Sunday, July 14, 2013

Malaysian sex bloggers post tasteless breaking fast greeting Muslims offended by ‘Bak Kut Teh’ Ramadan greeting.

Link to MSN news

Muslims offended by ‘Bak Kut Teh’ Ramadan greeting.

Alvin Tan; Vivian Lee

Alvin and Vivian, the couple who posted the Bak Kut Teh greeting for Ramadan have publicly apologized through a video uploaded yesterday to their YouTube channel called SexcussionsAlvivi. The video, which was recorded in Malay with English subtitles, seeks forgiveness from all Malaysians for offending the Muslims during Ramadan. Alvin went on to describe the Bak Kut Teh greeting that included a Halal logo that is only used by Jakim (the Islamic authority of Malaysia). He also claimed that both he and Vivian are aware that Muslims were forbidden to take pork, but made the greeting 'for humour'. 

The 1:22 minute video shows Alvin speaking in a rather tensed and somber mood, with Vivian sitting next to him. Alvin also conveyed his regrets for his actions.

"We truly regret offending religious beliefs and sensitivities in multi-racial Malaysia," he said, adding that they had no intention to insult, ridicule or trivialize Islam, or incite racial conflict.

"With that, we apologize to all offended parties."

The video ends with an Aidilfitri greeting and another apology. Vivian was silent throughout the video.

Alvin and Vivian were in the headlines sometime in October last year for uploading videos and pictures of themselves in various suggestive positions and detailing their sexual liaisons in Tan's personal blog. Alvin was a student of the National University of Singapore*. Since then, Alvin has had his scholarship withdrawn. It is unknown if they are still studying. Now they are making headlines again, for all the wrong reasons.

Alvin and Vivian, both in their mid-20s posted a greeting online that says ‘Selamat Berbuka Puasa, dengan Bak Kut Teh… Wangi, enak, menyelerakan!’ In English, it means happy breaking fast with Bak Kut Teh, aromatic, tasty and appetizing.

Bak Kut Teh is a popular Chinese Malaysian recipe commonly served with pork ribs in herbal soup. Although, the name of the dish does not specifically mean pork, the greeting certainly raises eyebrows and courts disapproval from many quarters.

“They have gone overboard and they are very disrespectful towards us,” said a young tech- savvy urban Malay who declined to be named.

Sinar Harian, a Malay daily reported that Seremban MCA chief, Dr. Yeow Chai Thiam had lodged a police report yesterday at Campbell Road and had urged the police to take action against them.

He said that this is not something to be taken lightly and that the couple should not have insulted Muslims who are fasting. He also said that the couples’ actions have agitated many people including the Chinese.

“If left unaddressed, we fear that it might affect our racial harmony and lead to larger issues,” he said.

This insensitive greeting especially in the month of Ramadan, is potentially harmful especially when the Chinese in Malaysia were blamed for the marginal win during the 13th General Elections held in May this year. Prime Minister Najib Razak termed the dwindling support for the national coalition as a Chinese Tsunami, a move generally seen as an attempt to distant himself from the poor performance compared to his predecessor.

Muslims are forbidden to consume pork as stated in the Quran with no less than four references made.

“He has forbidden you only dead animals, and blood, and the swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than God.” (Quran 2:173)

However, some netizens have mischievously defended the couple by asking whether the meat that was being referred to was ‘chicken, rabbit or venison?’

Although most ordinary Malaysians balk at any attempts to further disintegrate racial unity, it must be said that resentments towards the different ethnic groups are deeply rooted and that racial harmony are constantly under threat. Extremist groups like Perkasa and Jati often openly provoke discord along racial lines and are unabashed for their unilateral views.

More often than not, some pockets feel marginalised even though government policies provide affirmative actions like quotas and incentives. These policies, however, have had a negative impact, as only a handful of them were made very rich through the National Economic Policies. The widening the gap between the rich and the poor are the primary source of discontentment, although some politicians have boldly pointed the finger at the Chinese.

Tanda Putera, a full-length movie that was supposed to be screened before the general elections, portray the Chinese as the provocateurs during the May 13, 1969 riot with a scene showing Chinese youths allegedly urinating on the flagpole bearing the Selangor flag. The movie, which is funded by the government arm FINAS, is still unreleased. Even so, private screening to selected audiences especially students were made prior to the last election.

