195 Dead. 295 Wounded. The people who have left us did not deserve this fate. The people who perpetrated these crimes have paid a price. Their lives were lost in the fighting but it was not a end they did not deserve. As much as I am an opponent of cruel, unusual and capital punishment ie. whipping, death penalty etc. these men deserved every bullet their bodies were riddled with. Here's to hoping that the truth is revealed and the real masterminds behind this heinous crime are revealed and punished adequately. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and I hope that they can recover from the psychological trauma this attack has subjected on them.
Crime does not pay. This massacre cannot go unpunished.
I haven't written any poetry in a long time. Today I felt inspired and here goes nothing;
Circular. A roundabout way to refer to what we can't define. Squarish. Fixed and permanent, though many dislike it. Triangular. Directional but temporary, no one knows if it is right. Rectangular. Imbalanced and dysfunctional, why are we so?
In our journey to realise what we become, We understand more about ourselves. No one knows you like you. Or Is that really true?
Do people really know who they are. Or are they characters in a play. Reciting their scripts like obedient puppets Being told what to do by others.
I exhort you, my brothers and sisters. Rebel against the domination. Live your own life. Understand who you are.
Else you shall regret, That life was not lived as it was supposed to be. And in the last throes. You shall realise that a waste it was.
Some may say. What is the price we pay? I prefer to say. What do we gain. Nothing is permanent. The temporal nature of our existence is such. Eternity is non-existent.
This article is about the police. The protectors of the peace, some might say. The defenders of the weak. The long arm of the law. There are many names for our men in blue but this letter puts them all to shame.
Quote Rej Number in a letter sent to Malaysiakini;
For those who missed it, there was a Support ISA rally by Pewaris and pro-government NGOs in Kuala Lumpur where about 500 people took part. Now, I respect their right to carry banners and express themselves about how significant and pertinent the use of ISA in Malaysia is for whatever the reasons may be.
I mean if the anti-ISA groups can have vigils, why can’t those who genuinely feel the ISA is still relevant have their own channel and avenues to do it too? During the Pewaris rally, a woman who was standing on a overhead pedestrian crossing apparently said something to the protesters below. She was also seen taking pictures with her cell phone.
The next image was what sent chills down my spine. Some members of the rally went after this lady, chasing her down the road. She was pushed to the ground and still chased after she got up. She was not spared even after she had got into her car. A few of the protesters started kicking and stomping on her car until the terrified lady fled the scene. The only time I saw a cop was when he was trying to restrain one of the protesters from getting too near the lady.
But two things came through crystal clear. Where were our law-enforcing PDRM personnel? How is it that this group of protesters were allowed to carry banners and walk along a busy road while the anti-ISA people are treated like terrorists?
Why wasn't anyone arrested when they tried to hurt this lone woman in broad daylight? If the anti- ISA people had done that, it would have been all over the papers the next morning especially Utusan Malaysia.
So does the saying ‘You can get away with murder if you know the right people or have the right connections’ really sound all that farfetched? Well, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, if this is the double standard you want to show in your administration of the police force, god forbid, I don't know what else the people of this country have to bear.
Please PDRM, get a hold of yourselves. Professionalism is not something you say you have and everyone is only too happy to believe you.
Professionalism is saying what you mean and meaning what you say - backing it up with your very unbiased actions. Professionalism is being accountable and earning the respect for the uniform you wear. - Malaysiakini.
What can I say? The events are clear for all to see. Please, PDRM, don't take the rakyat for fools. We all know on who's orders you are acting. Ignore them. The rakyat are here to defend you.
Rise and shine lads, it's the last day. Although the gang were up gambling till late everybody was up and ready at 6.30am to depart. After all, we needed to catch the 8.15 ferry to make it in time for the 10.15 bus back to KL. A few people had left early to make it for the 7am ferry as they needed to go to Kangar to collect the mobile phone left behind in the bus when we first came to Kuala Perlis. This was really our lifeline as we later realised. Our bags were packed and biscuits eaten, we decided to go down and get moving. Once we were downstairs, one car could not start. My suspicion is that the car has some problems with it's starter and it drinks oil like mad, it's RPM at rest was 3000! Crazy car. That really set us back and we had to wait for the rental guy to come and collect the car and stuff. With that we missed the window of opportunity to get onto the 7am ferry. However, we still didn't panic because we were confident of getting on the 8.15am ferry.
