Sunday, November 25, 2007

what's next?

Another week, and yet another rally.

I think I have said all I can say about the rallies. You can fight for whatever you want, however ludicrous it is (Sidenote: $4 trillion? Are you for real?!) just as long as it doesn't get in the way of the general public.

The other day, people dissed me because I said I got caught in a jam and later couldn't go out shopping. They dissed the 'shopping' bit because they say it wasn't important. But that's not really the point, is it? I was caught in another jam today, 400 kilometres away from KL. This time, it was because I committed the crime of going to work.

So how now brown cow?

You can blame the police again. Blame them all you like. Blame the government while you are at it. That is what Malaysians do best - blame everybody but themselves. The problem is that people are so arrogant to believe it is democratic for tens of thousands of people to 'gather peacefully'.

Here's food for thought.

You know those Mat Rempits? It isn't exactly a crime for them to 'gather' at night and ride their bikes together as a group. However, it is a crime when they gamble and race illegally. But most of us get irritated or even afraid when a large group of them congregates in our neighbourhood. Are you saying that the police should let them 'gather' since they are doing nothing, and then only take action when they start racing??

Or since you people believe it to be democratic as long as people gather peacefully, then how about this? Is it okay if 200 Indonesian workers 'gathered' outside your house, thus blocking your access in and out of your house. You are inconvenienced, yes. But if they are just standing there, is that okay? Your logic says that peaceful gatherings are allowed, so as long as those people aren't harming you, they should be allowed to gather outside your house, right?

This is getting frustrating for the rest of us. Two weeks ago it was a political rally. Today it was a racial issue. What next tomorrow? If rallies are allowed to go on, what next? Rally for lower taxes? Demonstrate high petrol prices? Human nature dictates that people will never be happy with what they have. So is it acceptable that we have 'peaceful demonstrations' every weekend of the year?

Really? Is it okay that week in and week out 50 000 people are allowed to gather in the city centre to voice their displeasure at whatever suits their whims and fancies? Rallies like that set a dangerous precedent. Two major demonstrations have been held in the last one month. Can anybody honestly tell me that you agree with to allow such demonstrations to keep going on? If that is the case then it will never end. Let's say hypothetically that the Opposition wins the next elections. Are they going to allow BN supporters to hold rallies EVERY WEEK?

You tell me. How do we go from here? If protesters get what they want then what is stopping other people from holding mass protests to demand something else? What you people have done was open a very dangerous can of worms and set a very scary precendence.

What's next for our country, then?

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Monday, November 19, 2007

kampung story of the day

In this kampung where I am, a stranger would easily mistaken it for a warped time zone. There is a sense of lawlessness, yet it isn't quite so. Hardly anybody ever wears a helmet when riding their motorbikes. It isn't because they want to break the law - it is probably because they couldn't be bothered to. And speaking of which, it isn't an uncommon sight to see 12 year old kids ferrying their younger siblings on these kapchais that dwarf their small frame.

For many of my city friends, what we perceive to be simple common sense is viewed by the kampung folk as trivial matters that do not need to be fussed about. Child safety seats for cars? You gotta be kidding me..

In the middle of my (new) housing area, there is a playground. It's a modern concept, isn't it? Most new housing areas in the Klang Valley employ such a community bonding area. The kids play there in the evenings and the parents socialise with one another while keeping an eye on the brats. But this is where the "first world infrastructure, third world mentality" really shows.

I was taught at a very young age, as I am sure most of you were, that roads are for cars and we should never play in the middle of the road. But in this kampung, along with the numerous other kampungs in this part of the world, it seems a ridiculous notion but parents actually allow their kids to play on the road, and won't even bat an eyelid when a car approaches. It's their road, see. You are trespassing with your car, so you have to watch where you are going - not the kid.

Let me sidetrack for a moment, but you know all those frequent cases of people getting run over by trains while trying to cross the railway tracks? I am of the opinion that these people aren't stupid, but more of the fact that they are ridiculously ignorant towards the dangers of a speeding train. As silly and unthinkable it may sound to you, I reckon that these people really do not know the dangers, or think that tragedy will never befall them.

Two days ago, I nearly ran over a kid. This, despite me coasting at a mere 10km/h. I have ingrained it into my brain that the minute I enter the housing area, the foot goes off the gas pedal, ready to slam my brakes when required while keeping my eyes trained for a random brat that is oblivious to the danger of a passing car. Anyway, the said kid was standing by the side of the road when I approached. I saw him standing there, fixed to a spot staring somewhere else, so I decided that it was alright to pass him. Just as I was driving past, he started to dash across the road while his eyes were still focusing on something else. I slammed my brakes and blared my horn.

