to break the law, they say it is within their rights to do so.

“They hold illegal gatherings and demonstrations which force us to deploy our personnel to maintain peace and order,” he added.

In 1998, during the height of the reformasi demonstrations, the crime index peaked at 772 per 100,000 population, but that year, the population was only 20 million (total cases were 158,808.)

The high crime rate recorded in 2007 can be attributed to the number of demonstrations organised by political parties and NGOs, including the Hindu Rights Action Force and election watchdog Bersih.

These cowards can't do their bloody jobs, for the love of God!! If I read any further, I might blow a blood vessel.

They arrest such peaceful protestors whose only "crime" was to sing the national anthem. Check out this video for evidence.

But of course, there's a denial to go with it:

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has denied that the police moved in on participants at a candle-light vigil last night while they were singing the national anthem.

“That is what they (participants) are claiming,” Khalid told reporters at the Petaling Jaya police district headquarters about midnight.

When told that there was a video recording of the police action, Khalid replied: “I am denying it.”

They deny in the face of evidence.

Reminds me of Shaggy's It Wasn't Me!.

Police Brutalise Peaceful Crowd

I wasn't able to attend last night's vigil, and judging from reports, it was completely different from the handful of others that I'd faithfully showed up for.

It was meant to be a huge commemoration of last year's BERSIH rally, the very start of the snowball effect which led to the March 8 election outcome. The ruling coalition, BN had never been thrashed so badly.

So the cops were sent in to do their evil deed. It was a remarkably peaceful gathering, an exercise of our right to express ourselves as stated in the Constitution.

But they assaulted the innocent women and children. Hit them, punched them, kicked them. Arrested 24 people, including state assemblymen and parliamentarians who belonged to the Opposition.

Masterwordsmith asks, "Does democracy still exist in Malaysia??" Frankly, I offered my condolences to the good people of Malaysia over the death of freedom and democracy a long time ago.

What intrigues me is the question of, "Why?"

Michelle Yoon is obviously an intelligent young thinker, as she ponders on why the FRUs were there:

What gets to me, and what I seriously don’t understand, is why there were FRUs at the vigil last night. These vigils have been happening every weekend, all around the country, for more than a month now. And not ONCE in ANY of these vigils, did we even have a slight problem. No FRUs, no arrests, all was well and fine.

What is so different about THIS vigil, that the police felt the need to block access to Amcorp Mall from as early as 7pm? What happened during THIS vigil, that the police felt the need to arrest certain people?

Could it be because RPK has been released?

Or maybe because BERSIH was one of the organisers for THIS vigil, and so there was a problem?

I thought about it for awhile too.

And I'm wondering if the key to it is racial. Most of our protests before have been predominantly Chinese and Indian. But with BERSIH, a huge number of Malays were involved as well.

I, for one, remember last year's rally. I had not expected that many Malays to come together with their Chinese and Indian brothers and sisters in a united move, calling for free and fair elections.

Now the government does not want to lose the Malay vote, which is crucial to them. Of course, by brutalising a peaceful crowd, it may have achieved just the opposite.

Ah well. Can't say we don't know much about our Bapak Demokrasi.

Other bloggers:
Police Charged into Malaysians Singing National Anthem - Wong Chin Huat
Rakyat Pearl Harbored by BN/UMNO Police !!! - Margeemar
Anti ISA Vigil at PJ being intruded by FRU! - Jarod
Pandemonium erupts as police charge into crowd - Anil Netto
Cops storm and brutalise peaceful, unarmed, Negaraku singing crowd - Nathaniel Tan
Bloody Sunday - Euphoria in Misery
The Bloody Sunday - Melvin Mah

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Remembering BERSIH

A fellow blogger once described it as the perfect storm. It was the pioneer rally, asking the government for free and fair elections:

- The use of indelible ink to prevent double-voting;
- Clean-up of the electoral roll;
- The abolishment of postal votes;
- Equal and fair access to national media.

It was also the first time most Malaysians realised what our government was really like and how heavy-handed against those who oppose them in any way.

A year later, we celebrate it.

We didn't get what we asked for, but along the way, we formed a stronger Opposition and have matured politically.

We will take back what is ours one day. But on Sunday, we will celebrate.

