Tale of the Weekday Morning People


Written on 3/26/2007 08:13:00 pm by sikapitan

It was a typical weekday morning. A typical weekday morning in Subang Jaya consists of spending a lot of time stuck in traffic jam, as thousands of vehicles converge on the only road leading them towards the city. The vehicles are occupied. Some are occupied by couples but most, by only one person. Most, if not all, heading towards work, or as some like to call it, responsibility.

Many go through this routine, every weekday, every year. There will be a time when their responsibility, these people who spent their weekday mornings going to work, no longer exists, or a new, more “responsible” replacement comes along, or when they simply cannot be “responsible” anymore, due to old age and/or illness.

Suddenly, these “weekday morning people” are left with nothing to do on a typical weekday morning. They wake up at 6.30 am or 7.00 am or 8.00 am or whatever time they’re used to and have nowhere to go. Oh yes, many would say, “Ahh, now I have the time to do whatever I want…” Yet, many do not know what they want to do.

They turn to their friends, but their friends are off to work. For those fortunate enough to have friends in the same predicament, they will soon find that there’s nothing left to talk about. No more complains about the boss, no more rumblings about the new management policy, no more comparing accomplishments.

And so they turn to their family. For the past 20 odd years, they have been in contact with their spouse for only a few hours every weekday. Now, they are there for breakfast, for lunch, for afternoon tea, for dinner. For some, this is a blessing, and for these people we can only look on in envy or to the cynic, warily.

But for most, this sudden shift from affectionate detachment to irritating obsession is grating on the nerves. People say that this is due to lack of love but I just think that love, over time, changes its character. Love in its infancy is full of possibilities and raw attraction, while love in its “golden age” is more about compromise and understanding.

In short, love is a work in progress. It evolves through time. And when two people in love are used to seeing just a little bit of each other every day, and cherish these simple moments, the sudden shift to constant contact every hour, every day, can be fatal to the concept of romance.

So the weekday morning people seek their children. Certainly, if children are investment, then it makes absolute sense for the investor to enjoy the rewards from a matured investment. But alas, managing children is not like managing stocks or bonds.

Neither are they pets or servants. Though time and effort had been made in raising them, having any sort of physical expectation is bound to cause depression and dissatisfaction. The best reward a parent can and should expect is the one that isn’t connected to them at all.

The weekday morning people should be glad if their children are now part of the weekday morning crowd. Touching other’s lives with their own, loving others just as the weekday morning people loved them, and be a part of that weekday morning traffic jam heading to work that might appear inconsequential, but nothing is ever truly inconsequential in this world.

In other words, the best expectation, one that doesn’t cause hardship to the soul, is for the weekday morning people’s children to have their own meaningful life.

If so, what’s left for the weekday morning people to do? No books, or shows, or sports, or activities can ever replace the feeling of waking up in the morning, having a task to do, and a responsibility to fulfill. And so the weekday morning people, who so often sit in a traffic jam and curse their weekday morning routine, will one day wake up and wish they are there, in the midst of a weekday morning traffic jam, heading towards the city.

Datuk Ketuk


Written on 3/22/2007 12:17:00 am by sikapitan

Shock! Horror! I read in the news today that the most famous Datuk in Malaysia has been sensationally accused of assaulting a young boy. No, it’s not Datuk M. Daud Kilau, but it’s another Datuk embroiled in the glamorous world of Malaysian Entertainment Scene (MESS). Datuk Khalid Jiwa or better known as Datuk K has been accused of beating up a friend of his son.