The commotion turned the heads of a few adults in the playground - none of whom bothered to tell him to get off the road or teach him to watch himself. I don't know where the parents were but an evil guess would be that they were at a brain transplant.

There was another kid a few months ago who spilled an entire bucket of Lego blocks on the road and proceeded to squat smack in the middle of the road and pick them up one at a time. His mother was standing by the side of the road, patiently waiting for him to finish while the idiot in the car (me) had to wait a full 3 minutes before I could proceed along the road.

Or how about the time when two kids were playing in the playground while their mothers were on the swings? One of them had a toy machine gun - the type that gave out an irritating rat-a-tat-tat sound along with blinking red LEDs when fired upon. Upon seeing my car from a distance, he ran into the middle of the road thinking he was Rambo and shot at my car. Literally. It was incredulous. I couldn't believe my eyes. It's not everyday a 5 year old kid can render me speechless.

These stories always get me thinking.

In the bigger picture, the government talks about nation building. The opposition can talk about fair elections and what-not. Yes, the big picture is important, but has anybody stopped to give thought about the smaller puzzles that you need to solve first? But how the hell do you build a nation where people don't care enough for their lives to wear a motorcycle helmet? How do you expect the kampung folks to make a decision in an election (fair or otherwise) when they lack the ability to judge the threat of a passing vehicle towards their own child's safety?

I don't really know how to explain it. Stupid is not the word. A lack of common sense is not the term. Ignorance or 'tidak apa' is more like it. And if you have a bunch of people who are tidak apa towards their own lives and the lives of their children, there really isn't much else you can do to help them.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

not part of the gang

The last few days have jolted my mind back into the time machine. I can see the event happening right in front of my eyes as if it was yesterday. There was this dude in my class. His name was Vignesh.

We all know someone like Vignesh - he didn't fit in, and didn't even bother trying. All that was important to him was that he got through the day, said and did whatever he thought was right. Not many people liked Vignesh - that is not to say people hated him. He was...irrelevant, and hence everything he said was not taken seriously. I remember thinking what a fool he was. I now wish I could have been more like that back then.

The year was 1998. Malaysia had just hosted the successful Commonwealth Games and everybody was chuffed about it. Obviously the subject of conversation most days were about the Commonwealth Games. One day, our hero would ask out loud, "Why isn't the United States part of the Commonwealth?" much to the amusement of everybody in the class. "Commonwealth is for countries that used to be under British rule la, bodoh." Vignesh then tried to explain that the US was once colonised by the British but nobody would have anything to do with such a ridiculous notion. How could the British have landed in such a superpower like the US??

After mocking Vignesh for his stupidity (all while he continued maintaining that he was correct), we all went about our own business and let him be. Never mind that Vignesh was half-right and we were all dead wrong. It didn't matter. What mattered was that in that setting, in that group of people, the majority had made up their mind on something and it was futile to change their mind, no matter what logic you put through.

In this setting, in this group of people, I will NEVER be part of the group. I like how Vignesh went about things. If that was how he felt, and if he could justify it correctly, then so be it. Along the way he (and I) might convince a few people, but for the rest - as the Thais say, "mai pen rai". Never mind. Let it be.

A common theme on the blogosphere seems to be how The Star quoted that there were ONLY 4000 people at the rally and how the police said there were ONLY 5000 people. These people went on to critisize these two parties calling them biased and deluded. And I fully agree. But these people also forget that their sifu-in-chief Anwar Ibrahim claimed after the event that there were 100 000 people there. Funnily enough, nobody seems to critisize the dude for his similarly biased and delusional estimate.

Hypocrisy? I dunno. You tell me...

And how about every other blog that seems to mention Al-Jazeera and some idiot who can't speak English well and doesn't seem to know what he is talking about? I agree again. He really was an idiot. But you people also forgot to mention that Al-Jazeera also called the Papa Smurf of bloggers an 'independant journalist'. If anybody reading this can call Jeff Ooi an 'independant' anything, I'll seriously pay good money for whatever it is you are sniffing.