RPK Released From Jail

The bad-ass blogger is out. :)

After all those weekends, standing in the rain for our candlelight vigils, thronging the courtrooms til noon and wearing to death my safron 'FREE RPK' t-shirt, the man has finally been released.


Of course, I'm still stunned that the Shah Alam High Court actually ruled that RPK's detention was illegal. Evidently, not all the courts in Malaysia are kangaroo courts.

I got an sms saying, "Court orders RPK b released by 4pm today!"

Frankly, I was incredulous. "Under sedition or ISA charges?" I asked.

"Isa," came the reply. It made me ecstatic!

What more RPK, who is high in spirits and appears to be unbreakable.

Here's to wishing him the best and hoping he got to test out his theory of eating dates on a pussy that isn't a mangy cat. :)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Two Spectacular Idiots

Frighteningly moronic.

One tells Zaid to apologise.

Now this idiot's stupidity has been established, and some of us have been encouraging Zorro not to hold back too much on expressing exactly how he feels about Botak.

Holding back is not good for health, and we want Zorro to live long because The Wharf would be really quiet without him.

But I digress.

Back to the tale of our idiots, the other asks Zaid to get out of Malay grouping, as if race is an option you and I get to choose.

"Zaid should repent. Otherwise, he should get out of the ’rumpun Melayu’ (Malay grouping)," Shahidan Kassim brayed loudly, much to the pleasure and approval of the other donkeys.

Curious to know who this dingbat is? He's been featured before, not merely for talking like a fool, but for acting like one. Check him out in all his glory.

He said if Zaid continued to question the Malay supremacy concept, then he should no longer be a Malay because as a Malay he should be defending the Malays and not running them down.

That's precisely why the Malays are such a regressive lot. They have allowed certain quarters to dictate what they can or cannot speak about.

No matter how stupid an argument or concept may seem, and no matter how failed it may be, it should be championed merely because one Malay heralds it as the saviour of the entire Malay race.

UMNO politicians have superior skills when it comes to flogging a dead horse, and renouncing anyone who does not blindly follow.

And so the Malays collectively dive like lemmings off the cliff.

Though I must say, there are the exceptions and thankfully, Zaid Ibrahim is not alone.

Aisehman has long been an anonymous critic of the Ketuanan Melayu concept. Unfortunately, he's just about had enough and thrown in the towel.

We also have Farish Noor, Bakri Musa and Azly Rahman, who have on various occasions, spoken against this flawed logic of superiority while feeling inferior, which is more popularly known as Ketuanan Melayu.

Both Azhar Azizan Harun and Malik Imtiaz Sarwar have their respective takes on this issue.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

If The World Could Vote

Make no mistake about this. I'm Malaysian - born, bred and possibly soon-to-be displaced.

And being Malaysian, an inherent trait we are all known for is being busybody. We can't help ourselves. Really.

Besides, when we *do* register and vote in our very own General Elections, we're flooded with issues pertaining to fraud like indelible ink, postal votes and of course, gerrymandering.

But wonder of wonders, there is salvation!!

Yeah baby. In the form of internet voting, where there's presumably a lower potential for fraud (considering the vote does not make an impact).

It makes you wonder what would happen, if the world could vote?

In a situation like that, how could you not click on that link and make your stand or your views known?

Especially if you're Malaysian.

I know those fingers are twitching. You know you can't resist. Click on that link. Choose your candidate and vote.

And welcome to the dark side. :)

Race And Islam

By Farish Noor

It is odd, to say the least, that after more than 14 centuries there remain some people who claim to be Muslims but have not internalised the universal values of Islam. Odder still there remain those who on the one hand can embrace Islam’s universal claim of brotherhood (and sisterhood) but still cannot get around to understanding the simple idea that Islam and racism do not mix.

Evidence of such discrepancies can be found pretty much everywhere these days. It has, sadly, become the normative cultural norm in so many Muslim societies today that those who are fair are better off and given the privileges that they feel is the natural right of all light-skinned people. It is also interesting to note that Muslims tend to rejoice whenever a white American or European converts to Islam, but seem less enthusiastic in their recognition of the fact that thousands of Africans and Asians are converting to Islam every year.

