The cavalier dismissal of a brand promise

From its very inception, the 1Malaysia campaign was met with skepticism by a cynical Malaysia. On the face of it, 1Malaysia was meant to be inclusive, and unifying. But let’s face it, most of us never believed it.












Though the campaign did flesh out into programmes for the needy, implementation brought more brickbats than bouquets, especially for its blatant bribery and partisan overtones, but also for some of its sillier permutations. Remember 1Toilet? 1Malaysia email? did it ever take off?


Yeah…Malaysians know how to deride and ridicule in creative ways.

But mind you, the most important thing I heard yesterday was from the 1PM himself. In his first speech after BN was declared winner, the guy went and called it a Chinese Tsunami. And with that one sentence, he confirmed what we all believed for a while now.


This weekend, I won’t walk into the polling booth alone

Been a while since I blogged…too much writing for work leaves me drained. But I believe this coming weekend deserves to be marked on this blog with a proper post, so here goes.

As I have said before, I am a rural voter. This Sunday will mark the fifth occasion on which I exercise my democratic right to choose who rules my country for the next 5 years. It will be a momentous occasion especially as Malaysia is on the cusp of real change.











But it would be wrong to say the change will happen only once we vote. Real change requires a paradigm shift, and that has been happening gradually over the course of about 8 years or so.

Tomorrow I will make the trip back home. Sunday I would ferry my family to the polling stations and when I make this journey, many things and many people will be on my mind.

These people will walk with me in spirit when I go and cast my vote. Their memories will inform my vote. Some of them, you will already know.

The late Teoh Beng Hock’s family. They have not found closure.


Teoh and Ahmad Sarbani Mohamad were both found dead on separate occasions. Common denominator – MACC.

Then there is the story of Francis Udayappan. His mom never found closure either.

Oh…can I refresh your memory on the young boy in Shah Alam, Aminulrasyid Amzah?Image

The guy on the left is Kpl Jenain Subi, who was sentenced to 5 years jail for his death. Took 21 bullets from an supposed crack shot. and all he got was 5 years. His family has just filed a suit against the government and the PDRM.

What about A. Kugan?


Then, there is the curious story of R. Gunasegaran who is another lockup death in 2009. And a witness at his inquest, Selvach Santhiran also ended up in preventive detention allegedly cos he fingered another cop in his testimony. Selvach was beaten up by policemen and taken into custody the same day he testified. He’s still behind bars.

These folks, and thousands of other ghosts of Malaysian state victims, will accompany me when I walk into the polling station.

My choice has already been made for me. My vote is a hope for justice.

Biadap? I see…

Tangkap! Prison! Biadap!

Loud and strident were the calls for the arrest and punishment of the people who mooned and stomped on the PM’s picture.

I disagree with the act. Personally, I find it uncouth. If I were to meet the PM, I would address him as Mr PM, but I would have some scathing words for him. I have a right to do so, as I am citizen of this country, and the dude has a duty to to me.

Perhaps I’m polite. Some people are too angry to be polite. Can you look into the why first? Has the act of mooning diminished the PM? Is lese majeste as a sanction extended to an insult against a politician? Defacing his picture is a serious crime? Since when did a politician become King?

Now, a certain senior editor of a local daily had suggested that the “biadap” culture has been/is being propagated by the Opposition. Seriously mate…gimme some of whatever you’re smoking that gives you such a hazy, one-sided view of things.

How do you explain the shoe-throwing incident (allegedly by the Perkasa riff raff from Kota Setar)?
That was an aggression too, a bloody rude one, AND inside a mosque. If that isn’t biadap, then you and I are from different planets.

Perkasa of course was quick to disclaim responsibility here, but I think it might also need to quickly lodge a police report on the theft of its T-shirts because, jeng jeng jeng…look at these T-shirts.Image..

Now, compare them to the pictures you see in this group page. Get the drift?

Wanna talk about biadap some more? Let me refresh your memory.


Did the powers that be give a single f**k on this day, when these flabby posteriors were flashed at Bersih co-chair Ambiga Sreenevasan’s house ?

