Thursday, 19 February 2015

Alma Mater

Today is a restful day without the kids as they are away at Daddy's.

It is literally a spring cleaning day for us, taking the opportunity to clean and clear things that we couldn't possibly do in peace with the children underfoot.

It reminded me of the times when I was in school and we would be having our weekly house cleaning day, the inspection that followed which will lead to being awarded points that will then be added up to our academic and sports achievements for the competition between houses for the Best House award at year end.

It became my home for most of my growing up years, and despite having moved on with my life, I sometimes find myself going back to look it up from time to time, which is truly unlike me.

That was the place where I first learned how to be an independent person - I washed my own clothes and school shoes, learned how to iron my school uniform properly (I never bothered with the rest of my clothes), do my own bed in the mornings, and scrubbing toilets every month when it came to our turn during the weekly house cleaning exercise.

It was also the place where I began to explore my creative side.

While other girls vie for places in performances, I tended to prefer the making up of costumes and stage props.

While the girls were busy connecting with other schools, hosting visits from other schools and getting all excited with school outings, I took any opportunity to sleep in as heaven sent.

The only time I was involved in any social event was a day when we were invited to too many schools and there were not enough senior girls to go to all the places at the same time, so I was told to spruce up and be sociable because a military school was hosting us girls for the day.

I took a book, about Stalin's life if I was not mistaken, just in case I needed to read a book to pass the time.

It wasn't a disastrous outing, but I was on my best behaviour and kept mostly quiet and nodded at everything.

I bet the boy who was my attendant that day thought I was the most uninteresting and vapid girl he had the misfortune to attend to.

Life at school was very regimented; there was a bell for everything, and we were only allowed to wear jeans on Sunday - imagine a teenager not allowed to wear jeans every hour of the day, let alone modifying them with our personal stamp of creative self-expression.

The days were full of activities, the nights were largely reserved for study, the weekends for personal recreation and rest.

I was also a loner, in the sense that friendships formed in school stayed there and never strayed into my personal life - I never shared stories of my family with school friends and I rarely talk about school friends at home.

It wasn't like I wasn't involved with all the usual activities - I was very enthusiastic when it came to cheering for the school whenever there was a home game, or when our debate teams won prestigious competitions.

I just never had BFFs or even a clique.

It was really weird that I never formed any lasting friendships from my school years considering that I spent more time with those girls than I did with my own family during those years.

I even stayed at the dorms during holiday breaks as going home for public holidays would not be practical for me.

Maybe because from the very beginning I was reminded of what my goal was, and it wasn't to look for friendships, although I doubt that was what my dad wanted of me.

My dad's words to me before he left on that morning of registration stayed with me until today,

"... the only reason you are going to this school, so far from home, is because it is a privilege to be chosen to study in the best school in this country so you must study hard, discover your potential, do not stray from that, do not get distracted from your goal, to be the best that you can be ..."

Maybe I just took it too far.

Or maybe I was just a weird kid and grew up to be a weird person.

But I did very well, academically and I admit that I learned a lot about being focused, about being disciplined and about striving to excel in everything that we do.

That was what my alma mater was all about, life long excellence.

But now those school buildings are now occupied by another school and it is rather strange and sad seeing some of those buildings being called by a different name ... okay I confess, I looked up that school's facebook.

I bet the dorms have different names too.

I stopped going further because somehow it is just uncomfortable to realise how affected I am to know that the school where I grew up in looks the same but is no longer the same and that the connection is now truly dead.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Elitism

From my point of view, this was a straight forwards case of a man committing sexual assault on his own staff member.

The victim lodged a police report against him.

The police conducted a thorough investigation on the case.

The Attorney General office decided that they have a case to prosecute.

What about justice for the victim of the assault?

There was no doubt that the deed took place; that was what this case was all about.

Would the Courts be deemed fair and justice is served if they had just buried the case and left the victim to deal with the trauma and stigma on his own?

Those of you who cried foul over the Malaysian Court's  decision in the Anwar Ibrahim's conviction of sodomising his aide seems to have your own interpretation of justice.

