If I was somebody's Muse...


Written on 2/28/2007 12:59:00 am by sikapitan

I suppose MUSE is on everyone’s minds these past few days. I was not planning on writing about the concert, but it seems like MUSE is on my mind too. This is rather ironic, considering the definition of the term MUSE.

What’s even more ironic is the obvious fact that I am nothing more than a casual fan of MUSE. Muscle Museum piques my interest when I first heard it, but despite having two of their albums (Origin of Symmetry & Absolution) and countless downloads, I never really bothered to memorize the tracklist or lyrics or even the melodies.

I don’t have MUSE wallpaper on my desktop, nor do I know the name of the band members. The music speaks for itself, and everything else is just showbiz, isn’t it?

Nevertheless, when I first heard that the tickets were sold out, I was surprisingly downcast. I don’t exactly know why, because I wasn’t really crazy to go in the first place, but something deep inside me, the music soul within me, is saying that I might truly miss an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I guess I must have done something right, because my pal, Shady, got me a ticket at the last moment, albeit at a 20% mark-up. I cannot begin to express my surprise at the spirit of friendship shown by another pal, Dedumno, whose girlfriend was sweet enough to offer her ticket (allegedly…) if I truly am desperate for one. Alas, since I have already purchased my own, Dedumno is spared the agony of a prolonged period of “merajuk”. Thanks anyway…

When I arrived at Stadium Negara, the majority, and I am not talking about George W. Bush style majority (when I say majority I meant 95%), of concert-goers were Malays. This is ironic (favorite word of the day) as just a few weeks back rumors were circulating that the tickets weren’t really sold out, but were withheld from Muslims. I don’t actually know if it’s true, or if it’s an official policy, but it didn’t work, obviously.

The reason for the supposed ban was that the official sponsor for the concert was a beer company, and a rather famous one at that. If not, why would Jessica Alba want more? *snicker*. I cannot comment more on this point as I have come to realize that fundamentalists don’t really like to hear open-minded suggestions and opinions.

Suffice to say that I trust in the power of individual faith and choice. No matter where you are, in whatever situation, if you choose to do the right thing, you will. I was waiting to hear from another pal, Sop, who was supposed to meet me up before the gig. Him and his crew was running a bit late (as usual… ;), but when I called him up, he wasn’t rushing to get into his seat. Instead, he was looking for the surau. Enough said.

Actually, I failed to mention that Shady actually purchased complimentary tickets from his friend who was working at a local entertainment magazine. So I guess the mark-up was actually 100% because his friend got it free! But this meant that we got some excellent seats, which of course we chose not to use, considering this IS a rock concert after all.

Instead, we stood along the railings between those in the upper tier, and those in the lower tier. My experience from previous concerts is that the cheaper the tickets, the crazier the fans, and this holds true till today.

I find it funny how concert-goers cheer the roadies who performed nothing more than casual checks on the instruments, audio and visual. I find it extremely not funny that the organizers cannot play a decent selection of songs (with the exception of Wolfmother’s Woman) while we wait the appearance of MUSE

I guess we should check MUSE’s identification to see if they’re actually Malays, because they only appeared one hour later. Just kidding, but it goes to show how ingrained the concept of “janji Melayu” is on my subconscious mind.

All is forgiven when the first note to Kings of Cydonia was played to a rapturous reception from a very sporting Malaysian crowd. MUSE was clever enough to play 4 rocking songs in a row, thus ensuring that the crowd was truly on its way to head-banging induced pleasure.

Those who have been “fortunate” enough to join me on any previous endeavors involving music would understand what I am saying next – I CAN’T STOP MOVING. Ask my girlfriend, who swears that she’s going to leave me if I ever started dancing like a madman in the middle of a shopping mall again, or ask my friends, who has nicknamed me Energizer.

Is it the lack of cigarettes, alcohol or drugs in my system that caused this terrible, yet exhilarating, addiction to follow the beat of music? I don’t know, and though I cannot say for certain that those high on drugs or alco don’t groove as hard or as long as yours truly, I can certainly be positive that if they do, it IS NOT because they are intimately attached to every note played as if it’s a string that guides a puppet.

