Friday, February 18, 2011

Hot News Of The Week: 4


Once again, debates have been sparked across the country thanks to rather extremist PAS views pushing an 'Anti-Valentine's Day' campaign in Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, and Selangor. PAS is planning "immorality checks" in the four states it has control over, in a bid to encourage a sin-free lifestyle among Muslims.

Among those supporting this move are the City Islamic Department (JAWI) and the Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS). They are banning Muslims from participating in Valentine's Day activities, alleging that it is a Christian celebration and would undermine their own faith. Motivational speaker Siti Nor Bahyah Mahamood has commented that "immoral activities, partying and unmarried couples associating in private are traditions of the Christian Community", and therefore should be avoided by Muslims.

This, of course, is a highly controversial statement: Valentine's Day is not, for a fact, a Christian tradition. It is a celebration experienced by people all over the world. Christian leaders in Malaysia have reacted quite strongly, calling for an apology for this false information and baseless accusation.

As a Christian myself, I must say that I feel quite offended by the allegations of our "Christian traditions." The same way I would not say all Muslims are terrorists, Muslims leaders should not say that sexual immorality is a Christian tradition. These are harmful words spoken by people who don't know proper history and context.


President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak has finally resigned on February 12, after 18 days of violent protests in Egypt. He steps down from 30 years of power. The Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces has taken over, dissolving the parliament and suspending the Constitution. The Council will hold power for 6 months or until elections would be held, whichever comes first.

This news was celebrated by protesters immediately following its announcement. Tahrir Square, Cairo resounded with chants of, "The people have brought down the regime" amidst roars of cheers and honking automobiles horns. It is certainly a joyous occasion for Egyptians, after 3o years of suppression and corruption in the Egypt.

However, much uncertainty remains. Many protesters have decided to stay in Tahrir Square until they are certain that all their demands are met.

This is certainly not the storybook happy ending for the country; it is merely the beginning. It would take a very long time to get the country into the shape its citizens desire, as well as the cooperation and compromise of all involved, including leaders. But I believe that after witnessing years of corruption in power, Egyptians will be wary and decisive in electing their new government. It is certainly a good start to a bright future for Egypt.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hot News of the Week: 3


Preparations for Chinese New Year 2011 was shockingly disrupted as continuous downpour caused massive flooding across several states in Malaysia. Approximately 50,000 people were evacuated from their homes. The death toll hit 4, with 2 deaths in Johor, and one each in Melaka and Negri Sembilan.

Traveling this Chinese New Year season was also disrupted when heavy rains started just before February. So far it has most severely affected the states of Johor, Melaka, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, and even Sabah. Repairs for federal roads in the Peninsular alone are estimated to cost up to RM40 million.

Most people see the floods as nothing but a hindrance to celebrations this festive season. However, I think in a way disasters do bring people together, to help one another and show true Malaysian spirit. Hundreds of relief centers are being set up in all the affected areas. Efforts to help the flood victims should be applauded.


Protests in Egypt has reached its peak, with riots and demonstrations exploding everywhere, especially in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

Protests began on 25 January 2011, coinciding with National Police Day in Egypt. This is following similar events in Tunisia. Millions of protesters are gathering in Cairo to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, the end of corruption, abolishment of emergency law, and democratic reforms in the country.

Of course, the events have not been peaceful. At least 365 deaths have been reported so far, and countless injuries. On 2 February, there was reported violence as anti-Mubarak protesters came to heads on with Mubarak supporters.

President Mubarak has promised not to run in the presidential elections this September, but that has not made much difference for the protesters. What they want is justice for their nation, and justice cannot be achieved until all corrupt leaders are purged from their places of power.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hot News Of The Week: 2


Drama across the Internet ensued when a 15-minute video depicting a severe case of animal abuse was uploaded to Facebook. Thousands of users watched horrified as a toy poodle named Sushi was cruelly forced to stand on two legs, kicked, slapped, and thrown against a wall repeatedly.