Furthermore when it comes to governance and politics, it remains painfully clear that some Muslims still place blood and race above competency and merit till today; and that despite their profession of faith they remain embedded in the stagnant mode of racialized thinking that operates on the basis that some races are better than others.

Read more.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Friday, 31 October 2008

Razak Baginda Acquitted

We just got our Halloween present from our esteemed government.

Not that it was unexpected - not by a long shot. Masterwordsmith says, "[it] comes as no surprise to me."

Did anyone actually NOT expect Abdul Razak Baginda to be acquitted?

Sometime back, I posted something on Razak Baginda's outburst in court which was never reported in our newspapers for political reasons.

I think Razak Baginda was the fall guy for someone higher up.

But considering this "higher-up" is in such a prominent position of power, all it takes is some pressure on prosecution to drop the case and not investigate too thoroughly.

This situation is repulsive.

There have been some dodgy SMSes flying around. A lot of questions unanswered. Private investigators going missing 'til today.

You know what's going to happen?

This case is going to get dragged on until everyone loses interest.

Malaysia boleh.

Is Caning Still In Use?

My colleague from Spain sent me this link about the dude who put centipedes in his neighbor's bed.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A Malaysian man has been accused of trying to hurt his neighbor with a dangerous weapon — centipedes. Prosecutor Mazri Mohamed said Wednesday that R. Prabakaran has been charged with attempting to cause harm with a dangerous weapon after allegedly unleashing four centipedes and bugs in his neighbor's bed last week following an argument.

Prabakaran, 21, allegedly climbed on to the roof to enter his neighbor's house where he committed the offense, Mazri said.

Prabakaran pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a court in the southern city of Johor Baru and has been released on bail, Mazri said.

It was not clear what species the centipedes were. Some species are poisonous.

If found guilty, Prabakaran faces up to three years prison and a caning.

My colleague wants to know if caning is still in use in Malaysia. I told him it was, but now I'm not so sure. We still employ that form of punishment, don't we?

When I was in Madrid, I made it sound like Malaysia was the greatest country on the planet. Every other colleague listening to my passionate oratory vowed to visit this country some time soon.

But with the way things have been going in the socio-political scene, I'm wondering if I have been guilty of misrepresenting Malaysia. Of stretching the truth.

But that's that about us Malaysians. Famous for all the wrong reasons.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Caught Lying!

A lot of things in life are uncertain.

The economy, for one, is purportedly responsible for various cases of indigestion and insomnia.

The weather, too, is rather unpredictable.

But I'll tell you one thing with confidence and certainty - this dude lies fluently.

On 27 May 2008, The Star carried this report by Syed Hamid Albar concerning claims by Waythamoorthy Ponnusamy, exiled HINDRAF leader, that his passport was revoked.

This is what Syed Hamid Albar said:

“If the passport is still active, it means that the Government has never made any cancellation to his travel document.

“Hence, his allegation that we have revoked his passport is baseless,” Syed Hamid said in a statement.

He added that Waythamoorthy was free to travel internationally as his passport was still valid.

We now know that is a blatant lie.

Based on this document, the Malaysian authorities notified the British High Commission that they had cancelled Waythamoothy's passport on 14 March 2008.

More than 2 months prior to that news report.

Malaysiakini has the story HERE.

How Much Longer Can The Govenment Lie To The Malaysian Public? - Malaysia Today

Waste Of A Life

"It was such a waste of a life. All my daughter was trying to do was help others."

Read more to find out who this woman was and why she was killed.

I feel angry, too.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Cross-Dressing Cash Cow

In a twist of words and awards, Shah Rukh Khan is being seen as a cash cow who will boost tourism in Malaysia and "act as a 'bridge' for more movies to be shot at the historical city."

Apparently, our on-screen pretty boy "could also help us get other actors and directors to come to the state for this purpose".

Someone is smoking something very potent and is high in the vapours of delusion.

Someone is also very inconsistent in his policies - religious or otherwise.

Because only recently, the religious authorities have firmly denounced girls who dress like boys and boys who dress like girls.

But maybe someone hasn't done his homework.

Check THIS out.

