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.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Looking Onwards

Someone invited me today to a reunion of sort.

I thanked them for the invitation but I am not really a reunion kind of gal.

It is not because I am not appreciative of the invitation, but I have decided to move on and have no wish to look back or to reminisce on old times.

I decided months back to cut whatever ties I have with non-essentials and moved on with my life.

If the people I left in Johor had wanted to be in touch with me, they could have easily contacted me a long time ago as they had my number, and some actually did.

Most did not.

Those who did only because they wanted to use my skills for the benefit of people who have no appreciation for what I can produce for them.

For some reason or other, every time someone from my past gives me a call or sends me a message, I instinctively think to myself "What do they want now?" as I know for certain that it is not my person that they value but my skills with number crunching and data analysis.

I am not disappointed, just resigned.

As such, going to a reunion to meet up with people who have no regard for me as a person, only as a means to keep in touch in case they need my skills, seems such a waste of time.

Someone said its called "networking" but I call it phony.

I was in the business of "networking" once, and I know exactly why you have to "network" with people you detest and put up with the very things that make you detest them.

I am no longer in that business now, and I hope to God that I never have to "network" again.

Time waits for no one, and I have no wish to waste what time I have on hand on something that would be of no value to me or my loved ones, so a clean slate, a fresh start, and life goes on.


Monday, 8 December 2014

Clean Your Own House

I was going to write about Joe Biden's opinion about a particular case being tried in our courts as “Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal gives Malaysia a vital chance to make things right and promote confidence in its democracy & judiciary. -vp,”.

The twit also tweeted this “Amid growing US-Malaysia ties, Malaysian govt’s use of legal system & Sedition Act to stifle opposition raises rule of law concerns. -vp,”.

Since Chedet had already written what I wanted to write in as scathing a tone as he could manage as a statesman, I can only express my full agreement to Chedet here.

Well maybe he has to say something about international relations, and it is much easier to pick on small 3rd world countries that refused to allow their stooge to become Prime Minister.

Besides, it is altogether probable that Vice Presidents are only allowed to venture into international waters only in places not considered big enough or important enough to American interests - all the important stuff are reserved for presidential opining.

But Mr Biden, sir, didn't the Democrats lost significant number of seats to the GOP in the mid-term elections recently and lost control of both the House and the Senate to the Republicans?

Overall, the elections resulted in the largest Republican majority in the entire country in nearly a century, with 54 seats in the Senate, 246 (56.55%) in the House (which could rise to 247, or 56.78%), 31 governorships (62%), and 68 state legislative chambers. Moreover, Republicans gained their largest majority in the House since 1946, the largest majority in Congress overall since 1928, and the largest majority of state legislatures since 1928.
Source Wikipedia

Shouldn't that be of more concern to you?

Wouldn't addressing the matter that caused the Democrats' losses is far more relevant to your political career, or aren't you thinking of running for President of The United States of America, the one and only super power in the world, the one that decide what is wrong and what is right, who to destroy and who to bribe, which country to bomb to smithereens and who to be assassinated and sodomised?

If you become the next US President, you can opine on the state of much bigger countries, like Russia or Iran or China, and far bigger personalities like Putin and Ahmadinejad... far more impressive than throwing your support behind a geriatric who thinks he is much bigger than he actually is, or concerning yourself with Malaysia's Sedition Act that is neither as repressive nor as invasive as the USA Patriot Act.

So just leave us alone to deal with our situation the best way we can, because as I see it, all the countries where American brand of social liberation and democracy were touted as the cure for all social and political ills always end up in deep sxxx and never realise whatever form of social cohesion they were promised.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Rememberance

Today I received a call from an old college friend, whom I haven't seen for a long time.

The last time we chatted was when she called me to tell me that she didn't complete some of her courses that semester because her water broke during the finals exam week and only managed to sit for one paper.

And that was the reason Haze took a year off from full-time college to care for her baby.

It brought back memories of those carefree days when I was seventeen, young and naive, starting college in a foreign land away from family, home and everything familiar.

