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Monday Music: 'Love the way you lie’ by Eminem (featuring Rihanna)

13 Jun

Eminem is back on form with his latest album, Recovery. Currently his song “Love the way you lie” featuring popular chanteuse Rihanna is getting lots of play on YouTube.

It would be easy to dismiss it as another of those paint-by-numbers hip hop faux duets. Remember those neverending songs featuring Ashanti? This isn’t one of them.

When it comes to rap, I’m a Bone, Thugs-n-Harmony kinda girl. It’s all about the flow which is why angry black man gangster rap from Tupac or Biggie never appealed.

But Eminem is to rap what a poet is to verse. There is a lot of anger and barely controlled madness in his lyric but there’s a polish and restraint and an understanding of the power of melody to complement good rhyming.

Rihanna’s laidback vocal is a good contrast to Eminem’s rapping. The song’s theme, about a volatile, tempestuous relationship, would probably grate on the overanalytical or rabid feminists.

“He’s being misogynistic! He’s being mean to women again!”

The song’s easy to misinterpet as being about a deadbeat who is justifying treating his woman badly. It’s more about the push-and-pull and conflict that can easily erupt in a relationship, methinks.

Anyone who’s been in that kind of situation knows that sometimes you end up falling in love with someone who pushes all the wrong and all the right buttons. Passion is a scary thing and people, like chemicals, don’t often react the same way to different people.

But you promised her
Next time you’ll show restraint
You don’t get another chance

Eminem is quite clear about the effect of violence in a relationship – you hit your woman, she has every reason to walk away.

I rate this an 8/10 and I’m betting it’ll be a hit on radio.

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We, a nation of zombies

3 Jun

Today a tragedy occurred because two Malaysians were unable to think for themselves.

Rather than hand over a fire extinguisher, staff at a BHP petrol station cited directives not to open the kiosk’s doors after hours.

Their caution did have some basis. Holdups are common occurrences at petrol station kiosks and mini-marts in Malaysia.

The reality, though, is that a woman’s life might have been saved if a fire extinguisher had been on hand. Instead, she burned alive while helpless onlookers watched.

It’s a sad reflection of how Malaysians have become so used to not using their heads. We toe the line, we play it safe.

“Oh, so now you’re blaming the government.”

Yes, I am. Its heavy-handed approach to public governance has led to a nation of citizens unwilling to move without directives or think for themselves. Whether it will admit it or not, by discouraging independent non-government sanctioned thought, Malaysia is encouraging its citizens to act like zombies.

How could I not be critical of our leaders as I read an interview with our former international trade minister, where she blames the ‘rebels’ of society for our slow march to developed nation status and share such gems like the following:

““When I became a politician, I never dared to speak out against my seniors… I was in awe of them and I wanted to learn from them,” she said.”

What Rafidah fails to remember is that it is healthy and necessary to question the status quo. Before the age of enlightenment, people believed bathing was bad for you. That everything could be cured by leeching. You could be executed for saying that the earth revolved around the sun, instead of the other way around.

Martin Luther questioned the authority of the Roman Catholic church. Gandhi questioned the British’s claim to rule in India. Nelson Mandela questioned the rule of apartheid.

The only place where absolute subservience is a given is in a dictatorship.

We want great things for our country but until we can make space for discussion, healthy debate and the right to question the authorities, we’re not going anywhere.

Look at our sorry excuse of an education system, where our future generations are force-fed information and expected to regurgitate it all at exams.

Malaysia claims to desire innovation and creativity, but effectively kills it in its schools.

The solution is not, like Pakatan keeps ’suggesting’, to change the government. The key here is to change ourselves. As citizens, we need to step up to the plate and demand our rights. No political platform or ideology can claim that for us.

So my countrymen, you know that thing between your ears? Learn to use it. Give it some exercise.

As a nation, we can choose to stop being stupid. Or at the very least, elect people who will stop treating us as if we are.

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We, a nation of zombies

3 Jun

Today a tragedy occurred because two Malaysians were unable to think for themselves.

Rather than hand over a fire extinguisher, staff at a BHP petrol station cited directives not to open the kiosk’s doors after hours.

Their caution did have some basis. Holdups are common occurrences at petrol station kiosks and mini-marts in Malaysia.

The reality, though, is that a woman’s life might have been saved if a fire extinguisher had been on hand. Instead, she burned alive while helpless onlookers watched.

It’s a sad reflection of how Malaysians have become so used to not using their heads. We toe the line, we play it safe.

“Oh, so now you’re blaming the government.”

Yes, I am. Its heavy-handed approach to public governance has led to a nation of citizens unwilling to move without directives or think for themselves. Whether it will admit it or not, by discouraging independent non-government sanctioned thought, Malaysia is encouraging its citizens to act like zombies.

How could I not be critical of our leaders as I read an interview with our former international trade minister, where she blames the ‘rebels’ of society for our slow march to developed nation status and share such gems like the following:

““When I became a politician, I never dared to speak out against my seniors… I was in awe of them and I wanted to learn from them,” she said.”