If somehow, through pure luck, one of my readers (but I thought I only have 4…heheheh) was at the concert, and saw a crazy dude decked in green jumping at EVERY SONG (even the slow ones), then you’ve just seen how an undergrounduate acts in real life.

It isn’t pretty, but at least it’s true. At the end of the close to 2 hour show, my topman tee was finding it hard to dissipate my sweat, but Stadium Negara is a cool venue (literally), so it wasn’t that bad.

I realized something about concerts that maybe I haven’t realized before. Malaysians, in general, are a decent lot. We know when a concert starts, we should jump around, scream, shout, and generally be crazy, but when it stops, we too stop the madness, and file out in an orderly manner. I guess concerts don’t really turn people into animals.

Or maybe I should go to a real rock kapak concert, and maybe there I can see the much talked about social ills being generated by enjoying music. But as for now, no, I don’t suddenly want to go the Tiger way…

Acceptance is a virtue


Written on 2/20/2007 07:18:00 pm by sikapitan

I honestly think that in politics, it is a requirement for you to be a bit of a busybody. When Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad took charge of the Home Affairs Ministry, he went about correcting another ill-thought government initiative - the “lucky draw for Mykad” drive - which was conceived under Datuk Azmi Khalid’s leadership of the said Ministry.

For those ignorant of Malaysian news, the Home Ministry introduced a lucky draw contest to tempt Malaysians to convert to the new MyKad. At that time, I remembered writing something about it here in Undergrounduate, but I don’t have the time to check the archives, nor do I think it’s important to smugly say “I told you so…” Even the public wasn’t too keen on the whole idea and this is evident by the fact that most of the winners did not even bother to collect their prize.

Back to the present. When Datuk Seri Radzi cancelled all prizes under the afore mentioned “lucky draw” drive, he also thought it was necessary to call the idea “silly and rubbish”. Now, when you say an idea as silly and rubbish, you are implying that the person who gave the idea is also a bit “silly and rubbish”. You would have thought that Datuk Azmi Khalid would have gone bonkers and start issuing press statements denying his responsibility or blaming his officers. You would have thought that the person who got the rebuke would be the one responding.

But not in Malaysia. This is the land where everyone else, except for the one that really matters, wants to have a say. Just look at the number of ministers and Menteri Besars who think it is worth our time to hear what their thoughts on comments made by one former PM to one current PM. In this case, Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim decided to “back” Azmi Khalid and asked Radzi to withdraw his statement.

The only connection Shahidan has with this affair is the fact that both Azmi and Radzi are from Perlis. And what about Azmi Khalid himself, the “victim” of Radzi’s comment? I never paid much attention to him, but I wasn’t his biggest fan. I see him as one of those “passengers”, the type who is in it for the ride, just following the driver, never venturing to offer new routes.

It’s not good to be a leader when you have this “passenger” mentality, but it’s not the worse trait in the world. I can live with “passengers” on the bus known as Malaysian politics. It’s better than being a noisy conductor type who makes ruckus out of nothing but who can “forget” to collect the fare from a pretty young thing.

Back to Azmi. Surprisingly, for a politician, he was humble enough to accept the criticism, didn’t take it personally, and even commended Radzi for withdrawing the whole lucky draw scheme. I guess the newspapers were frustrated when this happen.

I mean, on Tuesday they believed they had another week-long drama ready to unfold, especially when Shahidan thought it was necessary to give his two-cent’s worth. But with Azmi’s surprise acceptance of past mistake, the news just died down. We’re back to news about how wonderful our economy is and how this is not just another tactic to drum up support for a snap general election *snigger*.

Football: Why would Ronaldo (Christiano of course) want to join Real Madrid? I am NOT giving my thoughts as a United fan, but in pure football terms, he would be better off playing for Barcelona. Success has been fleeting for Real these past few years. And honestly, Real haven’t been a model of success in developing young exciting players. Name one “young guns” that came to Real with a big reputation and made it big time.

