Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Tragic Consequences

The death of teenager Aminulrasyid Amzah was tragic. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

Reading the Sun’s report of the incident indicated so many wrongs, accumulating to the deadly one that ended the life of the 15 year old.

Was it a heat of the moment incident? Will we ever know?

You tend to get mixed feelings when reading news of the police shooting “alleged criminals”.

On one hand you think “Good riddance”, but on the other, you are disturbed by the seemingly “shoot-first-ask-questions-later” gungho-ness in these incidents.

Most of the times, these deaths become mere statistics, and their stories left untold except for the few paras in the mainstream newspapers.

Many more find their way into the courts, but to date, nothing concrete has taken place. I stand to be corrected in this.

We read that the crime rate has fallen of late, and yet, at the same breath – often just pages away – we read of victims shot gangland or assassin style, maimed and injured while their belongings snatched away, robbed in the wee hours of the morning or late at night.

Both sides of the coin seemed to be going towards extreme ends.

My neighbourhood is not a gated community per se. We have a secured single entry point, but as often is the case, the barrier only filters those who drive into the area. Motorcycles and pedestrians come and go as they like as there are far too many entry points to guard.

Still, the residence is relatively safe to the point of you being able to see a woman – a neighbour two doors across – jog the stretch of the homes in late evenings.

Even then, sometimes you catch unknown faces on motorcycles looking at one house to the other. Suspicious, isn’t it?

You then make judgement call in whether these are bad hats, whether a report should be lodge with the police, whether you should alert others to the same.

Once upon a time when life was far simpler, whole residences know each other well enough and knows exactly who they need to be wary about, but usually this wariness is more the form of missing coconuts, cooking utensils and so on.

These days, you just can’t help but be paranoid. There are just too many scums amongst the local population to not be so.

Talking about that, I felt the same measure of disgust when reading this Malaysian Insider’s report on the tragedy.

Politicians. Some of them just can’t seem to get away from being self serving.


Anchor by Amy Sol.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A Glass Wall

Vertigo's Sandman

I once dreamt in black and white.

I was inside a clear all-glass walled building with a host of others; faces unrecognized, identities unknown, reasons for presences unclear.

I can hear their chatter. They say nothing and yet are talking about everything. Children perhaps bored with the hive of nothingness, run their hands along the glass wall leaving a trail of smudge disrupting the clear view of what was outside.

What is outside?

Clouds. It’s always clouds for me. This time they are in shades; whites of different intensity and grey that is never dark enough to be black.

Are we above ground? The question remains as I fear to look down to see the answer. The clouds outside are both comforting and discomforting at the same time so I leave this lingering question be.

The chatter never stops. People doing nothing and everything while I stood in a spot I call my own, content with just watching and listening.

And suddenly a deathly silence fell on the abode. It is beyond eerie how quiet it could get. A stillness of everything that my thoughts (and those around me? Are these their thoughts I’m hearing?) became loud and clear.

The clouds were moving outside. Their pace disconcerting as white and grey mixed in a pastiche by hidden hands (a pastry chef?) mixing and turning, pulling and pushing.

All of us moved towards the wall, transfixed by what was happening outside.

What was happening outside?

I didn’t know. No one seems to know. All of us were glued to the swirling of clouds until finally the motion stops.

What was white and grey was now pure black. Pure unadulterated darkness and the crowd was no more. There was only me, four walls a touch away keeping what was outside, out.

The walls pushed outwards into the blackness as I thrust out a hand. I walked forward, the darkness parting but revealing nothing, only more darkness.

Where are all the other cast in my dream? I was alone, and yet not feeling lonely.

In my dream I closed my eyes.

And felt the warmth of solitude.

A brief bursting of lights tells me that my time here (wherever here is...) was up.

I woke up, to a world bursting with a kaleidoscope of colours.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Muse Tinkerer

For brief moments last Monday, I shamefully sank to the “Western Great, Elsewhere Less So” kind of thinking.

I had signed up for a technical report writing course at a city hotel in glitzy Bukit Bintang with all the initial impressions but promising.