“Yesterday, 18-year-old Muhammad Kasheef Harris lodged a report at Dang Wangi police headquarters claiming that he was beaten up at the house of Datuk K’s ex-wife, Tengku Zawyah Tengku Idzham, on Saturday night.”Link

It’s certainly looking a bit suspicious for the man with the name just as snazzy as Jay-Z or Dr. Dre, because I wouldn’t think a police report would be filed without just cause. Oh well, if this goes to Court, get ready for another round of “Ally McBeal” as lawyers and family members jostle around for just a glimmer of the spotlight. Link

The Heroes Are In Town

No, it’s not Hiro, or Peter Petrelli, or Isaac Mendez. It’s our very own badminton heroes Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong. I wish to congratulate them on a very spirited performance in the All-England, although on a more personal note, there’s something a bit disturbing about Koo Kien Keat’s demeanor towards his opponents. Maybe it’s his style of play, but it won’t win him many friends. But as long they’re winning, I guess nobody would dare say anything.

In any case, in terms of sporting abilities, I sincerely believe that this pair is made of the right stuff. They’re quick and flexible, allowing greater interplay and repositioning during a rally. Maybe they’re lacking a killer smash, but they make up for it with impressive reaction time and some exquisite drop shots.

At this stage of their career, and at their age, it would be prudent for the NSC to set up a reward system that not only recognizes their achievements, but also ensure their financial future. Rather than giving lump-sum monetary rewards, maybe it would be more prudent to offer investment bonds, life insurance policies, stock options, and special trust fund that will mature when they reach 30 years old. Link

It’s not like we don’t want them to enjoy. It’s just that through these methods, we are ensuring that they remain focus on the badminton court, and yet feel secure that they are well set in case their badminton career falls short. The problem with outright monetary reward is that it leaves the decision making on young men like them. Not trying to disrespect their honesty and discipline, but as an honest, discipline, young man myself, I can tell you it’s hard to control your expenditure.

Think of it this way. The boys will be getting a financial manager for free who not only manage their accounts so that the money is there, but also add to the amount through sound investment.

Aiyah, what’s wrong with ciplak?

Thank you Fong Kui Lun of DAP for proving that, in Malaysia, idiocy is not limited to the ruling party. It’s easy to pick on Barisan’s leaders because…they hog the news most of the time BUT today the venerable MP from Bukit Bintang has given me a new target. I’m bored of shooting down kancils myself. Let me just quote the news from Malay Mail:

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry’s plan to `clean up’ Petaling Street of fake and pirated goods has been met with stiff opposition from Bukit Bintang Member of Parliament, Fong Kui Lun (DAP).

Fong disagreed with the Ministry’s plans as he said Petaling Street is a tourist haven.

“If there are frequent raids, tourists will shy away from the place, leaving it to die a slow death,” he said. “The Ministry’s enforcement division must ease up on their actions.”

He said the easy availability of fake and pirated goods at Petaling Street represented the area’s charm and its drawing power.

“That is what the tourists come for,” said Fong.
“Let’s not ruin it and scare the tourists away, especially during Visit Malaysia Year.”

Fong said although the public are not encouraged to buy fakes, the availability of the goods provides a ‘level playing field’ for the lower-income group.

“A pair of original Guess jeans can easily cost RM500. A regular Malaysian with little disposable income would never be able to afford it,” he said. “When a similar pair is on sale for RM50 at Petaling Street, everyone can buy it.

“It merely provides a level playing ground for the lower income group to obtain expensive things at cheap prices, even if they are fakes.”

What’s really amazing in this report is that the B.B MP was so brazen in condoning ciplak goods in the Malaysian market. He doesn’t realize that by saving the livelihood of one hundred families, he could be killing off the job opportunity for hundreds of thousands more.

One of the reasons why foreign companies are reluctant to establish manufacturing plants, research and development centers is the level of piracy in Malaysia. I think it’s also one of the reasons why Malaysia doesn’t attract popular bands like Coldplay to perform here.

He also got it wrong, in a sense. When using Guess jeans as an analogy, maybe he should first go buy Guess jeans. Then maybe he would realize that it’s NOT A SIMILAR PAIR, and you’re NOT OBTAINING EXPENSIVE THINGS at cheap prizes. It’s oxymoronic. You’re obtaining cheaper things at cheap prizes!

