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Monday, March 10, 2008

Images: Recap on the March’s Magic... with Banana Milkshakes

I was in a busy frenzy that last Saturday.

Well, actually, no I wasn’t.

It was just that it’s an empty-empty hours that there was nothing to do but make homework and banana milkshakes.

Mm-mmm... creamy milkshakes...

Okay, enough photo-whoring. Sadly to say that due to the lack of online connections, I am stuck with my old basket of picture goodies instead of something really nice and new for you to drool over (budget student, maaah...).

So this week’s (belated) images is a tribute to the very beautiful painting-like picture by Joey B of DeviantArt.Com.

Though I had stated in last weekend’s image that I don’t much have any particularity for angels, I do have a certain obsessive-ness for birds. Winged predators, descendants of dinosaurs.

In fantasy, what’s the greatest bird creature than the phoenix?

Copyright Joey B

Every month I have a poll on the blog’s sidebar. I write better if I have something I could visualize with and thus, I look around for something really nice. Under Characters, I chose this pretty phoenix image.

I wanted to find an image that had some painting-like quality, instead of the clear-cut precision of the more popular pictures. Joey B calls it an ‘ice phoenix’ and I agree... though what I will write about it in my monthly fiction would be my own story.

The funny thing is that my monthly fiction didn’t have a clearly defined structure. My one main character, Ireulun, has a history, a family and a purpose in her journeys but who she was in connection to the readers is something I’ve yet to convey.

How long had she been travelling? How old was she? Even her last name is still kind of blurry. I decided when I write of her, it’ll be more towards the environment of the story, the concept I had about the picture I found and selected for the month, rather than a clue to her mysterious identity.

Maybe someday I’ll figure out who I can make her to be.

... I'll think about that as soon as I finish this milkshake.

Being Malay - Might May 13th History Repeat?

Surprise, surprise.

Actually, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. The time of Barisan Nasional’s absolute power has now been threatened with a bombshell result in which, in the words of PAS leader, Nik Aziz, ‘It’s a tsunami.’

Imagine that. Opposition won five states! Five! That’s more-or-less one third of the all states in this little cultural soup of a nation. It’s the biggest general election shocker since 1969 and the first real shaker for BN since the independence.

Granted, word on the news channel says that 4.9 million Malaysians didn’t join the voting society. Me thinks these consist of the youngest crew, the first-time voters of ages 22-30 fellows. Politics in the younger generation is just not so as serious to them as the forefathers did.

Ironic, considering it’s the younger crew that shaped the future.

With this attitude, 10 or 20 years down the line and I wonder how much will things change. Or stay the same. Without the 2/3 majority in the winnings, the ruling party now can’t make around new laws without inspection by the Opposition.

At last, a real parliamentary debate! Let’s just hope nobody throws any literal punches while they’re at it *cough*Taiwan*cough*. Not especially since most of the seat holders nowadays are newbies with good arms and small experience.

Well, yeah, call me a hypocrite if you wish. I myself am not so politically or nationally fancy (then again, I haven’t even got a job yet, let alone am qualified to pay taxes). So my opinion may not cover anything. But the truth is that I’m a bit... worried is too strong a word. Apprehensive? Anxious?

The last time an Opposition wins on this major scale was in 1969. DAP, aka, the Rocket Party, won a majority in Penang, just as they do now, this 2008 year. But... I don’t know what to think really, when I heard the news.

I just have to be thankful that each of all our races is now more open-minded than they were some 30 years ago.

Like I said, I’m not a political party member. I don’t have a real bias towards any party, no real vision to how the winning party might influence the way the country works in the next few years or so. Except that we should keep the peace.

I like the peace. I enjoy eating and not living on the streets.

30 years ago is nothing like Malaysia today.

There weren’t a lot of sharing of cultures like today, where Chinese, Indians and Malays can sit and eat the same restaurant in the heart of KL. Back then, there was a lot of racism. Polarisation in residential areas. The Chinese holds 90% of the nation’s economic business (freaking 90%!) because they’re good at it. Prior to the elections of 1969, those in Penang won’t sell anything to the Malays or the Indians.

Because that’s just the way things are 30 years ago.

There aren’t any Malay rights, no hak bumiputera back then. Malays, after centuries under the oppressive Western rule, suddenly found themselves with a freedom to build a nation. They’ve been farmers and miners for generations. There’s always some foreign ‘Resident’ to report to. Heck, now... they don’t know where to start. Blur and confused, and most sad of all, totally uneducated.

