The passing of a man who taught us how, and when to stand

A. Samad Ismail passed away today.

How do you properly mourn a man who became the living embodiment of the journalistic ideal? He was a freedom fighter, and at the same time a man of letters who still had time to write novels to augment his already hefty legacy.

Pak Samad was even detained for years under the ISA for daring to speak his views, championing what he believed was right for his country. Arrested by the British for working for a Japanese-sponsored paper during the Occupation, banned from Singapore and accused of association with a communist plot, he soldiered on, damn the consequences.

“The journalist naturally has to
persevere in his role as the champion of causes,” he once said.

Bapak, you indeed practised what you preached. From childhood, I knew your name among many who enriched our national literature-scape.

Bapak, I pray that your soul find rest and comfort. Al Fatihah.

And I pray for myself, bapak, that I can learn to be as courageous and as dedicated as you were. Because I know that right now, I fall so far from the mark. There is so much that is wrong with the country and how it works. But there are still things that are right – I pray for the courage and discernment to find them. And fight for them.

A journalism soap opera, courtesy of The Star

Today my brain attempted to leap out of my head. In protest.

It was likely upset at being forced to read the following piece:
Sneak peek into journalism

Yes, The Star, our local newspaper is going into television. But seriously, a suspense drama called Frontpage? And it produced the storyline as well for the 13 episode series.

“We wanted to share with our readers the tough decisions and hard work that go into the making of a newspaper.” By producing a drama. Right.

If they tried that with tech journalism, I highly doubt it would count for high drama. More likely it would end up as high comedy.

Picture this scenario for a tech mag show. Let’s call it Byte Me.

Pilot Episode: Peter Lim finds himself editor of an ailing tech magazine with the tough job of getting subscriptions and ad revenue up, as well as pleasing the nitpicky ten people who spend all their time posting on the magazine’s forums.

Then he finds out an ex-flame will also be joining the firm as sales manager. Then there’s rival magazine editor Thomas Damien who’s out for blood due to a long-standing feud with Peter’s publisher and aims to settle the score through any means necessary. Will Peter succeed? Or is he doomed to spend the rest of his life writing copy for the Yellow Pages?

Episode 1: The Stock Check
Company X&Y has called up, asking for review items they expected back weeks ago. But Peter wasn’t hired yet when the items were around and has no idea where they are now as there is no documentation. Not to mention his ex-girlfriend/current sales manager is unhappy with his pagination and demands he adjust the ad/copy ratio. Will Peter find the missing items? Will his salesperson see reason? Or will his publisher just fire them both because they’re still under probation?

Episode 2: Dirty Talking
After Peter’s magazine scores an exclusive advertising deal with company JiloJilo, murky rumours abound of how the deal was secured. How will Peter stave off sordid rumours involving his sales manager, a photocopy machine and lots of thermal paste? To top that off, his lead designer’s threatening to leave the company unless he gets either a pay increase or ‘get the blardy sales to stop bothering me day and night, can or not?’

I suspect my talents do not lie in TV screenplays. Alas. 

So Avril Lavigne is ‘not our culture’, eh?

As usual, Malaysia’s being made a laughing stock. Again.

Seriously, when the morality police are questioning an Avril Lavigne concert, it makes me wonder if they don’t watch TV or listen to the radio. It’s patently embarassing. What is our culture, then? Do Malaysians only listen to nasyid, sappy Scorpions-wannabe soft rock, old CantoPop and Bollywood hit tunes?

And UMNO just decides to roll over, show its belly and proclaim that the concert is “not our culture”, then they backpedal and say it’s too near Merdeka day.

Screw Malaysian culture if it’s just about not having a conscience or backbone, or thinking it’s right to stuff your own definition of culture and religion down everyone else’s throat.

Though I would have been supportive if the concert was banned to save us from truly awful tunes like that “hey, hey, you, you” song.

P1 WIMAX – still a work in progress

Well, at least we know the pricing now.

You choose between two contracts – 12-month or 24-month. 12-month contract: RM99 for 1.2Mbps, RM229 for 2.4Mbps. Choose the 24-month contract, and the pricing dips to RM89 and RM199.