We got the jetty and quickly ran in because it was already 8am. Confidently we presented our tickets to the guard and to our dismay we realised that we hadn't "confirmed" our tickets! The guy who sold us the tickets sure didn't say anything about confirmation! We were screwed. The next ferry at 9am had only 9 places left as well. Keep in mind our bus was at 10.15am. After our attempt to bribe the guard into letting us in failed, we were negotiating with the ferry company to let the 14 of us into the 9am ferry. 5 people could stand, we wouldn't mind. However, while we were negotiating with them, the damned ferry company sold the other 9 tickets! What a pain in the ass! Now we were really screwed as we were sure we would miss our bus and would have to not only buy another ticket, we'd need to wait till nightfall for the next bus and only make it to KL on tuesday morning! What a blowout.
This is where the missing phone threw us a lifeline. The first group of 4 who had left on the 7am ferry were already there waiting for us (having obtained the phone). Somehow against the odds, they managed to stop the bus that came in from Kangar and made them wait for a full hour as we took the 10am ferry and made it to the jetty at 11am. Really amazing as normally express buses will never wait for even 10 minutes! Somehow they did it and we made it onto the bus. However as with everything else in Malaysia, we bribed the driver to make it worth his wait. How unsuprising. Well at least it was better than paying another RM43 for another bus ticket and waiting till nightfall for the next bus and even then we're not sure if we'll all have a spot on the bus!
At long last after many many stops to pee, eat, pee again, pour oil and whatever else we saw the skyline of Kuala Lumpur loom in the horizon. And the adventure had ended. Another memorable holiday for all of us...
I wake up at 4am in the toilet coiled in a fetal position, drenched in water and vomit. There was still a large amount of alcohol in my blood and I felt it as I slowly got up and washed up for a full hour, hoping that the shower will bring back my memory and allow me to remember why I was in the toilet drenched in vomit and water. (I washed the toilet as well. There were bits of prawn everywhere.). Changed and dragged myself into bed between SH and WL. Soon I was woken up and offered breakfast. I declined and went back to sleep. Finally woke up at 11am and had massive nausea and traditional hangover lethargy. Pulled myself out of bed and showered + cleaned up. We were then ready to go for our island hopping.
First stop as always was the DFZ Duty Free outlet at Underwater World but this time we only bought a couple of chocolates. Waited for a while until the "guy" who was taking us for our trip came. We followed him to our boat and I took my t-shirt off and put my lifejacket on. It was time for some Hopping! Island No.1, Pulau Beras Basah "Wet Rice Island?!". Took photos and hung around on the beach for a while playing in the water. Some of the others went for the Banana Boat but I didn't want to go. Boring-much! Next change? Eagle Feeding. Our boat-man took us to a bay in one of the islands where I noticed a few eagles circling overhead. Initially I didn't realise the number of eagles there were in that bay but when the boat-man threw pieces of chicken into the water, all hell broke loose. Dozens of eagles swooped down and plucked pieces of chicken right out of the water. Truly a wonderous sight.
After that we went to Pulau Dayang Bunting were there is a huge freshwater lake just 20 metres from the saltwater sea. Fantastic bit of geography that. We fooled around in the lake and swam around like little idiots. A few people who didn't know how to swim borrowed lifejackets and pretended to swim. All a bit of good, clean fun really. Finally it was time to head back to base. Another stop in DFZ Duty Free (we seem to be going there rather often no?) to purchase duty-free cigarettes, liquor and chocolates for our loved ones was compulsory of course. (Although buying cigarettes for your loved ones is an oxymoron really. I mean who in their right mind would give their "loved" ones a one way ticket to the grave? Rather that would make them your enemies really. Funny.)