Robinho had so much promise, yet hasn’t shined for Real ever since his move last season. Real is not the place where people develop their talent, and as scary as this sounds, I do think that Ronaldo is still in the development stage. Yes, he’s playing brilliantly now, but in 2-3 years time, he’ll simply be in a class of his own. And if he sticks with United, which has had success breeding talented youngsters, he’ll more likely to enjoy his football, and develop as a player.

Of course, I hate to admit it but the best team to nurture talented teenagers is Arsenal. But why would anyone want to mix around with the pedophilic-looking Arsene Whiner is beyond me…



Written on 2/12/2007 08:30:00 pm by sikapitan

The weather these days are just so unpredictable! The newspapers are going bonkers with the thought of another drought, similar to the one in 1998, hitting Malaysia. This is just a few weeks after massive rain caused flooding in the southern states. Of course, it’s natural for everyone to look at global warming as the cause of it all.

I somehow get the feeling that we only see what we want to see. It’s easy to say that global warming caused irregular weather patterns. But what are irregular weather patterns? How do you determine that weather patterns are irregular? When you simply compare data within a period of 10 years then, YES, perhaps these past few years there has been some abnormality. However, take note that this world, our EARTH, has existed for MILLIONS of years.

Would the Ice Age be considered as an irregular weather pattern? What about the breaking up of continents? Or the rising, then decreasing sea level? Droughts, earthquakes, floods…these have existed since time immemorial. Can we say that global warming caused these phenomena millions and thousands of years ago?

I just have this notion that the Earth, an organic being in nature, is simply evolving, just like it has since its inception. And let’s not forget that we too can evolve, and I believe somehow we will. Just like our ancestors, we must adapt to changing natural conditions, but unlike them, we may have the added advantage of technology.

Perhaps that is the way humans will evolve in the future. Not through genetic mutations, but through evolution of technology.

On another note, I am not against the whole concept of pollution causing global warming and such. Nevertheless, I honestly believe that if everyone stops driving in Malaysia, it wouldn’t stop the world from changing, maybe just delay the inevitable. But I do believe that pollution is detrimental to our health.

Thus, I just hope that the world’s smartest folks (yes, you scientists) can come up with innovative solution to combat pollution. It’s amazing that we are still grappling with problems that existed since the Industrial Revolution. Factories, cars, even our stoves emit harmful particles in the air. Maybe the technology is there, but it’s too expensive to be implemented.

Thus, it is the duty of the government, ours and others, to look at their priorities and remember that their actions now can have serious repercussions in the future. I, for one, am delighted at the news that our fuel will be upgraded. By containing less sulphur, our fuel will not only emit less harmful particles, but we can now enjoy the benefits of modern state of the art engines optimized to use such fuels. Diesel technology and application is one to benefit from this improvement.

Readers should know that in Europe, diesel cars are outselling petrol ones as consumers have realized that diesel engines offer better mileage, emits less pollutants, and in fact provides more zip for town driving. But I am positive that many Malaysians will instead look at the fact that the price of petrol WILL reach the RM2 per litre mark.

It is a necessary sacrifice, but I’m not too sure how many people would be willing to do so…

On another note, I was suitably impressed by Richard Branson's announcement of a 27 million pound grant to scientist who can find a way to combat the greenhouse effect (I read this news in passing, so apologies for any factual mistakes).


Safe and Sound...


Written on 2/04/2007 11:37:00 pm by sikapitan

Honestly, sometimes the World around me is kind enough to provide me with enough ammunition to arm my most dangerous weapon (no, it’s not my charm) – my overanalyzing, overcritical mind.

I mean, just yesterday (Saturday night) as I was heading out to with Dan towards Kuala Lumpur I received a frantic phone call from my mom asking me to turn around, cancel my plans, and come back. I protested in vain, and half an hour later, I was told that my weekly excursions are no longer possible because (this is reaaalllyyy funny) at 8.30pm the same night, at a shopping mall in Subang (everybody knows it’s Parade), a bunch of robbers opened fire and managed to kill two guards before carrying away 12 trays of jewelries.