It's not safe for work though. Be warned. :)

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Of Acting Like A Woman

It's a really good thing I'm not Muslim. Otherwise, my very existence would be the reason for lots of overtime on the part of the Malaysian religious authorities.

In their latest spate of brilliance, Islamic clerics in Malaysia have ruled to ban tomboys:

Malaysia's main body of Islamic clerics has issued an edict banning tomboys in the Muslim-majority country, ruling that girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said Friday.

The National Fatwa Council forbade the practice of girls behaving or dressing like boys during a meeting Thursday in northern Malaysia, said Harussani Idris Zakaria, the mufti of northern Perak state, who attended the gathering.

Harussani said an increasing number of Malaysian girls behave like tomboys, and that some of them engage in homosexuality. Homosexuality is not explicitly banned in Malaysia, but it is effectively illegal under a law that prohibits sex acts "against the order of nature."

Harussani said the council's ruling was not legally binding because it has not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned because their actions are immoral.

"It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong. It is a sin," Harussani told The Associated Press. "Tomboy (behavior) is forbidden in Islam."

Under the edict, girls are forbidden to sport short hair and dress, walk and act like boys, Harussani said. Boys should also not act like girls, he said.

"They must respect God. God created them as boys, they must behave like boys. God created them as girls, they must act like girls," he said.

Now I'm really not the authority on how girls should act.

My ex-colleague Lisa and I once made a pact to wear a skirt to work on one day of the year. We got a kick out of seeing the facial expressions of our male colleagues. :)

Alright, maybe not that particular skirt. :) Something more proper. *ahem*

Those are Mastercard moments, I'm telling ya!!

But seriously, more often than not, I'm seen wearing what our esteemed religious authorities would refer to as "men's clothes". I wear slacks to work and when I'm chilling out with friends, I'm usually in a comfortable pair of jeans.

Not only that, I'm nearly always spotted wearing lipstick (frankly, because I like looking hot) and high heels (well, because if the truth be told, I'm vertically challenged *sniff*).

You and I know what other Muslim authorities feel about lipstick and high-heeled shoes.

It's confusing how they can't get their edicts straight. And sometimes, you just can't win.

But it reminds me of the chorus of this old Blur song:


Monday, 20 October 2008

Me And You And An Underdog Named HINDRAF

I happen to think that Rocky is a pretty good journalist when it comes to breaking news. But an opinion piece? Spare me. This one about HINDRAF is so very much spun on one side that it's almost dizzying.

It's incredible how Rocky and his faithful stalwarts consistently ignore the reason for HINDRAF's uprising.

No one wakes up one morning and decides to go on a march to demand one's rights. HINDRAF is no exception.

HINDRAF used to write very polite but grammatically incorrect letters to the government since 3 years ago.

I once joined a Malaysian Indian yahoogroup and I used to read with torrid fascination (at the grammar - these guys are supposed to be lawyers, afterall) the protests they made (and posted online) over the injustice of the government against the marginalised Indians.

Those letters were addressed to some place in Damansara - that I clearly remember.

Frankly, when they started out they were actually quite civil, but their pleas went to deaf ears. I think those letters to Damansara made a beeline for the trash can.

I don't know when, but at some point, their language started to get more aggressive. Maybe it was brought on by the "diligence" of various authorities in systematically tearing down temples.

Maybe it was the body-snatching. There have been more than a few cases where a particular Indian had allegedly converted to Islam. Upon his death, the religious authorities were quick to grab the corpse and bury it according to Islamic rites.

Personally, I see no justification in strangers burying the body. A funeral, in my opinion, is for the family to pay their last respects. But the religious authorities, backed by the government, showed absolutely no respect for the dead or his living relatives.

It may not have been the blatant discrimination, denying them of birth certificates that drove them down this path. Not the lack of opportunities to get an education. Not poverty.

I think it was that assault against their religion that was the final straw.

A wise government of a multiracial country will walk the path of moderation when crafting and exercising policies affecting all. In this country, and for that matter any other plural one, poverty isn't just the province of one race.

All suffer collectively and so the solutions should apply collectively. For lorry drivers, newspaper vendors, estate workers, housewives and shop assistants to suddenly come together and walk peacefully even in the face of water cannons and tear gas, something must have reached its limits.

