Monday, March 31, 2008

Nostalgically Sepet

NTV7 broadcasted one of my all time favourite movies tonite.... Sepet.

I get somewhat nostalgic when i watch the movie because i can relate very strongly to the movie. The movie, being shot in my hometown of Ipoh and with some scenes set in my alma mater (St Michael's) gives me a feeling of familiarity.

But above all, it is the relationship among the characters that triggers me. I am not referring to the relationship between Orked and Jason. I mean the overall general atmosphere.

For one, just take the language spoken. Whether the character is Malay or Chinese, they speak mainly English, interspersed with Cantonese and Malay here and there. And that is the environment in which I was educated in St Michael's. Everyone is everyone's friend with English as the common language. There will be Cantonese and Malay words and phrases now and then, but everyone still understood what each other was saying.

What i really mean to say is... language and mindset did not define the race. Or put it another way, race did not define or play a part in how we interacted.

Of course, being from different background, there is diversity within us. Our culture is different. But when we were together, regardless of race, it did not show. The cohesiveness was already infused in us... For example, two Malay friends did not speak to each other exclusively in Malay, nor Chinese friends exclusively in Cantonese. There was just no such thing. We all spoke in English (Malaysian style of course), so everyone understood everyone and no one felt excluded.

Unfortunately, that atmosphere is no longer present in the current environment (or at least in my environment now). It all shattered when i went to Uni.
I guess that is why i feel so strongly about the movie Sepet.

I truly had a culture shock when i attended university. It was so racially polarized that i found it hard to adapt at first. Majority of Malays expects everyone to speak to them in Malay. And worse, the Chinese assumes and expects me to speak Mandarin just because i was Chinese. Plus there wasn't much inter racial interaction at all.

Conceitedly priding myself in being adaptable, I adjusted to the new environment. The plus point was that my Cantonese and to a certain extent, Mandarin improved tremendously. :)

As adaptive as i am, I guess it is only natural to miss and be most comfortable in the environment that one grew up in.

So i guess Sepet will always appeal to me. But as nostalgic as i get, don't expect to catch me all teary eyed. I'm stronger than that. ;P

Thursday, March 27, 2008

To dip or not to dip...

Had a farewell dinner gathering with a fren along with Vincent, Chiang Mei, Wei Ye and Wei Liang at Wong Kok (Queensbay Mall) just now. He'll be taking up a new job in Singapore next week.

Lately (or in the past 12 months or so), many of my frens have left the country to seek presumably greener pasture overseas or to 'dip in salt water' as they say.

While many of them have ended up in Singapore, a few of them have moved to places like New Zealand, Australia, China and US. Almost echo the same reasons... to gain exposure and experience, to earn more $$$ etc.

Will they get what they aim for? Only time will tell. But i am sure they will and sincerely hope that they do as well.

Most recently a close fren (and fellow banana like myself) has taken up a job in China, somewhere close to Beijing. It will be interesting to see how well he survives there. He'll also be my guinea pig on how long it takes (if it ever does happen) to convert a banana (yellow outside, white inside) to a ripe mango (yellow outside, yellow inside). Ha ha ha...

Let's see how well it turns out for him... If it turns out to be for the better, i'd definitely be tempted to consider the question of 'to dip or not to dip'...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Keng Yaik says it right...

Over the past few days, many reports listed rising prices, slow economy and ethnic tension as the cause for BN's downfall. But none mentioned the reason (and probably the main reason) for the swing or protest votes...

None except for my super senior from St. Michael's. As always, his comments are succinct and straight to the point.

Keng Yaik: Address crux of dissatisfaction
11 Mar 2008

PUTRAJAYA: The Barisan Nasional must address the crux of the public's dissatisfaction if it does not want to lose power in the federal government in the next election said Gerakan national adviser Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik.
In a no-holds-barred press conference at his office yesterday, the feisty politician listed out issues that Barisan Nasional must address in restoring the people's faith in the ruling coalition.

The coalition, he said was in some serious need of soul-searching and discipline and must rid itself of money politics.

He also cautioned that the civil service, which is a critical part of the federal government, must be closely supervised and seen to be actively improving apart from not discriminating against non-Malays. More, he added, must also be done to appease Indian, Chinese and even urban Malay voters. The government's efforts in beefing up the service, including initiatives like the Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah), was "too little too late", he said.

Dr Lim, whose Gerakan party was all but wiped out in the elections, said the overwhelming votes that went to opposition parties showed that the people were angry with Barisan Nasional. He also said that some Umno leaders had displeased people by being arrogant and Umno must take action against such members to ensure stability within the ruling coalition.

