A time to break down

The Good Book says, “There’s a time for every purpose under heaven”. Look around, things seem to be falling apart, breaking down; established and traditional societal structures seem to be crumbling overnight. Our environment is caving in, nothing makes any sense. Through my pessimistic lenses, humankind is “Doomed”. Others, may disagree, taking all this chaos and crumble as the labour pains of change to be born. Not so soon, me thinks, may be over the next hundred years. I’ll probably be gone to ‘greener pastures’ then.

But if these are the birth pains of change, some have yet to realise the pregnancy. These that cling to decaying structures harking back to those “golden ages” of autocracy and absolute power. Wallowing in the nostalgia of days gone, eras of dictatorial mind-sets, when simple folk prostrated themselves before the powerful, treating them like deities, or aliens come down from the heavens? Did they destroy the planet?

Or change it to prosper, on their terms, driving to extinction the aboriginal inhabitants of this planet? Is history repeating itself now? The fissures are becoming noticeably wider.

When the storm is over, what will we wake up to, if we wake up at all? A desert, a limitless ocean with no land in sight? No safe port to moor at. Like dumb boatmen, we’re tossed by the waves drifting further and further into unknown waters where monsters lurk…hungry…craving for fresh blood and raw meat.

A time to break down, prepare for renewal, but remember who and what you are, or be swept away into the gaping abyss of slavery to the powers that be.

Thank you for your ‘Likes’

Dear Friends and Readers,

Just had a look at my notifications and was amazed at the number of “Likes” you so kindly gave my articles. I’m really touched. I thought my inconsistency in posting articles (more like opinions) would certainly make my readership dwindle into nothingness.

Things have been very depressing lately with all that’s going on here, in our homeland and in the world, so I’m sometimes just dumfounded as to what to say about it. Apart from having daily chores that have doubled because of Covid19, living has become more difficult for most of us ordinary folk from all walks of life. I should consider myself lucky to still be able to afford all my basic needs and no doubt a little more than many others. But, even giving any help we can afford, feels like only a drop in the ocean.

I often find myself looking for an ‘escape’ from these very sad and tragic happenings daily reported on virtually all news channels in the world. Environmental disasters have become another ‘common’ occurrence with climate change being more and more obvious. Looks like the voices of denial of climate change have somewhat reduced volume or are too busy trying to save themselves from these catastrophes.

Saying that, I hope this space gives some solace or consolation to you (hopefully to others too) and will assure you that we are not alone in our struggle to make sense of the current unpredictable, nonsensical, illogical, chaotic fallout of the pandemic and climatic upheavals.

In Malaysia, some of us have resorted to tickling the “funny bone” to show our feelings (“Lepas fras” in Malay). It helps psychologically to some extent, even if we’re not literally stating it. Our usual bottom line, “If you don’t laugh about it, you’ll cry about it”.

So, dear Readers, take good care of yourselves, stay safe and well. May the Force be with you!

Ribuan Terimakasih!

Do unto others…karma

At home and in my travels to other countries as a visitor, I do run up against unpleasant locals or permanently resident migrants who in their great ignorance practice discrimination. I believe that this is an experience shared by quite a number of foreigners who go to various places for various purposes. Racism and xenophobia are common in almost every country in the world. Most of the time we brush off these unpleasant incidences not to spoil our enjoyment of the wonders found in interesting places, or not to offend those who show genuine welcome to their native lands and pride in their customary hospitality.

The ignorant who choose to react to strangers in a prejudicial manner, are often myopic to the fact that their behavior doesn’t go unnoticed by the world at large. People talk to other people, whether by electronic means or face-to-face. Not forgetting videos on YouTube actually recording the incident. Gossip and rumours, now ‘fake news’, spread like wild fire. So, these persons who judge others on their external appearance, skin colour, ethnicity, perceived social status etc. need to be aware that their unpleasantness, prejudice, malice, racism or whatever else will be made known to the world at large. At times, they will also be pointed out to others to their detriment. If they are a business, the victims of their discrimination may inform a larger community to avoid them, so as to avoid being similarly faced with irrational, baseless, malicious discrimination.