Over the last few days, I have heard nothing but people saying how big an idiot I am. Other people have been saying that my opinions are okay - but they must continue marching to 'educate' people like me so that we stop our ignorance. Right, so your version of democracy says, "You are either with us, or you are against us"? Hmm...that's a great thought!

I never liked the concept of democracy, and never claimed to. But surely if you are preaching it, then you should be expected to practice what you preach?

I have been critisized for saying that I was stuck in the jam and couldn't go shopping. Someone else was critisized for saying their family missed the Chicago musical. Apparently, these things aren't as important as our 'freedom and rights'. Oh, I see. You get to decide what is important for me? Nice concept of democracy you have, eh?

Thinking about it, I don't care if it was 4000 people or 40000 people. If 4 million people took to the streets all over the country, I wouldn't be making a fuss. At least 4 million is a significant enough mandate. But instead we have 40,000 people claiming they acted on everyone else's best interest. And at this point, somebody would invariably jump up and scream, "40,000 people at the rally doesn't mean only 40,000 people support it!" Well, if you support it and weren't there, then my point proven - cakap tak serupa bikin.

You know, if you people had simply called it a political rally, I wouldn't be so annoyed. I would be annoyed at the way you inconvenienced others, but at least I wouldn't call you a hypocrite.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

vote RoN

Let's not kid ourselves, shall we? This afternoon's rally - peaceful or not, was not about a call for real democracy or handing over of a memorandum to the King. A rally could have been held in a stadium where like-minded people could go and stay out of everybody else's way. And if they really wanted to hand over a memorandum to the King, I am sure the Opposition leaders could have done it in person if they kept it behind closed doors and didn't hype up the event.

Quite simply, today's show was nothing more than a demonstration of power. They are telling the present government that they have the support of the people. They are telling the people that the present government is doing something really wrong and that they are our saviours. It may shock you, but I fully agree that things are messed up. But two wrongs never made anything right and today's rally was nothing more than a hypocritical farce.

The Opposition leaders needed to make it big and hype it up. But disrupting public peace is not the way to go about doing things. Thousands of people were affected by the rally - businesses were undoubtedly disrupted and tourists given a horrible impression of the country. Street demonstrations are bad for business - one could only venture a guess as to how many foreign investors were shoo-ed away by today's events.

Somebody said that this is the price to pay for freedom and rights. Yeah, so why is it that the Opposition parties are allowed to decide the price to pay on my behalf?

The Star says there were 5000 people at the gathering. Malaysiakini says there were 40 000 people. This is my case in point - different lie, same bullshit. This has always been the case. Reading too much of only one source clouds your judgment - so let's settle for an in-between figure of 20 000 people, alright?

There are 4 million people in the Klang Valley. Isn't it truly ironic that in a rally for democracy 0.5% of them get to tell us what is right and what is wrong? Please do away with the hypocrisy - this was nothing more than a political statement designed to tell the public that the general elections are coming and that you should vote them.

If you don't know where to cast your vote during the next election, events of today should further confuse you. I do not need to say anything further about the current administration. Everybody knows their faults and their screw-ups. You would truly be an ass if you are going to allow people who messed up so badly to continue screwing up.

Yet, the alternative is not an attractive enough proposition. We have a bunch of Opposition parties working on the principle that "your enemy is my enemy" even though their ideologies are as similar as chalk and cheese. The Opposition parties don't exist with the intention of winning the general elections. Their only objective is to disrupt as much as they can the operation of the incumbent government. They have no clear and fixed policies except to oppose whatever the government is doing - sometimes for no other reason other than thinking it is their job to oppose blindly.

When things are done wrongly or screwed up big time, that is where the Opposition parties can earn their votes. The chief justice case is a good example. Misappropriation of funds is another. But when they oppose necessary things like the removal of fuel subsidies, the smarter of us know that they are only doing it to fish for votes. They fought the price hikes because it was the popular decision among the majority of people at that time. I don't care who is in charge of this country - I'll be damned if the guy at the top makes decisions based on a popularity contest.

Let's look at Anwar Ibrahim. Here's a man who is championing the removal of the NEP or calling for it to be reviewed. That's all fine, except for the fact that this was a man who spent most of his political career seemingly being fine with the idea. Then he gets screwed over, and suddenly the NEP is a bad thing. Hypocritical, isn't it?

It has come to the point where people think it is acceptable to hold mass protests and disrupt public peace just to get their idea across. It is not. People think that the lesser of two evils is acceptable. It is not.

So what do I propose?