Or this thinly veiled insult to a vegetarian by selling beef burger in front of her house?

What about this “funeral” for Lim Guan Eng?

That’s you Perkasa Youth chief Mohd Risuad basically telling the Penang CM that he’s dead. In some parts of the world, that qualifies as a threat. Oh yeah, same fella also offers his shoe in yet another incident.

So now, can the blame be laid squarely on the shoulders of the convenient bogeyman “Opposition”? Seriously can you? Especially after seeing all these outsourced threats/instigation/general mayhem?
I maintain that all Perkasa is, is just an entity set up so that all the troublemaking that Umno needs to do, can be taken care of without too much blemish on its red/white colours.

Fools no one la. I’m sure even my cats are more sophisticated in their modus operandi than these pea-brains that passes for Perkasa cadre.

Double standards have long been a feature of policing and governance in Bolehland, so long that it’s a cliche. And it has resulted in diminished respect for those in power. Don’t cry foul now. You started this slide. And now you want respect?


Believe me, if Pakatan Rakyat ever takes Putrajaya, the folks who are now up in arms, will be the very ones who’ll be burning posters, effigies and defacing pictures of PR leaders. Not that they are not doing that already…hehe.

Manufactured consent, false democrats and other disturbing stories.

Governing a country is a complex thing. Somebody’s always bound to be unhappy. In a democracy, that somebody too has a right to be heard. In mature democracies, with a system in place that respects individual liberties, he would be heard.

In a country that gives democratic practices the barest lip service, that guy is often dismissed. Such is the case in Malaysia. One guy can be safely ignored.  Even ten, or a hundred. But when thousands of people take to the streets in a gesture of defiance, that too in an Internet age where there are more Malaysians wired than there are voters, it takes a very different resonance.

It has to be dealt with in a more effective way. The bumbling bureaucracy that was the Malaysian Government was slow to wake up to the Internet reality and it cost at least one prime minister his job. But our present PM has woken up to this rude reality.

Witness the “cendawan lepas hujan” proliferation of the cybertroopers. Some serious money exchanging hands there, though even the smartest of these cybertroopers can’t convincingly defend a flawed system put in place by a political outfit hell-bent on preserving its hegemony. 

The public opinion that Dr M so totally silenced is now no longer silent. To quiet the cyber activists, one has to shut down the Net, and is that possible in 21st century Malaysia? Nak mampus?

So the war has undertaken in a more subtle manner. Subvert the people’s thinking via cyber propaganda. That’s happening now. Has been for a few years. The bogeymen have been identified.

1) Bersih

2) The LGBT Community

3) The Chinese turning Malaysia into Singapore

4)  Jews/Israel

5) Anwar Ibrahim

These bogeymen are essentially fear-inducing social control mechanisms that the powers that be uses to   keep its citizens in check. Outward show of brute force and intimidation is counter productive and for a PM allegedly committed to “reforms”, no longer tenable. Every time, they arrest somebody for a politics-related offence, vigils and support groups emerge. Civil disobedience is bloody tiresome isn’t, fellas? Now you thugs actually have to earn your pay…hehe.

So they have to go the “cheong hei” way of influencing opinions. That requires brains. Money can buy some brains.

Now some of you may contend that the fear mongering is too ridiculous to even work. Lemme tell you this; if you feel that way, you are NOT the target audience. Anyway, if you are an urban, middle-class, private sector employed voter, their messages are not for you.

The messages of fear is directed at the heartland; the traditional vote bank that Umno/BN had always retained. The rural vote is important, never mind that a majority of Malaysian voters now are urban. Malapportionment and gerrymandering happened through the decades we gave BN continuous mandate to rule.These measures ensured that your one urban vote is worth just one sixth a rural vote.

They sweet-talk the kampung, Felda/Felcra folks, kow tim the tuai rumah in the longhouses of Sabah/Sarawak and they are set. While delivering the goodies, the veritable poison is poured into the ears.

