The One on Turning 50

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Written on 8/28/2007 02:20:00 am by sikapitan

Namewee – the mere sight and sound of that name sends shudders down the spine of every politician worth his or her salt here in Malaysia. It should, by now, be a forgotten story, but when it first came into the limelight (thanks to Harian Metro, the vanguard of petty news, gossips, social justice and Malay rights), it was the biggest news of the hour.

Everyone and I do mean everyone, had an opinion on the young Muar kid (Muar oh Muar…) who degraded our national anthem by showing a little bit of talent in putting forth his thoughts in verses better known as rap. The problem, of course, is that he did it in a way that allegedly insulted the Malays, and hence, every UMNO leader without fail had something to say about this whole matter. The MCA politicians of course tried to defuse the matter, knowing that it’s a time bomb ready to explode. Thankfully, no leader pushed the envelope, and said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and thankfully, this didn’t turn out into a slanging match with racial undertones.

The video’s message is not dissimilar to half the things I’ve read on the Internet, especially in message boards and comment pages. There are some people, a certain segment of the population that believes most of the problems in Malaysia, or with Malaysia, has got to do with the government’s ineptitude, corrupt practices and general lack of care for the well-being of the nation. Because the majority in the government consists of Malays, and most of the civil servants are Malays, there’s an easy option of correlating the problems we face as being caused by the Malays.

Government policies that favor the Malays tend to further heighten the sense amongst other races that they’re not more than just squatters here in Malaysia. And while it is easy for me to say that the non-Malays have also prospered here in Malaysia, it’s not so easy to answer when they say they did it DESPITE this handicap. There’s a siege mentality building up amongst the non-Malays, developed by the experiences of the previous generation.

My peers’ parents work long and hard to accumulate enough wealth to send their children to private colleges, and their struggle to give proper education to their children are transmitted to the children, who would later watch their fellow Malay friends from high-school getting tertiary education at a discount (with LOANS nonetheless!) and yet still manage to screw it all up. We wasted our opportunity, an opportunity that was not even made available to them in the first place. Can they be blamed for feeling a little bit miffed?

What has all these got to do with Namewee? Nothing, and yet everything (ah, to quote Salahadin from Kingdom of Heaven is a bit dramatic, don’t you think?). Namewee is the manifestation (albeit a crude and impolite) of the sentiment building up amongst the non-Malays here in Malaysia. Must we deny what is evident by holding hands and singing Jalur Gemilang? Would waving the flag vigorously make people forget the past, or would writing articles about how wonderful Malaysia is (it is, in my personal opinion, and there’s nothing like home) can hide the fact that at the mamak stall (something ALL Malaysians are united about…hehehe), in whispers, we say things that are politically incorrect?

As far as I’m concerned, it appears from my regular mamak stall conversations that we Malays have only praises for the Chinese community. We associate them with efficiency and diligence, hard work and perseverance. Yes, nothing’s perfect, and there are times when things are not as rosy, but from what I gather, there is a genuine amount of respect for the Chinese and their success (although admittedly, there’s also a fair amount of jealousy – respect does not equate to acceptance), especially when it comes to the business of making money.

The problem is, what do people talk about when they’re talking about Malays? And this is the crux of the matter. It’s not about whether the N.E.P is still relevant or not, it’s not about getting quotas into universities, it’s not about A.Ps. It’s about what we, as Malays living in our own land, have achieved. It’s about what we, as leaders (and that’s what we are, in every sense of the word), have done to earn the respect of the people we lead.

I truly believe that people are not dissatisfied because contracts go to Bumiputra companies, but because these companies do such a lousy job at such an expensive price. I truly believe that the quota system would work, if only there are no “special privileges” given to those who are lucky just because they’re born to somebody famous or powerful. I truly believe no one would mind a Malay leader, if only the leader can stop building castles! In other words, I truly believe none of the angst and disappointment by the non-Malays and even Malays would surface if we, as Malay leaders, take the opportunity to lead by example in whatever we do.

There must be a shift in the paradigm. Malays must look beyond the superficial, and find it within themselves the desire to truly be respected, not because of their race, but because of their achievements. It must come to a point where we can say, it’s okay, we can make it on our own and the non-Malays will see us and say, yes, we don’t mind your privileges, because when you prosper, we all do. A change will do us good…

It doesn’t matter if you’re 50, or you’re 100, or you’re 10. Just like it doesn’t matter if I’m 20, I’m 40 or I’m 60. The key lies not in the number, but in what those numbers represent, how those numbers translate into achievements, how it has carried us forward as a society. The question now is, are we heading in the right direction towards political, social and economic maturity, or are we slowly turning into nothing more than a bunch of 5 year olds squabbling over spilt milk? Go figure…

...