FINALLY, a politician has shown his true color. Now you know why every time you go to the mamak there’ll be guys hanging around selling pirated DVDs. You must be wondering how come the police never ever catch those guys. They can, but they won’t. Politics stop them from doing so

It’s simple really. If 80% of your voters are users of pirated goods, and you are the MP for the area, would you dare make a move on this cheap source of goods and entertainment? Now, the Bukit Bintang MP has certainly been a revelation for DAP, but maybe he’s just shot himself in the foot with his statements. Then again, when 80% of your voters are directly or indirectly involved in the pirated goods business, he might just be making a smart political move…go figure.

Addicted to As-Tacy


Written on 3/16/2007 10:36:00 pm by sikapitan

It’s been a bit slow in the World of News these past few days. And readers will be surprised with this early update. It’s nothing actually. I just feel like trying to update twice a week, though I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference to my 4 readers.

Since my last update, Malaysians have been gripped by the phenomenon I would like to call ‘As-litis’. It’s a syndrome brought on by a drug known as “As-tacy”. It happens four times a year, though one of its generic, known by its street name as “SPM”, gets more people high than the average As-tacy. I mean, most newbies start with “UPSR”, which gets you mildly high, like taking Panadol with Coke. Then you move on to “PMR”, which is a bit like marijuana.

But SPM is the real deal; with people so addicted to As that you see the number of shots needed rising each year. No longer content with 8 or 9 shots, they now aim for 18 to 19. It’s equivalent to cocaine, but at least with cocaine you know you’re messing with your life. “As-litis” is more subtle, making you think that you’re actually clamoring for vitamins when instead you’re taking a dangerous drug that clouds your mind and hides it from the truth. Am I being over-dramatic? Hear me out…

First and foremost, it’s great that we have more and more people with more and more As. It probably indicates that we are having smarter kids. But maybe, just maybe, it also indicates that there’s something fundamentally wrong with our education system. Maybe after years of teaching the subjects the same way, and framing questions the same way, it gets easier to know what’s coming out. It’s easier to “spot” the questions. And when it’s easier to predict what’s going on, it’s easier for the students to simply memorize the answers.

Now, personally, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of memorizing. It’s one of the attributes of intelligence. Those who usually condemn people who memorize their subjects are usually jealous, and incapable of memorizing things themselves. But it’s only one aspect of intelligence. We have comprehending, analyzing, and finally sorting it all out so we arrive at an answer. But syllabuses that emphasize on merely finding ONE correct answer, rather than different paths towards MULTIPLE solutions, will someday, like it is now, eliminate all other thought process except for memorizing.

Secondly, there is this myth that the more As you have, the better your chances are at succeeding in life. I used to believe this myth, and I got my As, but as I started analyzing my surroundings, and looking at the realities of life, I realized that it’s not the amount of As you have, but the quality of the As. I believe that getting the right As for the right subjects is essential towards achieving your goals.

Take for example one high achiever who stated in the newspaper that her ambition all along is to take up pharmacy. Then why the heck did she sit for subjects totally unrelated to pharmacy? I mean, Tasawwur Islam is as related to Pharmacy like Mawi is to Bill Clinton – 100% NO RELATION.

So you get a situation where a student takes all the subjects available in her school, both science and art subjects, just so she can cover her bases in case pharmacy didn’t work out. Right, like you need tasawwur Islam to go to college and study business. It just doesn’t make sense the subject combinations that these students are taking. That is why I am not against As, but I’m against those who wants As simply for the sake of the score. Where is the value in that A?

Then again, is it their fault for wanting all these As? I believe that there is a fear amongst our students that no matter how many As they get, it's not good enough to get them the education they desperately want. Can you blame them for these thoughts when every year we read news about top scorers not getting the course of their choice? If there is a system of transparency in determining the intake of students to public universities and the allotment of scholarships, then perhaps students would be more secure in their 8 or 9 As then simply going for the jugular just so they could go to the university of their choice, taking the subject of their choice.