If that is not enough, form 30 NGOs. Throw a press conference or two. Threaten and shout some half-hearted right-wing drivel. These days, hatchet jobs are better when outsourced. Hence your Perkasa, Pekida, Petty Traders Association, KIMMA, P***mak…and other garden variety mofos.

Whether they win this campaign or not, depends on how well Malaysians are informed, and how badly they want change. The signs are all there.

Even the PM has been labelled a false democrat in Canadian journo Mark Mackinnon’s scathing indictment of world leaders. Wisma Putra is predictably apoplectic.

“What??!! All this GTP,ETP  bla bla bla and he dared say we are a false democracy?” must be the refrain on that hill in Putrajaya.

But tell me, what do you call an administration that:

– Dismisses Bersih as just a political move to unseat the government despite the clearly stated claims of the movement for electoral reform
– Turns a blind eye to countless custodial deaths and allegations of police brutality 
– Denies the public its freedom to assemble in a place where Merdeka was first shouted.
– Ignores allegations of impropriety in public spending by govt institutions despite consecutive Auditor General’s report.
– Conducts selective prosecution and prosecution via two arms of the law (MACC and Attorney General’s Chambers)
– Denies the public access to information that is of public interest via the Official Secrets Act.
– Scraps the much-reviled Internal Security Act and still continues to keep ISA detainees in Kamunting, deprived of their right to fair trial.

I could go on…but you readers perhaps have your own list. Bottomline here is, accountability and a respect for the citizenry is sorely lacking. And its not about to change unless the citizenry itself starts to get down n dirty, and fix this flaw-ridden boat that is Malaysia.

That’s the only boat we have. 

For all these and more…

Once upon a time, my appa came back home with a box. Inside I found a treasure trove. For an accident child born six years after the nearest sibling, loneliness and confusion was a fact of life. Hence, opening the box and finding 60 story books, was indeed a great event.

He bought them for his six kids, but I daresay I was the only one who devoured every single one of them. And so I took vicarious journeys through the pen of the acclaimed authors of bygone years.

I first met the intrepid Jim Hawkins who hid in an apple barrel and overheard a crucial conversation. From Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson) I learnt that love of gold can turn men into ugly beings.

Kidnapped (also by Stevenson) introduced me to the Jacobites, and in turn, my earliest intro to Scottish History.

Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was my first inkling of the momentous French Revolution. I learnt of the word “tumbril”. I met Sydney Carton who taught me the noble virtue of sacrifice.

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck taught me that no matter how bad my life was, it didn’t compare to the poverty and hardship suffered by this farming family in China.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley gave me my first discomfort over the tampering of God’s creations. Reading it was how i know that Frankenstein referred to the doctor, not the monster.

Battle of Wits at Crimson Cliff was an excerpt from the philosophical great work Romance of the Three Kingdoms, where a witty turn of phrase could win or lose a battle. This was the beginning of my interest in Chinese history.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm taught me “Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad”. I’m still not sure I want to revise my opinion.

Edgar Allan Poe awakened in me a taste for the dark and macabre. He introduced me to the polished Dupin, the first ever sleuth in the history of detective fiction.

Arthur Conan Doyle introduced me to the Hound of Baskervilles, the word “phosphorus”, a bird called bittern and of course the unforgettable gaslight sleuth, Sherlock Holmes.

William Wilkie Collins taught me to be vigilant when sleeping in strange rooms (A Terribly Strange Bed).

From Miguel De Cervantes I learnt that Don Quixote may have had his delusions, but the man of La Mancha taught me there is this virtue called chivalry.

The French master of short stories, Guy de Maupassant, taught me that keeping up with the Joneses could cause you dearly. (The Necklace).

Jules Verne introduced me to the concept of an undersea vessel, and opened up my imagination like nothing before. From him I learnt of the pearl divers of Sri Lanka (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), of the cruel practice of Sati in India, of opium dens in Hong Kong (Around the World in 80 Days), and the fact that under the frozen Icelandic landscape could exist a volcano and there existed runic script before (A Journey to the Centre of the Earth).