And that include the various foreign governments who saw it fit to judge the Malaysian Courts simply because their man was found to be guilty of a criminal act according to Malaysian laws.

In fact, I find the hypocrisy of those governments who consider their laws, and by inference their ways, to be superior to others' that they feel it is perfectly alright to insultingly dictate how we should conduct ourselves while preaching freedom of expression and free will to be downright nauseating.

They find nothing wrong in their attempt to dictate our government to intervene in the Courts' decision over a criminal case and allow their man to evade being tried in our Courts of Justice, and yet here they are accusing our government of manipulating the Courts for political gains.

In the face of overwhelming evidence that was presented by the prosecution that the deed was indeed committed by the accused, what makes them think that their man was innocent when his defense was never substantiated with clear evidence for the Courts' consideration?

I am now even more fully convinced that to them, justice is only served if they and their own are allowed to do whatever they wish regardless of how they impinge on the rights of others.

Criminal justice is only applicable to others, whereas they are governed by their own laws of "everything we do is right because others do not have rights" no matter how self serving their actions are.

They act like they belong in a separate class, the elites that deserve to walk all over people, dictate how we live our lives, force their own convictions to override our own belief system and cultural values while they insist that they themselves are not to be subjected to the laws of the people of the land.

Which makes them nothing more than just hypocrites and whatever they stand for is simply a sense of elitism, a set of rules for themselves, apart and above from the rest of humanity.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Guilty

And so he is found guilty by the courts ...

I really hope this will end the noxious drama that has been going on for years.

There are better things to occupy the front pages of our newspapers than the drama involving the greatest drama queen of all time.

Maybe now we can spend our precious time on more important matters and issues that benefit the rakyat instead of continuous political grandstanding by irrelevant politicians that add no value to the quality of life of the public in general.

I really don't get the public's fascination for him ... he is just a washed out irrelevant political animal who refuses to accept that his time is up.

Besides, he had his chances in the 90s and he squandered his opportunities back then.

During our regular chats, my journalist brother and his friends told me stories of what happened during those period of political decadence within Umno.

I also listened to the stories circulating around my politically active friends back then when I was in Johor.

I have a great respect for Dr Mahathir for I think he is brilliant and all that, but I do blame him for the ascension of Anwar Ibrahim in the 80s and 90s where he developed his brand of insidious political network of corruption and money politics that is now pervasive in Umno.

From my perspective, what happened to him when he lost it all and how it happened is something he needs to ponder upon in these twilight years of his.

I believe that everything in this world is pre-destined according to Allah's Design, and how we walk that road towards the destination that has been pre-determined is a matter of making choices on how to get there.

Whether we get to that destination full of Allah's Favor and Blessings, or we reach that same destination full of shame and Allah's Condemnation, is dependent upon the kind of choices we make as we journey towards the end.

And that is precisely where I differ from Machiavelli's "The End Justifies The Means".

To me, the means is the reason for our living, the end is just that, The End.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Passing On

Received word that an aunt passed away earlier this week.  Al Fatihah.

I couldn't make it to the funeral but I just added her name to the list of names on my Yaasin dedication.

Feeling a bit sad tonight, redha, but still sad, thinking of Mom and Dad and how things used to be when they were still around.

I wish that I had been a more obedient child.

Dad wanted me to take up medicine, the only time he ever attempted to suggest anything major, but I had other ideas.

Mom was happy for me whatever I decided.

That was the only major regret that I have, if only I wasn't too lazy to study medicine, I would probably have made my Dad happier.

Al Fatihah for Mom, Dad and my brothers who had passed away.

Al Fatihah too for me and mine who are still living.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Reading and Thinking

The case of Eric Paulsen got me thinking.

In my mind, there is no mistaking that this fella is an extremist.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition

extreme

 noun
: either one of two opposite conditions, feelings, positions, etc., that are thought of as being far from what is normal or reasonable
: an amount or degree that is far beyond what is normal or reasonable


Online dictionary.reference.com definition


noun

1.
a tendency or disposition to go to extremes or an instance of going to extremesespecially in political matters:
leftist extremism; the extremism of the Nazis.