To date, 15 police reports have been lodged. An online petition has been set up, demanding justice for Sushi (link). Besides that, the case has caught the attention of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), who has pledged to join the online investigation.

A man named Allen Tam and his girlfriend Doreen Loo are accused of abusing the poor animal. To date, nobody has managed to find their Facebook profile pages. However, in the chaos of grief and outrage, many other people have been mistakenly identified as the accused. As a result, completely unrelated persons have complained of online harassment and threats.

It seems that people are being blinded by their anger and finding the wrong outlets to vent it. I believe that it is for justice to be found via the Internet. However, I feel that this is a difficult task if the thousands of people demanding justice cannot organize themselves out of the irrational anger currently spread across the Internet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

That Effing Show: Students and Politics

My classmates might be interested to watch this amusing episode of That Effing Show: their take on the Government's response to students getting involved in politics.

Enjoy the show, and check out other episodes of That Effing Show for an entertaining introduction to Malaysian politics!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hot News Of The Week: 1


The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) caused an uproar of protests, support, and general debate among people when it moved to ban Muslims from working at outlets that sell liquor. The MPSJ introduced the new licensing guidelines last Wednesday that prohibits booze-serving outlets from hiring Muslims, in line with the Syariah Criminal Enactment of Selangor.

However, the State Government reversed the ban on Thursday, saying that MPSJ had not consulted the State before implementing the ban. Discussions are being carried out to reach an amicable solution, according to Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

The ruling, which bans Muslims from being employed in establishments that serves alcohol, is 20 years old but has never been implemented. Fears of widespread unemployment among Muslims, as well as the financial burden on establishments which have hired them, have caused a public outcry against this ruling.

One must wonder why the ruling has suddenly come into effect 20 years after it was established. The sudden implementation of it would be an irresponsible action, not properly taking into account the needs of the people.

The obvious major problem, to the unemployed as well as the employer, is the sudden massive loss of jobs. Why should taxpayers compensate out-of-job Muslims, when the Government could have avoided the problem altogether by enforcing the ruling 20 years ago, or even (I may go so far as to say) abolishing it altogether?

Faith in an individual is, after all, a by-product of one's own convictions, and cannot be achieved through the implementation of laws that only serve to burden society.


The floods, which began in December 2010, continue to plague Australia till today. The most serious damage occurs in Queensland, with about two thirds of the state devastated. From there the floods have spread to swamp more than 50 villages in the state of Victoria.

According to Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, it is the "biggest natural disaster" in Australian history.

About 30 people are believed to have died in the floods that swept up homes, cars, and trees, forcing people onto roofs of houses and cars. Residents of affected areas and surrounding are on high alert, preparing for the impending danger by packing sandbags around their homes. In Queensland alone, about 30,000 homes have been damaged.

The greatest economic disaster lies in Queensland’s lucrative coal-mining industry. Coal exports are expected to be reduced by 16.5 million tons by March, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

Nevertheless, it is heartening to hear of the stories of aid washing into the country during this hour of great need. Complete strangers show up at devastated neighbourhoods to clean up. Businesses are pouring in donations to support flood victims. Even celebrities like Lance Armstrong and Kenny Rogers are helping out greatly with their fundraisers.

It truly goes to show that the worst of disasters can bring out the best in people.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Life As A Consumer of Information

The first major aspect of my life as an information consumer stems from a habit I’ve developed since I was 3 years old: reading. I have always loved reading in all forms, be they books, newspapers, internet articles, or learning materials. I even enjoy reading the nutritional information on milk cartons if I don’t have anything better to do.

So you can imagine how much information I get from all that reading. My hobby has played a huge role in shaping my dreams, ideals, and political views. Besides, I believe it has made me fairly comfortable using the English language, and I’ve come to understand that your grasp on language does affect the way you view the world. Since I only speak English and Malay, I probably relate to Western culture and thinking more than to my own parents, who do speak our own language (Mandarin). Sad to say.

