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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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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.

On no side but God’s

6 Apr

I’ve always been forthright about my political views. But after some reassessment, I’m going to declare openly my nonpartisanship.

Perhaps you’ll call me chicken or think that this is motivated by my being in PR. No, my backbone is still very much intact, thanks very much. My decision was motivated by Billy Graham’s example. A while ago, he publicly declared his support for the Republican party and Senator John McCarthy, communist witchhunter extraordinaire.

But Graham exercised that one power we all human beings possess – he changed his mind. Despite being attacked by the Christian right, he moved away from their circle and in answer to their condemnation, he said:

"I don’t think Jesus or the Apostles took sides in the political arenas of their day.”

From now on, I will (attempt to) reserve comments on our politicians. Believe me, they irk me on both sides of the fence.

I refuse to be a member of any political party, of any politically-affiliated body or concern myself with politics. It takes a certain kind of person to be a politician and thankfully, I’m not one. But I will concern myself with issues that need voicing. The growing divide between rich and poor. The inadequacy of our education system. The pitiful support structure for our arts scene. The suffering of migrants and the displaced.

Those concern me because I believe that God would want me to give a damn about those things, and not politics. So before you accuse me of not caring about my country, I will tell you that I choose, instead, to care about its people. And all people.

It took you this long to notice our public transport sucks?

22 Aug

Dear Prime Minister:
You took a trip on our venerable KTM Kommuter service and voiced your displeasure at its slowness and inconvenience.
This is how I feel in a thousand words.
cat
more animals

Permatang Pauh's upcoming 'boxing match' and this bookie's odds

17 Aug

So we Malaysians have our popcorn and passports ready to see the results of the Permatang Pauh by-elections.

Popcorn to watch the high drama; passports in case things get ugly. Singapore might just see a sudden influx of ‘tourists’ if the BN gets skittish and declares emergency status if Anwar wins. Or if he doesn’t. You know, to prevent riots and so forth and so forth.

Why am I using a McCain and Obama picture? Because if China can get away with misrepresentation, so can I. Oh, and I’m too lazy to Photoshop. Plus it’s easy to get pictures of Anwar but not so that other fella, Arif Shah Omar.

Of course, we can already expect our local media to publish pro-government headlines. NST, for example, is always up to the ‘duty’ with this Bernama-sourced piece:
NAJIB: BN expects tough battle, but confident of winning Permatang Pauh

The AP begs to differ with their newspiece by an obviously unbiased Eileen Ng:
"Malaysia’s top opposition leader filed nomination papers Saturday for a
Parliament by-election that he is expected to win easily — the first
step in his bid to bring down the government and become prime minister."

And because Bernama just loves using the word ‘confident’ in its headlines, here’s another one I got off NST: Both BN and Pakatan confident of winning Permatang Pauh seat

Winner of most pompous election headline goes to The Star with this doozy:
By-election Battle Royale

At least they didn’t use the word ‘confident’.

Back to the odds. I confidently predict that Anwar will win this one.

Why? Because his opponent’s too old to be a certain someone’s son-in-law.

Second – since the government insists on doing a repeat performance of the sodomy charge, they’ll probably want to wait until Anwar wins the Permatang Pauh seat. So it’ll be even more satisfying to clap him in chains.

Third – he’s got Tun M’s backhanded belief that he’ll win with this statement of overwhelming confidence:

“I think Arif Shah will not lose as
badly as other candidates before him or other candidates in his place.” quoth the venerable one to The Star.

Yes, Anwar will win, BN’s ‘Cemerlang’ Rempits will likely also make an appearance, a certain DPM will be pleased that we’re forgetting about certain Mongolian-obsessed bloggers in the ruckus and Saiful swear-on-the-holy-book will be buying boy-love manga from the nearest bookstore to ensure his upcoming testimony is convincing.

Permatang Pauh's upcoming 'boxing match' and this bookie's odds

17 Aug

So we Malaysians have our popcorn and passports ready to see the results of the Permatang Pauh by-elections.

Popcorn to watch the high drama; passports in case things get ugly. Singapore might just see a sudden influx of ‘tourists’ if the BN gets skittish and declares emergency status if Anwar wins. Or if he doesn’t. You know, to prevent riots and so forth and so forth.

Why am I using a McCain and Obama picture? Because if China can get away with misrepresentation, so can I. Oh, and I’m too lazy to Photoshop. Plus it’s easy to get pictures of Anwar but not so that other fella, Arif Shah Omar.

Of course, we can already expect our local media to publish pro-government headlines. NST, for example, is always up to the ‘duty’ with this Bernama-sourced piece:
NAJIB: BN expects tough battle, but confident of winning Permatang Pauh

The AP begs to differ with their newspiece by an obviously unbiased Eileen Ng:
"Malaysia’s top opposition leader filed nomination papers Saturday for a
Parliament by-election that he is expected to win easily — the first
step in his bid to bring down the government and become prime minister."

And because Bernama just loves using the word ‘confident’ in its headlines, here’s another one I got off NST: Both BN and Pakatan confident of winning Permatang Pauh seat

Winner of most pompous election headline goes to The Star with this doozy:
By-election Battle Royale

At least they didn’t use the word ‘confident’.

Back to the odds. I confidently predict that Anwar will win this one.

Why? Because his opponent’s too old to be a certain someone’s son-in-law.

Second – since the government insists on doing a repeat performance of the sodomy charge, they’ll probably want to wait until Anwar wins the Permatang Pauh seat. So it’ll be even more satisfying to clap him in chains.

Third – he’s got Tun M’s backhanded belief that he’ll win with this statement of overwhelming confidence:

“I think Arif Shah will not lose as
badly as other candidates before him or other candidates in his place.” quoth the venerable one to The Star.

Yes, Anwar will win, BN’s ‘Cemerlang’ Rempits will likely also make an appearance, a certain DPM will be pleased that we’re forgetting about certain Mongolian-obsessed bloggers in the ruckus and Saiful swear-on-the-holy-book will be buying boy-love manga from the nearest bookstore to ensure his upcoming testimony is convincing.