I Heard The Herd.

Bit of humour thrown into the mix, as Chinese folks answered the question of what they REALLY wanted in life.

On May 8th, an incredibly large amount of Malaysians trudged to the Kelana Jaya stadium in Petaling Jaya to show their support for the nation’s political Opposition. I was amongst them. I wanted to hear if the Pakatan Rakyat coalition had a plan to harness the power of the people to see that the newly-appointed, ruling Government would pay for the fraud that it pulled off during the recently concluded 13th General Elections just three days prior to the rally.

It didn’t.

At least, it seemed that way to me. Speaker after speaker took the stage to reiterate, rinse and repeat the rhetoric that the Government was being a cheat, that the Prime Minister had to step down, and that the nation’s Election Commission needed a severe overhaul, whilst also calling for its Chairman to step down.

Now, I’m a simpleton, and I get bored very easily. My attention span is such that — anyway, it was the same message drilled into our heads. Now, there were people who were lapping it up, and I can understand why. People were gathered there to find a common ground — and they did. But my innocent curiousity was not piqued [I had voted for the Opposition, by the way], and my friend and I who had gone to listen felt a bit underwhelmed.

 

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Stadium

Is groupthink more pervasive now in the way that we view things than five years ago?

After everything that’s happened between the 12th and 13th General Elections, the Government has blundered its way through scandal after scandal. There’s a form of widespread anti-Government hysteria going round, and it’s hit a fever pitch. A casual glance at your social media feeds will already show you this. After more than a week, there’s still enough user-generated content to last for a long while more.

All this is fair and good, but now we’re getting more and more people who actively share content without properly verifying and validating what it is they’re sharing. The time for conscientious media consumption is over, I suppose. More and more of us are starting to become even more polarised, and the middle ground isn’t sacred anymore — in fact, it’s starting to erode away.

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Can the younger bunch take  any of this seriously?

There’s a wealth of untapped voters when you consider young Malaysians who haven’t come of age yet. I saw a younger set of people all around me at the rally, and it sort of momentarily freaked me out in the sense that they were treating it like a massive social event: kawaii posing, peace signs and a heap of Instagramming a-plenty. I don’t mind it that much, but it honestly made me wonder about how well informed they were about the issues at hand, or if they knew why the rally was being organised the first place.

I mean, yes, it’s good that there’s some sort of populist angle there to get them hooked on it, but the amount of political slacktivism that rampant social media sharing has garnered might devalue their presence there. I’m just saying that we, the old farts [I can’t believe I’m labeling myself as this] have to take it upon ourselves to try to sort give a bit of levelheadedness towards everything that’s being said.

Cooler heads will prevail, and as condescending as I might be sounding, we need to breathe a bit.

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What’s the plan, then?

I’m just a bit peeved that I felt that my time was wasted at the rally. It was hastily organised, and you could tell — there wasn’t a proper route out of the stadium grounds [it was a tight squeeze to leave the inner workings of the place, from the field to the rafters]. People were edgy, and despite coming together for a unifying cause, I could see people scuffling about.

There were also encouraging signs. It’s always good to have throngs and throngs of people coming together and sharing positive vibes. And I’m all for that. My only issue is that there was no real plan. No agenda. No statement of intent. Nothing. Just a constant stream of chanting. It came to a point where I couldn’t hear anything anymore, though that was equally attributed to a lackluster sound system and a riled-up crowd.

I just wish that more could have been done. Something meatier, without the fat. I know that it was only 3 days after the election, but I’m quite convinced that the powers-that-be in the Opposition would already have been able to cook something up for us to sip on. Anything, really.

Are we going to start seeding out vote counters and election staff in the next election? Are we going to embark on some rural community outreach to explain why we want to vote for the Other Guy? What can we start formulating on to ensure that the majority doesn’t embark on another round of election fraud in the future? There’s no time like the present for the Opposition to tackle these problems. A blueprint should have been kickstarted on the night the power got blacked out.

We’re impatient. We need a solution: now.

[Yes, I know I’m harbouring on being a pure irritant, but it’s only because I have faith in the Opposition to provide hard, fast, final solutions in a jiff.]

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All in all, most people around you would probably state that they went to the 508 rally and loved it immensely.

Me? I felt like was the donkey that was being ridden hard, without a carrot dangling. Come on. At least give me a carrot.

Will The Real Dark Knight Please Stand Up?

I had the strange privilege of abusing my mediaish-ness to watch the press screening of The Dark Knight Rises yesterday morning. It’s been a year of constantly praising the lords for landing the FHM gig, and yesterday’s viewing most probably would’ve been the cherry on what’s already been a great celluloid-friendly year.

With the exception of The Avengers, but that’s another story.

The main thing on my mind after walking out was that it felt awfully convenient. Not unsatisfactory, but convenient. It tied up a lot of loose ends, gave us an epic-like sheen to the proceedings and ended on a iffy high note.

Look, to be frank, it’s simply not as good as The Dark Knight. I think a fair comparison for this would probably be Robert Rodriguez’s Mexico trilogy, and TDKR would be the spiritual cousin to Once Upon A Time In Mexico — where everything just culminates into a pot of celluloid stew, and it feels like the protagonist suddenly becomes a secondary player.