And that how the other races took advantage.

I hope I don’t offend anybody at this point. This was 30 years ago and we Malays are just damn stupid and confused people. Indians, those shipped in by the British to work, have families and connections back in their homeland. So does the Chinese, even more so because of their strong trading background.

But Malays are being left out. They don’t know how to develop big business, except being an underling.
Factory worker.
Office assistant.
Working class and big business all belonged to the Chinese and the Indians because they got the guts and the willpower to survive leaving their homeland and crave a niche in a young foreign nation. A nation they can help build. Opportunities beckons.

So when the DAP won Penang in 1969, there was a parade on the Penang streets. It was a very nice celebrative parade too. But racial tolerance was... pretty slim. Freedom of speech was more open then but less controlled. DAP was fully owned by the Chinese people. Penang was full of Chinese due to the multi-cultural society we got cooked in this trading archipelago.

As they celebrated over the BN, the Malay-majority party, it was not a really nice kind of celebration... for a Malay. The party took to the streets and called out racial slurs against the Malays.

They laughed at how much better they were and that all Malays ought to serve them. They even carried brooms, swinging and waving them, saying that they’re going to sweep the Malays back into the jungle where they belong.

Throw this group of happy-go-lucky people into present day Malaysia... I don’t know actually. Would today’s Chinese be tolerant of them? Were we Malays back then was that bad? Would the Indian community be involved?

I’m guessing yeah. Heck, proof was in the economy and the standard of living. The other races were way ahead of the Malays way, waaaaay back then. Malays, you see, are at the risk of losing what being Malay was.

In terms of education, economy, land rights and scholarships, the other races of very young Malaysia are making Malays the same way what the Americans had turned the Red Indians into today; a lost sub-culture.

The same isolation in development had also suppressed and nearly destroyed the Australian aborigines by the Australian’s European descendants. New Zealand nearly killed the Maoris with polarisation just as the Spanish had destroyed the native South Americans (albeit, more literally).

Yet Malays were in Malaysia first.

By now I think I might have offended a few readers. I apologise if my writing had caused any harm to feelings to my fellow Indians and Chinese blog readers but I won’t retract my words in my blog. Because I don’t want to ignore or forget the significance what had happened in May 13, 1969.

Most of the youngsters of today in my age, toward the same said youngsters who didn’t came out to vote on 8th March 2008, might not be fully aware of what May 13, 1969 was. History books just said ‘racial riots’.

Now with CNN, Aljazeera and BBC exposure, we can pretty much guess that May 13 incident was as black as a day in any 3rd world country riots. Car bombs, makeshift weapons, Malays versus Chinese in a 24 hour murderous frenzy of Kampung Baru.

Hundreds of the Chinese were going to take a step too far into the heart of KL, into Kampung Baru, on May 13, 1969. Heck, they're still waving their brooms.

My dad was nearly in the middle of it. He was a Mara college student then. There were no cellphones nor SMS texting. The wider public didn’t know the Malays youths were planning a fight because of... yes, the polarisation attitude.

Nobody spoke to the Chinese or the Indians community, thus very few were warned of the riot. Those who were warned didn’t think Malays had the guts to do it.

Ayah and a few buddies was told by total gossip to hired the college bus, a mini bus nonetheless, and take part in a gathering or sorts. Maybe a speech. Maybe somebody important might turn up. He was a just a student and the most trouble he’s ever been in was smoking in the college library.

They were there at the spot, late afternoon. Just a whole lot of Malay people hanging around like a large scale lepak-ing guys. He knew something was super-wrong when, after getting out of the bus for a while, some of the present Malays, big rowdy roughnecks, started to single out some of the Chinese folks that were just passing on the outside, trying to get away.

Ayah knew it was becoming a really messy fight when some of the present Malays started to swing makeshift weapons. Parangs, knives and a whole lot of wooden sticks. Some of the rioters were damned well prepared.

He and his friends high-tailed out of the group and ran for the bus. He described to me of his shock when a car near him caught on fire and burst into flames. He also saw a Malay policeman beating up a Chine motorcyclist trying to escape the riots. A policeman, mind you.

The bus driver of the college also brought a weapon it seemed, but maybe it was compassion for the college kids, namely my dad and his friends, that he changed his mind and got them back on the bus. I like to think that way. Ayah was defenceless. The college students thought it was just a speech gathering.