It started with my being unable to locate the said hotel, which turned out to be at the rear portion of another (bigger, more luxurious hotel) and having to park my car quite a distance away. The classroom was located right at the end of a cramped corridor. This same corridor doubled as the "buffet snack" serving place, for want of a better word.

Care to guess that (early) morning dish? Char Kuew Tiow. “It cannot be any more Malaysian than this,” I thought deciding to skip the meal and opting for coffee only as I step into the function room.

It was dimly lit, classroom styled setting with two whiteboards and, on the table, an A4-sized booklet. I flipped it open' ready to criticized and did just that after the briefest of glance: “How drool.. This is going to be one dry course.”

By then, I had decided to stay on just until lunchtime and skipped the rest. A daughter down with abdominal pains being the other reason – never mind that she was already with a nanny.

Just a week before, I attended a similar one-day event in Singapore. The hotel was great, the food sumptuous, the speaker a Texan who injected humour into his presentation. I forgave his rushing through the session as he was just such a darn great speaker. A communications expert, as the marketing slip went.

Nancy – the local course speaker – is meanwhile a former banker turned freelance trainer.

Four hours into lunchtime, I ate back every prejudiced thought of her. She was simply superb, making a dry subject into a very entertaining session without the need to turn it into a guffaw fest just to keep eyelids open, interest from waning and minds wandering. And after lunch, the session’s end came fast; too fast in fact, a sign of how well things had gone.

Of course, the food was still horrendous-tasting, the corridor a source of body-brushing sessions as participants of other courses and seminars pass our room to get to the corner washroom but Nancy was worth every bit of inconvenience.

Did I absorb everything she taught in the two days? Not without some re-reading, but she certainly managed to wake some participant’s muse.

(Note: the “muse” is mentioned in Stephen King’s “On Writing”. They supposedly have a bag, pocket, knapsack of writing ideas in their safekeeping. His is a gruff, cigar chomping, hairy little guy who makes Mr. King do all the work while he loafs about. I haven’t found mine. My guess is that I am not looking too hard for him/her.)

On hindsight, Sturtevant was okay as was Nancy with solid knowledge and expertise in the subject matter their clarion call.

The latter just offer greater value in Ringgit and Sens. Not to mention the chance to ogle at the urbane souls of the KL Pavilion crowd whose life seemingly revolves around fashion and exercising their consumer rights of buying and buying and more buying.

Very deep pockets, hmm?

Ghost in Shell

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Buccaneers Canon


Keira "Swashbucking" Knightley

They may be scums, but rude to them the judiciary must not be.

Well, much ruder than rude, actually.

Something along the lines of saying:was turned loose to burgle the stores of Canberra with false credit cards” and “turned loose with instructions to rape and pillage the stores of Canberra when describing the offence committed by a fake credit card-bearing fraud.

Come on, now... this isn’t the swashbuckling era of buccaneers anymore, mind you..

Rape, plunder and pillage. Arr!!!

These days pirates and their buccaneering canons have been much diluted thanks to Hollywood (and mostly Disney) - that the above three words are hardly ever associated with the seafaring (ahem) “adventurers”.

(Gotta go re-read R.L. Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” to get some ideas of what it means to be pirates of old and rid this image of the toothy Captain Jack Sparrow as the definitive “Arr!!” rep.)

In allowing an appeal against a Magistrate’s sentencing, Supreme Court Justice Richard Refshauge said: “It’s important that a judicial officer, in sentencing, describes the offences and their criminality with fairness and measured accuracy”.

Hmm... Measured accuracy. Nice words.

Anyway, the above article is one of two reported court cases which are worthy reads, the other one being the “land taken away by crony in Zimbabwe” case.

You are bound to be taken on a (though admittedly brief) emotional rollercoaster ride reading this article.

There's bound to be disgust, anger, pity, shock, bewilderment and shame.

This is, after all, the same country whose leader wants to be the “Malaysia of Southern Africa”.

The case was newsworthy because of the Malaysian ownership equation, but then again, the country (Zimbabwe) did embark on a "confiscate from the White minorities to give to the Black poor" a not-too-distant memory ago.

If there’s ever a sticky issue in Zimbabwe, it’s their Land Reform movement bit.


Sergio Aragones' Groo