Nowadays, I listen to khutbah Jumaat at Masjid Negara every Friday on TV1, and there was nothing extreme about what was being preached in the khutbah.

The nearest I could consider as political were the calls to strengthen the ummah, for the ummah to be united against any forms of aggression, to strengthen our aqidah, and not to forget the economic empowerment of Muslims, which were all important messages since the times of Muhammad S.A.W. who was himself involved in trade/business.

Is he then implying that Islamic traditions itself is preaching extremism?

Extremism is not just about taking up arms and killing people.

It is also about one's world view, state of mind, shared opinions, belief system and even faith that take one's perspectives of what is right and what is wrong, and to take that to the extreme ends from the middle point of non-commitment such that they are willing to kill or die for their extreme commitment.

All the more reason why the Moderation Movement being headed by Saifuddin Abdullah and The Star should be viewed with caution if not alarm as to what exactly are they trying to define as the middle point from where extremism is going to be measured in this country.

The problem with the majority of us Malaysians is that we rarely think about the true meaning of extremism; instead, we tend to take in whatever we read or hear and form our opinions and judgments from there.

In some instances, even the opinions or judgments were not ours, but fed into our belief system by others whom we thought to be cleverer than us.

We are just plain lazy to think about what really matters - one can be too lazy to write, too lazy to speak, too lazy to go clubbing, but a human being of the faith should never be too lazy to read and to think.

Thinking is the basis of how we make our decisions on how to live our lives, so if one were to leave the thinking to others, we are no different than a herd of cattle being herded to the slaughterhouse.

Leaving our thinking to others is akin to refusing to utilise the 'akal that Allah gave us as human beings to think for ourselves, the one characteristic that distinguishes human from animal.

We were encouraged to listen to and take guidance from teachers, yes, but we were also encouraged to learn from as many sources as possible and form an educated opinion about matters pertaining to our faith and our way of life and referring to teachers who are knowledgeable.

My wish is for Malaysians to begin looking at things from multiple perspectives, from worldviews that are different from our traditional ones, to put ourselves in other people shoes, and form our opinions based on what is right and wrong according to our faith in its basic form, not the one that have been corrupted by prejudices and bias.


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Interior Renewal

With the kids still holidaying with Daddy in Japan and won't be back until Monday, Yaya and I decided to continue with our "Interior Renewal Project".

I know, it is far easier to send chairs to be re-upholstered by professionals and buying store-assembled furniture, but we have always enjoyed doing these things ourselves although we are not crazy enough to actually make the furniture from scratch.

That's the reason why we bought most of our furniture at Ikea because assembling them ourselves is fun.  It is like putting together a 3D puzzle - a Lego game for grown-ups.

All our curtain rails and wall shelves were put up by Yaya, while our sofa, tables and chairs were also self-assembled by yours truly.

Yaya even re-tiled our kitchen and painted the dining room walls all by herself.

Nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing our handiwork being used around the house.

This morning it was re-upholstering the dining chairs.

We bought these chairs from Ikea's "AS IS" section when they were clearing out their display items last year (or was it 2013 - it was a long time ago) so they were already assembled, but the off-white seating covers looked really dingy after a while, what with 2+1 kids and their grubby hands all over them.

I had about 2 meters of damask fabric (something I found in the remnant bin at Jakel some 3 years ago in JB) that Yaya deemed suitable to replace the seating covers that came with the chairs.

I always buy these fabric remnants when I find them - just in case I needed them for some such projects. My present bedroom curtains were made up from fabric remnants.

I did all the dismantling and re-assembling of the said chairs while Yaya prepared the new covers on her sewing machines.

While I was at it, I also assembled a couple of stools and a side table that we got from Ikea last Monday.

Then we re-organised the store room, re-arranged the kids' toys and preparing their schoolbooks in preparation for the new school year.