In its zealous haste to bring the Malay citizens into the fold of development to stem their marginalisation, Umno as the linchpin of Barisan has marginalised the Indian citizens.

Knowing how many of them have been silently suffering for decades from towns to farms, it is not benign neglect. It is malignant neglect.

If Barisan was honest about wanting to improve the lot of the Indians, would there have risen a HINDRAF yesterday that they are quick to suppress today?

Now the political posturing is on the roll - don't say it isn't. But where was the government when the dirt poor Indians needed them?

Now HINDRAF is not perfect. Far from it. They do silly things and have the tendency to be myopic.

But are they relevant?

More than ever, I'd say. I believe in their cause to improve the rights of the marginalised Indians, but I also believe it should be inclusive of all races, and not just the Indians.

In fact, I've newly discovered that the Penans are being abused as well.

But as for HINDRAF, I have read most of their memorandums and heard their speeches. They have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to rhetoric, but I'm yet to be convinced it incites hatred towards others.

Besides, the last time I checked, they haven't been flinging molotov cocktails around, burning establishments or going around killing people. The worst they have inflicted on a fellow human being are what ... a bunch of roses and a teddy bear?

Malaysians thrive on exaggeration. And drama.

Teresa Kok was unfairly detained under the ISA. She had the sympathy of a lot of people, all fully deserved. But she wasn't served dog food, regardless of what she may claim, unless of course I can now claim to having eaten dog food before.

Am I offended? Hardly. More amused than anything, but if she continues on that vein, she's going to lose credibility, just like HINDRAF.

But was it exaggeration? Hell yeah, with a capital E! We're the drama mamas of Asia. The police report on behalf of the egg drives home my point.

And if I got a ringgit every instance a random Malay warns, "Don't play with fire" over some racial discussion he can't win through logic, I'd have William Henry Gates III polishing my shoes right now.

In fact, for the next Olympics due to be held on 2012 in London, someone ought to compose a song entitled "Don't Play With Fire" to be played while the torch is passed on, courtesy of the Malaysian delegation.

But that's the Malaysian mentality for you. And the sorry situation of the Indian.

The authorities don't think twice about bullying an Indian because he has no political or economic clout whatsoever. There are heaps of Indians with no birth certificates, no education and no one to stand up for them.

You think that's spin? Then read someone else who has been to ground zero.

Just one thing worries me. The Indians, under the banner of HINDRAF have finally lost their fear of dissent. Arresting their leaders barely does anything to quench their spirit.

Heck, they've been heckled, punched, tear-gassed, sprayed with chemicals, and you think a bunch of cops, who are afraid of being based in Lorong Haji Taib will intimidate them?

I fear violence. But HINDRAF has learned, unfortunately, that it is not civil politeness that gets them widespread attention, but excessive demands. The meek Indian is no more, today he boldly exchanges insults with policemen.

I wish they would put aside their differences and come together under one banner. But their cultural and socio-economic differences draw a huge chasm that is difficult to plug. I wouldn't know how to engage them - sometimes I feel I can barely even relate.

I was at the anti-ISA candlelight vigil yesterday. While chatting with Walla, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a couple of HINDRAF supporters viewing me with mild suspicion.

Interestingly, in Malaysia, it is the average Indian who is most repulsed by his fellow brethren within HINDRAF. I've trawled the web and I see many making apologies on behalf of them.

Personally, I think HINDRAF goes overboard often and some of their juvenile temper tantrums do merit a proper bitch-slapping.

But their cause, and the other side of their story deserves to be told, if not purely for factual accuracy.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Anti-ISA Candlelight Vigil

Guys, don't forget:

Venue: Padang in front of Amcorp Mall, next to A&W Restaurant, PJ
Time: 8pm
Date: Sunday, 19th October, 2008

Please bring along your own candles (red & yellow) and don't forget to wear your RPK t-shirts.

Indrani Kopal - AYA Awards

It was some time back when I was messing around with my Friendster account that I stumbled upon an old classmate from secondary school.

We decided to catch up for old times sake.

And I discovered that in spite of our typical Malaysian education, both of us had developed an intense desire to make this country a better place.

Today she is a video journalist with - the only independent news channel we have.