I also met some interesting characters; The White Rabbit (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Portia and Shylock (The Merchant of Venice), rooted for poor Cordelia in King Lear, poured scorn on Othello’s precipitate jealousy (Shakespeare)

I discovered the great Orinoco with Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe), toured Lilliput and Brobdingnag with Gulliver (Jonathan Swift), and saw Dr Jekyll change into Mr Hyde (RL Stevenson).

That I remember all these details, bears testament to my love for books. I lived lives, I gained knowledge, I am capable of perspective. And today, I even make a living by writing. And it would not have been possible without appa. The life-changing love for letters was my father’s greatest gift to me.

So, even if you don’t read this, I must tell you appa, that you are the reason I turned out the way I am. Thank You.

Happy Father’s Day.

When a hospital loses its sensitivity…

When one falls sick, one goes to the hospital. For the rich, there are many medical centres around to pick from. For the have nots in Malaysia, it is the good old gahmen hospitals that they go to.

Well times have changed and not for the better. Universiti Malaysia Medical Centre, now a teaching hospital, has introduced a policy denying morgue facilities to the dead.

This has gotten Hindraf all worked up, but I actually agree with them. You know why? Because this ban is only extended to non-Muslims.

Read more herehere and here.

Excerpts of the reply from UMMC below.

Dr Mustafa was commenting on a FMT story that quoted undertakers as saying they were puzzled about the ruling against the preparation for burial of non-Muslim bodies at the morgue.
He said the ban was in fact an early phase of a long-term overhaul of the hospital’s policy on the use of morgue services.
“The board members have decided that our vision and mission should change. We are a teaching hospital. We are not like the general hospitals. We are a referral hospital. It is not an obligation of the hospital to handle the bodies of the diseased.”
Asked to explain why Muslims could still process the bodies of their dead there, Dr Mustafa said this was a temporary arrangement that would end with the completion of Universiti Malaya’s Islamic Centre, which is under construction.
“The hospital does not make special arrangements for the Muslim bodies,” he said. “There is an Islamic charity society consisting of hospital staff which makes these arrangements for them. When the Islamic Centre is ready, these bodies will be processed there instead.”
Eventually, he added, the morgue would admit bodies for preparation only out of medical concerns, such as when death results from AIDS or tuberculosis.
“These bodies cannot be brought home for fear that they may infect the family members,” he said.
Referring to difficulties faced by poor families because the new ruling often means increased funeral expenses, he said they should seek help from the hospital’s welfare department.
“We have a welfare department in the hospital. These families can appeal for assistance there. We don’t want families to be under additional stress and we would want to assist wherever possible.”
Dr Mustafa dismissed a suggestion that the restriction of morgue services came with a change of leadership at the hospital. He said UMMC’s current director, Dr Ikram Shah Ismail, had held his post since 2006. 

You see, Mustafa Ali says it does not affect the Muslims at the moment. Good, at least some funeral preparations can go on. 

But you see now the two kinds of Malaysia that we live in. There could have been a better way to handle this matter. Of course, the teaching hospital is not really interested in your body once life has gone out of it, unless it’s Muslim. I believe that if they had extended the ban to Muslims too, UMMC would not be standing today.

Burial services are ones in which religious and cultural implications have a big say. The dead deserve respect and the respective communities deserve to bury their dead in accordance with their customary rites, just as Muslims do.

Mustafa says it’s the ambulance-chasing undertaker types that led to this decision, but then ones that are paying for it are the grieving families (some of whom are poor)  who would have to fork out even more.

Hospitals are supposed to be a place where compassion is the cornerstone. Supposedly laa. Now that UMMC has become bigger and more corporate, I guess the ethos would also move in tandem with our pricier private hospitals.

I don’t think this is quite racism…I think this is corporate whitewashing that wants to take UMMC to the next level, and leave behind the unwashed masses and their mess.

Hindraf should not be the only ones highlighting the disparity of treatment here. This decision applies to ALL non-Muslims.