How that relates to MY situation is rather hazy, but here’s the logic: Because someone else gets robbed, or someone else got into an accident, it is certainly possible (though most improbable) that I would too. My mum said, “Even when you’re in a supposedly safe place like Parade, bad things can happen…what more when you’re out there at ungodly hours at ungodly (little does she knows…) places...”

I guess she missed out the important point here (or maybe it’s just me being petulant, and rebelling against perceived intolerance from a higher authority figure). The fact that BECAUSE it can happen anywhere, and anytime, makes it so unrealistic and illogical to say that the probability of risk increases as the night goes by.

I mean, I read of people getting mugged coming back from work during the evenings, kids getting into fights (samurai style no less) at school, a daughter being raped by their own father that I no longer think the old maxim “It’s not safe at night” or “Be wary of strangers” applies the way it used to.

This goes to show how bad Malaysia is heading in terms of providing peace and security to its inhabitants. Some readers might be saying, “Hey, we’re much better off than our neighbors…” and start thinking that I’m into dissing Malaysia all the time. I’m not, and because I really do care about the fate of our nation that I feel we shouldn’t always compare with others, and instead try to compare with our own expectations.

I believe most of us expect to be able to have a nice cup of the tarik at the mamaks without worrying of a bunch of parang-wielding men would come around and start relieving us of our precious money. I believe most of us expect to be safe enough in our own homes, knowing that a policeman is always nearby in case something untoward happens. I believe most of us expect our children to go to school in a safe environment, without fear of them being trampled to death by their colleagues. And I believe we all believe our expectations to be sensible.

So why should it matter if there are robberies everyday in Jakarta, or if they’re bombings everyday in Southern Thailand? We as Malaysians have our own expectations, and unfortunately, in my opinion, these are not being met.

I find it hard to blame any one group in particular. For example, people blame the police for the recent acquittal of 5 men charged with murder. Yes, the investigation was flawed, and yes it was conducted by officers who don’t fully understand the necessary criminal investigation procedure. But rather than blame the individuals, we should look at the bigger picture – why aren’t the police force attracting the necessary talents?

I mean, none of the graduates from my batch are interested in joining PDRM. It’s just not the most attractive proposition. The pay (although not as bad as most think) is just not good enough, especially considering the type of work, and most importantly, the tainted reputation. Honestly speaking, in my encounters with police officers, I find them to be quite dignified and professional, but imagine you telling your mom that you want to be a police officer. Saying that you’re a police officer isn’t exactly the coolest thing in Malaysia, isn’t it? Girls aren’t going to swoon over a cop.

It’s the same deal with government doctors. Honestly speaking, I just cannot imagine doctors getting paid less than business grads, but that is what’s going on in government hospitals. They are overworked and underpaid, so is it any wonder that the best talents in the medical profession choose to go the private way?

The solution: Review the pay scheme of the police force to attract graduates who are actually intelligent, modern, resourceful and not stuck in the old Malay mentality. The first few batches might not be up to the par, but after a while we may see the police force slowly changing from the inside as these early pioneers move higher up in the hierarchy.

On a more general note, PDRM should conduct aggressive recruitment style campaigns to attract jobless grads to join the police force with proper ads and marketing gimmicks. The images of old, ramshackle police quarters should be forever removed from the minds of Malaysians. Since there are so many jobless grads out there, there’s a huge pool for the police force to fish around. You might get a few ikan bilis in there, but I’ll bet there’s quite a few ikan terubuk as well.

Even the police admits that the police to people ratio should be 1 – 200 ( or something like that) which at the moment seems like Wonderland. More policemen (but not traffic police, as it seems like there are more cops out there looking for speeding drivers than those patrolling my neighbourhood) would certainly generate a feeling of security.

Until then, most houses are doing what my family is doing right now. As of last week, we officially have a guard taking care of the property, after yet another case of attempted house breaking. And for those of you who think I’m always overcritical, I reserve a special praise to the USJ 8 Police Station and its officers for managing to arrive at my house within 5 minutes of the first phone call. See, there’s always hope…