Stocked up and we left to look for food. In Langkawi, food is pricey. So we looked for a restaurant where somebody who actually LIVED in Langkawi would eat. We finally found one (after 1 hour of hunting high and low). It was a old Chinese Coffeeshop with a grand total of 2 staff, one of whom could only speak Hokkien (which is a problem because nobody in our group has any measure of fluency as far as Hokkien is concerned.) and had only one dish on offer. Kari Mee (Noodles in Curry). So with a dearth of choice all 10 of us ordered Kari Mee. One by one bowls of (tasteless) Kari Mee appeared with bits of chicken in it. The Chicken looked a bit amiss until we realised where it came from. The Chicken Rendang prepared for lunch. (Chap Fun). So with all the (tasteless) Kari Mee in our bellies we went back to the apartment to shower and prepare for dinner.
Showers all round, a round or two of Cho Dai Di (Big Two/大老二) followed and we were off to dinner. Finally a proper meal and I dug in to our 8 dish Chinese fare. There really was everything on the table, vegetables, fish, prawn, squid, venison (deer), chicken and a couple of others. After feasting we went to Al-Ikhsan (Sports Goods chain store) in Kuah town and fooled around for a bit while the girls bought stuff. Some funny scenes ensued upon discovery of Aston Villa and Arsenal jerseys in the store. Needless to say Arsenal jerseys were on the ground under a heap of Villa jerseys. Back to the apartment and some final packing was going on. I missed out on the nights gambling and went to bed early. Early being midnight in this case. WL and SH struggled into bed at 4am and 5am respectively.
Went to Puduraya around 9pm to meet Wing Luo and Seng Hang + rest of gang. Hung around Platform 3 waiting for the 10.30 KL-Alor Setar-Kuala Perlis-Kangar bus while observing a group of people my age standing near me. Little did I know that this was the motley crew that I would be spending time for the next 72 hours. Finally at 10.00pm WL and SH turn up and introduce me to their "gang". After trips to the relatively dirty Puduraya toilet (30 cents!), we board the Plusliner bus and await departure. Soon I drift off into la-la land but at around 1am, I am rudely awakened by giggles and chatter. A toilet stop for the bus. Next stop at 2am was to eat at Sungai Perak R&R. Ate nasi lemak + sausage (RM 2.50) and went back to sleep on the bus. Alor Setar stop woke me up next and it was already 5.20am. Quickly went back to sleep and finally we arrived at Kuala Perlis (6.20am).
Got off the bus and grabbed all my stuff. While WL was talking to the ferry agent I quickly go and clean my retainers (What a hassle!) and brush my teeth (the only person to do so, I might add). Our extended group of 18 (13 guys, 5 girls) walk to the docks and go for a spot of breakfast where SH promptly spits Milo all over me. Thank you Seng Hang. After a (very long) period of waiting, we get on the ferry at 8.30 and we're off to the duty-free land of milk and honey.
Pulau Langkawi. We make it intact there at 9.31am. First stop? Car rental of course. WL and 3 others pay the rental fees and promptly collect their beaten up, power-steering-less, Manual!, Proton Iswara's. You'd have thought that rental cars in duty-free Langkawi would be of better (Japanese?) quality but no.. Protons are still in the vogue. We bundle ourselves into the cars and my first calamity occurs. My shoes sink into a puddle of mud that I didn't notice.
So with mud soaked shoes and wet feet, I sit in the car as our convoy goes a total of nowhere for the first twenty-odd minutes. Yes. We basically went in circles around the jetty simply because we didn't know the road. How pathetic. Sooner or later we figured out the way to the Holy Grail. (DFZ Duty-Free Langkawi Sdn. Bhd. - Underwater World, Pantai Cenang). Ah yes, cut price cigarettes and alcohol, heaven I tell you. We load up on cartons of fags to bring back to our loved ones (How illogical, giving our loved ones a one way ticket to the grave?) and of course the inevitable liquor purchasing begins. Liquor bought;
1 x Smirnoff 100-proof - RM 37!!
2 x Chivas Regal 80-something proof - Rm 65 each!
2 x Merlot (Coonawarra Estate, Victoria, Australia) - RM28.00 each!