Yes, we expected it to be bigger. But I felt that it was a bit too much — as though there was too much fat to filter out from. It also felt a bit erratic, and there’s a good portion of the third act that just totally seemed unnecessary, and, to Nolan’s discredit, hokey.

What I liked? It’s got to be Gary Oldman, who’s still a bad-ass, even if he is substantially aged and mustachioed. And, uh, Anne Hathaway. She made an interesting Selina Kyle, but  to be fair, didn’t have that much to do.

But with all this said, it’s not a bad movie. It’s just that with the ghost of the second movie still freshly haunting us, TDKR feels a bit too rough around the edges. Here’s hoping that we get a super-duper Director’s Cut to look forward to.

All in all, Nolan’s closed his shift on his take on Batman in a great way, and it’ll leave you feeling good — but, shit, it could’ve been even better. The whole world is going to praise this movie, and I’ll probably be crucified amongst everyone I know for saying this, but…really, it could’ve been better.

(Why hasn’t he directed a Bond movie yet?)

Malaysian politics needs more matriarchs.

I’m all for equality, even though I skirt on things such as whether or not men should still be considered breadwinner numero uno (I obviously fall along with the 1% of Chinese men who think it’s okay not to do anything bread-winning — I don’t know how to bake).  Non-populist sentiments aside, Malaysian politics doesn’t have an Iron Lady with the “girth” of a Thatcher (where are you now, Rafidah?).

Here’s a bit of food for thought — happy eating.

Time to leave the kitchen — and still take the heat

MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2012 – 18:04
sumthin

THE year 2011 ended on a low note for women in Malaysia as the Minister for Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, got herself entangled in controversy involving members of her family and the National Feedlot Centre.

The only other woman minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, did not fare any better. Ng spent much of the year under pressure over her ministry’s exorbitant disbursement for a Facebook campaign to promote tourism.

In Pakatan Rakyat, Malaysia’s sole woman political party president, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail continued to be overshadowed by her male contemporaries and husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. In fact, in 2008 she resigned from her parliamentary seat and post as the country’s first ever woman opposition leader to make way for Anwar’s re-entry into politics.

Dr Wan Azizah’s position was an important one for women. Had Pakatan Rakyat won majority seats in Parliament in March 2008, Malaysia could have seen her first woman prime minister. Whatever the result in the upcoming general elections, it seems highly unlikely now that any woman politician would stand a chance at the premiership.

What shall we make of this then, when the upper echelons of women political leadership in Malaysia (that is, women in the position to shift national policies) fail to inspire the nation, much less bring radical change in national leadership? Perhaps we should look to civil society instead.

Bersih 2.0, whatever one’s views may be, was one movement that saw active women participation and leadership last year. Led by Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, the movement managed to force the formation of a parliamentary select committee to study the country’s electoral system, following a massive rally in Kuala Lumpur calling for electoral reform endorsed by more than 60 civil society organisations including several prominent women’s groups.

Nevertheless, Ambiga — and fellow Bersih 2.0 committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah — took a lot of heat for the event. Their secretariat based at the Empower office (an organisation that promotes women’s political participation) was raided by the police, and they too were eventually arrested.

This kind of harassment is not new as the women in Sisters in Islam would testify.

Alicia Izharuddin, a Malaysian post-graduate student in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said harassment is one of the main reasons women feel discouraged from participating in public discourse.

While this may be true, one might want to ask. At what cost to Malaysia?

Well, until and unless the average Malaysian woman participates in national discourse, child and forced marriages will continue to be sanctioned by the state. Our office space will continue to be unfriendly to working mothers and the trend of mass exodus among young professional women will persist at the expense of our economy and Wawasan 2020.

These are among the many outstanding issues that need to be addressed urgently in Malaysia. Organised women’s groups are doing all they can to affect change in an environment that continues to be resistant, despite all political talk of national transformation and calls to jom ubah (let’s change). They need help.

To put all our hopes for change in the hands of women politicians has proven to be futile. They seem so easily whipped as we have seen within their own parties and in federal and state legislative bodies. It is evident now more than ever that the average Malaysian woman must rise and take ownership of issues that concern them directly and the nation as a whole.

Malaysian women must be brave and actively join, if not initiate, positive discourse at their workplace, home, online and in the media. Ya, that also means possibly taking the heat and harassment that comes with it.

It is already 2012. The time to engage is now.

 

Bright and shiny things.

I’ve just installed the HyppTV box into my room, and I’ve got to say, I was pretty [un]impressed. At the very least, it gives me even more of an excuse to stay in my room and hermit-tate my life away.

An extra highlight of my day was learning that the staff at UniFi’s call centre actually do work on public holidays, with it being Deepavali today.

There’s a 30 meter cable that runs from the router here in the living room to my room upstairs — I went for maximum length overkill, because (i) I can’t really calculate distances with my naked eye and (ii) primarily because I’m Chinese.

I’m no networking specialist, but I can at least appreciate UniFi for being as fast as fuck right now. I’m just dreading that day when they announce a cap.

For the time being, it’s porno ahoy!