Thursday, February 17, 2011

Week 4

Malaysia makes international headlines again.. Shit.

Every time Malaysia makes international headlines, I get worried. And then I try to bury my head in the ground. So, what has Malaysia done this time around? Another pot of political gumbo? Surprisingly, not quite. This time, Malaysia tried to ban Valentines' Day.
I know. What, the .
On Friday (11 February 2011), the city Islamic Department (Jawi) and the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) delivered a sermon in mosques banning Muslims from celebrating Valentines' Day, as it was apparently a "Christian tradition". They also accused Jews and Christians of continually trying to "deceive Muslims" and will "do anything to undermine the Muslim's belief and personality".
International news channels such as BBC and Al-Jazeera caught on with this headache-inducing incident, and honestly, as much as I love this country, I am honestly embarrassed when things like this happen. Who wants to be associated with a country that blames another religion that is not it's official religion for it's shortcomings and downfalls?
Of course, PAS Youth just had to put in its two cents worth. PAS Youth came forward to insist that they would continue their "mission to save the young (read : Muslims)" from immoral activities and the like.
Obviously, not all Malaysian Muslims agree with this move. Some say that Valentines' day is harmless, and it is futile trying to put a ban on it. Besides, immoral activities do not ONLY occur on Valentines' Day. Honestly. Why do you think budget hotels are open all year round, at such low prices?
I think I'll go dig a hole in the floor of my house now, and pretend this nonsense isn't happening.

Hosni Mubarak gets the message, finally.

After ruling the country for 30 years, President Hosni Mubarak finally steps down from his "Pharoah"-like reign. This happened on Friday, 11 February 2011. However, the complete transition of power is still unclear to the people of Egypt, as during his speech, Hosni Mubarak said that he has transferred all his power to the vice president of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, but Mubarak still remains "de jure head of state", while the Omar Suleiman is now the "de facto president".
However, during his speech, hundreds of demonstrators that had gathered in a Cairo square to witness the speech were ecstatic to hear that Mubarak was leaving, and were chanting, "Leave! Leave!" even while the speech was going on.
President Obama released a statement after Mubarak's speech saying that the Egyptian government had better clarify what they mean by the transition of power soon, so that the country can work on regaining its stability, which has been on the rocks ever since the protests against Mubarak started.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

February 4th, 2011

Egypt, Let My People Go!

Over the past week, people all over the globe have been watching closely as the situation in Egypt becomes progressively worse and none more closely than the people of Malaysia. Over 11,000 Malaysian citizens, most of whom are students studying medicine in Egypt, were, for lack of better word, trapped in Egypt and had no way of contacting their friends and family back here (no) thanks to the ban on the Internet and the limitations on foreign contact.

Thankfully, the Malaysian government has acted upon this massive problem, and has so far evacuated more than 6,800 Malaysians from Egypt to Jeddah. The operation, codenamed "Operation Pyramid", has so far been a success despite the extended curfew and other glitches. The Royal Malaysian Air Force, AirAsia and MAS have been deploying planes since the beginning of the week for the evacuation exercise.

According to Najib, the first group of Malaysians should be arriving in Kuala Lumpur from Jeddah on Monday. When asked about the total cost of evacuation, Najib reassures the parents of the formerly-stranded students that the government would be completely responsible for it.

For some reason, Najib has released a statement calling for an end to the violence and bloodshed in Egypt and stresses on the importance of democracy. How he expects this to have any impact on the impending doom that is Egypt is beyond me, but we are thankful for his relatively-swift action in evacuating our people from the crisis-stricken country.

Egypt.. 'Nuff said.

The whole week has been filled with news about Egypt and demonstrations and Egypt and protesters and Egypt and arson and Egypt and.. Well, you get the picture. President Hosni Mubarak seems to be adamant in refusing to budge from his position of power, and the people of Egypt are getting tired of him, more tired than they already were. In the middle of the week, we saw violent acts carried out by pro-Mubarak protesters (notice how all the pro-Mubarak protesters are men of a certain age.. Not a single woman or child in sight. Coincidence? I think not! Hired, most probably), including footage of a van plowing into a group of people who were crossing the street and even reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown into crowds of protesters in attempt to disperse the campaign.

Most recently was the demonstration held in Tahrir Square, Cairo, where a fight broke out between the anti- and the pro-Mubarak protesters, resulting the the death of five people and wounding several hundred demonstrators.

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28th 2011

Sushi Abuse

What started as a video posted up on Facebook that went viral has resulted in an online investigation declared by animal-lovers all over the globe. The fifteen-minute showed a man abusing a toy poodle by forcing it to stand on its hind legs, and punishing it violently when it failed to do so numerous times. This has triggered an onslaught of angry re-postings of the video and rage-filled threats against the man should he be found. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has joined the unofficial online "investigation" and is appealing to the public for more information on the perpetrator's identity and whereabouts.

There have been a couple of men accused of being the abusers, but until now, the real abuser has yet to be brought into justice. One of the accused is businessman Johnson Kang, 44, who received over 130 phone calls, some of which were death threats. Kang, who is an SPCA Malacca member, is shocked and angry at the person who created a Twitter account using his number under the name of the man believed to be the accuser. He does not know who did it, but has already lodged police reports, and hopes the real culprit will be caught soon so that he can clear his name once and for all.

Mubarak, GTFO!