All in all, it has been a rather productive day.


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Perseverance

2014 has generally been a disastrous year for Malaysian government.

We've had air disasters, floods and political strife.

It has been an extremely challenging time for the Prime Minister especially, although the political strife originated partly from his own policies and decision-making processes.

It is easy to put the blame on someone, and the Prime Minister and his First Lady are easy targets.

He is currently under attack from all directions that I find it amazing that he had maintained a fairly dignified stand amid all the abuse being hurled his way.

I can understand if the attacks come from pro-Opposition politicians, but to have his own party members attacking him and spreading lies about his wife is rather sad.

I disagree with some of his decisions and policies, but 5 years into his administration has not turned this country into a disaster zone.

One can hardly blame him for the air disasters or the flooding.

One cannot entirely blame him either for the present political strife within UMNO and BN - he wanted to make a difference and yet he has to work within the constraints of the present administrative bureaucracy and the political culture within his party.

Understanding the constraints that he is facing, and the less than desirable result of his trying to avoid addressing these constraints to maintain his liberal stance, I can only hope that the changes that he wishes to make happen, happen soon.

Now that I can see for myself what some of the so-called leaders within Umno are capable of doing and what they generally lack, I am seriously not surprised that our Prime Minister is making changes in the way Malaysia is governed.

Through the massive number of ministers and consultants in the PMO and with almost every development initiatives originating from it, we are seeing a new style of governing.

I have no opinion on how we are governed, as long as it is not by adhering to the Machiavellian principle of "the end justifies the means" as I find that particularly abhorrent.

As for Datuk Najib, my one wish is for him to persevere in instituting those changes he wishes to make as he is now way too deep into it and to back off now would be even more disastrous for him, his party and our country.


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Arrogance

I don't understand why some people need to use excessive expletives to express themselves when ordinary words can be used to better effect in displaying one's arrogance, superiority complex and ingrained racism.

Case in point is a comment that I read recently in Annie's latest piece about a Hong Kong Drama 

Just look at this comment by an anonymous commenter which I copied from Annie's comment section - 

The world knows which race can manage the country better (except where it concerns Islam and Malay customs); but most Chinese can accept having Malays to be the majority in government provide they govern reasonably; after all, this is a Malay majority country.

The world knows which race can manage the country better??? 

The world knows???  The entire whole wide world???

Except where it concerns Islam and Malay customs, of course.

You don't really expect such a superior race would deign to dirty their superior selves with any form of knowledge or understanding of the faith and sensitivities of the lower classes of the sub-human species that call themselves Melayu, do you?

If these Melayu got offended or their sensitivities trampled on, they have no right to fight back or defend their faith and customs because their faith, customs and way of life are just inferior to the Chinese, hence they should just take it like the sub-standard beings that they are.

That commenter must have shuddered at the thought that any superior being is expected to have to cater for the sensitivities of the lowly Muslims and Malays when deciding on something or when he/she is saying anything.

Probably that's the reason why some of these superior beings never, ever considered the sensitivities of the Muslims and Malays be it in their statements or in their acts.

When there are Muslims and Malays who fight back to defend they faith and customs amid the provocations?

Oh, those are the bigots, extremists, racists, you name it .. it has all been said and implied before.

.. most Chinese can accept having Malays to be the majority in government provide they govern reasonably; after all this is a Malay majority country.

Provided they govern reasonably??  By the standards defined by the superior race, I suppose?

Wow, such condescension from someone I can presume to be a member of the superior race.

How arrogant can one of these superior beings get? 

Oh you poor eminent Malays and liberal Malays of the Noor Farida, KJ and Saifuddin variety, you people most of them can accept to be part of the government because this is a Malay majority country after all, not because they believe that you are truly capable and at par with their kind, but because they think you can govern reasonably by their standards, i.e. you share their views that Malays who practice their culture and faith are inferior to the Chinese.

Mind you, only most, not all, which means there are members of the superior race who cannot accept even you liberal Malay bleeding hearts as part of the government either.