Another controversial matter which had the non-Muslim community up in arms, was the introduction of Interlok as compulsory literature for Form 5 students. The story, written in 1971 by Abdullah Hussain gives the impression that the Chinese are greedy, smokes opium and sell their daughters away; and the Indians as pariahs. The book has since been removed from the syllabus.

The 1Malaysia slogan has so far, been just a slogan and a catchy phrase at best. Ironically, the Prime Minister calls for a national reconciliation despite contradictory to his accusation of the Chinese voting for the opposition. In the 12th General Election,  the Indians were made the scapegoats. It would have been better if there was some consistency in claiming to be a multiracial country and not confuse people every now and then.

Even after 56 years of independence, we can still hear people say ‘Go back to China’ or ‘Go back to India’.

Perhaps the latest stunt by Alvin and Vivian is just another attempt to draw attention, or it could be an underlying problem within our multiracial society. According to blogs around the internet, the couple had claimed that they posted the greeting for ‘no reason’. The MCMC will be conducting an investigation into the complaints made against the couple.

In order to strive for a more balanced and healthy society, people need to discard prejudices and categorisation by religion, colour and race. This tit-for-tat mentality has to end someday if we ever hope to live peacefully. What we do not want is more ire or confrontational approaches, but what we do truly need are level-headed leaders who believe in equal opportunities, have a combative attitude towards racism and an ability to lead his people forward as Malaysians.

Hopefully, there will be no more replicas of Alvin and Vivian.

*Correction made: Vivian Lee was never a NUS student

What do you do while waiting out traffic jams?

Link to MSN news

While patience is a virtue, time is also money. Many cities in the world face similar problems with traffic congestion. In densely populated areas, people spend up to 72 hours a month just waiting out jams; and traffic jams often cause impatience among drivers which lead to road rages.

A person’s personality is often reflected in the way he drives. During traffic gridlocks, a variety of driving attitudes may be spotted, namely the abiding driver, the inattentive driver, the road hog and the road bully.

As road users, we very much wish that drivers are considerate enough not to hog the yellow boxes, run a red light or cut queues. Oh, the incessant honking and warning‘flash beams’ – don’t they just make driving wearisome, tiresome and bothersome!

So what do people do while stuck in traffic?

It will definitely be good to exert full concentration and calmness behind the wheel. However, balancing these against aggravated situations may well tip the scale over. Just imagine, you are especially late for a meeting, or you have to pick up your kid from school. Or worse, you just got an earful from your boss at work, or, you just got fired.

No matter, traffic jams intensifies our foul mood, and the only way is to gain control of our emotions.

Be happy

Nothing beats being happy. When there are happy thoughts, time flies. Some like to turn the radio on. Some like to hum, some like to sing, some like to dance, and some like to listen to news.

Some like to chat on the phone, some like to browse the web (highly unadvisable if driving), and some like to text friends (also highly unadvisable if driving).

Some like the silence. Some like to formulate plans, some like to recall events of the day, and some like to think up excuses.

Some like to check the spots on their faces, some like to shave or put on make-up, and some like to fiddle with their noses or comb their hair.

Some like to play guessing games or look into other people’s cars.

Of course, being happy is one thing, but multi-tasking is another – it makes an inattentive driver.

Making good use of time

Time and tide waits for no man, as the saying goes.

Although studies show that couples are more likely to have disagreements during car rides, it is actually more comforting to travel with another person to distract boredom. Having meaningful discussions in the car may be highly satisfactory and at the same time lessen one’s agitation towards the agonizingly slow-moving vehicles.

Many successful business deals and worthy ideas have been worked out during traffic jams. The invention of earphones, Bluetooth, and other hands-free accessories make it possible for drivers to safely conduct brainstorming sessions and conversations over the cellular phone.

Businessmen, negotiators, agents and students would then discover that tolerating congestions are not that bad after all.

