The audacity of hope rewarded again – RPK is free

RPK has been released – not via protests, but by due process in a court of law.

It has been a long time since we have been able to believe in our judiciary after the unchecked meddling by our government.

If any of you missed the significance of Obama’s election win, look at the date.

“Remember, remember the 5th of November” – Guy Fawkes Day.

Malaysians are no longer all beholden to apathy.

We are no longer stupid enough to believe everything we read in mainstream media.

We no longer stay quiet when our leaders overstep their bounds.

We are beginning to realise that we have been polarised too long.

We are starting to accept that we are living in Malaysia, not Malay-sia.

I do not believe that I will see a government that is colourblind in my lifetime.

I don’t think that we as a people have matured enough to put aside our prejudices.

After all, look how long it took the American people to elect a coloured man as president.

We might not see the change we want to achieve in this lifetime, but we should not stop fighting for it. We fight so our children will have a better world than the one we were born in, in the hope that one day their children will have everything we dreamed of and more.

Hope is not often warranted. Often we are given no cause for it, and told that we shouldn’t even bother holding it close to our hearts.

2008 will always remain in my memory as the year I learned to hope again. I hope that’s true for you too.

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Truly overjoyed

November’s starting out amazingly – what with a glorious NaNo kickoff meetup as well as Barack Obama’s monumental win in the US presidential elections.

I just feel happy today and as an expression of joy, here’s Regine Velasquez’s lovely cover of Stevie Wonder’s Overjoyed.

Joy. Something so rare in these dark days.

"Overjoyed"
Over time, I’ve been building my castle of love
Just for two, though you never knew you were my reason
I’ve gone much too far for you now to say
That I’ve got to throw my castle away
Over dreams, I have picked out a perfect come true
Though you never knew it was of you I’ve been dreaming
The sandman has come from too far away
For you to say come back some other day
And though you don’t believe that they do
They do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over loved, over me
Over hearts, I have painfully turned every stone
Just to find, I had found what I’ve searched to discover
I’ve come much too far for me now to find
The love that I’ve sought can never be mine
And though you don’t believe that they do
They do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over loved, over me
And though the odds say improbable
What do they know
For in romance
All true love needs is a chance
And maybe with a chance you will find
You too like I
Overjoyed, over loved, over you, over you

Forgetting the homeless, to attack the gays

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 12:  Pigeons feed on...

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It just made me weep reading this Reuters piece about homeless people making the effort to register to vote.

“Williams was one of hundreds of people — many first-time voters lacking permanent dwellings — who cast ballots this year on Skid Row, a 50-block downtown area believed to harbor the highest concentration of homeless in the United States.

Those voters represent a fraction of the estimated 12,000 people who live and sleep on the streets of that area. Many are mentally ill or suffer from substance abuse.”

I think that’s one thing wrong with America. All the news coverage and effort to create such ridiculous legislation like Proposition 8 when there are people genuinely struggling just to eke out a living.

The US might be a so-called developed nation, but why hasn’t it made a proper effort to look after its homeless. Of course, many in the Republican party think that looking after the welfare of the disenfranchised is ‘socialist’ and that those who can’t look after themselves are lazy bums asking for handouts.

A single mother with children, whose husband’s either dead or abandoned her, is she a lazy bum?

The people unable to afford healthcare for serious, debilitating diseases, are they lazy bums?

Orphans, unemployed, disabled, those unable to find gainful employment and are helpless without some form of assistance: are they lazy bums?

You talk about God and how He would frown about this desecration of holy matrimony.

You send missions to ‘save’ the unconverted in other countries, but you ignore your own people, in your own backyard.

Where in the Bible does it say that attacking gay marriage is a commandment or holy writ?

The Bible does admonish you into looking after the weak, the poor, the widows, the orphans. To love your neighbour, to love truth.

So much for priorities.

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Why it makes sense for Malaysians to care about the US elections

Irene finds it puzzling why people like Cal, Liz, and me care about US politics or policy. “Doesn’t concern us, what!”

I wish what she said was true.

The problem is that the US is the only remaining, intact superpower.

The USSR collapsed. The United Kingdom is turning ever more insular, not helped by Tony Blair’s idiocy while leading Britain and the EU is an institution more concerned with disagreements over the Euro, immigration and whether Turkey deserves membership.

I don’t give a damn about the US. If I believed what’s reported in the media and solely rest my judgement of Americans on George Bush, I would think that most Americans are ignorant, backward, right-wing rednecks who care more about guns and gay marriage than the homeless, the disabled, the poor. Who cut taxes for rich folks and corporations, while denying single mothers aid and the poor access to affordable healthcare.

