Selamat Hari Raya:)

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Written on 10/29/2005 09:47:00 pm by sikapitan

It is that time of the year again when yours truly will have to spend 4 hours driving to his beloved hometown of Penang trying his best to keep awake. We used to go together, as a whole family, until no car this side of the Third-World could carry all of us in comfort. Besides, another car means another trunk, and to the females in my family, this could only be good news.

But I am sad to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have lost my zest to Balik Kampung for Hari Raya. I don’t look forward to the Lemang and Ketupat and Serundings, since I’ve just realized that cutting down on all those carbs could probably add a few years for me to lead an active life and shave off a few kilos of unwanted flabbiness. So if food’s not your motivation (as it was last year), what is?

Maybe the loud Sahur gossiping session amongst the womenfolk while waiting for Subuh, or maybe the hot and humid tightly packed Grandma’s house, or it could be the queuing up to use the toilet, or to use the toilet and then be sweetly interrupted by your Aunt knocking on it asking if anyone’s in there (helloooo??). Raya itself is becoming a routine, and routines can only be good and interesting for a short period.

I’ve been celebrating Raya as a teenager for the past 6 years, at the very least. I guess I’m just waiting for the next step you know, the next stage in these Raya celebrations. You know the stage where you’re the one giving duit raya, and have people coming over saying “ampun” to you? I guess it’s just a sense of boredom, being stuck for the past 4 and ½ years doing the same thing every year studying the same thing meeting the same people.

Hari Raya will still be meaningful to many people. Some kid will probably be excited as hell receiving his first duit raya, not knowing that in years to come he’ll probably be feeling just like me. So I guess I was wrong in thinking that Raya is becoming boring. It’s still the same joyous occasion. Raya itself remains true to its roots. It is just me that’s bored.

Well, in any case, I would like to wish my readers (3 people…hahaha) a very joyful and worthy Hari Raya. Let’s not forget we are fortunate enough to celebrate it, so be thankful. Smile when you have to hear one more “bila nak kahwin?” question from your relatives. Heck, you’ll probably be doing the same thing when you’re 40 years old.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

A different kind of ballgame...

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Written on 10/22/2005 03:51:00 pm by sikapitan

I would like to extend my heartfelt condolence to the family of the late Datin Seri Endon. Her untimely demise after battling cancer is a reminder of the need for early detection. My father was a cancer victim, and fortunately he managed to discover it before it started to spread and cause further damage. Through Allah’s blessing, and his strong character, he is now alive and well, embracing life like a man given a second chance. Never give up.


On a more positive note, we began this week with the great news that Nicol Ann David has successfully won the British Open, considered to be one of the top prizes in International squash. I am truly proud of her achievements, especially this past one year where she has really benefited from the strict training regime imposed by her foreign coach. She and Ong Beng Hee are the two bright shining lights left in the darkness known as Malaysian Sports Arena.

Personally speaking, I think they have benefited from the fact not many Malaysians give a rat’s ass about squash. Malaysians fret and pamper the footballers, the sprinters, the hockey players while sports like squash and cycling takes a back seat. But people like Nicol or Josiah Ng should be spared from the limelight. It seems to be working. The SRAM has done a good job of finding sponsors, and it just goes to show that if you’re good enough then consequently the money will roll in. The sad part about all this is the fact that some States footballers are getting double what world-beaters like Nicol David is getting.

Remember what happened to our great badminton hope, Hafiz Hashim? He won a big event, gets recognition from everyone, greeted at the airport like the Beatles, given huge amount of cash and property – and now he is nowhere to be heard. Don’t worry, he’ll surface to win another Championship, and then go back underneath the sea of disappointments for a couple of seasons. That’s the trend isn’t it? Win just enough tournaments so that people won’t forget you, but don’t push yourself too hard less you get injured then you can’t drive that expensive sports car.

It’s all down to mentality, the winning attitude. I can’t really go too far into this area, because some of my comments and thoughts are pretty much inflammatory, especially to those who live and swears by rhetoric. Suffice to say, I get the feeling that our sportsmen don’t have what it takes mentally simply because they were brought up in an environment that does not promote education and knowledge. I’ve seen, met, and played with people who are not only talented, but also armed with intelligence and maturity but these people won’t take up sports as their livelihood. The ones who turn out for the State junior teams, the club sides, are also usually the ones who do not do well in school (general statement, without any credible data…just an observation). This is sad really, because during my days in high-school I can see for a fact that clever people CAN and DO play sports rather well.