A writer, for instance, may most probably be thinking of his opening phrase while stuck in traffic. A composer might be trying to make up a new tune; the detective scrutinizing new evidence; the scientist comprehending facts and figures; the philosopher contemplating the congestion; and the religious man examining the will of God. And so on and so forth.
Yes, all these will make the rush hour sweeter by comparison, and diminish the frustration that comes with it. Hopefully, this will also lessen road bullies and road rages.

But when all else fails, just grin and bear it. (Meditation works too!)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Penang State backbencher employs first transgender

Link to MSN news

Carolyn Khor

Seen as yet another first for Penang and perhaps Malaysia, a transgender has been engaged to assist Teh Yee Cheu oversee the transgender community’s welfare, after the proposal was tabled and approved in the State Assembly last week.

Teh who is the Tanjung Bungah representative, heads the panel with the support of both Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan National representatives, including State opposition leader, Jahara Hamid.

The committee, set to be formed within two months, aims to collect data and alleviate the status and social stigma associated with the transgender community. The committee plans to also conduct forums and spread public awareness on the issue.

“…they have rights over their bodies, and have a right to decide what gender they are most comfortable with,” said Teh.

At a press conference today (10/7/13), Teh, who proudly claims to walk the talk, announced that he had engaged transgender Hazreen Shaik Daud as his political secretary.

“I am thankful to YB Teh for giving me the opportunity to work with him,” said Hazreen, a 33 year old diploma holder who speaks fluent Mandarin and English besides the national language. Hazreen is expected to assume duties on July 15 and had previously worked for an NGO known as the Penang Family Health Development.

The demure and pretty ‘lady’ revealed her concerns over employment opportunities available to the transgender.

“Even with qualifications, we are turned down just because of how we look,” she said, adding that she would eventually want to operate her own boutique.

An edict, issued by the Fatwa Committee National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia held on 13th December 1989, had declared that sex change was prohibited under the Shariah. According to Chong Eng, facilitator to the committee who also holds the State EXCO portfolio for Youth and Sports, Women, Family and Community Development claims that there are between 10 and 50 thousand transgender persons in Malaysia.

Carolyn Khor

Gender is actually not the issue – it is the segregation of gender that makes gender the issue. Gender in our society have, till recently, been plainly categorized as male and female, and though the transgender community have been seeking legal redress in terms of recognition and status, the struggle against age-old conformities are nothing short of an arduous task.

Among the top agendas of the transgender welfare committee are to seek better accessibility for transgender persons in terms of basic needs like accessibilities to healthcare, employment and to provide equal treatment to persons with gender disagreements at public places such as schools, hospitals and detention centres.

‘Mak Nyahs’ as they are commonly termed refers to a transgender who was born a male but identifies himself more as a woman. Presently, Mak Nyahs or pondans, another derogatory term, have trouble seeking employment, are still scorned at by the society by large and even unaccepted by parents.

‘If my son was a pondan, I would beat him to death’ is the response of many fathers whose sons are considered soft.

In 2011, boys with effeminate tendencies were sent to a four day behavioural camp in Besut, Trengganu in an effort to ‘toughen’ them up.

In contrast, other countries have begun a larger acceptance of the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender) community with even some religious leaders, celebrities and politicians coming out of the closet to proclaim their sexual orientation and preferences.

Take the example of the recently concluded decision of the Washington Supreme Court. Two cases were ruled on the same day in favour of gay marriages and the constitutional rights of same-sex marriages.  The liberal stance of the US court may have an impact on the overall perception and tolerance towards LGBT.

Although Malaysia may still be considerably homophobic and reluctant to address the transgender and LGBT issues, the fact remain that such people exist and should be accorded proper and equal rights. As what the late Neil Armstrong said, this is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Penang has given new hope to the discriminated.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Prosecutors fail to deliver justice on Chee Gaik Yap’s case

Nationwide signature campaign to petition against High Court’s acquittal and discharge of suspect.

Reeling in from the shock and anger over the prosecution team to provide a prima facie case against a rape and murder suspect, civil societies, state and national leaders all helped collect signatures and make police reports nationwide to urge the Attorney-General’s Chamber file an appeal in 14 days. Today is the eighth day.
A free man now, Shahril Jaafar was discharged and acquitted by the Alor Setar High Court last Thursday. Shahril had absconded to Perth in 2006 while out on bail during trial. He was only apprehended by the police when he landed at the Subang Airport in January 2012.