See, the problem with racists, they don't realise how racist they are because their racism is so ingrained in their psyche, in their culture, in their belief system, that they freely and shamelessly expose their racism while at the same time label everyone else who hold different views as racists.

I can go on and analyse further how every word in just that one paragraph was constructed to reflect the state of mind of this particular commenter at Annie's blog, but why bother continuing to do something that makes me feel only sick and disgusted, when the commenter obviously felt no shame in displaying his/her unhealthy state of mind?


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Superior


I went to the nearest nursery to buy some potting soil this morning.

My palms needed re-potting as they had outgrown their pot.

I had been meaning to re-pot them since last week, but we ran out of potting soil, and so I had to buy some before I can give  them a new home.

We used to be able to get 7 bags of garden soil for ten ringgits, but today I was told that I must pay two ringgits for every bag, no matter how many I bought.

Since my beloved Kentia really needed a new pot to call home, and I am not particularly good at haggling, I went ahead and bought five bags anyway.

The Bangladesh national who served me was the only worker there, and he actually handled the cash register too.

We have so many foreign nationals working in this country and making a good living too.

The other day, Yaya told me she went to a shop nearby because she needed something urgently for the house and was served by a Bangladesh national who was absolutely fluent in Bahasa Melayu that she thought he had been here for years.

The conversation went something like this -

Yaya: Bagus la Bahasa Melayu awak.  Dah lama ke duduk sini?

Amer: Lama juga la kak.

Yaya: Ya ke?  Dah berapa tahun dah duduk sini?

Amer : Tujuh bulan kak.

Yaya: (Jaw dropped) ... Tapi Bahasa Melayu awak bagus betul.

Amer: Bukan susah nak belajar Bahasa Melayu.  Saya beli buku, belajar, cakap dengan orang yang datang beli di sini, tiga bulan saya dah boleh cakap macam ni.  Saya lebih pandai cakap Melayu dari boss saya.

This is not an isolated case - I have met quite a number of them myself.

I am beginning to conclude that these Bangladesh nationals are actually far smarter and more diligent, or in a single word, superior, than Malaysians who still cannot construct proper sentences in Bahasa Malaysia let alone speak fluently in the national language despite being born and bred here.

Oh by the way, here's a photo of my re-potted palms.



Pretty, aren't they?

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Resigned

Apparently everyone is saying something about 1MDB.

Someone even asked me about what I think about the matter and even shared some juicy tidbits he got through his network.

My policy is, unless I have clear irrefutable evidence about anything, I will not offer an opinion either way.

Since the possibility of my getting anything of substance in the form of information or data about 1MDB is practically none, it looks like I would never opine on 1MDB, so I told him "I have no opinion on the matter".

I do keep track of the matter on the side, of course - I can't help it, tracking such things has become a habit I suppose - so I am not completely unaware of the stories revolving around 1MDB and the characters associated with it.

I do admit that if what I read were true, I do find their investment decisions rather dubious.

However, one must admit that the characters involved with 1MDB tend to be the type usually associated with the classy educated liberals of the Saifuddin and KJ kind - definitely not the Umno totok or Isma types who are classified by the classy educated liberal urbanites as "low class" rural bumpkins.

So maybe my low class non-eminent brain cannot decipher the brilliance behind their decisions.

I doubt that kicking Umno out and voting Pakatan in would make  GLCs investment more transparent, and based on how Pakatan-controlled states run their GLCs, I feel the situation will probably be worse.

Reading this article at dissidentvoice.org caused me to be resigned to the fact that regardless of who is in power, the elites will continue to accumulate greater wealth, while the middle to low income households continue to struggle to make ends meet, and the upper middle income liberal leftists continue to shout stridently for UBAH to their various versions of utopia, while the "eminent" Malays will continue to live their lives in the comfort of their pensioned cocoon reliving past glories and imagined goodwill.

On the global scale, we are just as much a subject of foreign manipulation as everyone else, and that won't change any time soon.