Thursday, June 21, 2007


Most of us do not remember anything from our History lessons in school, except maybe a man named Temenggung Jugah anak Barieng, cos well, you know, he had hair which looked different.

However, most of us will remember that Malaya (as it then was) was invaded by the Japanese sometime in 1942 . They rode their bicycles in through the South and invaded Malaya. So the 18,000 biycles (the Bicycle Brigade) huffed and puffed from Johore and conquered Malaya for the next three years.

Many of us shake our heads in disbelief. Really? Japanese soldiers on BICYCLES?
Of course, our countrymen fought hard to resist the Bicycle Brigade and we salute them for fighting for the country, however, it cannot be denied that these men from the land of the Rising Sun whooped our asses during World War 2.

What exactly is the point of the whole story actually?

Well, the new "training programme" of the National Service (Khidmat Negara!) trainees got me thinking about that small part of History I had hidden at the back of my head.

So the NS trainees now cannot go jungle trekking when its dark or whatever time there is a hint of dark skies. They do not go jungle trekking when its too hot either. No too much sun or too little. Just in between. And the trekking cannot be more than 3-4 kms. Too much walking if more than that. No dense jungles. Only secondary jungles where there are probably some overgrown weeds and some "wild animals". No combat training in the sun either. They wont be learning much about firearms. They cannot have endurance training for too many hours. ( After all, our enemies do not attack in the dark, or when its too hot. They will come when the skies are bright, but the sun isnt too hot and they will avoid the dense jungle which is so confusing.)

All they would be doing in the three months that they are part of the NS is to march around like stupid idiots (For what? I dont have a clue!), take part in a financial course (so that they manage their finances properly) and try to swing on a rope across a small pool of dirty muddy water. And in between all these, they attend motivational talks and learn how to joget or do the sumazau dance in preparation for their graduation. And of course parents have been asking for an ALL WOMEN training camp because apparently, if you separate the girls from the boys when they are at this age, they will be forever repulsed by boys and there will never be any more unwanted incidents with boys and girls anymore. (HURRAH!)

See? All of them hard at training!

SO, what is the point of having our youngsters join the NATIONAL SERVICE again? Its a place where the Government spends millions of RM to train them to, be well, nothing much really. I can say for a fact, after finishing their training, the boys do not suddenly become men and the girls do not end up tougher and more ready to face whatever challenges they encounter. Though the news say that SOME of them apply for their dream jobs with FULL CONFIDENCE. (Wah!So impressive. No need any degrees or any tertiary education just FULL CONFIDENCE!)They end up looking darker and thinner and a they have a greater appreciation for the comforts of home.

The whole point of the NS was to emulate the Singapore system whereby the boys who finish school do a compulsory two years training in the Army to well, toughen them up. These people jump from planes, do endurance training, learn firearms and do all the things the army is suppose to do. Not march around and learn how to joget. Like seriously.

And we wonder why we got invaded by the Japs on bicycles. I think if they were to come again now, they can probably take us even while they are barefooted and naked.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sticks and stone may break my bones....

"Mana ada bocor? MP Batu Gajah pun bocor tiap-tiap bulan"

This statement caused such a big furore in the Parliament which subsequently swept through the whole nation. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes suddenly became interested in Parliament.(Not the lawmaking process, not the laws passed, not the leaking roof, but because of the offending comments that somehow manages to come out of Bung Mokhtar every other month. It takes skill and talent I tell you..) There were of course calls for an apology. And as usual in Malaysia, there will be the :-

1) Defiance - "I have every right to say what I want"
2) Denial- "The media took my words out of context"
3) Denial- " I didnt mean it the way that the MP thought it to mean"
4) Defence - " I respect women. I fight for their rights. "
5) Further denial - "Joking only la"
6) Acceptance(But with conditions)- "I apologise if women were offended by my comment. Though it was never meant to offend anybody"

The apology(if it ever comes) usually arrives only after a rollercoaster ride of persistent denials and more denials and then after every denial avenue has been exhausted, then comes to conditional apology.

So he apologised (sort of) and we women heaved a sigh of relief. Victory for women! Women - 1, Bung Mokhtar - 0. Power to WOMEN!

I have to admit though, I was not offended by the comment. I mean, for decades, women have been fighting for equality. We fought for the right to vote through the Suffragettes movement.

Men fought for the political domain to be kept exclusively for men. Yet we women persisted, starved and were tortured in prison just so we could have equal rights. And we won. Now we can vote as we like, all we need to do is scoot down to the nearest Post Office and register ourselves. (Of course women in certain countries do not have this right but the number of countries who deny these rights to women are quickly depleting)

We demanded equal rights in everything. In terms of pay, promotions, positions and everything else that is available to a man, we want it. And to a certain extent, we got it.