About a year back, a mutual friend of ours invited me to the KOMAS FreedomFilmFest, incidentally, the same one Fahmi Reza won for his 10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka.

Fahmi's piece was timely and very succinct, especially with our rather turbulent political undercurrents. He thoroughly deserved his win.

Indra's documentary “She’s My Son”, is still very controversial for our society to accept. She came in second place after Fahmi.

Back then, Indra gave me a copy of this documentary on a CD which I still have today. I found it disturbing then for various reasons, and still do now.

But as with a lot of her work in, she digs up some very nasty but pertinent stories which need to be told.

She was recently nominated for The Asian Youth Ambassadors (AYA) Dream Malaysia ‘Most Outstanding Youth’ Award.

AYA seeks to give recognition and to reward young individuals (aged 18 – 33) who have overcome and may still be overcoming obstacles in their lives to be where they are today.

I think Indra deserves to win this time. If you can spare RM0.80, please vote for her.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

SUARAM Activist Under ISA

Pinky and the Brain (or lack thereof) are at it again.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - One Is An Idiot, The Other's Insane

I suppose they've lost all credibility among the educated Malaysians that nothing matters anymore, except for votes from the sampah masyarakat of Malaysia.

So they make more arrests in the name of internal security.

A 26-year-old activist has been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) tonight following a report she made accusing the police of abuse of power in yesterday’s controversial eviction of a squatter colony in Johor.

Cheng Lee Whee, a self-employed programmer who is a volunteer for human rights group Suaram, lodged the police report at the Permas Jaya police station in Johor Bharu at about 3pm yesterday.

The report was made in response to the forced eviction of squatters in Kampung Baru Plentong Tengah - a predominantly Malay village akin to Kuala Lumpur’s Kampung Baru - and the arrest of 27 individuals for attempting to stop the demolition of the settlement.

Cheng was summoned by inspector Azman Mustafa to the state police headquarters in Seri Alam at around 8pm so that her statement could be taken relating to her police report.

Four of her friends accompanied her to the police station, among them were Suaram Johor Bahru coordinator Nyam Kee Han, Parti Socialis Malaysia central committee member Choo Shinn Chei and Suaram volunteer See Siew Min. The three were arrested yesterday at the forced eviction.

At around 10.45pm, after Cheng had her statement recorded by the police, she was informed by Criminal Investigation Department chief DSP Mohd Nor Rasid that she had been arrested under section 28 of the ISA for "spreading false information".

Section 28 of the ISA involves the dissemination of false reports.

According to the section, "Any person who, by word of mouth or in writing or in any newspaper, periodical, book, circular or other printed publication or by any other means spreads false reports or makes false statements likely to cause public alarm, shall be guilty of an offence."

According to lawyers, section 28 does not empower the police to detain a suspect without trial. The suspect must be brought to court within 24 hours either to be charged or be further remanded to facilitate police investigation.

Of course, I'm wondering if the Brain (or lack thereof) will explain it all away as being for her own protection. It's entirely possible he could get original - and more ludicrous.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

What HINDRAF Means

Malaysiakini tells me that HINDRAF has been banned:

The government today declared the Hindu Rights Actions Force (Hindraf) an illegal organisation with immediate effect.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the decision was made after the ministry was satisfied with facts and evidence that showed "Hindraf had and was being used for unlawful purposes and posed a threat to public order and morality".

Only our government is capable of turning wild speculation into "facts and evidence".

Now it's no secret that I'm ethnically Indian. Malaysian at heart, but still genetically Indian. It's something I'm very proud of, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

But being Indian doesn't mean I have to agree with everything HINDRAF does. I sort of lost it when HINDRAF lodged a police report over something offensive that they read in a personal blog.

Heck, there was a time when I thought they were a class act with their infamous lawsuit against the Queen of England.

Even today, I airily end a few arguments (in particular, the ones I'm losing) with my non-Indian friends, saying, "You cheap jerks just wait. One day you'll be eating the dust from the wheels of my new Ferrari once I get my cheque from the Queen." :)

Of course, some of those spoilsports do try to prick my bubble with mere technicalities. "Crankshaft," they say, "You'd first have to pass off as a poor, underclass, oppressed and suppressed Malaysian Indian."