All this just drives home the message that when you are a minority and you are poor, your needs are negligible, your rights are non-existent and your very existence is at the mercy of those in power.

Sad. Especially considering that UMMC is still an institution that is endowed by taxpayers.

Presana’s Apology…some thoughts

So the girl has apologized.

That’s the end of that I hope, though my Facebook trawling indicate otherwise, sigh. She was interviewed by Malay Mail in which she explained somewhat about what provoked her virulent rant. You can read about it here.

Two separate lessons here. One is, this person has learnt a hard lesson about the pitfalls of social media. These days, practically anyone with access to a wired PC can post anything on any subject.

But, with great connectivity comes great responsibility.  We say anything we want, but if we are not prepared to back it up with some cogent arguments, brickbats would soon follow.

Secondly, the bigger issue of what’s going on in that head of hers. Presana’s frustrated writings betrays a lack of understanding about not only communication but Indians in Malaysia.

Yes, some machas harassed her, and though she related one incident, it could have been something she endured many times. How does a woman deal with threats to self like that? I suggest getting some street smarts .

I was in her place, at different times in my life. Yes, I felt anger against the harassers. But at no time did I single out the ethnicity of the harassers as a target  of my hate. I did not even target the gender.

In my case, it was because the harassment came from males of different races, even foreigners;  Ang Mohs, Latinos, Africans, Pakistanis…you name it. KL after all is cosmopolitan.

Common denominator: Adult Males.

So do I hate guys? NO. I can’t. Cos sexual harassment is no longer about just race, gender etc. It’s about power. Some guys get off on the reactions. Some are just trying their luck. That doesn’t mean the entire male population is suspect.

Or in Presana’s case, that doesn’t mean all the machas are suspect. That is racial profiling. And racial profiling seems to be the reason why many, many machas end up recipients of Police Raja Di Malaysia’s “hospitality”, some of them dead, others languishing in Simpang Renggam under preventive detention (without trial mind you).

You see how one bad thought escalates into violence? So if a bunch of machas are really assholes devoid of a modicum of manners, is it fair to demonise the entire Tamil population of Malaysia?

People of Indian and Sri Lankan ancestry settled in Malaysia have many other issues affecting them. Lack of financial/educational opportunities, poverty, systematic marginalisation, disunity…to name a few.

We are not that numerous. Soon, the influx of foreign labour would/perhaps has been already, dilute the economic and rights pie even further. Thank you, Projek Pemutihan! Can we afford these incendiary words like pariah…among us? Was Interlok not enough of a lesson?

I hope the girls of Presana’s ilk realises the folly of her words. They cannot end well.

Note:  I acknowledge that my previous post on the matter also triggered some serious debate. I received many emails on the matter. Some of them kinda angry too. I will respond in the next post. Thanks.

Racism, Bigotry and the Indian Diaspora in Malaysia

Warning: This post might make you heave your lunch/breakfast/anything you gorged on the past hour or so, if you have gastrointestinal issues, please go look at cat pictures or something.

OK here we go. As you probably guessed, this post has something to do with the antics of that misguided  person hitherto known as Presana Narayanan. Whether she still dares to come out as herself after this is a moot point considering how she has deactivated her Facebook and deleted most of her pictures online.

For the uninitiated, Presana Narayanan, who will from this point on will be referred to as Tart With Attitude (TWaT), was engaged this past week in a vituperative tirade against Tamils in her Internet communications. Details of which was generously chronicled by machas here and here.

For me to further continue a rant against her would be like flogging a dead horse, so I took a step back and looked at the issue in a bigger way.

I’m a Malaysian girl of Indian ancestry, specifically, Tamil. My grandpa came here from Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu more than a 100 years and like most of my Tamil brethren here, I grew up with similar growing pains that a child of the diaspora would.

Being a minority, I was faced with all kinds of different setbacks, and doesn’t help that I’m a female. The good part is that minorities in a big world generally assimilate and adopt new ways to thrive. In my case, my melting pot surroundings made my languages stronger.