Don’t imagine that what you do to one person, stops there. It doesn’t! Remember the warning in the Good Book, that what is done in secret will be shouted from the mountain tops. In this century, from the tops of telco towers, and telephone poles. It can’t be stopped.

Showing prejudice is like stripping in public, it doesn’t reflect on the victim of your humiliation, it reveals to the world what you are.

In the case of kindness and consideration, the giver doesn’t need to broadcast. A kind deed flows like a clean, clear, fresh spring to sooth and calm. These are also remembered and will rain blessings on those who act with love towards others. Goodness has its rewards, given a hundred fold and overflowing when the time comes. Karma will take its course.

The Stolen Election

About 3 years ago, we worked hard to realize political change in our beloved homeland. We hoped the ideals we believed in and aspired to would be made a reality. Elimination of corruption and racial and religious politics, economic and social equality, and the practice of human rights were high on our wish list. Continue reading “The Stolen Election”

New normal or abnormal?

Since 18 March 2020, Malaysia has been under Movement Control Order (MCO). We’ve been staying home for over 3 months, religiously washing our hands, donning face masks in public, carrying and using hand sanitizer, avoiding large gatherings, and trying to keep a distance of 1 meter from people around us. We have become familiar with an often bandied term, “new normal”. What is this “new normal”?

At the end of February last year, we had a sudden change of government that literally sneaked in by the back door, displacing our legitimately elected government. Admittedly, our duly elected government faced problems being the government we expected it to be. It made some changes but dithered on some of the key changes the Pakatan Harapan promised in its election manifesto. The cost of living rose again due to the 1MDB financial scandal and other financial mismanagement and underhanded deals that had drained the country’s coffers. Citizens showed patience and tolerance in view of these hitches. We were prepared to give the new PH government a chance to straighten things out. We had also learned that we could change the administration if they proved unsatisfactory to most of the electorate. So, if we wanted a change at the next elections, we, the electorate, would have effected it through the ballot box.

Yet, without our consent or knowledge this back door government sneaked in, thinking they knew better than the electorate, not giving us a chance to make a fair judgment of our elected government at the end of its first 5 year term. Is this the ‘new normal’?

The new Perikatan Nasional (PN), as they style themselves, comprising 1 party that hopped to join those we threw out in GE14, began a ‘buying’ spree of MPs and party members from the PH political block. Is this habit of ‘buying’ the loyalty of ‘hoppers’ the new normal that they want us to adopt and believe in?

This hastily thrown together administration, didn’t make a better showing than our legitimately elected one, but made a laughably outrageous start with the PM’s One-man-show supported by an advisory council, instead of a Cabinet, made up of PH ‘hoppers’ and the same ‘rejected’ BN leaders relegated to the Opposition before this back door coup, for about 2 weeks.

Then came the MCO , dubbed the “lock down” in March, styled after the Italian full lock down at the time when Italy was clocking up one of the highest Covid 19 infection and death rates after China. Was that appropriate or was it a panic or guilt reaction of a “mandate-less” government? Yet, citizens again exercised patience and gave the “sneak-in government and hoppers” the benefit of the doubt. Since then, the Rakyat have shown an admirable tolerance of the unfolding shenanigans engaged in by this back door government.

The MCO was harsh in its restrictions on all resident within Malaysia’s borders but was also used to sharpen the agenda of the back door administration under Perikatan Nasional(PN) and its duplicate coalition Muafakat Nasional(MN), the difference between them is hard to make out.

As all who have resided in this country for long enough may realise, the PN agenda = BN agenda based on ethnicity and religion. Covid 19 seemed to present the opportunity to divert the Rakyat’s focus from their back door status to blaming the foreign workers, refugees and undocumented migrants for the spread of the corona virus. The resulting xenophobic environment incited by certain ultra right wing groups on social media was encouraged by administrative silence and inaction regarding verbal abuse, racist attacks and discriminatory actions against these particularly vulnerable communities. To make things worse, lock down measures imposed on areas with high migrant populations were cruelly severe. Immigration authorities aided the xenophobia by launching raids to arrest and detain undocumented migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers and foreign workers in places under EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Orders) classified as ‘corona virus clusters’.