So while we are fighting this battle for equality, what is up with us still whining about men being insensitive to women? Or being MCP or being so ungentlemanly? Why do we still expect a man to give up his seat for us in a bus? Or hold the door for us? Or pay for our dinners instead of going dutch? Why indeed? If we want to be equal, we shouldnt then still want men to treat us as something less who need to be taken care of, to be served or to be treated kindly.

Do we as women, give up our seats for other women? Do we expect another woman to hold the door for us? I dont think so. In Malaysia, its called first come, first served. Its "Screw you!I came first!"

So what if Bung Mokhtar said we bocor every month? Yes, its crude. Yes, its sexist. And yes, MPs should be more professional in the Parliament. But if we ask him to apologise and he says, No-uh, I am not going to. So what? We should just shake our heads and pooh-pooh it. So we know he's an ass.(This is my personal opinion, you may not share it with me) We shouldnt need to descend into his level to play this dirty game of them boys against us girls.

Instead we focus ALL our energies into making it a big issue. AWAM, WAO, SIS all joined in the fray calling for an apology, making comments on how sexist the remark is...bla bla bla.

They are merely words. And these are words that mean nothing because someone who is an ass uttered it to provoke a reaction. If we were indeed professional, we should have just said, "Well, Mr. MP, I am saddened by your calousness and your lack of professionalism. Malaysia is going towards Vision 2020, somehow you're still stuck in the 18th Century. You should be ashamed of yourself."

And then go on to debate on things that DO matter to us women. Like maternity leave. Or higher pay. Or more representation on the Bench. Or the right for Muslim women to seek a divorce even if her husband does not want to "grant" her the divorce.
You know, important things.

After all, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What business do you have controlling mine?

A RM22k fine for increasing the price of a glass of Milo to RM1.80.

Is there anyone out there(besides the Ministry of Trade and Consumer Affairs) who actually thinks this is right? I for one think its ridiculous to the point of absurdity.

Its not the exorbitant amount that got me thinking, but the fact that there was a fine at all. Let me try to understand the rationale here. The civil servants got a raise. So all the traders out there thought to themselves "Alrite!Those civil servants are going to have more money to spend now. So I better increase the cost of my food/services/apparel and make more money!" So a glass of Milo went from RM1-1.20 to RM1.80.
This was when the Ministry people descended unto the Nasi Kandar Pelita shop and fined them RM22k for increasing their prices arbitrarily. And therefore it was against the Government policy of...uhm...what was the policy again? Was it even a policy? Wasn't it just a mere "call" or heed to traders and businessmen out there not to take advantage of the civil service pay increase to make a buck or two for themselves?

But then again, why should they not be allowed to increase the cost of the food they provide? Or the clothes they produced? Or whatever they have painstakingly made with their own hands? Isnt it their right to price their goods at whatever price they like? If you dont want to drink my Milo Ais and pay RM1.80, go to another shop that serves it to you for cheaper.

If I go to Uptown Food Court, I can get chee cheong fun for RM4 to Rm5 (depending on how greedy I am with the fishballs) but if I go to KLCC's food court, I cant expect to get anything below the price ofRM4 or 5. (maybe drinks and some plain cendol) So, why are the traders in KLCC allowed to put such super high prices on their food but the owners of Nasi Kandar Pelita not allowed to? Its THEIR shop and THEIR food. If you think its too expensive, dont go. If you want cheap food, eat at Jalan Alor, if you want a hint of "high class-ness" go to KLCC/1 Utama food court or even Madame Kwans (is the same food isnt it? What is in Madame Kwan's char kway teu that is not in Jalan Alor's ah pak's char kway teu?)

I get it if you want to place a ceiling price on raw produce or meat and oil and sugar and things like that because those do not involve services such as cooking the food, or preparing the drinks or serving the food. Its just raw produced placed on display, for you to pick and choose and then buy it. But when it comes to restaurants, it will always remain a choice. Its a choice of whether we want to pay the cost of the service provided to say, cook our Maggi goreng, or make a roti canai or prepare a creme brulee or tiramisu. Its a choice. If you think its too expesive, dont go. Simple as that.

Why do you have to control how much money a person makes in their business? Obviously Madam Kwan or Little Penang will make more money than Bintang Sue in Uptown when it comes to cooking the same food and preparing the same dishes because one charges Rm4 and the other RM15 for the same thing. Why is one allowed to increase their price and the other is in the danger of being fined for wanting to make just a little extra from the good fortune bestowed upon the civil servants?

Why dont theGovernment concentrate more on the money their corrupt officers are making from the defective Court House in KL, or the stupid Sports Centre in UK or ugly Proton Cars with bad workmanship, or defective Highways or how being a Minister always mean you have a big house, a big car and a great bank account.

Control that. And then we'll talk about controlling a person's legitimate livelihood.