Well, I guess important discussion as to how we can improve the standard of sports is too insignificant to discuss in parliament, as compared to which party called Nicol Ann David first. Just click here and read another example of petty arguments being raised in parliament. But perhaps we should encourage such display of immaturity. Have you guys seen the mass brawls that always happen in Taiwan’s equivalent to our Parliament? But they’re more prosperous than us, so I guess I should be applauding the MPs the next time they get into arguments.

Picture from TheStar

On a lighter note, look at these balls MPPJ has put up at the junction in SS3, PJ. Another example of mindless decorative items filling up empty lands which are better served as a green lung to the already choking metropolis known as PJ. If you guys have interesting photos of such wasteful projects, do e-mail them to me at sikapitan@yahoo.com and I’ll try to post it in the site. Till then, let’s have a ball shall we…


"Suggestion Box"

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Written on 10/15/2005 07:51:00 pm by sikapitan

I am glad that a reader asked my opinion on campus elections. I have been studying at a public university for the past 4 and ½ years (hello…no “carry” paper k? memang lama tauu…), and frankly speaking, every year the elections serve nothing more than to highlight how useless students’ representation really is. I know some might disagree, but this is of course a personal observation.

I never got involved in all these elections to be part of the Student Council, nor do I see any one of my peers really seeking out any post in it. Last year’s was a bit interesting, because one of the candidates was not that bad looking (chauvinistic pig anyone?) but every other election went by without leaving any impact on me or my colleagues. We still have the same problem with getting parking space for students, my faculty keeps getting shoved all over campus… I do not really see the “Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar” as really representing the voice of students. I know the perks of being in the whole set-up is that you get to go to overseas trips sponsored by the University (at least that’s the practice in my uni). Perhaps, and because I know one of my readers has just successfully been elected to be a part of this charade (congrats dude), they should bring up a few issues that have been bothering me lately…

Like students being hauled-up by the disciplinary committee for failure to vote in the said election. I remember this year’s election for that very reason – the threat of disciplinary election if you do not vote. Sad as it may sound, because everyone seems to think the student body is useless, there is no real motivation to go and vote. Some went simply because there are free drinks being handed out. Most voted because they hate the whole idea of being hauled-up. Weird, because I always thought the right to vote includes the right NOT to vote…

I am also concerned with the recent direction my University, and specifically my faculty, is taking when it comes to dealing with students’ attendance. Notices are made listing down students who have failed to comply with the strict requirement that you’re only allowed to skip 3 classes (lectures AND tutorials) per subject without any reason. These students are then forced to face the Disciplinary Board, with failure to do so resulting in them being suspended for the whole semester.

I find this whole idea of forced-attendance unnecessary. Maybe that is because there is every chance my name would be up there as well with hundreds of others. But more because I’ve discovered that if you find the lecture interesting, or essential, you would be more likely to go on your own free will. Take away the compulsory attendance bit, and you would still find students in lectures, not because they’re forced to, but because they WANT to. There are many types of students out there, and to assume that those who do not go to classes will not do well (though this assumption is seldom wrong) while those who attend every class do is just not right.

I believe that there comes a stage in a students’ life where it must be left to them to decide what they want to do. If they feel they can do well without going to classes, then so be it. What harm does this do to the University? The one carrying the burden is the student and the student only. It is his future. Would it make any difference if someone attends classes simply because he is forced to, and during class, he just dozes off? I can’t see why such a big fuss is being made over students who do not go to classes and did NOT do well. They should be concerned with students who DO go to classes and yet fail to deliver when it matters.

None of these is as important as getting us students proper parking place. I am sorry, this complaint might sound a bit “manja”. But to me, it is a reflection of a University’s ambition (or lack thereof), when they fail to realize the growing affluence of students and fail to take the fact that more young people are driving cars these days into account when planning and managing faculties.

This is not London. It is hot and humid. We park so far that by the time we reach classes we need a change of clothes (from the sweat, get it?). But anyway, despite these complains, I am more than thankful for the experiences that my Uni has somehow, inadvertently provided. When you complain, it does not mean you hate. Go figure.

Power Corrupts...