According to the Section 388 (1) of the Criminal Code of Procedures (CPC), it states that::

When any person accused of any non-bailable offence is arrested or detained without warrant by a police officer or appears or is brought before a Court, he may be released on bail by the officer in charge of the police district or by that Court, but he shall not be so released if there appears reasonable grounds for believing that he has been guilty of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life…

With such clear regulations, why then was an accused man suspected of both rape and murder allowed bail? Is it because he is the son of a prominent figure? And why was he only charged with murder and not rape as well?
As a woman, I feel totally appalled and rebuke the incompetence of the law enforcers in administering justice in this case. Have law practitioners forgotten their duties to protect their citizens?

How can we expect the streets to be safe when the odds are stacked against the victim and the system flawed? Despite conflicting public opinion, official statistics released by the government always claim that crime rate in the country have gone down.

Not unlike a direct contradiction, three strikingly high-profiled cases of home burglary were reported within the last two months. One was the home belonging to the sister of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin, at SS3 Petaling Jaya. Another break-in happened in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan, home to the sister of Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar; and the latest, at Bukit Damansara, home of Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister for Youth and Sports.

“This incident is a reminder to us all that crime is a serious problem in our country. It is a real issue and not just merely a perception,” said Khairy Jamaluddin, admitting the severity of crime in the country.

Judicial Commissioner Zaki Abdul Wahab ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the accused killed the victim, Chee Gaik Yap, who was then only 25 years old. The DNA in the semen found on the victim did not completely match that of the accused, as there might be a third person involved, Zaki elaborated as he read out his judgment.

With lop-sided and partisan structures within the judiciary and legislature, it is little wonder that stained mattresses and three-day old evidences left up in the nether region orifices can be presented in court as sufficient evidence to incriminate someone while the brutal and depraved criminals go scot-free, and the lack of evidence cited.

How can we entrust our safety and lives to an authority that treats serious crimes with a lackadaisical and indifferent attitude? Malaysian Crime Watch Task Force (MyWatch) insisted on June 25 that the Deputy IGP, Mohd Bakri Zini should clarify crime statistics.

“Serious crimes such as criminal intimidation, abduction, extortion and causing grievous hurt are classified as non-indexed crimes, which are not included in the national crime statistics,” MyWatch revealed, and stressed the need to ascertain if this was the normal practice by the Interpol and neighbouring countries.

If 50,000 signatures still fail to persuade the Attorney-General to rise to the occasion and make good an opportunity for reparation towards the family of Chee Gaik Yap, the public are then forced to agglomerate yet another example of the severe abortion of the law, to the likes of Teoh Beng Hock, Kugan and many others.

For now, we can only hope and pray. Tomorrow, any one of us can be the next victim.

Link to article in MSN

Link to photo gallery at MSN

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hello Kitty proves action speaks louder than words

Hello Kitty proves action speaks louder than words
Hello Kitty does not have a mouth. She speaks with her heart.

Worldwide novelty ‘Hello Kitty’ had Singaporeans queuing up and tussling over a limited edition toy kitten dressed in skeleton outfit from a German fairy tale known as ‘The Singing Bones’. McDonald’s Singapore sold the toy, as the last in a series of six, which began early June. The last frenzy was Hello Kitty dressed in wedding attire in 2000.

Despite having stocked up on 40% more on collectible Hello Kitty toys this year and limiting each customer to only 4 toys each, McDonald’s claim that the response for the Fairy Tale series had been overwhelming.
The fast-food chain announced last Thursday that the iconic toy had been sold out, much to the disappointment and frustration of many enthusiastic collectors who braved the haze in an attempt to get their hands on the plush toy.

Singapore wasn't the only country bogged by this phenomenon. Malaysia at one point was hit by the Hello Kitty fever in the 90’s. People argued over toys, jumped queues and made a commotion when the collectible went out of stock. Why do people react in such a way? Admittedly, these toys fetch a high resale value.