Under Bush, we saw the US turn ever more inward, declaring “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.”

We saw the US turn its might on Iraq, not for peace, nor for freedom but for goddamn oil.

There was even talk of turning guns on Iran, further earning the ire of the Arab world.

Whether we like it or not, the US is a world leader, powerful and influential enough to affect the world economy and world peace. Then there’s the fact the country owes the UN millions – money that could be used to shore up the UN’s efforts in developing nations.

The US could choose to be an agent for diplomacy, for worldwide prosperity, for change.

Or it could remain what it was under Bush’s administration – an insular, selfish government corrupt enough to direct funds not to building jobs, but to making Haliburton rich.

So I wept when I heard Barack Obama won. Only two generations ago, blacks feared for their lives in Southern states but now the US is electing a man whose father was black as president. As one Obama supporter put it: “Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so our children could fly.”

This is the politics of hope. That even in these times of turmoil, where great evils are still happening, that there can be change, that old prejudices can be weakened.

It is not merely about Obama winning – it’s about a nation learning that it could change. It’s about idealism triumphing over apathy, and a reminder that we should never give up hoping and believing.

Today is a good day.

For the poor, the Millenium Development Goals are still too far

Eight years have passed since world leaders agreed on the Millennium Development Goals at the UN Millenium Summit.

Ironically, there are also eight areas that were and are to be targets for these goals:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

To make these goals a reality, it is the responsibility of the nations who pledged their commitment to these goals to make good their promises.

Yet in the current economic climate, the poor are suffering more than ever and governments are ever more reluctant to commit their resources to MDG. In these times of trial, it is even more crucial that the poor, the disenfranchised, the disadvantaged are given the attention and assistance they need.

But in all the sorrow, the injustice and evil in the world right now, it is easy to say: “What can one person do?”

It takes just one voice per citizen, as a collective, to remind and urge world leaders to honour their commitment to MDG.

So today, I’m blogging for poverty and the MDG. What about you?

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The terrible price of wanting it cheap

Now we’re all caught up in the scare of tainted milk products from China.

Oh, we point at unscrupulous officials and go on about thinking of the children.

But honestly, it’s partly our faults too.

We always want it cheap. We always want discounts, everything at the lowest prices we can get.

Because we refuse to pay fair prices for goods of quality, we end up with these rubbish manufacturers like Sanlu who churn out lots of milk products at the lowest, bargain-bin prices.

You get what you pay for, really.

Your children get sub-standard milk, we live in sub-standard housing, we have sub-standard Internet. Because we’re so used to cutting corners, to make more profits because see, see, we have to sell cheap.

China’s manufacturers are going to continue to make sub-standard products because, we, stupid penny-pinching morons, buy them.

And it fucking serves us right when our children die because instead of giving them what they deserve, we cut corners. Karma’s a bitch, isn’t she?

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Should we dare hope?

hope He has the numbers. That’s great, but does Anwar have the names? Yet despite my misgivings the Kelana Jaya PKR rally for Malaysia day gave me something I haven’t had for my country in a long time – hope.

I’d called up Lainie earlier and she told me Suan was interested in going to the rally. And so to the rally we went.

We’d got lost on the way but managed to finally get there and see a large throng of people gradually filling up the field. By the time Anwar arrived, there was hardly any green left to stand on.

crowd

What heartened me was that the crowd was made up of people I’d never expect to attend something like this. Which meant pretty much everyone. From young to old, middle class to working class, and people of every colour. This was Malaysia as we imagined it’d be – diverse yet integrated, different yet united.

I don’t know if the change in government is going to happen tomorrow and I’m still somewhat worried about the ethics involved in such a political coup. But what I’m certain of is that I’m not alone in wanting something better for the country. That I’m not the only one fed up with the corruption, injustice, racial and economic divides and the overall feeling of powerlessness to affect change.

So even if change doesn’t come by today, I want to remember last night as a peep into a future that could happen. That we still have reason to believe and hope for a better Malaysia, that we will finally embrace true tolerance.

Happy Birthday, Malaysia.

You capture the General, not the Private

Sharon had a point in the recent arrest of Sin Chew reporter, Tan Hoon Cheng – why arrest the reporter instead of grilling her editor?

Editors take full responsibility over their staff’s actions. They’re not meant to just sit in their ivory towers and order hapless writers and subs about.