Throughout my growing and adult years, I noticed something. There is that casual racism that comes with one dark person in a sea of fair-skinned folks. So I was used to refrains of “anak keling” and “kiling kia”. No probs. I grew a thick skin and at some point started getting respect for my other accomplishments.

But while these refrains faded somewhat, the subtler racism/bigotry practiced within the diaspora continued unabated. I thank my parents for raising me without the poison that is caste/race awareness. I found my roots through my own reading, as a young adult and while I am comfortable being who I am, I can’t help but be appalled that the continued intra-racism that exists.

Firstly there is the Dravidian/Aryan divide. I first encountered it (very subtle though) at the Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Kampung Kasipilay (off Jalan Ipoh). This temple was built and run by Malaysians of the Northern Indian (probably Hindi/Urdu/Punjabi/Bengali/Gujerati-speaking folks). There was a language divide there so I can understand if most of the Southern Indian diaspora folks don’t go there. It was just looks…but those looks were not very welcoming.

Part 2 is among the Southern Indians and the Sri Lanka-originated Tamils. By this I mean the Malayalees,  Telugus, Tamils and you guessed it, the Ceylonese Tamils.I won’t include the Tulu-speaking Karnataka folks…cos I’ve yet to meet one.

Again the subtle divisions. Some Pillais, Raos, Reddys, Menons, Nairs as well as the Ratnams/Lingams/Singams and the Iyer/Iyengars will take pains to distinguish themselves from the great unwashed they consider us. This can be experienced at certain temples and cultural centres in the urban centres (KL, Penang and major towns). If you do not have a certain look/distinguishing trait that confuses them (I’m saying this cos I confuse them all the bloody time), you may find doors closed to you.

I had a friend being refused by the temple committee when she asked to rent a hall at a major temple in KL. She was asking rates on her soon-to-be married friend’s behalf and upon hearing both her name and her friend’s, she was told “you can have your function here but not your friend.”

Yes, when I first heard it …this was what i wanted to do.
Luckily, dark thoughts rarely escape my cranial fortress. Otherwise I’d be famous today as a serial arsonist. V could not hold a dynamite to me….hehehe.

But I digress.
The third layer of racists/bigots lie within the Tamil community. The caste/sub caste differentiation, the trade classes and the socio-economic classes (this one is simpler – the haves and the have nots). This antara dua darjat divide is universal la…so I would not discuss it.
The ones I find more irritating are the “I am a Mudaliar/Chetti/Kaunder/Pedayachi/ Vellalar” badges. Dei…we speak the same bloody language la. At least the TWAT was right when she said she doesn’t need to speak Tamil, cos she ain’t Tamil. She’s technically correct, even if she’s a virulent racist.

At the end of the day macha/machi…the Perkasa/Umno types still lump you under that glorious “keling” title la…remember that.

Like Martin Luther King, I also have a dream…that one day our children can play together without such derogatory words like keling and all making it into their vocabulary. But if we Yindians can’t even get our acts together, how do we take that bigger step towards unity?

Why can’t we celebrate our differences as something that enriches the Malaysian experience, instead of using it as a wedge to divide us further from our fellows?

Like this

Many many Tamils are dark. So? Seal is dark, I think he’s hot. Idris Elba is dark…he bloody awesome. If you readers chose to examine history, you might know that recent humans have one mother and she came from Africa. Check it out here. 

But that’s taking the higher view. On a more pragmatic level, let me tell you this. The Indian community in Malaysia is barely more than 7% of the national population, and birth rates are falling. In short, we are a shrinking community.

Can we afford to be divided by ultimately petty concerns, or should we cast it aside and help our less fortunate brothers and sisters into self-sufficiency and out of the socio-economic boondocks they are trapped in?

You pray? Ask your God which way to go.
You don’t pray? Ask your Conscience.

You will get one answer whoever you ask. Provided your head is screwed on right.

So what’s it gonna be macha?


Wanna wake up or persist in your delusion of superiority?