Of course, when we're talking about subject such as this, there are bound to be certain readers who take offense to some of the generalization evident in this post. For example, some Malay readers would stop and say, "Hey, I went to university, and I didn't mess up my life...". If you do, and are, in that situation, then hats off to you, we need more like you (indicating that there's not enough, which validates the negative generalization in this post). Some Chinese readers would stand up and say, "Hey, I've never thought bad things about the Malays. I've done well, my parents had it easy, we are rich...". Again, congratulations, and perhaps you should do your own rap song with a positive spin on Malaysia. In short, there are exceptions to the overall generalization, and I do hope in this age of over-sensitive readers and moral guides, you would understand where I'm coming from. I don't need your acceptance, just understanding of my views. Cheers, and Selamat Menyambut Merdeka!

The One About Getting Engaged...

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Written on 8/13/2007 05:57:00 pm by sikapitan

Goodness me, it’s been a while since I visited Undergrounduate Central. It has been a mad couple of months for me. Yes, the last time I updated was A MONTH before my engagement, so let’s get that one out of the way first, shall we?

I am officially engaged (cue a sudden increase in suicide amongst women and gay men aged 20-25 years…hahaha). Some of my friends are a bit surprised how it doesn’t seem to change the nature of my relationship with others, or the way I act, or what I do. It shouldn’t because frankly speaking, I’ve been “engaged” to Rinie for the past few years now. There has always been the certainty that she IS the one, no matter how bad things get, or how good things could be (on the other side of the fence). Trust me, temptations abound, and it is easy for most to just jump ship, take flight…call it whatever you want, but it still means quitting. And I’m not really made to be a quitter, not over a relationship at least.

In short, I’ve always been in this relationship with a view for marriage, so the recent 7/07/07 event was always a mere formality. But how does that explain some of my actions in the past, present and perhaps future? How do you reconcile this absolute certainty in the strength of my current relationship to Rinie with some utterly promiscuous activities and shenanigans that I’ve gotten myself into (and probably will in the future)? Maybe it’s the fact that at the end of the day, no matter how absolutely marvelous the buffet is, it’s home cooking that we miss the most. Rinie’s my nasi putih. And that’s all I ever need…

I’ve just moved into my own apartment. This might sound stupid, but it’s located not more than 5 minutes away from my parent’s home. Okay, it does sound a bit daft. It’s not that I really wanted to move that close to them, but circumstances (or karma or fate) seems to work in their favor (or perhaps mine, as we shall see). The search for a nice, quiet, peaceful apartment at a great location at a good price led me to a search all over Subang Jaya. I even considered a terrace house; such is the lack of an apartment that appeals to me and my needs. It must serve my current want of a bachelor pad and my future need of a family home (temporary, but still important). Crazy, but that’s just me. .

So finally I just drove into the apartment compound near my house after exhausting all other places throughout Subang and USJ, called the number on display, set up an appointment that very same day, and had a tour of the apartment. The real estate agent was actually my former neighbor, so we hit it off straight away. The place got a great view, it’s shielded from direct sunrise and sunset, and big enough for a family, but small enough that I can manage on my own until I get married. Add the fact that the entire compound is well-maintained by a reputable company (Sime-UEP), top security details, nice quiet ambience, and neighbors who don’t really make that big of a fuss, and you’ve got yourself the almost perfect pad for me.

Except that I can walk to my parents without breaking a sweat. Except that despite my initial enthusiasm to look for something new, I’m still stuck at USJ. Except that I still have to go through the mayhem of USJ traffic jams every morning. Or maybe it isn’t so bad after all.

I wake up every morning late, since there’s no one at home to be my moral compass. Work is flexible (like I’ve explained before) so traffic jams is almost a no-no at the time I usually go out to work. And the best thing about being near to my home is that I can get into my car, go to my house (5 minutes), have breakfast prepared by my maid, take a long hot shower, get ready for work (yes, most of my work clothes are left there…and for good reason too considering my lack of cupboard space and genuine dislike for ironing or washing my own clothes), read the newspapers that THEY subscribe to and go off to work. Later in the evening, I can just drop by, drop off the dirty clothes, maybe have a nice dinner, say goodbye to the folks, then go back to the apartment to (a) get ready to go out again (b) eat snacks and watch TV till late at night (c) any other extra-curricular activities that couldn’t and SHOULDN’T be done within the confines of your parent’s home.

Repeat all these everyday and I just realize that what I have is the best of both worlds – I get the clean clothes and good food that you can only get and the only thing you want anyway from your parents and yet I get the freedom to do whatever I want! Plus, my pad is damn clean due to the lack of use of the kitchen, the table…heck, even the toilet! Oh yeah, because it’s so near, I usually pick up my maid from the house every Sunday, drop her off to clean up the place, pick her up again and pay her 10 bucks. That’s cheap…just don’t report me to NGOs for abusing my maid. Syokkkkk wooooo….