Haze, Indy and I were together almost from the first day that we met at the admission briefing.

As freshmen, we were required to stay at the dorms and despite being assigned different roomies, and aspiring to graduate with different degrees, we managed to spend an inordinate amount of time together.

It was just natural that when we were allowed to reside off-campus, the three of us decided to room together in a 3-bedroom rented apartment about four miles from college.

Haze was the attractive, vivacious one, tall and tanned with long wavy brown hair and an infectious laugh - she reminded me of Jennifer Lopez.

Indy was the more serious intellectual, petite and demure, with very fair skin and glossy black hair - looks very much like that actress Tiz Zakyah.

And I was like totally nondescript compared to them, although they insisted that I was an annoying Miss Know-It-All and just took control of every situation (I was just being practical, I don't know why they got annoyed when I was right most times).

Although we were so different in looks, personality and social background, and later took different directions in life, throughout the four years of college (Haze took one extra year to graduate because of her baby) we stayed close friends.

There were so many memories that we had together, some pretty hilarious.

There was that time when we were interviewed by the local papers and was featured in a pull out about summer school - Haze started receiving fan mail ...

What got her real scared was that one letter was written by a guy who was going to come and see her as soon as he was able to get out of jail where he was serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter.

She was even thinking of transferring out.

Then there was that time when Indy and I were featured on footage of the local television news about foreign students enrollment and Indy was indignant as she wasn't a foreign student.

She actually called the station to protest only to be told that I was obviously foreign in my baju kurung, she just happened to be there with me.

However, the most memorable to me personally was when I was accosted by some pervert as I was walking home (the bus was late so I decided to walk) from the nearby hospital where I was doing some volunteer work, taking a shortcut across some unsavory parts of the city.

I managed to make some self-defense moves that left him lying on the icy sidewalk, which I thought was awesome, but when I  bragged to the others as soon as I saw them, I got totally lambasted for being foolhardy.

They took me to the police station to make a report and got blasted by the police officer too, with the both of them nodding in agreement.

I lost contact with them when I went home and then began working in Britain while they continued pursuing their lives across the Atlantic.

I am so glad that Indy managed to get hold of me and shared my number with Haze.

And so this posting is for friends that you cherish, shared discoveries that you treasure, and lasting friendships that make you feel warm inside.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Thriving in the heavy rain ...


We have had a lot of rain lately and our plants are thriving because of it.



Yay! Two more banana baby trees growing sprightly and healthy.  They are just too cute.

My mother's maiden hair fern gets all drenched and droopy after every rain shower, but they look green and healthy with many new shoots that will grow bushier as they age.


Here are the two sansviera babies among the other ornamentals growing in our backyard while mama sansviera is producing another baby on the post box ledge.


The curry tree is now reaching the roof and badly needs trimming, which I am certain Yaya will do once the rainy season is over.



While in front, the rose bushes are growing very strong shoots and I hope we will have more deep pink roses once the rainy season is over while the blush pink roses are still flowering non-stop although not as abundantly now that the sky seems to be permanently overcast.

Here's a photo of a deep pink rose that I captured last month.



I really should go and snap better pictures, but I am just plain lazy to take off downstairs just to get better pictures at the moment.

Now, if I have the Canon EOS 70D that I have been drooling over, I might just be motivated to actually spend time getting better photos to put up here.

With a phone camera?  These are good enough.

By the way, I went to IOI Mall Putrajaya with my family last Sunday purposely to spend time at the Aeon Index Living Mall.

Aeon Index Living Mall is a joint venture between Aeon Malaysia and Thai furniture manufacturer and retailer Index Living Mall.

The prices seemed reasonable enough and the furniture designs are more Asian, hence far more pleasing to our family Asian aesthetics.

I do like a couple of things that I may just buy for my room, an iron bed frame and a chilli red swivel chair, now that I am more or less a permanent resident in my sister's house.

Yaya found many things she liked for the house too and are already making plans to create the space for them.

Oh, and parking is free!  At least for the moment ...