Saturday, November 28, 2009

The End of Days

Ever since the premiere of 2012, everyone seems to be blogging about the end of days.

Most of them would hope to share the last moment with their love ones.

But that is only possible, if you remain to be the only person who knows about the end of the days.

If everyone else in the world know that the world is coming to an end, law and order would break down.

Pessimist, you may call me. But that's the truth. If the end of world is broadcasted, then raping, killing and looting and all other unimaginable atrocities will be omni present.

Most people do what they do, or do not do what they do not, because of law and moral obligations. But what good is law and moral, if what you strive so hard to protect is coming to an end anyway?

If no matter what you do, the world is going to end, humans are going to be extinct and that you are not going to survive, what would you do?

You would fulfill your lust, your greed and all other desires that you may have but couldn't have because of the social restrictions.

So, if you knew the end of the days is coming, please do not tell. You will only bring the end of the world earlier than what it is suppose to be.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BTN, my experience

Despite being a Maxis scholar, the scholarship value is most likely NOT enough for my full 3-year PhD course. So, I decided to join UKM, who is willingly to pay whatever difference that I need to complete my PhD. For that I'm indebted to UKM, especially to UKM's VC, Prof Sharifah Hapsah and Head of IMEN, Prof Burhan. Both of them are fantastic individuals.

Contrary to what many people may think, my brief stay in UKM before coming to Cambridge University was actually enlightening. The staff at UKM is incredibly friendly and efficient at their work, much better than my experience as a undergraduate student in UM.

Because I joined UKM, I was required to attend BTN, which has a fairshare of media limelight in recent days. As I was leaving for UK very soon, I have the choice to attend BTN at a later date, butI chose not to do so. I decided to attend this BTN camp in Seremban before I depart for UK because I wanted to see for myself, what is really going on. Before attending BTN, Prof Burhan told me, "just take it like any other course, for the most part it's like national service." I know he was trying to comfort my nerves prior to the camp. Like I said, he's a fantastic individual.

On the first day of the camp, we were told not have any recording devices and were repeatedly told that the content of the camp is under the protection of Official Security Act (OSA). This means that by revealing the content of what is taught in the camp, I am liable to being persecuted by the government. Why is the content protected under OSA when this camp's objectives are to foster nationalism, to foster unity among Malaysians and to teach Malaysian values? OSA is used to protect sensitive contents that could leak out to the public and cause a security threat to the society. How is it possible that leaking information about how to unite Malaysians and how to foster nationalism could be a threat to the security of Malaysia?

The 'trainers' at the BTN had an answer for this. According to him, it was because some elements of the contents of this camp may be manipulated by the opposition to cause stir and affect public confidence.

"Love your country!" I don't see how this sentence could be manipulated to cause stir in anyway possible. Unless, loving your country is not the only thing they teach in the camp.

It's true. By now, most of you would already guess that loving your country is not the only thing they teach in the camp. Though the first few days of the camp was indeed about patriotism and loving your country. During that time, it was very interesting and entertaining. The invited speakers gave talks that are really motivational and for a moment I thought that all the rumours about BTN being a brainwashing camp was just plain rubbish. But I spoke too soon.

Towards the second half of the camp, we entered LDK (Latihan Dalam Kumpulan). The content is a 180 degrees reversal from the earlier part of the camp. The term "social contract" was repeated not less than 1000 times to emphasize that Malays had made a great sacrifice by offering us citizenship during our independence. We were told that opposition and street protest were evil. We were often hinted that the Chinese are 'stronger' and that Malays are 'weaker' therefore Malays need to unite.

I was fortunate to be in group which is more moderate. It'd seem that the organisers knew people like me and my age group that are probably more difficult to be brainwashed were assigned to the same group. So our group only had 'mild' discussions, touching on 'sensitive' issues occasionally but most of the time we were just casually chatting. This was not the case when other groups share their stories with us. According to them, there was a clear brainwash attempt at them to stop supporting the opposition and be wary of the non-Malays.

The good thing is: many other participants that I met in the BTN are actually quite understanding and liberal. They did not agree with all the biased content that was thrown at them. We even joked about how the trainers tried to brainwash them, but they just brushed it aside and say it's plain silly. In them, I can see hope for Malaysia.

The bad thing is: there are people who, for the sake of not failing the camp (because if they do, they will not get the funding from the government to further their study) have resorted to become a complete suck-up to the BN government during discussions, prasing every single thing about the government even when it didn't make sense. For example, there was a discussion about choosing a company to provide consultation. There were 3 choices: 1. Pro government, but incompetent; 2. Pro opposition, competent; 3. International company, very competent. Who would you choose to provide the consultation?

The suck-up defended the 'incompetent' choice from start till end, citing reasons like, "we can train them to be competent (completely ignoring the assumption of the question)" and "government agencies have sensitive documents that cannot be shared with opposition". But they forgot, I'm a debater and I rebutted them all the way until they had nothing to say except repeating, "tak bolehlah, tak boleh, tak boleh, tak betul." To that point, I rest my case.

On the last day of the camp, we had a MCQ test. There were no right or wrong answers. Only stupid answers and the answer that the BN government wants. To pass the test, we had little choice but to choose the 'right' answers, the answers that the government thinks is 'right'.

At this point, there was little doubt in my mind that this BTN camp is indeed a brainwashing camp. But the good thing is, only the trainers are hell-bent on brainwashing. The participants are actually very nice people, in general. I've met a lot of good friends in that camp and I hope we still could get in touch. There are also a lot of very interesting group activities like hiking, aerobics, drama, singing, etc. So it was actually quite fun. To be fair, BTN is only 60% a brainwashing camp. If only the PM department could focus on the other 40%, I would say BTN is definitely an interesting camp to go to.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why we should vote for Pakatan?