It’s their job to take the blame, to answer for any mistakes in their publications, and also to shield their writers from those who would prevent them from doing their jobs.

Which is why I don’t miss being the print editor of The Mag anymore. I’m content being web editor, thanks very much. I no longer have to be the dartboard for every failing of the magazine or for my staff’s slip-ups.

Pak Samad’s words come to mind – he said before that journalists now are too middle-class, too far removed from ordinary people’s plights.

But Tan was brave enough to do her duty. I hope that this will perhaps spur our local media to remember their roots – to report the truth and to be the people’s voices.

The Star never really recovered from the last Operasi Lalang, instead proving to become a commercially successful but morally bankrupt publication. But really, no major newspaper should be partly or wholly owned by a political party. Instead of being a respectable newspaper, it is the equivalent of the MCA newsletter…gone commercial.

Though I have many friends working in the line, I refuse to buy local newspapers and have boycotted The Star for years now. Though I do peep at it online, I refuse to buy the print version. Maybe soon there will come a time where I can finally buy newspapers again.

Else I’ll just have to learn to read Chinese and subscribe to the Sin Chew Jit Poh.

UMNO, give us back our country

anak You have been stewards for our country long enough. What you have vowed to protect, you are now keen to destroy. Instead of punishing one of your own for seditious remarks, you wag a finger at him and instead send the ‘tattletale’ who reported his words to your dungeons.

You want to talk about your racial rights? My own people have honoured their ancestors’ spirits on Aki Nabalu long before you even had kingdoms. But the Kadazan Dusuns have never tried to lord it over the other races in Sabah because we know that under God, we are all the same. We blame you for the myth of one race being superior over others. We’ve never felt entitled to anything so why do you have that claim?

MCA and Gerakan – you are an embarrassment to the people you claim to represent. No better than the ruling party, you keep rolling over and playing dead when they tell you. MCA president – do you know what nepotism means? Do you think your party members won’t notice all the special favour you bestow upon your brother? Cowards with no dignity, traitors who serve money and power.

MIC, of all the race-based parties, you have failed your people the most. 51 years after Merdeka and what have you done for the majority of your people? Why do so many of them live in squalor, resort to crime or commit suicide? Blame yourselves for the Indians often resorting to weedkiller because you, like the government, does nothing for them.

No more divide and conquer.

No more corruption and waste.

No more wasting our tax money on expensive trips, pricey cars and your wives’ shopping.

Give us back our country, Barisan. You’ve done too much harm already.

It’s not just the government. It’s us.

grief All the talk about changing our government and all the excitement about Sept 16 is worthless…if we refuse to see the bigger cancer in our society.

It’s not just the government. It’s us.

We who have refused to think for ourselves, but let the government handle things.

We who never questioned the policemen taking duit kopi.

We who never bothered mixing with people outside our own race, or never bothering to understand their beliefs.

I have Chinese friends who say that Islam is the problem with our country, and that it creates hate and fear. That Islam oppresses women. But it’s not their fault they meet bad Muslims and have to read Western media that makes all Muslims look like hard-line fanatical morons.

Then there are the Malays I know who believe that all it takes is a drop of holy water and they’ll be unable to make the profession of faith. Was your faith really that weak to begin with? Does your God not love you enough to protect you from the evil powers of holy water? Holy water isn’t an all powerful conversion tool, by the way. If it did work in that manner, rest assured the Vatican would have poured it into the water supply to save our souls. Trust me. (No offence to you Catholics but do you think the Pope would have passed up a chance to SAVE everyone? Heh.)

We have all failed our country by being selfish, by not embracing what it is to be Malaysian. To be Malaysian is simply to regard your fellow citizen as a Malaysian first. A Malaysian who just happens to be of a certain race or religion.

You blame the BN, you curse them for rising prices, corruption and bad governance.

But you helped put them there, didn’t you? By not voting or being silent about injustice, about saying such moronic Polyanna things like “oh, at least we’re not as bad of as Zimbabwe, Burma, etc.”

We blame the government for creating what we are now – a bunch of spineless, opportunistic, lazy, chest-pounding individuals with nothing to show for it but the bloody Petronas Towers.

Well, guess what? They created us, but we created them too. We raised children to grow up believing they had the right to drive like morons, pay off policemen and kowtow to fat, lazy politicians.

If you really want to be a real Malaysian, then do yourself and future generations a favour. Get a spine and change yourself, and not just aspire to changing the country.