Then came the crack down on our constitutional right to freedom of expression on the excuse of curbing “fake news”. Several netizens, a local internet news provider, NGO activists, and an international news documentary broadcaster and an interviewee have all been hauled in by Bukit Aman PDRM HQ under the Sedition Act and Multi-media and Communications Act (among other laws). Is this necessary? Or is it breaking a peanut with a sledge hammer?

Is the costs entailed in such drastic action justifiable and worth it? The cost in police time and judicial time, paid with taxpayers funds. Or is it just a waste of time and money, simply to create a sensation that we don’t need when we are occupied with breaking the Covid 19 chain? All the government needed to do was to use its RIGHT OF REPLY to straighten things out and peacefully explain the situation to the public minus the cost to the national purse.

So, is this the “NEW NORMAL”, apart from having to observe protection measures affecting our daily lives, so we don’t get fined or detained for breaching changing SOPs? These are also frequently unclear with the practice of double standards by authorities. The current situation looks much more like an “ABNORMAL” rather than a “new normal”. Welcome to the era of Covid19, the suppression of free expression, our constitutional and human rights !

The above paragraphs were written last year, since then management of the pandemic has become more heavy handed and chaotic due to the ambiguity of government directives that are unequally enforced. Double standards abound i.e. a lenient standard for those government ministers and elites and a more restrictive and tricky one for the rest of the population. How does one work this out? In conclusion, the “new normal” is nothing but chaos, arbitrary penalization of ordinary folk without real justification and more dosh for some crony coffers. Can it get any worse? Our fate is in the hands of the Almighty!

To be Old

In youth we can’t imagine what it’s like to be old. We sometimes lived our lives like there’s no tomorrow, squandering our time, abilities, material goods. Taking what we have for granted until we lose them or deplete them into nothingness. Perhaps, thinking that we will always be youthful, strong, alert, sharp and clear in mind, and body.

As spring turns to summer then autumn, youth fades gradually, the sparkle slowly dims, the whirlwind of life slows down. Tiredness and fatigue begin to dominate. Our worries and concerns change. In youth, we lived for the moment, believing we could take on any challenge. When we grew older we had to face the realities of our individual lives – the wider community did count, even if it was for our own self-interest, our own selfish ends, our self-centered profit and self-preservation. It was time to establish oneself, make our mark even if it was small. Self satisfaction was a necessity. The continuity of our line, imperative for most. But, for some to live for the moment counted more.

Then, pension schemes became necessities as time wore on in it’s daily humdrum routine. Some of us, plunged into adventure in youth, living like rolling stones that gather no moss but soon see a blank future. So, we hunker down into gathering some security in bank accounts to fall back on. Others bravely hope Providence will protect them in time of need. Time walks rapidly and we struggle to keep up with it.

Soon, the young ones seem to ignore us. Just beginning the cycle we had passed not so long ago, or was it? We notice the sagging cheeks, the crows feet at the corners of our eyes, the deepening lines on either side of the mouth. Am I looking back at me in the mirror? Who is the hag with the thinning, greying hair? The title “Auntie” comes as a shock! Get used to it, you’re no spring chicken.

We often look back on our lives, nostalgia sets in, especially with people we seem to have known for ages. The bitter-sweet taste of the past and the present. As we grow older, the past comes back like it happened yesterday, the present fades in our memory. We can’t remember what we just said or why we had gone to the utility cupboard. Is this the onset of dementia or worse, Alzheimer?

If I leave the safety and familiarity of my home, will I be able to come back? What if I forgot where I lived, and once familiar and routine paths suddenly became unfamiliar and strange? Where do I live, I don’t know…My grandma fell asleep on a bus once and went right to the end, she wasn’t sure where to stop but made a lucky guess on the way back. We never allowed her to travel alone again.