Pakatan will lose because they are complacent:

They forgot that luck played a great role in the last general election win.
They forgot that people voted against BN, not for Pakatan.
They forgot that people voted against Badawi, not for Anwar.
They forgot that people voted against BN because they were unhappy about the economy recession, not because Malaysia lack democracy or freedom of speech or equality.
They forgot that 40% of Malaysians are not registered voters.
They forgot they only have less than 5 years to prove they are capable governers.
They forgot that BN controls everything.

But yet, please, vote for Pakatan.

The reason is simple, I believe in a bi-partisan political system. I believe competition in Parliament will only bring forth the best for the country and for the people. A monopolistic government is not so different as being rule by a dictator. The problem with dictatorship is that it is reliant on one person. I don't believe in one person. I only believe in a system that works. At one moment, this guy could be doing great, the next moment his successor might undo everything. As I've wrote here, democracy is not the most efficient form of government. But it is the best form of government to ensure sustainable development over the long time.

Maybe we disagree on Ketuanan Melayu. Maybe we disagree on the quota imposed on scholarship and national universities. We also disagree on how we should handle the selling of liquors. But let that be discussed and debated. Let's hope that voices on both sides of the aisle are heard and that a decision is made only after that. Let's not hope that one side is being suppressed and force into a decision without a chance to speak. But that is exactly what is happening now, and exactly what would happen if we have a monopolistic government.

Pakatan may not be flawless. But neither is BN. But as it stands now, BN has all the power to make the decisions - right ones and wrong ones. BN will not listen to Pakatan, no matter how rational or reasonable the suggestions could be, and vice versa. The only way out, is not to find a flawless political party that can satisfy the needs of all races at all time. Instead, it is to find competition. It doesn't matter who the competition is, as long as there is competition. As it stands now, Pakatan is the only choice. So, do not choose Pakatan or BN, choose to have competition, choose to have bi-partisan system in Malaysia.

In less than 2 years since the election, many people (like the Hindraf group) have turned against Pakatan. They claimed that Pakatan is "no different from BN". Pakatan is not short of flaws, but to rank Pakatan no different from BN is probably an overstatement. In terms of fighting corruption, ensuring a more transparent government, implementing fair and just policies, BN has always been lagging behind Pakatan. And in the opposite sense, BN has always been leading in front of Pakatan when it comes to detaining people with no reason, abuse of power and corruption. Even when BN makes the right move, once in a while, it was usually due to the pressure from opposition, e.g. investigating the PKFZ scandal. Do Hindraf and all the people who had once supported Pakatan but is now turning their backs, really think that BN would have a higher chance of implementing a fair and just governance, compared to Pakatan?

I do not believe in people. I believe in the system. I believe that what we need is a bi-partisan system. Doesn't matter to me if BN is doing a great job or if Pakatan is lousy. Creating a bi-partisan political system is the only sustainable system that could ensure the long term developement of the country and long term benefit to the people. A bi-partisan creates competition and competition is what keeps corruption at bay and ensure the best for the rakyat. At the moment, there just isn't sufficient competition. BN still controls everything and if the PM wants, he could just easily brush aside all opposition. This is not what we want.

The fact is simple. We're choosing the lesser of two devils. As it is always the case when it comes to politics. It is the same whether it's between the GOP and the Democrats in the US; or between the Tories and the Labour in the UK; we are always choosing the lesser of two devils. And when it comes to this, it's clear which party is more keen on advocating the devil's deeds.

Love seeking women

"Women seek love, by first seeking trouble, then seek men to comfort her out of her troubles."
- sl, Nov 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cambridge diary 5: Autumn in Cambridge

Strictly speaking, it's already winter. As I'm writing this, the weather outside is 4 degrees and it's going to fall to 0 in the next few days.

As I've posted about winter, spring and summer in Cambridge, this post about autumn in Cambridge would probably complete the four seasons. So there you go, some pictures of autumn in Cambridge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cambridge diary 4: Summer in Cambridge

It's waaaaaaaay past summer now in Cambridge. But I realised I haven't post any thing on my blog about summer in cambridge. So here it goes...

Summer is the time for geese to swim

Summer is a time for BBQ

Summer is a time for playing in the field

Summer is a time to lie on the green grass and read your favourite books

Summer is a time when the river Cam is having a traffic congestion

Summer is the time to visit the colleges too

Italy trip

Dad, Mom and I went to Italy few weeks ago. The trip began in the most horrible way.

1. I lost my passport in the taxi.
2. No one brought a camera.
3. We bought a brand new camera only to find out that the power source/plug in Italy doesn't fit.
4. We came from London where the weather is 17 degrees and touched down in Rome where it was having the same weather in Malaysia.
5. We found out, the hard-way, that Italians don't really queue. Pretty much like Malaysia. (In fact, just drop a Coliseum next to KLCC and I bet we won't notice any difference between Rome and KL)

Funny enough though, bad things started to clear out one by one. The taxi driver returned my passport and we somehow found an 'adapter' that worked with our camera. And it all began after we 'met' the Pope at the Vatican City.

It's hard to believe that a trip that started so badly, turned out to be one of the most memorable one for me. I had a great time. And I think dad and mom had a great time too! (check out my dad's blog post on this). Rome, Venice, Florence and Lake Garda were fantastic and I would like to share some pictures here.

Respecting other people...

Religion is the worst thing that could happen to you if it doesn't teach you to respect other people's culture and beliefs.

-sl 2009