What I’m not too excited about is WIMAX is still only readily available in KLCC, Golden Triangle (Bukit Bintang and surrounding areas), Pekeliling, Setapak, Gombak, Seri Rampai, Sentul, Pudu and selected areas in Subang Jaya, USJ 1, USJ 7 and the Subang Hi-Tech area.

Everywhere else? Wait until the end of 2008.

Oh well, plenty of time for all the other broadband providers to grovel at our feet muchly.

And their WIMAX site at www.p1w1max.com hasn’t even been updated with the plans. Not to mention the link to the coverage map is broken.

Ah, WIMAX, our relationship was not meant to be. And I shall be stuck with my crappy wireless broadband for a long while yet…

To think of the children

A husband, to me, is something optional. What I do want, though, is kids.

If my situation was more stable I’d like being a single mother. But adoption in this country is tricky business and more so if you’re unmarried.

It’s a scary, dangerous world now to raise a child. So few now remember the poor children whose names and faces were plastered in the papers not too long ago. Children kidnapped, abused and murdered.

We can do nothing for the children who are gone from our sight and from our arms, but we can do something for the ones right here. To that end, a Protect and Save the Children Awareness Talk will be held at the Bangsar Lutheran Church on the 16th of August. No, it’s got nothing to do with religion but about what should be important to all Malaysians – the protection and welfare of our children.

For more information, go to www.psthechildren.org.my or visit Pastor Sivin Kit’s blog at http://sivinkit.net/archives/4239

Malaysia – blaming the ‘babis’ and the bloggers

Ceaseanddesist(Nifty cartoon courtesy of BenGallagher.com.)

"We don’t need Astro anymore…our papers are more interesting!" so said a friend yesterday and I’d have to agree.

Instead of looking at their weaknesses, or learning how to serve, our government instead:

1. Arrests Anwar for sodomy. Again.
2. Arrests bloggers
3. Blame, harasses and claims they will monitor bloggers

The Bar Council’s forum on conversion in Malaysia was just supposed to be a dialogue. But instead, it soon descended into a fracas where eloquent locals called for the pigs to go home to China.

What an insult to bacon-packers everywhere. Bacon, ham, luncheon meat don’t necessarily originate from China since not all pigs were born, bred and taught to attend dialogues there.

Farish Noor defends discriminated-against pigs everywhere with this interesting post:
"No, this Babi will not balik China"

Who are the real ‘pigs’ here? I like pigs. They live simple lives – eat, shit, procreate, sleep.

They don’t accept bribes or setup roadblocks to prevent demonstrations/make themselves pocket money.

They don’t blow up Mongolian women with hand grenades.

They don’t lie today, and have The Star prove them liars the very next day on the Front Page.

And pigs at least produce crispy bacon.

I suspect if you roast their human equivalent, all you’d get is stinking gas and a lot of hot air.

I’m not afraid for my country; I’m afraid of it

I’m terrified, frankly.

I just read this.

I want so much to believe that my government, corrupt and short-sighted as it is, isn’t behind this.

I want to have that simple faith my father had when my sister told him how afraid she was for the country; of the encroaching religious zealots, of religion being used as justification for violence and cruelty.

My father told her to have faith in her country.

Well, my sister’s safe in the UK and my father has probably changed his stance now. East Malaysia no longer believes the Federal Goverment really gives a damn about it. It never did. So I watch as the people from my State slowly squeeze bribes out of the government with that unspoken message: "We saved you. We could bury you. You owe us."

A farce of a murder trial. A damning statutory declaration. The feeling our ‘melting pot’ that’s been simmering for years is just waiting to boil over.

The funny thing was, I was thinking of an alternate reality script. A treatment for a show.

The premise would be – what if the opposition had won the election?

I predicted chaos. After the triumphant celebration and the opposition leader was to be named Prime Minister, an assassination attempt. Almost successful, putting him in a coma. Before the official handover.

And the government, who was supposed to hand over power, doesn’t. Instead, a declaration of emergency. For the general good. Martial law.

Darkness. Death squads. In the name of ‘preserving the peace’ and ‘removing threats to stability’.

I just hope that’s all just going to stay in my imagination.