It was a popular refrain within the petition. That, and near-slavery conditions.

Since then, it's almost been a year. I've seen more things, been more places and suddenly, I'm not laughing anymore.

I don't know what exactly HINDRAF meant by near-slavery conditions, but some of those hovels that the slum-dwelling Indians live in, are so deplorable that I cannot believe that the Malaysian government turns a blind eye to them.

I promised Pat that, I would one day blog about the life of slum kids in Malaysia. I haven't got round to it.

To be honest, it's too painful. And I keep asking myself if I should be doing more, and if so, what?

In one sense, I'm glad that HINDRAF opened my eyes. It pushed me out of my sterilised, bubble-wrapped, comfort zone into the harsh realities of life.

And it was about time the Indians stood up and started fighting for their rights. I have a friend who often tells me, "Ignore your rights, maybe they'll go away." She has a point.

But how HINDRAF "fights" for their rights has to change to a more inclusive approach. It's time to come together as one, as Haris Ibrahim says.

HINDRAF needs to change its stance.

And for the rest of us, it's time to, as Lulu says:

1) End Hindraf by ending their reason for existence.
2) Put a stop to discriminatory practices against the Indians, or any other race for that matter.
3) Give opportunities to who need that extra push in life.

Though seriously, you really think this ban has an impact on the movement? On makkal sakhti, a phrase even I wasn't quite familiar with prior to their emergence?

Check out The Facts of Life, Now That Hindraf is Illegal. I have a safron 'Free RPK' t-shirt and I plan to wear it to death!

Malaysia bans ethnic Indian protest group - International Herald Tribune

Monday, 13 October 2008

Bapak Demokrasi

Anti-ISA But Love Is In The Air

It rained pretty heavily in PJ during the evening. But sometime after 7.30pm, it ceased completely, making the air crisp and fresh - just in time for the candlelight vigil.

There was a pretty good crowd, considering the announcement was only put up 2 days ago. Most of us wore our 'Free RPK' t-shirts.

Don't say we Malaysians don't know how to have fun.

We lit our candles, formed our 'NO 2 ISA' inscription (using candles on the ground), made jokes, took photos. Really had fun. Those of you who didn't turn up, you don't know what you've missed.

We missed our Malay brothers and sisters, because most of them apparently had their Raya open house functions but it was really good to see Boom & Rody and their family. :)

While we were gathered at the field, there were a bunch of cars driving past and they blared their horns in support of the vigil. Those of us participating in the vigil, cheered and waved in response.

At that moment, it seemed like we were one with all, regardless of race, creed and religion.

Haris asks, "I just want to ask if it was just me, or did the rest of you also feel love in the air at the Jalan Timur padang at PJ last night?"

That's precisely what it was, bro.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Anti-ISA Candlelight Vigil

Venue: Padang in front of Amcorp Mall, next to A&W Restaurant, PJ
Time: 8pm
Date: Sunday, 12th October, 2008

Please bring along your own candles (red & yellow) and don't forget to wear your RPK t-shirts. T-shirts will be available for sale on-site subject to stock availability.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Window To The Outside World

When I was 15 years old, and where the most pressing issues in life were how to get more As in exams, a friend approached me with a pen-pal programme.

She was recruiting half the class, and had managed to make them all cough up the application fee.

After some brief hesitation, I was suckered in. :)

A couple of months later, I got a letter from my new pen-pal in Poland. And that opened up a whole new window to the other side of the world.

Don't start thinking that we wrote to each other of the important world issues surrounding us. There was no mention of politics, economy, philosophy or even social issues.

She could barely speak English, so that limited our conversations. But we discussed the latest movies in the cinema (and naturally, the celebrities involved), perfume (she liked Joop and Kookat, brands I had never heard of prior to meeting her) and festivals.

I discovered that New Year's Eve is called Sylwester in Poland. Enlightenment only happened after a bunch of exchanges later. :)

Poland - being a Catholic country - celebrates Easter in a big way, in addition to Christmas. I don't know why that bit of news astounded me back then.

So we wrote letters and made empty promises to visit each other in the future. I say "empty" because on my side, I never really believed I would ever visit her in person.