The toys were sold at S$4.60 (US$3.63) each but resellers are putting out bids at eBay, some starting from as high as US$79.90. ‘Stomp’ Singapore, an online urban lifestyle website reported last week that the winning bid was S$126,000 (US$99,471) for a set of the Fairy Tale series which includes the skeleton outfit kitty.

McDonald’s Singapore in its Facebook page declared disapproval of resellers profiting from the highly sought after collector’s item but is unable to do much beyond removing adverts from their page and admonishing their staff to misappropriation.

Although crazed fans sought out these memorabilia not unlike hysteria, some people are not even aware of it and termed it as an “outlandishly childish” display.

Hello from Japan

7-11 convenient stores nationwide in Malaysia are currently having a Hello Kitty promotion to collect 20 different trinkets and a chance to win entry tickets into the Hello Kitty Town in Johor. The promotion ends on 8 September 2013. Selected outlets also carry Hello Kitty bracelets priced at RM15.90 (US$5).

Presently there are three Hello Kitty theme parks in the world – Sanrio Puroland in Tokyo; Harmonyland in Kyushu; and Sanrio Hello Kitty Town, within the Puteri Harbour Theme Park in Johor, Malaysia. Sanrio Hello Kitty Town is the only character theme park located outside of Japan. Puteri Harbour Theme Park houses Legoland as well.

In Taiwan, there is a Hello Kitty themed restaurant and a maternity hospital too.

The Hello Kitty trademark also expanded into the wine market in 2009 to engage adult fans. Other than that, Hello Kitty can also be found in TV shows, video games and music.

Hello Kitty corporate partners include EVA Airways, Taiwan. In October 2005, EVA air launched a commercial passenger plane dubbed Hello Kitty Jet in an attempt to boost the declining tourism industry in the country. While the original Hello Kitty Jet retired in 2009, EVA reintroduced three Hello Kitty jets in 2011 to mark the carrier’s 20th anniversary. In 2012, two more A330 Hello Kitty jets were added to ply the skies, dubbed ‘Hello Kitty Speed Puff’ and ‘Hello Kitty Happy Music’.

Hello Kitty products are sold worldwide through franchise stores and partner businesses. Besides genuine and licensed Sanrio products, Hello Kitty and friends have been spotted on many unofficial items, acknowledging that imitation is indeed the best form of flattery.

Sales of Hello Kitty merchandise account for more than half of its total turnover of about US$1 billion. Sanrio is currently listed in Japan’s Nikkei and was last traded at US$48.05 during closing on June 29.

The Hello Kitty Story

Hello Kitty by Sanrio was created by Japanese designer, Yuko Shimizo in 1974 and was brought over to the USA in 1976. The moon-faced white kitty with a pink bow first made her first appearance on a vinyl purse and was targeted at pre-teen girls. Sanrio provided Hello Kitty with a British identity together with a birthdate, November 1, an identical twin sister named Mimmy, and a hobby of baking cookies.  In 2008, Hello Kitty was appointed as Japan’s tourism ambassador to Hong Kong, China and South Korea. The adorable cat is also, since 1983, the United States children’s ambassador for Unicef.

According to Sanrio, the Hello Kitty trademark adorns 50,000 different products, ranging from fashion like bags, accessories, and clothing to stationaries for school and office; and decorative and electronic items for home and kitchen. It caters to audiences for mass market items to rare collectibles.

Hello Kitty was created based on an inspiration from Lewis Carrol’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’. In a scene at the beginning of the book, main character Alice played with a kitten named Kitty. Though simplistic looking, the kawaii Japanese pop-culture is appealing and has certainly made its mark in the world. Even without a mouth, Hello Kitty speaks volume.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ode on disability by Carolyn Khor

I have eyes that see
But I see a world of suffering;
I have ears that hear
But all I hear is crying;
I have hands that touch
But I reach not those in pain;
So what use is it then?
That I can smell and taste
If I don’t have eyes
I feel with my heart;
If I don’t have ears
I listen with my heart;
If I don’t have hands
I give with my heart;
Only then,
I can smell the joys of life
And taste the beauty of living.

Pray tell, who is disabled?

Take my sight
Take my hearing
Take my touch
But leave me be my heart.

by Carolyn Khor
July 2, 2013