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Written on 10/06/2005 12:24:00 am by sikapitan

It is sometimes liberating to return as a Social Commentator, as opposed to the entertainment-friendly, bubble-gum remarks typical of my other alter ego – Senor Elkapitan. Do not get me wrong. I enjoy writing in Malay, and I enjoy interacting with the multitude of personalities you would expect when you touch on something that most people have an opinion about – entertainment! It’s even nicer when you’re interviewed by a radio station, though at some point during the entire 60-minutes segment I wished it was for this blog rather than the other. There’s so much more inside this head of mine than AF, but rants and thoughts of an opinionated 22-year old Malay undergraduate is not exactly what the mass media wants…

For this entry, we will look at what is going on at that sacred institution of ours that grabs the headlines for many wrong reasons- Parliament. To the average laymen, Parliamentarians do nothing more than squabble and bicker with each other. At least, that is what you read in newspapers, and yesterday’s headlining Buletin Utama’s feed from the Dewan Rakyat reinforces this view with Kit Siang and RafidahAziz going head-to-head in a match akin to something from the WWE. It has been the headline for the past week, with even Barisan MPs showing their displeasure at Rafidah’s absence from Parliament.

I would have launched into a tirade if it were not for the fact that I believe Rafidah to be more than capable being the head of a ministry. My mom was a former employee at MiTI, and like I have previously stated – no one’s opinion is free from prejudice - and her words carried weight in my mind. Rafidah, as most who follows politics would grudgingly admit, is an intelligent woman who is often referred to as the Iron Lady for her strong will in performing her duties. She is not without fault, as is bound to be when you are in power for too long a time.

Power corrupts. There is a reason why a cliché is a cliché. No matter what power you hold, how small your post, you would somehow, someday, someway act in a manner that is beneficial to your interest. Remember your Ketua Darjah, who happens to be your best friend thus didn’t reprimand you for not lining up properly before class starts? Or your student leader, who at the end of the day, allows you to meet the artist performing for the dinner backstage? Or that old schoolmate who now happens to be the Head Security to some posh club and let it slide that you did not have the proper ID? You don’t shout “Hey, corruption” because it benefits you, and you don’t see anyone else gets hurt.

Me? I just look at it this way – if I were a minister, I cannot say for sure I would not help a few friends, bail out a cousin or two, and pocket something for when I retire. So should I hold others on a higher standard than what I would do? Who has the gall to say that if the Opposition comes into power there would not be corruption?

Do not get me wrong. I am not condoning corruption, much less encouraging it. Rafidah made mistakes, and I am glad the opposition is pointing it out. The notion of corruption-free governance is one that remains idealistic, but it should not be dismissed because it sets a goal, a target, and without targets, you have no purpose. And when you have no purpose, you’re better off living without rules and laws. This equals anarchy. It’s just that I find it amusing when people talk of corruption as if it is beyond them, that they’re above any forms of abuse of power.

Mawi in Parliament...again!

Do you guys know who Mawi is??? If you don’t then you either don’t subscribe to any form of news media, or you simply turn it off when you see a bald-headed guy appearing on TV. Mawi is the Champion of Akademi Fantasia 3, but more importantly, he IS the new ICON for the Malay community. I am not a big fan of Mawi, but as part of entertainment, he does have his appeal. I just find it amusing how this young man has come to the level of cultural icon in a period of 3 months. What do you think?

Well, Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin certainly thinks highly of Mawi. He urged, in Parliament no less, that the Government exploit the popularity of this Johorean to get youths off from drugs and other social ills. Yes, that would certainly help wouldn’t it Datuk? Ignorance as to the nature of society, as to the cause of substance abuse, as to the psychological element of youths caught up in the tug-of-war between tradition and modernization leads to such simple solution. I do agree that celebrities involved in such campaigns can raise awareness, but tell me – whoever said drugs were good? Could you find an addict who would come up and tell you they genuinely thought doing drugs would cause no harm? A smoker knows the harm of smoking cigarettes. No use harping on the fact that drugs are dangerous.

Talking about smokers, I am pretty pissed off that the recent Budget did not impose a higher duty/tax on cigarettes. Rumors have it that by the end of this year, petrol prices will increase. Tell me now, what is more important – cigarettes or petrol? If the government were to increase the price for a pack to RM10, what harm would it do? Would farmers stop working because they can’t afford to buy cigarettes? Would the lorry drivers/bus drivers/taxi drivers launch pickets because they cannot enjoy their 20 sticks-a-day routine? Would the harm of increasing the price for cigarettes outweigh the advantages of NOT increasing the price of petrol? This is of course a very simple argument from an untrained economist, and I am sure the tobacco companies’ lobbyist has 1001 responses to this proposition of mine. But this is the thought of the average Malaysian, and isn’t that what counts at the end of the day?