Secondly, the Internet plays a large role in my life. When I was a kid, I found things out by asking Mum, Dad, or Teacher, “Why? How?” or by watching TV programmes. After awhile it became quite a tiring process to constantly demand for answers, NOW, from older people. And of course, there’s only so many things Elmo can teach you before you get sick of creepy furry muppets.

Then the Internet came along. Suddenly everything I wanted to know could be found prettily packaged in a tiny search bar. Google has not failed me to this day. To be honest, a lot of things I know about this world comes from Wikipedia.

Apart from Google, social media shapes me as a consumer of information. The key word is “sharing” – sharing information with other users. In more ways than just exchanging opinions, too. Online discussion forums and blogs allow me to share my views on many issues with people from all over the world. Social networking sites let my friends and me share what’s going in our lives quickly and easily.

The way I see social media, it gives a voice to everyone, myself included. It’s one of the defining characteristics of modern man – everybody wants to speak out, everybody wants to be heard. While I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities this presents us, I do sometimes wonder if there are too many voices screaming for attention nowadays. Not many people seem to realize the power of listening. Seeing this has made me a bit more aware of it. So I strive to achieve a balance between speaking and listening, not just on the Internet, but in daily life.

Finally, religion is a major factor in my life. I am a Christian and in all things I do, I try to keep a Godly perspective of things. However, one of my major struggles as a Christian consumerist is reconciling what the world teaches me with what my faith tells me. There lies an internal struggle wherever I try to retain my values and beliefs while keeping an open mind.

Take for example, the LGBT lifestyle. While my religion tells me this is wrong, I have many friends who engage in this lifestyle and are very good people. Consequently I find it hard to believe that such amazing people are, well, wrong.

Another example would be the issue of abortion. Naturally and morally, I am reviled by the idea of murdering an unborn baby. However, according to Freakonomics authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, legalized abortion actually results in a significant drop in crime rate and better overall quality of life. So how does that add up?

These are just two of many issues I struggle with as I digest information that clashes with my beliefs. Among other are communism, capital punishment, recreational drugs, and feminism. Nevertheless, I am certain that a rational, Christian worldview is out there somewhere and I must search for it. Meanwhile I view information from a Christian perspective as best I can.

Obviously there’s a lot more to information consumerism than just those 3 major aspects, but a 500-word constraint doesn’t make many allowances. And so, that is my (general) story of life as an information consumer.

An Introduction.

On the first day of class, our Principles of Journalism lecturer, Sharaad, asked us to draw a map of Southeast Asia and label it without referring to anything or anyone else. Being the typically ignorant young adults we are, we were completely lost. Some of us (myself included) came up with maps that, to be honest, looked very much like...angular...splats of...blood(?) on a white piece of paper.

That first day of class showed us how little we knew about the world around us.

On the second day of class, Sharaad asked for a show of hands: how many of us actually went home and looked up the map of Southeast Asia? He was appalled by the result. About 5 hands went up, in our class of 44 people.

That second day of class showed us how little we actually cared about the world around us.

"Guys, seriously. This is awful. Not knowing things is not so bad, because you can always learn. Not caring about things, however.....that's a pre-requisite to your intellectual death," he said, shocked, as the nervous giggles bubbled up in the air.

And it dawned on me how true that was, for I was one of the guilty 39 people who had not, in fact, bothered to look it up.

I believe it's a sad and true fact that people my age (not excluding myself) -- the very sons and daughters of the Information Age -- don't know a lot. Not for a lack of resources, either (hello, google!) but instead for a lack of empathy.

We simply don't care, and it scares me to see how little I know and care.

So I've decided that, with the beginning of Journalism class as well as of this blog, I'm going to make an effort to open up my mind to see and learn about this world I live in.

More than that, in fact. In order for me to want to open up my mind more to the world, I'm going to train myself to care about it.

I'm only 19, after all. It's not too late to give a shit.

And so, I present you, my very first blog as a journalist.