Frankly, I have no idea. Regular readers of this blog know that I seldom comment on a matter without proposing a solution. Unfortunately, I don't have the faintest idea what the solution is. This is why, today I really weep for my country.

During my university days, during our student council elections as well as elections of individual societies, besides the candidates running for the post, there was an option to vote RoN, short for Re-open Nomination. You could select that option if you weren't happy with any of the people running for the position. If RoN won, all candidates would be disqualified, and there would be a renomination new candidates to run for the position. In my 3 years in university, I have only seen it happen once - there was only one candidate running for President of the Malaysian Singaporean Society and he embarrassingly lost flat out to RoN.

How I wish things could be so easy.

Update: A response to most of the comments, here.

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the gathering of hypocrites

Dear Fucking Idiots,

Because of your moronic behaviours, my Saturday has been ruined. I had to cancel my shopping plans and I was stuck in a jam for more than one hour. My parents, who wanted to go down to KL to meet a family friend had to change their plans.

I am in no way condoning a gathering of fucktards, but if you wish to do so in the future, perhaps it would be more considerate doing it in a secluded place, so as to not inconvenience the other 4 million of us in the Klang Valley. May I suggest you congregate at Bukit Kayu Hitam and if you really must submit a memorandum, I am sure DHL would kindly oblige.

You can fight for whatever you choose - frankly I don't give a flying fuck. You can even campaign for your right to fuck goats and walk around nude, but when your actions cause problems for the rest of us, that is where your name changes from an activist to a mere inconsiderate cunt.

It is ironic that you tell me that the mainstream media is feeding me government propaganda, yet you people are drowning me in your hypocritical crap. Different lie, same bullshit. Suck my balls lah. Don't pretend you are any different because you are all the same type of forked tongue snakes, all trying to prey on the weak minded, indecisive fools.

Congratulations, you idiots just got your point across. I won't be voting the incumbents. But I won't be voting for your hypocritical asses either.

Update: I am now less annoyed than previously, but I stick by my words. Now, go read this.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

get out of jail free

When I was young, people kept telling me that I had to work hard to succeed in life. My dad and my sister are pretty much workaholics, so it is not as if they are just saying these things for the heck of it.

When I was in Form 3, people all around said I had to work hard and study hard to do well in PMR. I bummed around and got 5A's out of 7. One of my teachers scolded me. Her reasoning was that if I had put just a little more effort I could have gotten the straight A's. Just a bit more effort, she said.

And so, in the first week of Form 4, I told myself that I would work hard and ace my SPM. The hype lasted 2 weeks and I spent the next 2 years bumming around. I got A's for the subjects that mattered to me - 5 out of 9. I remember doing fuck all for Biology and one of the SPM questions asked to 'lukis sistem pernafasan ikan' I drew a fish that a kindergarten kid could have done better and pointed to the gills and wrote 'insang'. But this was in the days where there weren't idiots who took 17 subjects, so all was good.

Then I told myself that in university, it would be different because it was going to be subjects that I chose. I mean - I chose to study engineering, but I didn't choose to study History and Biology in school. But nobody told me that Mechanical Engineers had to study crap like Structural Vibration and C programming. So, despite everybody telling me I had to work hard in uni, I studied right at the last minute, did just enough for my assignments and bummed around the rest of the time AND still got through unscathed with a Masters and a very commendable final year project. Everybody knows someone like that - the asshole who did jackshite but still came up tops. I didn't exactly come up tops (actually no where near the top) but I still got along fine. Sucks to be you, eh?

Now that I am working, everybody says that you have to work hard, put in extra hours and all the usual bruhaha to make more money and be rich. And all this got me thinking (because I have been on leave for one whole week and I have been thinking a lot), I got along fine in school bumming around and just doing enough. Not too much, not too little - just enough. I was never top of my class, but I was always better than average. Same thing happened in uni - I was no where near the top of the class, but people who put in 3 times more effort than myself didn't exactly beat me by a mile.

I am saying all this because yesterday, some people mentioned again the importance of working hard (more than 12 hours a day!!!) to succeed and do well. Screw it. I have been lazy my whole life and have made it pretty darn far. I am therefore convinced that there is money to be made just by being lazy. Sure, I won't be as rich as Lim Goh Tong, but I reckon I'll be able to get along just fine.

You see, I just had another brainwave! I figured out how to make money while SLEEPING. Too bad I am too lazy to do anything about it...