I am NOT one of those people who say that As are rubbish, that education does not mean anything, that As means you’re just a bookworm. This line of thought, when expressed, normally comes from people who didn’t do well in school, but manage to succeed anyway. So if it happens to them, why can’t it happen to the rest?

For one reason, people like to view themselves above others. I do too, sometimes, but I am always acutely aware that there are many paths towards success, and it doesn’t mean that since the path that I chose worked, other paths are dead-ends. So to these people who didn’t get As yet are more successful that some people who did well – congratulations, you are one of the lucky ones.

I think that academic success is an important gauge on a person’s development process. A person who does well in school are usually knowledgeable, hard-working, disciplined…the list goes on and on. And these attributes are also attributes that most successful people possess. So it’s wrong for the successful entrepreneur to start generalizing and discriminate against a successful student simply because he managed to succeed without the As. Life is never black and white, and roads are seldom just left and right.

I applaud those who did well. Maybe you won’t all be the richest people in Malaysia, but at least we know that you would contribute towards the nation. For those who didn’t, let me assure you that life is not over just yet. Life is beyond a piece of paper. You can succeed, but you must take note that to succeed you must have the drive, determination, effort and knowledge – things that you probably lacked in the first place. So look into the mirror, find out your flaws. Improve on it. And move on…because in five years time, nobody cares how many As you got for your SPM.

I should know, because nobody cares anymore how much I got for SPM...go figure.


Movie Review: Mukhsin (with Linda Onn thrown in the mix)


Written on 3/12/2007 08:00:00 am by sikapitan

It’s amazing that this is actually my third review of Yasmin Ahmad’s films. It started way back when Sepet came out, and Yasmin was kind enough to post a comment on that review. I am not sure whether she has the time, or the will, to respond to every online comment about her films anymore.

The buzz surrounding Mukhsin is tremendous. I mean, the way it is promoted has been unprecedented, and to a large extent, brilliant. I applaud the way Mukhsin was patiently brought all over the world to compete in awards which, frankly speaking, most Malaysians don’t even know or care about. But win Mukhsin did, and by the time it was shown in Malaysia, the movie promotional posters can proudly carry various insignia of film awards including best picture.

Let’s not forget the brilliant tie-in with a cosmetic company. Certainly the ads, shown in Episodes, serve as a great teaser to the real movie. It also creates brand awareness; though for the sake of being fair to other cosmetic companies, I won’t say the name of that particular company for fear that it would unnecessarily be promoted to the MILLIONS of people visiting undergrounduate daily. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA….

Mukhsin is a simple tale about simple kids who fell in love for the first time. Orked (10), a tomboy (for lack of better term), met Mukhsin (12) during the school holidays. Unexplained and undeveloped, yet somehow accepted, is the fact that both fell for each other so quickly. Maybe it is because Mukhsin is taller than the rest of the boys, or Orked is fairer than the rest of the girls (because of the cosmetics?). They go through that awkward pre-pubescent love period, though how many of us actually ever go through what they did at that age is questionable.

Of course, there are always the side characters in Yasmin’s movies to entertain us, and distract us from the slow-paced main theme. Orked’s mom and dad, again, show how Yasmin view the perfect parents. Open-minded, bilingual (with an annoying accent, no less), sexually satisfied, can’t get enough of each other, morally righteous, religious, modern, patient, poor yet content…in effect, the perfect yet unrealistic couple and parents.

What would Yasmin’s movie be without some typical stereotype Malay characters thrown in? Although admittedly her treatment of Orked’s neighbour, and the nearest this film has resembling a villain, is less harsh than in her previous movies. It serves an interesting anecdote as to how people like to find fault with others, just because they’re afraid others will find out theirs.