Following closely behind Tunisia's political turmoil is Egypt. They want Mubarak out, and they want him out right now. Tens of thousands of Egyptians stormed the streets of Cairo in a protest to shoo Hosni Mubarak out of his position of power. The battle zone that was once Cairo was filled with scenes of policemen shooting rubber bullets and releasing tear gas in an effort to drive the massive crowd into submission, but the gung-ho protesters were not to be deterred. The presence of so many Egyptians during the protests has shocked everyone, including the protesters themselves, who did not expect the turn-out to be so incredibly massive.

Hosni Mubarak has been ruling over Egypt for three decades now, and the people of Egypt are tired of him and his corrupted officials. He has reacted to the revolt by establishing a number of restrictions, including a curfew and a ban on the Internet. How he expects this to quell the rising anger and impatience of his people is anyone's guess.

Unfortunately, these means that our Malaysian students are stuck. Thousands of students who are mostly studying medicine in Egypt have no way out of the riotous country and have limited connection to the outside world, let alone connection to home.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 21, 2011


With Malaysian politics, it's always an adventure. This year, the upcoming general elections are causing quite a stir, and currently, the by-election in Tenang, Johor has been the hottest news topic this week. It will be held on the 30th of January, 2011, and will be the first by-election held in Johor since the March 2008 general election.

The Tenang parliamentary seat became vacant when the previous state assemblyman, Datuk Sulaiman Taha of United Malay's National Organization (UMNO) passed away due to complications caused by diabetes, including a blood infection.

Wrestling for the seat now are political parties Pakatan Rakyat (PAS) and Barisan Nasional (BN). PAS has selected Normala Sudirman as their candidate, who is a former teacher, as well as the first woman candidate in a by-election. BN on the other hand, has selected Mohd Azahar, a former assistant district officer who hails from Labis.

The Tenang by-elections are a tense affair, and winning the seat would be extremely important to both parties for separate reasons.


Australia has been hit by the worst floods it's seen since 1993. It also happens to be the most expensive natural disaster to have ever occured to the land down under. Damages recorded are believed to cost up to $30 billion.

The floods have devastated Queensland and Victoria the most. In Queensland, the estimated death toll has reached about 33 people with 20 people reported dead this month, while 9 people are believed to be missing. More than 6000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes. According to Premier Anna Bligh, 5400 homes have been destroyed in Queensland, and another 21000 homes and buildings have flood damage. However, tourism minister Peter Lawlor says that none of the tourism hotspots were affected by the floods, and tourists can even help alleviate the costs for the damages in Queensland by booking a holiday.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, it is believed that about one-quarter of the entire state has been flooded, and several main roads have been barred due to the dangers caused by the floodwaters. There have been hundreds of people who have no choice but to sleep in emergency shelters because their homes are currently uninhabitable. Unfortunately, in the midst of this crisis, there are reports of unscrupulous people who are attempting to make some easy cash out of this disaster. The public has been warned to be careful and to check the ID's of workmen who arrive and "offer" to do repairs. There have been reports of tradesmen who ask to be paid up front, and then disappear mysteriously with the money, leaving the victims helpless and feeling even worse about their already-awful situation.

Portrait sketch in words of well, me.

I can't quite remember how old I was when this exchange of information occurred. I must have been old enough to be able to remember it now, but young (and naïve) enough to believe in it. I remember standing in a corridor outside my classroom when I overheard a friend talking under her breath about tongues and babies. Curious, I went over to her and another girl she was whispering to and asked what they were talking about. Her eyes widened and she leaned closer to me, and said, “When a boy's tongue goes into a girls mouth, the girl becomes pregnant and can have a baby!” Completely ignorant of how babies were made, and utterly disgusted by the mere idea of some boy sticking his tongue into my mouth, I believed her until I was about 9 years old, when I found that the process of baby-making was not nearly as simple as tongues in mouths.

When I was 11 years old, after learning what sex was, I remember being in my youth group in church, and learning about boys and girls. The differences, the characteristics we acquire as we get older, the social boundaries the church intended to implement, the sins that we would be committing should we decide to disobey said boundaries. For instance, boys were to keep a respectful distance between themselves and a fellow female Christian at all time. Close proximity was not an option, and even sitting next to a member of the opposite sex would raise questions and eyebrows. Girls were not to wear clothes that were too tight, too skimpy, too suggestive so that our brothers in Christ would not be tempted to sin. Any rebellious behaviour will be brought to the attention of the pastor and both parties would be counselled till they have learned the error of their ways and repent, sinners, repent!

At least, that's what it sounded like to my 11-year old self. The way I understood it then was different from the way I understand it now. The same concept applies to just about everything else I've learned over the years. I understand now that the information I have consumed over the course of my seemingly short life has not really changed – I've just learned to understand, perceive and process this information in a different, more complicated manner. Information consumed during a certain period of time changes the way one thinks, acts and basically lives their lives during that particular period of time. For instance, the knowledge of how babies are made and the, ahem, processes involved didn't affect me as much as it does now as compared to when I was 2 years old.

Has the information I've consumed over the years shaped me into the person I am today? Of course. But what kind of person is that? What kind of information have I been consuming? Would you consider being well-informed about the going-ons of the fashion world as important, or constructive to one's character and personality? If I told you that I was, admittedly, somewhat ignorant about what happens in politics but knowledgable when it comes to music, would you label me as dumb, or naïve? Perhaps.I suppose you could say that that particular type of information does not appetise nor tickle my tastebuds. But I am still willing to sample new 'flavors' and 'cuisines', and hopefully, learn from these experiences.