Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Have we lost our minds?

Dave, who lives in the US and with whom I’ve been playing Backgammon online for some years now, asked me about the Allah issue and the subsequent church fire-bombings and I replied, in the little 1000-character space we have for messages every turn:

“It's a political issue dressed up as a religious one. It is also a spotlight on the divide between the west malaysian (or peninsular) states and the two states we have 500km away which we call East Malaysia. The East Malaysians have lived a much more peaceful pluralistic society, something we on the west could learn from. Unfortunately political power resides in the west and it serves the political masters here better to simply plunder the oil and timber resources of the east while suppressing their political ambitions. Very sad.”

I’m not going to say here how absurd some of the arguments are. Especially in the light of so many facts such as:
i. The world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, freely allows the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims. This is the same country we’ve been buying Bahasa Indonesia Bibles from.
ii. Middle-eastern Christians have been using the name ‘Allah’ for centuries.
iii. There are clear verses in the Quran saying the desecration of a Christian place of worship is a big no-no. Forget the forfeiture of 72 virgins or whatever, I mean this is serious don’t-even-think-of-it-sonny shit.
and so on…

However, it seems some people only want to see one side of the coin. Nevermind if it’s the side with no indication of any denomination or worth.

Now, I try to steer clear of overly-political opinions on this blog as I feel this platform should be for ‘making a difference’. I have made concessions, notably when the Perak State Assembly was dissolved some months ago.

I’m making some concessions here again but mainly because I do think this is indeed an opportunity to make a difference.

What opportunity, you ask? Well, just two simple things:
1. Speak up - make your voice heard in a peaceful, rational way. Write to your MPs or even to the PM, leave comments on major blogs and the alternative press like Malaysiakini or Malaysia Today. Make sure there is a clear signal sent that the dissenting voices protesting against the sheer stupidity of the Home Ministry’s actions are loud and numerous. Strange thing here is that it really isn’t about what you say - it’s about how many people are saying it.
2. Vote. It’s some time away yet, but when you have a chance (a by-election perhaps?) exercise your democratic right and vote against stupidity, bigotry, megalomania and corrupt hegemony. If you haven’t registered to vote, do so without delay. A visit to the post office should sort you out. Malaysia may have lost many things in the last 25 years, but we haven’t yet lost the value of a vote. If it’s the last thing we hold onto, let it count.

So, take these two opportunities and make something of them. Make them count. Make YOU count. And make a difference.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Stuff I’m into: The Secret Millionaire

This is the third season of this wonderful show. It puts a successful person incognito into a volunteer worker environment so he or she can assess to who and how much of his own money to  donate.

It’s so easy for people who have cash to simply write a cheque out to a charitable cause. We see these PR opportunities so very often in the newspapers or on TV. The Secret Millionaire instead immerses this millionaire in one or more organisations of their choice for 10 days. During this time they mop, wash dishes, peel potatoes, clean toilets, pick up horse manure and so on. It changes the people who receive the donation almost as much as it changes the millionaires who are taken out of their comfort zone.

My favourites so far:

Gary Eastwood, a scrap metal millionaire who started with a £100 loan and who during his 10 days had to deal with issues he’d buried deep within - the loss of his twin sisters to drug abuse and never having adequately thanked his grandfather, a WWII veteran who’d brought Gary up.

Nick Leslau, a property tycoon who had to face his own fears of blindness and who worked with the disabled. For someone who has so much - he’s worth over £200 million - he has such a personal touch.

This shows never fails to bring a tear to my eyes - it truly embodies what ‘Make a Difference’ is all about.

Forever Falls - a day trip to Selama in Perak

Fishing in Oil Palm Estates It seems this part of Perak is all about waterfalls. We’d seen signboards for so many in our recent travel...