Mukhsin is only there for a short period. So both kids realize that time is running out. Yet, somehow, Orked felt hurt by an innocuous action by Mukhsin. Basically, Orked overreacts, and its kind of grating to see how she acts when Mukhsin desperately tries to talk to her. There’s an underlying drama with Mukhsin’s character, and this comes in the form of a broken home and unhappy childhood. How he turned up so well-mannered is a miracle that only exists in the movies.

As usual, Orked realized too late of her mistake. By the time she wants to make amends, Mukhsin is gone forever. It is this theme of regret that most affects me. Every day is a beginning, or the end. Chances come and go. And you will miss some, an opportunity for love, work, happiness, or redemption. The lesson I learned, whether it was intended by Yasmin or not, is that life goes on. Another day will come. Living life without regret is NOT living every day as if it’s your last, but accepting that we will lose something everyday. Accept that she’s gone…and you won’t live life in regret…

You know it’s not as simple as it seems when it comes to Yasmin, who has never been shy to comment on the state of the Malays in her previous movies. But if Sepet was a slap, and Gubra a punch, Mukhsin is more of a pinch on our social fabric. It doesn’t attempt to force Yasmin’s view of society like Gubra did. Its mild subtext of social commentary is seen only if you want to see it and even then its up to you to interpret it anyway you want to.

It’s not really sexual like some narrow minded critics have said although it’s a little disconcerting to see the open physical proximity these two kids seems to enjoy. There’s a scene where Mukhsin climbed a tree to catch a glimpse of Orked. No, he’s not a peeping tom for a state religious authority or the JPJ. He just misses Orked so much. Suddenly, the daughter of the nosy neighbor spotted Mukhsin, and Mukhsin grudgingly climbed down the tree. While he was climbing down, the girl said “Apa dalam poket awak tu?” upon seeing a bulge in Mukhsin’s pants. Go figure.

So do I like it? Yes and no. Yes because it is easy to digest, it’s beautifully shot, the side characters are absolutely brilliant, the acting’s top notch, and it’s hilarious while being dramatic at the same time. No because some parts are kind of unbelievable, because my mind’s not working overtime like it did with Gubra or Sepet (some might view this as a positive sign), and that considering this is Yasmin’s third movie, and the racial undertones in all her movies, why hasn’t she mentioned anything about the Indians? Don’t they deserve to be included in any movie that aims to reflect on the social condition of Malaysian society?

Somehow I think that most audience would prefer Cinta. But then again, most audience went to see Ghostrider…

Enough Already…

I don’t want to comment on Linda Onn. Honestly I don’t. But I just couldn’t keep quiet when every day I read something about the “controversy” surrounding her non-appearance at the Oscars, which just goes to show that real news is scarce in Malaysia.

Linda Onn was a weird choice in the first place. Anyone here ever seen her hosting an event in English? It must have been a hard thing for Linda, you know, to be sponsored all the way to L.A, to be given free accommodations and transport, to be provided with beautiful frocks to wear, and most importantly, to appear on TV interviewing stars that most of us can only dream about. Oh no, rescue me from this madness…

Somehow she managed to mess it up. I know its unfair to blame her alone, but I’m basing my judgment on her reasons for not appearing. It’s feeble to the point of being ludicrous. Can anyone honestly believe that a local fashion designer, designing a kebaya no less, would dare do anything so sexy as to offend a not-so-kampung Malay girl? No, there’s something else I guess for her refusing to appear. If it’s really because of the clothes, then shame on Linda for neglecting her responsibility and placing more importance on appearance rather than substance.

But the worst thing about this whole episode in relation to Oscars in Malaysia is that it deflects attention from the atrocious Breakfast with The Stars event organized by Star TV in which Malaysian celebrities come to watch the live screening of the Oscars in their best evening wear. The problem is that it’s NOT the evening. It’s at 8 am, a time where most Malaysian celebrities have problem finding on their watch. Can you imagine the silliness of waking up at Subuh, get all dressed up, then make your way to a hotel, go through a faux red carpet, and then sit to watch a bunch of stars a million miles away get awards? Do you think the Hollywood stars would do such a thing? Or whether they even know the existence of this stupid event?