The aches and pains of body mechanisms breaking down. Falling asleep in mid conversation but being unaware of it. The more spritely take to optimism and look at the funny side of old age. To be thought senile may have its advantages, a license to act as you please, even if they think you’re barmy!

Don’t despise the aged, they have lived longer than you. Some have seen violence, fear, hopelessness, depravation, war… some are unsung heroes. Living by their wits, building a future for the next generations with hope and vision.

Youth like old age is transient, scoff not at the old hag or the hobbling old codger, bent like a question mark. Your time will come and you too will be that question mark.

I’m the Don Quixote type

I found myself, self-analyzing this morning. It occurred to me that the twist and turns of my life so far have led me to think of Cervantes “Don Quixote”, the man from La Mancha who imagined himself a knight errant on a white charger riding out to do good deeds and save damsels in distress. Although I don’t own a horse and probably can’t say I am that chivalrous or polite, I guess that it does feel like engaging in a battle with windmills sometimes, frequently ending in ‘defeat’, only for the moment. I’m no Dulcinea, patriarchy is something I don’t readily accept or leave unquestioned. Since I was young, I think my folks thought I was a little mad. I spent my time drawing and exploring my world of imagination, it took up most of my time but set me thinking about things from a different angle. Well, it was hard for them to understand what it’s like to try to go over the high wall of the known and accepted concepts of time, space and established practice. I wanted something more, I wanted to be free!

It’s hard when people don’t understand freedom of mind, especially when you’re young, fresh and ready to venture into the unknown. I guess, that’s the root of my frustration most of my life, to look beyond present existence and believe in something better or which could be better. So, it’s been nearly a lifetime of battle with short spates of ‘peace’ or ‘truce’? It’s hard when people don’t understand freedom of mind, especially when you’re young, fresh and ready to venture into the unknown. I guess, that’s the root of my frustration most of my life, to look beyond present existence and believe in something better or which could be better. So, it’s been nearly a lifetime of battle with short spates of ‘peace’ or ‘truce’?

I did things they didn’t expect and even in school, I was ‘accused’ of daydreaming during lessons. I wasn’t daydreaming as my teachers seemed to think. I was actually paying full attention, but one idea sparked a plethora of other ideas or questions in my head. They didn’t understand and often reacted negatively. So, I was relegated to Sancho Panza with his own dreams of greatness on a more materialistic and mundane level.

It didn’t stick. As in an old Energizer Battery advert, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” I was that stubborn and still am to an extent. Once on that road, there’s no turning back. So, I beat my own path, shaping my own philosophy of life, hitting numerous dead-ends and retracing my footsteps only to emerge somewhere else. Lost? Yes and No, there was another way, another world to explore, another adventure in this quixotic journey of life.

Age and physical limitations are not a hindrance when the mind can fly beyond the borders to any time or space it chooses. So, Don Quixote rides on to battle the giants, the dragons and monsters, to save the damsels in distress…

Will he ever return to his Lady Dulcinea? Probably not unless, he’s wounded and needs some TLC, yet there is hope of one day settling down or disappearing into the spirit world where he’ll continue his noble quest…with Sancho Panza, ever hopeful, clinging to his horse’s tail. Rest in Peace, milord. I look toward another sunrise.

Price of eggs, scrambling the poor

Since I was very young, eggs were an important part of my life. Eggs were seen as the cheapest, most nutritious form of protein available to humankind. Continue reading “Price of eggs, scrambling the poor”

Labour Day 2020 – Its lost meaning

The garbage collectors came around 4.00 this morning. While the truck waits at one end of the road, one worker goes round emptying garbage bins, taking out the plastic bags of household rubbish and putting them into a pile on the roadside. Continue reading “Labour Day 2020 – Its lost meaning”

The Plastics Dilemma

I sat staring at the single use plastic cup in which my iced tea was served and made a mental note to boycott such cafes or coffee shops that used these problematic and polluting implements. People were busy making money. I have nothing against the food business but realize how appalling the ubiquitous use of single use plastics has become. This planet has reached saturation point of plastics, even reusable, recyclable plastics. Continue reading “The Plastics Dilemma”

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