What Rafidah fails to remember is that it is healthy and necessary to question the status quo. Before the age of enlightenment, people believed bathing was bad for you. That everything could be cured by leeching. You could be executed for saying that the earth revolved around the sun, instead of the other way around.

Martin Luther questioned the authority of the Roman Catholic church. Gandhi questioned the British’s claim to rule in India. Nelson Mandela questioned the rule of apartheid.

The only place where absolute subservience is a given is in a dictatorship.

We want great things for our country but until we can make space for discussion, healthy debate and the right to question the authorities, we’re not going anywhere.

Look at our sorry excuse of an education system, where our future generations are force-fed information and expected to regurgitate it all at exams.

Malaysia claims to desire innovation and creativity, but effectively kills it in its schools.

The solution is not, like Pakatan keeps ’suggesting’, to change the government. The key here is to change ourselves. As citizens, we need to step up to the plate and demand our rights. No political platform or ideology can claim that for us.

So my countrymen, you know that thing between your ears? Learn to use it. Give it some exercise.

As a nation, we can choose to stop being stupid. Or at the very least, elect people who will stop treating us as if we are.

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Why I cannot condemn Mahathir

22 May

wpid-drm-2010-05-22-11-39.jpgSome call him a power crazed dictator.

The Opposition vilify him without end, blaming him for the worst of Malaysia’s excesses, our endemic corruption and our current struggle to remain competitive.

Politics is a game of power. As everyone knows, power corrupts.

Mahathir understood the game better than most and he knew that to win, you needed strategy. Strategy would sometimes mean sacrifices and unfortunately, Mahathir subscribed to the school of ‘the end justifies the means’.

On the altar of his ambitions, he gave up press freedom. Made a bonfire from the judiciary, fed the hungry flames of profiteering.

He used the ISA with impunity and repaid every perceived slight or threat a thousand times over.

My stand has always been that Anwar’s downfall was not brought about by Mahathir, but by his own support base.

If Anwar’s supporters had just waited, fed Mahathir’s ego and patiently waited I have no doubt Anwar would have been prime minister.

Their mistake was to attempt to topple Mahathir, to go against the ultimate political player.

I believe that Mahathir truly had the best of intentions. He believed Malaysia could be so much more, that by empowering the Malays with development and riches, he could take the country forward.

His weakness was believing that he could make the Malays conform through the sheer strength of his will. That the power of his vision could mobilise the country and propel it along.

He never counted on the greed and sheer selfishness of the people he helped build up. That the fat cats would only care about their bellies and not the greater good.

Mahathir truly believed that his political decisions were justified and for the greater good.

So I salute his intentions even if I disagree with his methods. He was a man who believed in greatness and it is a tragedy that he will not be remembered as a great man.

When love and faith don't mix

21 May

Yasmin Ahmad’s obsession with Malay girl/Chinese boy relationships was something I found cloying.

Not to mention all the non-Muslim boys quibbling about how they can’t hook up with Malay/Muslim girls because of the whole ‘having to convert’ thing.

They blame Malaysian law, blather on about human rights.

Let’s get some facts straight.

Islam dictates clearly that Muslim men may marry women who are ‘People of the Book’ i.e. Christians or Jews.

Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply for Muslim women. There are reasons behind that, which I will not comment on as I’m not well-versed in Islamic code and strictures.

So even if it wasn’t a legal requirement in this country for a man to convert to Islam to marry a Muslim girl, chances are he would still get pressure anyway.

No tok kadi would marry or recognise a marriage between a Muslim girl to a non-Muslim.

Let’s not get into the kind of pressures the girl’s family would exert. “Kau nak kahwin kafir? Dia tak nak peluk Islam? Kau gila ke apa?”

In an ideal world, having different faiths shouldn’t be an obstacle to falling in love or getting married.

But when a faith clearly delineates boundaries, there will be a hard choice to make:

Will you go against love? Or go against your faith? If your faith never mattered much to you in the first place, then this is a very easy choice.  No drama involved at all.

Christianity itself frowns upon marriages that are ‘inequally yoked’. Unlike Islam, it doesn’t expressly forbid a believer from marrying a non-believer but it warns of the many pitfalls such a marriage entails.

I know a Christian boy who, despite a deep connection with a Muslim girl, stopped short of having a relationship with her. He ended up slowly distancing himself from her because he knew that he could, and would, only choose God.

Some may call that retarded. But the thing is, for some people faith is precious. God is central to their lives and being with someone so opposed to something that is so much a part of you is painful.

If you were a churchgoer, wouldn’t it depress you everytime your lover calls you stupid for worshipping a lie? How can you not take it personally?

Faith in God makes me what I am so being with someone who refuses to accept that or tries to force me to give that up – I can’t. Men come. Men go. They leave. They lie. They make promises they cannot keep. Romance is overrated. Romeo and Juliet were lovesick fools with very stupid families.

So if you expect me to give up my God for you, you are asking me to give a part of myself up. You are asking me to become something I am not.