For the rest of the bus trip, the driver had used this big wooden stick to jam the doors shut and drove the mini bus of the area. Ayah said that all he remembered were stones at the bus windows because he kept his head down. The riots had started at 5pm and the bus safely got back to Mara college at 7pm. At this point, all Ayah could say was the fear he felt during the 2-week curfew imposed by the government.

I never heard the May 13 incident being told that way. The last time it happened, Tun Abdul Razak formed some sort of a National Counsel appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and for 2 years, there was a semi-emergency state in Malaysia.

All gatherings restricted, freedom of speech suppressed and anybody suspected of racial violence, even the hint of racial violence... well, I can only imagine. Maybe there’s something in Wikipedia I can read about. It’s a shame, me being a Malay in Malaysia and not knowing the event that nearly tore up the honour and dignity of being a Malay.

Stupid Malays.

Those who are aware and felt concerned to be in the know, I like to think that we have more harmony today in 2008 than back then in 1969. A lot of Malay rights were made clear and acted upon. Rights given to your heritage as a Malay had already been voiced in the Constitution. Land rights, job rights, education rights.

Of course, these acts severely limited the rights and opportunity of the Chinese and the Indian community. They are Malaysians too. In fact, they practically built most of the country in its first few years and before that, more so while under the British rule. I’m not surprised that the Hindraf gave out voice about ethnic cleansing... and it could be very true, at the rate of how so much Malay rights are imposed.

Really, why should Malays have more rights in economy, politics and education anyway? What’s so great about Malay sultans and why should we even have them? Why should every Malay have to be a Muslim?

And makes a Malay anyway? After all, aren’t all dark-skinned Equatorial mongoloids come from the Indonesians Isles? There shouldn’t even be a Malay race anyway. Let’s just throw away the silat culture, the heritage of the monarchy and the Kongsi-Raya/Deepa-Raya nonsense.

Really, if we had just let the Chinese rule the nation, like how Singapore is today, we’ll rule Asian’s trading economy. If we gave more rights and opportunities given to the Indians, their high-tech skills and company productions maybe even trumps over Japan.

But most of the rights had been given to the Malays. Sons of farmers, former colonists, fishermen’s blood and even (very sadly) carrying legacy of rioters. We open universities, give hundreds and hundreds of scholarships, no matter how undeserving they are.

30 years after the 1969 incident and the Malays still doesn’t even own 30% of the Malaysian economy. Even with all the hak bumiputera, we’re still so damn slow; we’re dragging our own feet and at times, even trip over them. I think half of us still feel like former colonists, just waiting for the next 1st world nation to eat our resources and spit sh**.

Granted, we did cough up a few international medals with the current BN ruling *cough*Twin Towers*cough. But... I hope times had changed. With the win of the Opposition and with the better and more open-minded between races, I hope we can prevent single-mindedness, close-mindedness and xenophobia.

Did BN actually think they can rule the land for another 50 years? Puh-leez!

In fact, the very proof of the Opposition winning shows that after 50 years of independence, we are growing more mature. Mature as voters, mature as fellow Malaysians, mature in terms of community between races. Mature as in we stand up for rights, for benefits, for stop-brainwashing-our-puny-little-minds-with-your-media-control-and-wasteful-banners-because-they-didn’t-work.

We need other races to teach Malays how to be more vigorous in having rights and making real use of those rights to support the other races. We need to knock the Malays on the head and tell them to stop being so lazy, backward-minded and stand up for themselves.

So the truth of the results of the General Elections 2008, I’m pretty okay with it. I’m not enthusiastic, but I’m more hopeful about the future than I was in 2004. There’s a lot of new people in the seats, new faces, new ideals and more importantly, exposure to other races based on harmony. Maybe there’ll be a real security of the Malay future and all rights will equalize for all races. For all those who need them.

30 years is 360 months ago, more-or-less 10,950 days in the past. Have we been more tolerant of each other since then? Less hostile and more community sharing? If something happened to one of the 3 races, will the other races help?

Someday we can really say the 3 major races can parade together, not in a bloody riot, but as Malaysian. True Malaysians.

Heck, we might even be friends.

I guess I’ll stick around to find out.

Peace Malaysia,

PS: For more info on the May 13th 1969 Incident, read Wikipedia article here.