"The arrogance in Umno must stop... those rowdy cowboys are spoiling the party's name on the ground ... the wielding of the keris must also stop as it frightens the people.

"Just as the MIC, MCA and Gerakan discipline their members when they get out of line, Umno must do the same. "Their arrogance in parliament and at the Umno general assembly must stop... you can argue but don't be arrogant," Dr Lim, who is retiring from the cabinet, said yesterday after clearing out his office at the Energy, Water and Communication Ministry, here.

Gerakan, he said, was fully supportive of BN chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's leadership and would not abandon BN at trying times like now. However, he said it was incumbent upon Abdullah to ensure that national issues, as well as those within the BN coalition, were thoroughly addressed.

Dr Lim said Abdullah, as BN chief, had a lot of deep thinking to do in view of the strong message given by the people. "If his advisers have been giving him the wrong advice, he must change them." Asked why he did not raise these issues before, Dr Lim, said: "How do you know I didn't? Gerakan, MCA and MIC have always done it in camera. Maybe next time things should be said out of camera as the people are no longer happy with results but want to see their leaders voicing out their concerns."

On the offer by former Penang chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to step down following the party's disastrous performance in the elections, he said Koh, the Gerakan acting president, must continue the party's struggles and remain chief. "I told him to shut up and carry on. He is ever the gentleman. It is time for him to be a political charger," he said.

Of the 12 parliamentary seats Gerakan contested, it won only in Gerik and Simpang Renggam. It was also defeated in 26 of 31 state seats contested. On Gerakan's future, he said the party would again have to climb from the bottom as it did before it won power in Penang in 1969. Meanwhile, he said the party would polish its new breed of committed, young and aggressive leaders at all levels.

"We are at the bottom of the wheel now... for the next four years, we will monitor the new coalition of DAP, PAS and PKR and ensure they keep their promises to the people. "We will be a very responsible opposition." Dr Lim also acceded that Gerakan may no longer have a representative in cabinet.

"We are not begging. What do you expect when you only have two seats?"

Monday, March 10, 2008

The EYE has seen the ROCKET launch to the MOON

Woo Hoo... PRU12 was as exciting as it can get. And it's the first time that I was more active in the whole process. What fun!!!

In the past elections, I was a mere observer. I did not cast my vote, and at night just watched TV as the results show BN win seat by seat.

This year, i was a bit more involved. I one of the 60,000 that bathed the Han Chiang school field in red, during the DAP rally. I was also at Sg Ara to listen to PKR and Anwar speak the night before elections. To be frank, i attended these rallies more out of curiosity and for experience than anything else. Had I known that BN was hosting a rally at Rifle Range a few nights before, i might have turned out there as well. :p

This year, i did make the effort to make the trip back to Ipoh to exercise my right to vote. I voted in my hometown of Chemor.

The excitement really started from 8pm onwards when results from the polling stations started to creep in. Phone calls and SMS came in droves on who won and who lost. The first news i had was that DAP was winning it big in Penang and Selangor. Next came the news that Koh Tsu Koon had lost, and then the infamous Samy Vellu as well.

All these happened as i was having dinner with my family outside. With such exciting news streaming in, i couldn't wait to go home an turn on the TV to catch the news.

To my dismay, as i turned on the TV at 10:00pm none of the results that i received from phone calls and SMS were displayed or announced yet. And so it pretty much remained till almost 2am. What a disappointing service from mainstream media.

As the head of Bernama mentioned in the TV show last night, it must have been the biggest joke in town. He mentioned that he was in the studio analyzing the results as it streamed in. But when he went to take a break outside, his driver has the more updated news that BN had lost Kedah, Penang and Selangor. He quipped that his driver (and practically the whole world) knew more than him, while he was supposedly getting first hand news from the SPR. What a major joke!

Well, all said and done... we now have an interesting era at our hands. There is no longer a blanket BN domination whether in Parliament or in the state level. Hopefully with the larger voice in Parliament, the opposition will encourage more fruitful and constructive debate on national matter, instead of being booed down even before they spoke.

As of now, there is no MB announced yet for my home state of Perak. Apparently three names have been submitted to Raja Nazrin who will pass them to Sultan Azlan Shah for consideration. Whoever that they choose, i put my full trust in their judgement. I have the utmost respect to both Raja Nazrin and Sultan Azlan Shah.

Plus add the fact that the new governments in Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Perak will now be under pressure to deliver what they have promised... Clean, transparent and accountable governance.

Whatever happens it can only be for the better. The people has spoken... when pushed hard enough, we will fight back. And in a major way!

I am only glad that I had an active role in this historic event in Malaysian politics. I am sure there will be books written on this. And as someone said, I can now tell the next generations to come that i was part of this 'revolution'. :)