Love means accepting a person for what they are. For who they are. For what they believe in. If you have to force them to change that, then you do not understand what love is at all. And probably never will.

As Philip Yancey said in “The Jesus I Never Knew”: “Even God with all his power, cannot force a man to love.”

If you have to make someone into something else, if you have to change them into something they’re not, or someone more pleasing to you, then you have no business saying you ‘love’ someone.

Ghosts can't hurt you

13 May

Like a bogeyman, May 13 is oft invoked. Malaysians are seen as little children who need to be scared into behaving. Beware, beware May 13, some quarters chant.

What they don’t realise is that the ‘children’ are growing up.

Once, we were discouraged from talking about it. Now, Perkasa won’t shut up about May 13.

Let it rest. Yes, tt was a dark moment in our history. But it is time we move on and start paying attention to the living, breathing problems: our low-income economy, falling education standards, lack of competitiveness globally and the problem of poverty.

It’s been 41 years and so much has changed. Yet some things still remain the same. The Indians remain a marginalised community struggling with problems such as crime, poverty, lack of access to quality education. They got a bum deal before Independence, they’re still getting a bum deal after.

The divide between the rich and poor still exists but you see it everywhere now and it is colour-blind. Yes, there are more poor Malays than there are poor Chinese but there are far more Malays in the first place. MCA is so desperate to get the Chinese breeding the political party now finds itself matchmaking and exhorting its brethren to have babies.

Back to May 13. As a nation we are young. We are still struggling to deal with the complexities that comes with being who we are – our diversity is our strength but it is also our challenge.

When it comes down to it, a lot of problems we have now are due to problems with policy. The NEP was created to level the playing ground. Has it? Yes, we now see plenty of Malay and Bumi fat cats. Only a select few benefitted from the government attempting to prime the pump. They get richer, their brethren get poorer. Malaysia Boleh.

I don’t give a damn about my MP drinking himself under the table. I just want him to wake up the next morning, sober enough to defend my rights in Parliament. I am not interested in my MP’s midlife crisis and sudden desire to take Wife Number 202. I just expect him to spend as much, if not more, time in Parliament than playing referee between his wives.

If you want to bury May 13 forever, then stop dissecting it. Analysing it. Waving it around like a flag. Acknowledge it. Remember it. For mistakes that are forgotten will oft be repeated.

Perhaps Perkasa’s obsession with May 13 is a reflection of the Malay fixation on ghosts, hantu, jin, toyol, jadi-jadian.

What do you think fuels sales of the crap tabloid of lurid ghost stories, Mastika? This ridiculous obsession with things that cannot hurt you. “Engkau takut Tuhan ke, takut hantu?”

So politiicans, why try scare us with ghosts? They can’t hurt us. But you can. You have. You will. You are the real bogeyman every time you attempt to stuff your racially-charged agendas down our throats.

If you are more scared of ghosts than you are for our economic future, then you have no business leading us.

If you try to scare us with bogeymen instead of doing your job, you don’t give Malaysians enough credit.

Though you wish they would stop voting in so many ‘hantu’ into Parliament. Ah, my country.

Nuclear energy – a future Malaysian disaster

4 May

The last time I spoke out against a nuclear plant in the country, I got plenty of flak.

There was plenty of talk about how nuclear energy is cleaner, that it would beat us relying on fossil fuels, that the technology was tested and greener alternatives were costlier to research or implement.

Let me be frank about the main reason I don’t support us going nuclear:

I don’t trust the government.

I don’t trust it to administer the plant with qualified staff, put in place the proper safety procedures, keep the tendering process open or not let the whole process become mired in corruption.

Now all you opposition supporters – no, I don’t want to hear your usual “This is why you should vote for Pakatan in the next election”. Shush already. You are sounding like brainwashed parrots and this is not a political note. This is a very angry non-partisan.

And if you say it anyway, I’ll delete your comment and/or unfriend you. I am not a democratic country.

The more likely scenario will be the typical one:

Plant construction contract will be given in a closed tendering process to some firm that some politician/relative of politician has interests in.

It will cost taxpayers at least 20 percent more than it actually does.

Construction work will be delayed/done shoddily.

Some asskissing yes-man will be in charge of the whole thing despite being as competent as SpongeBob in an arms factory.

Waste management will be handled by someone whose idea of nuclear waste disposal is dumping it in Port Klang.

I know I sound incredibly pessimistic but all I have to do is point at TNB Sabah. Years of shoddy infrastructure management, power outages and endemic corruption. And you expect me to believe the federal government can be trusted with a nuclear plant?

Fossil fuels, coal and the like are harmful to the environment right now and are just unsustainable in the long run. But ‘cleaner’ nuclear energy leaves behind waste that will outlast us and hundreds of generations. Short of shooting the stuff into space (sorry E.T), nuclear waste disposal is always going to be hazardous and fraught with potential risks.

Until the government can prove competent management of our current energy facilities, I am vehemently opposed to nuclear energy in this country.