1 x Baccardi Apple - RM 45.00
After that we head to KFC for our first (tax-free) meal. KFC is 10% cheaper in Langkawi! Haha. Finally, we discover our first loss in the trip. Somebody left their phone behind on the bus to Kuala Perlis. However, the excellent folks at Plusliner retrieved it and kept it safe in Kangar for us to come and collect. (What a blessing this turns out to be as we will discover on the final day!). We go to the apartments where we were booked for the two nights (Century Suria Apartment, Kuah) and unload.
After hanging around and wasting time in the rooms at around 3pm we decide to head off to Durian Perangin Waterfall in well, Durian Perangin. We played in the falls to our hearts content and after fooling around in various positions and taking a bunch of photos (On FACEBOOK. Lazy to upload here.) we pack up and with all our very wet underpants get into the cars and look for a mini-market where we can buy raw ingredients to cook dinner. (Yes, we cooked dinner, mostly anyways). After running left and right following a myriad of directions by a myriad of people looking for the elusive Pasaraya Billion, we give up and just shop at the Pasar Malam instead. We bought pre-roasted Chicken at RM 20 a bird (2x) and 1kg of fresh tiger prawns at RM 14.00. YES. TIGER PRAWNS AT RM14.00/kg. I KID YOU NOT. We hunt the pasar malam for other essentials (spices, onions, garlic, rice, vege) and go to the apartments where me, SH and WL cook dinner for the gang.
Drama ensues after dinner as some people neglected eating and then accused us of neglecting them. However, the drama soon settles and the difficult business of gambling (Blackjack) and drinking our cheaply purchased alcohol begins. I refused to gamble on this trip and the effects were... damaging. With no gambling to distract me, I quickly started to run down the whiskey. One glass followed another and my last memory was telling SH that I just had my 10th glass.
For the most part I was brought up in a religious background. My father was and still is a religious man. Although his concept of religion has evolved over the years into something more spiritual, I still remember the years of my (relative) youth when Fridays would mean temple visits. I always looked forward to Fridays, less because of the temple visits, more because of the post-prayer dinner at my favourite restaurant. Hinduism is not a restrictive/organized religion like Catholicism/Certain Protestant Sects/Islam. Thus there was never any compulsion to believe or anything of that order in my upbringing but I always felt that there is a Higher Power, something none of us can understand but could believe in. It is a manifestation of this vague idea called Faith.
As I grew older, I believed less in a Supreme Being of any sort and was quite an agnostic. For a stage I flirted with spirituality but recently I discovered it's not for me (yet). Recently, I came across this article Letter to a Christian Nation (2006). ISBN 0-307-26577-3 written by Sam Harris who is a researcher in neuro-sciences at Stanford. It struck me as very critical of organised-dogmatic religion but notwithstanding the thinly-veiled criticisms there are certain particularly salient points in the article which challenged by perception of religion and are sure to challenge yours as well.
This is not a hate article. I ask all the readers to read it with an open, liberal mind and try to understand the points Sam Harris tries to convey.
45 Years has passed since Martin Luther King Jr. made his I have a dream speech. 145 years have passed since the end of the Civil War between the North and the South over slavery. 221 years have passed since the Bill of Rights was passed. Today, a black man is the President of the USA. Today, the world has changed forever in every way that we can possibly see. Today, the white man's burden has been lifted. Let this be a lesson to Barisan Nasional. Let this be a lesson to all the racists in all the world. Let this show you that even a nation which was built on slavery of the black men can elect a black man to be it's most powerful individual. Let this show you that nothing is impossible.
America has redeemed itself in the eyes of the world. It has shown that the American Revolution has not ended and it will go on forever until the ideals of Jefferson are acheived. The first 26 Presidents of the USA could have owned the 44th President as a piece of property. Today the 44th President of the USA, President Barack Hussein Obama has put paid to the world's faith in him.
Where do we go as a nation from here? Do we follow in the footsteps of the now redeemed USA or do we stay true to our racist, discriminatory, hate-filled roots? Consider this question, what is the difference between you and me except my skin colour? Is the content of my character less than yours or any others because I am not of similar colour to you? Are my abilities any less because I do not practice the same religion as you? Am I less of a man because I am not your race or religion? This applies to you and to everyone else in this nation. Make the choice that is right. Not the choice that is made for you.