Sporting Orgasm...


Written on 3/05/2007 12:23:00 am by sikapitan

Success can be measured in many ways. A straight As in school is perfect, absolutely brilliant. And yet, its relevance and recognition is dependant not on the final score, but in the manner in which it was achieved. A student who studied 8 hours a day, goes to tuition every afternoon, gets the best books money can buy, eats supplements to improve alertness and then achieve straight As would be applauded and congratulated, but will not be revered. Get a poor, troubled teenager a few As and everyone will be remembering a legend…

People do not take the time to reflect on their thoughts (it’s a bit oxymoronic but bear with me for a bit…). Reflection is a thought process right? But how many of us actually reflect on what we think? If we did, we would notice certain traits and patterns that would surprise.

I mean, how many of us actually remembered the A we got for Bahasa Malaysia in standard 5? Or better yet, how many of us care about the A we got for Pendidikan Jasmani? The same goes for everything else in our memory selection process. We don’t remember the straight drive to Subang Parade that we do every day. We don’t remember the countless nasi lemaks we had on weekends. We don’t remember the names or even faces of girls we pick up without batting an eyelid.

Instead, we remembered the miraculous C we got for Add Maths (crazy!), or the A we got for Science when we had diarrhea on exam day. We remembered the crazy drought in 98 when we overcame serious water shortages and managed to survive on oily tanker water. We remembered how we bounced back from the economic meltdown. We remembered the crazy traffic jams on our way to an important meeting. We savored the taste of the sotong bakar we had by the beach in Terengganu. We definitely remembered the names of the girls whom we somehow, despite their greatest resistance and the sheer impossibility of the task, managed to ask out.

Nowhere is this theory more aptly applied than in the world of sports. People loved Lance Armstrong because of his exceptional recovery from cancer (and somehow, despite leaving his wife who was by his side throughout the traumatic period for Sheryl Crow, he managed to remain popular). Or how about Senegal’s magnificent campaign in the 2002 World Cup? Does anyone here actually remember Milan’s win over Juventus in the Champions League final a few years back? I bet not. I rest my case.

This leads me to a startling conclusion. People love adversity. The greater the challenge, the more impossible the task, the more we take joy in its outcome. Sometimes we don’t even have to succeed for it to be forever ingrained in our mind. We find it more interesting to hear about people who earn RM50 a day selling nasi lemak than people who care to talk about how they earn RM4000 a month counting someone else’s money.

This finally brings us to one of the most memorable weekend of this year for me. On Saturday, I think I experienced one of those “sporting orgasm” moments when Manchester United beat Liverpool by a single goal. It was a combination of many factors. The crowd, the venue, the people with you….but most importantly the manner in which victory was achieved.

United did NOT play well. Liverpool was the better team. United defended resolutely, Liverpool attacked cautiously, and that made the game a bit a tactical battle (you know it will with Rafa in charge). It wasn’t the most exciting or entertaining game to watch. But when John O’Shea blasted the ball beyond Reina at the Kop end of Anfield, it was like having Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba and Elisha Cuthbert…you get my point.

Was I embarrassed that I shouted as loud as I did? On hindsight, it wasn’t the coolest thing to do. But when your team overcomes another important hurdle towards glory, being cool isn’t the most important thing in the world. When the ref blew the whistle, my heart was beating so hard, my veins were ready to pop out, my breathing were shallow, my happiness so uncontainable that I started saying things I don’t even remember…I guess for a person who never experienced drug use before, this is as close I could get to being “high”.

It’s adversity that makes us strong. It’s the impossible that makes us dare to dream. Do I remember where I was when United won 4-0 against Fulham in the opening day of the season? No. But I would definitely remember the smell, the sound, and the people when John O’Shea’s shot hit the back of the net. It’s just the way our mind works…

Go figure.