Being a First-Time Voter

So on last Thursday, I asked a few buddies who were packing up from their rented homes and taking the homeward bound trip to their respective voting places.

“Oh! I’m going to Newcastle,” said one.
“Wha... not voting?” I asked.
“Voting-laar! That’s why I’m going to Newcastle.”

I was as blur as a flipped pancake as the rest of the girls laughed and they too confessed that they’re going to vote in somewhere called Golden Sands, White Sands and even Highcastle.

At first I thought it was some new areas that had opened up while I was in thesis project hibernation, places with new Euro-type names like Pavilion, The Curve or Sunway, etc. Then I realized the joke, and it was made funnier because I actually thought those were literal places...

Golden Sands = Pasir Emas
White Sands = Pasir Puteh
Highcastle = Kota Tinggi
Newcastle = ... Kota Bharu

Gee, I wonder who’s going to Rock Caves or Pineapple Town and who’s staying at Mud Capital. Ai-yo-yo-yoi, we KL-coverts all so nak glamour about our hometowns.

What about me? Where’s my address says I should vote?

Well, I haven’t changed my IC address in ages when I registered so it’s back to the old home’s MBPJ Hall in D’sara Utama (sorry, no glamour name there *hehehe*). MySis and my big brother Arsenal were voting in the same place too but tall-and-stick-man Genius is still under-aged.

We took off on an early morning, at 8.30am because forecast weather says that it might rain cats-dogs-and-politicians that afternoon. Naturally, MySis can’t be pried out of house so early in the day so she isn’t coming along at the same time as we were and AbangHuzir goes to another place to vote.

Aaaah, the ol’ multi-purpose hall.

The last time I was here, it was on some old-ladies’charity dinner. Or was it a Datin’s daughter’s wedding? I can’t tell; all halls look all the same after the last 10 or so fancy-lacy function/buffet.

There was quite a line when we got there and a lot of parked cars too. I’m surprised people actually turned up this early to vote for the future of the nation. Well, not really surprised. Just kind of subtle sense of zealousness if you get what I mean.

For the queue’s long length, the actual process was pretty quick; we kept on moving.

On a personal basis, I’m not into politics. I don’t have either the zest to be a public servant nor do I have any particular fondness for any political parties. Who did I vote for? Well that’s my business and your rampant speculations.

What I didn’t like were a couple of old ladies in blue (indirect support for You-Know-Which-Party) that came up out of the blue to random senior Malay citizens while lining up in the queue (including my parents) and made a short small talk, like “Hi! I’m a complete-stranger-pretending-I-want-to-know-who-you-are-when-in-reality-I-want-you-to-vote-for-the-Dark-Blue-Party.”

The old lady who approached us was probably too tired/intimidated to play with words so she just asked if we would vote for BN. Semi-promo; I thought even that sly move was illegal within the 50 metres range of the voting place. I suppose a devil-in-the-ear at the last minute was a just toe out of line. Heh.

Rows are divided between ages; youngsters, working class, semi-retired and the greyheads.

There were no photos allowed in the hall itself; at least, not for non-media people. I didn’t try to risk taking photos because security men in blue were pretty much everywhere.

Which was okay because I planned to use game sprites anyway. Did you know that D’sara Utama is full of really old people? Either that or the voters between ages 22-30 just don’t want to show up before noon. If they ever showed up at all.

After I presented my IC and confirmed my number at the SPR table, I took up the queue at Boxroom No. 4. A really, really short queue. The really long one was the first row, full of people born in the 1940s. I felt like a veritable baby in that big hall.

I call ‘em Boxrooms because, well, they’re just plastic walls with 4 sides and no ceiling. And there are boxes in the Boxrooms too!

Okay! Got my name confirmed, been presented with two pieces of paper; one for the location and the other for the Parliament. I’m behind the little white cubicle with my back to the wall.

The first thing that got in my mind when I got behind the hidden table was ‘is this what men feels in public urinals when they have a pointy stick in their hand and thinking what to decide?’.

Yeah, I was pretty weird that Saturday. I was trying to not to think about how my decision maybe the single grain of rice that tips the scales. Ah, well...

Tick, tick.

Slot, slot.

60 seconds was all it took and I was out of the boxrooms.

My first time voting in general elections.

I was wondering if there are a lot of voters coming in from Blissful Hospital in Point of Rambutan?

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