Many people harbour secret dreams of migrating. Some look at it from the perspective of a new challenge, some thinking it offers greener pastures, some think they may find happiness elsewhere and there are some who just think they may get a spot of fairness elsewhere. However for every person who thinks of migrating elsewhere there are 3 who think home is where the heart is and find it difficult to leave their birthland. Yes, I do consider Malaysia my land of birth and I do not take kindly being called pendatang or any other derogatory term.
There is a likelihood to Australia in 2010. If I go, I will probably remain there for the foreseeable future. Why Australia? Well, there are good universities there. Much better than anything I can find in Malaysia that's for sure. (It wasn't always like that though, there was a time before NEP and racially affirmative policies that University Malaya was the best university in Asia.) So in my pursuit of the best education possible, I am drawn there. the fact that half my family is also migrating there and a big chunk of my extended family is already is a big motivation.
Over lunch with a colleague today I was discussing why so many people decide to migrate and a big chunk of them choose Australia/New Zealand as their destination. The reasons will be articulated in the following paragraphs.
1) Quality of University Education. ( 20%)
This is probably a major category that carries a big chunk of the weightage. The proof of it is undoubtable. The G8 universities are all in the top 100 Universities in the world. Australian graduates are highly employable both in Malaysia and abroad. The academic freedoms there are equal to any other democratic country which gives students the freedom to learn and grow. The academics themselves are highly qualified and experts at the fields that they teach and there are a fair share of prize winners in Literature, Science, Technology and Humanities.
2) Weather. (5%)
This is a minor point but it is very important especially to Malaysians who love temperate weather and cooler climates. Most of Australia has a fairly temperate climate in winter and a Malaysian summer. The best of both worlds perhaps.
3) Diversity (10%)
An important point definitely. In Malaysia many of us grow up in a multi-racial environment and Australia brings that same multi-cultural environment which many of us are both used to and comfortable with. More than 24% of Australian Residents were born overseas with 75% of this figure coming from Asia and Africa. This number is only due to increase in the coming years.
4) Equal Opportunity. (30%)
This is probably the most important point of all. In Australia, everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. Whether you're a "son of the soil" or a "pendatang". Everyone is equal from every aspect, whether the eyes of the law or from economic opportunities or from the perspective of democratic freedoms. This principle is embraced in every aspect of Australia's governance even at the highest level where the Malaysian born Penny Wong (who is by the way, gay) is a full federal minister. Another 4 federal ministers were born outside of Australia. Australia is probably one of the only countries in the world where every child is told he/she can one day become the Prime Minister and the parent is not lying.
5) Job Opportunities. (20%)
Another major factor which draws many to Australia is the abundant job opportunities. No matter the field you work in, as long as you have a set of useful skills in any profession be it white collar or blue collar, job opportunities abound. Also, the sky is the limit once you have started employment. There are no glass ceilings to prevent you from reaching your dreams no matter how high they are.
6) Labour Protections (15%)
Australians are very well protected by their Labour laws. Employers simply cannot overwork you and the average Australian employee only works 38 hours a week. The average Malaysian works between 50 - 60 hours a week. Australians enjoy life and are one of the happiest people in the world. The Happiness Study by Ruut Verhooven finds that Malaysians on a whole rank their quality of life around 6/10 but Australians rank their quality of life around 8/10 (which is one of the best scores in the world).
On the whole those are the points that I personally feel matter to most people. Feel free to comment and add to these points.
Over the past few days, I've been rather tied up with other commitments. My mother had a herniated spinal disc and is being discharged from the hospital this morning after 4 days in the hospital. It's been a difficult time for my family because this is a very serious injury and my mother will never fully recover from it. For the rest of her life she cannot lift anything heavy, participate in any strenuous activity or strain her back in any way. For a person as active as my mother that comes as a huge blow especially because she is a lawyer and her profession requires her to appear in court with heavy bags full of documents. We'll find a way to overcome this and hopefully within the next few months she can resume a normal lifestyle.