I was your average Malaysian kid, and about as common as a garden snail.

But I did. I visited Gosia in her home in Swiebodzin, located in the beautiful Lubuskie province of West Poland.

The 10th of October is my pen-pal's birthday. I sent her a card and I hope she's received it. Even with the advent of email, both of us have not stopped writing to each other using snail mail.

There's something just so personal about seeing ink crafted on paper by handwriting, that we mutually agreed to spurn technology.

That's her best can-you-stop-taking-photos-of-me-for-the-hundredth-time impression. :)

The photographer in question was her boyfriend, and I have a lot of pictures of her (for which I'm very grateful) and Polish scenery, that he burned into a CD and presented to me, just before I left Poland.

If you know me well enough, you'd be aware that I don't actually own a proper camera, and I've never carried one to any of my trips abroad.

But that's Polish hospitality and thoughtfulness.

When I arrived, evidently some of the neighbours had caught a glimpse of me from their windows.

A day later, there was a knock on the door. A neighbour dropped by to pass a package and left quickly. But before leaving, he/she mumbled, "For your visitor".

I never got to see that neighbour. Never got to thank him/her.

But when my hosts opened the packaging and I discovered it was a traditional Polish pastry - made with love and care for the 'visitor' - I knew I would always have fond memories of Poland.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

On Matters Of Economy

I dropped by Masterwordsmith's blog yesterday to find a rather interesting post on the subject of GREED. It was also about the global financial crisis.

Masterwordsmith's anonymous commenter is saying what I've been telling people for quite a while now. The rich are becoming richer and the poor have never been poorer. Heck, there is no middle class anymore.

What happened to the bell's curve of wealth distribution?

Some blame it on globalisation. Others on technology.

Technology has enabled us to travel faster, communicate through tele and video-conferences and email. It's ironic, really, because the more advanced our technology, the more we hurry and chase after time.

Globalisation, on the other hand, has opened up so many options and opportunities. But also many pitfalls.

After all, globalisation gave us China and India, the two most populated countries in the world, where human labour is vast and almost limitless. And of course, smaller Asian countries like Malaysia as well.

What Anonymous says about the situation is true. I just don't like the slant in which the rich are portrayed. You see, I'm a firm believer in capitalism. The harder you work, the more rewards you reap.

It sounds fair to me. Blaming them for all the ills of the world is not just unfair, it's naive and illogical.

Of course we do have the greedy businessmen whose life mantra is reduce cost, increase profit - under all circumstances.

This is why the Americans and Europeans move their factory and manufacturing operations to China - because labour is cheap.

This is why Americans and Europeans outsource their IT and customer service operations to India - because labour is cheap.

But this is at the expense of their own people. When they have no jobs, they rely on their government to provide for them. They get food stamps and dole. And to buy the necessities (and sometimes luxuries), so many rely on loans and credit cards.

In the last 5 years, even jobless and homeless people had their loans and credit limits approved in the USA, which of course led to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and subsequently, the collapse of so many financial institutions today.

Most of the jobs went to the cheap labour. In other words, us Asians.

Zewt happened to blog about life in his multinational company and their salary scheme. He said, "If you think working in a big foreign multinational company means you will get a fat pay; well, think again. Those getting the fat pay cheques are those sitting in the headquarters."

That's right.

So now you're bursting with righteous indignance against all those "rich people" who sit in their fancy offices, the ones so big you could get lost in them if you forget to bring your handheld GPS.

Not so fast.

We ARE part of the problem. We're willing to work for peanuts. We delude ourselves into thinking that if we work longer hours, we will get that promotion and a ticket to the paradise of careers.

We forget to take a breather and enjoy life before it's too late.

I took this picture on the way to Fraser's Hill last year. While driving up, I just had to stop and admire the breathtakingly spectacular view of that lake.

It's these simple moments that we miss in our pursuit of career, wealth and power.

By the time we realise what has passed us by, it is too late, and we're bitter - very much like Anonymous, who blames everything on rich people.

Life is fair though. If anyone has accumulated wealth through unethical means, it doesn't belong to him and he will lose it anyhow.

And in this coming economic downturn, I suspect there will be a reshuffle of wealth.