In The Heat Of Battle: The story of Lembah Pantai (Part 4 – Hantu Rahimah Balik Rumah!)

Part 4 – Hantu Rahimah Balik Rumah!

In part 4, I stumble upon a group of ‘phantom voters’ in Lembah Pantai. They spooked the hell out of me!

Click to hear to view/read/watch/listen/smell the full story!

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In The Heat Of Battle: The story of Lembah Pantai (Part 3 – It’s a three-cornered fight!)

Part 3 – It’s a three-cornered fight!

Part three of my multimedia project on AstroAWANI.Com is now live online! I follow the nomination day closely like it’s a cancerous tahi lalat on the back of my neck!! Nurul Izzah, Datuk Raja Nong Chik and Rusli Baba all three talk about their ‘message’! Hmm…

Click to hear to view/read/watch/listen/smell the full story!

In The Heat Of Battle: The Story of Lembah Pantai (Part 2 – Oh My! Just listen to out first world problems!)


Part 2 – Oh my! Just listen to our first world problems!

Lembah Pantai has a very diverse population, most noticeably is the income level. You have the low-income group on one side of the highway, and the high-income group on the other side.

For the candidates in Lembah Pantai, trying to bridge the gap between these two groups can be very challenging indeed because it is obvious that the two groups have different priorities when it comes to election issues.

In the upper class neighbourhood of Bangsar, which also has a more cosmopolitan population, the locals tend to harp on more global issues such as human rights, racial-based politics and freedom of speech.

And this can be seen in the video above of a forum organised by Bangsar locals titled ‘Is Progressive Politics Possible in Contemporary Malaysia?’, which was participated by Pakatan Rakyat’s former Lembah Pantai MP, Nurul Izzah Anwar, and Barisan Nasional’s former Temerloh MP, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

[Click to experience the full story at English.AstroAwani.Com]

*Log on to English.AstroAwani.Com as much as you can this GE13 period to see Zan Azlee’s regular multimedia presentation of ‘In the Heat of Battle: The story of Lembah Pantai’. Zan is spearheading Astro AWANI’s pioneer team of Solo-Journalists.

*Alternatively, just come over here at FATBIDIN.COM!

In The Heat Of Battle: The story of Lembah Pantai


Part 1 – Sup kambing satu!

The 13th General Election period has begun. And throughout the campaigning period, I will be focusing on the federal constituency of Lembah Pantai, which I feel is a nice sample of Malaysia and of the General Election.

There are the high profile candidates, the rich and powerful elite class, the middle class, the hard working class, all of the major races, long time locals and also the migrants from other parts of the country that have made this area their home.

Extrapolate it and you will see that this is a good representation of Malaysian society and politics. But of course, I am but a mere journalist who can only attempt to be as efficient and proficient as I can be. So you may disagree.(And full disclosure, this is also the constituency in which I am voting!)Nomination has yet to happen but the sentiments on the ground have been heated since almost two years ago. Going to the field to gather a feel for what are on Malaysians minds proved to be like opening a can of overly-compressed sardines. Official campaigning by the candidates hasn’t started since that is only allowed to happen after nomination day. So the first stop I made was to the heart of Malaysiana… the warong and gerais.
And if you think that is just the media’s spiel to side the caretaker government, just scroll slightly lower and watch the next video interview with another gerai owner who has been doing business in the area for more than forty years.

This General Election is believed to be the most heated one in the history of Malaysia. The number of registered voters is at a record high. People are coming out and voicing their opinions and expressing their wants and needs. The politicians have to up their game.This is Malaysia Memilih 2013.
*Log on to English.AstroAwani.Com as much as you can this GE13 period to see Zan Azlee’s regular multimedia presentation of ‘In the Heat of Battle: The story of Lembah Pantai’. Zan is spearheading Astro AWANI’s pioneer team of Solo-Journalists.

Oh no! I don’t have land to run on!


Oh no! I don’t have land to run on!
By Zan Azlee

After two years of waiting and guessing, it now feels like a dream that could just be taken away with a simple pinch. But I guess the 13th General Election is really going to happen. Nothing can beat the reality of walking the streets of Malaysia to see just how things are gearing up for the parties, the candidates, and of course, the people.

I’m a very positive and happy person. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am never without a smile or a hearty laugh even in the most stressful of situations. Happiness and positivity is my philosophy in life. I need to have these elements in my life to be able to do my work, to interact with family and friends, and just to survive.

Now that the general election is here, I am happy and excited as this will be the third general election that I will be covering as a journalist, and the first as a voter (I know! Right?). Since the important dates were announced by the Election Commission, I have been in the field, deep in the heart of my constituency, Lembah Pantai, getting a feel of the surroundings.

One of the first stops I made was to the biggest and most striking ops centre in the area – Barisan Nasional – which is located on Jalan Bukit Bangsar. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Who owns the Land of the Hornbills?


Who owns the Land of the Hornbills?
By Zan Azlee

One of the biggest eye openers for me this year is being a part of Astro AWANI’s programme Ceritalah Malaysia with Karim Raslan. Travelling around Malaysia, we got to hear the stories from Middle Malaysia (or what I like to believe is the true Malaysia, as opposed to Klang Valley Malaysians!).

One story which I feel deserves being told (over and over again) is the one about Sijah Ejut, the Iban tuai rumah (village head) from Sibu, Sarawak. And it is only apt that I this story get focused on now. This is especially so when allegations on corrupt Sarawak leaders are surfacing on how indigenous land is being sold for huge profits (utilising devious legal techniques to make even more profit!).

Sijah Ejut comes from a village just 30km from the town of Sibu. We met her in town, then took a drive with her to pay a visit to her village. And things got interesting as soon as the drive started.

Driving out of the well-developed Sibu, the roads are fine and the highway smooth. About 10 minutes out, the roads suddenly disappear and everything turns into gravel. Our sedan cars suddenly started suffering and we immediately regretted stinging on normal cars instead of renting SUVs or 4WDs to get us around. [Click to read the rest of the article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

I see what IC


I see what IC
By Zan Azlee

MARCH 22 — Sijah Ejut is a true blue Malaysian. She is an Iban tuai rumah (village head) who has lived her entire life on the outskirts of Sibu, Sarawak. She has never been out of the country, and her ancestors have lived on the land for centuries. You can’t get any more Malaysian than that.

Yet, she only managed to register her citizenship and get an IC at the age of 27. And because of that, she couldn’t finish her schooling. She couldn’t even travel around freely because the police would stop and accuse her of being an illegal immigrant.

Sijah’s isn’t an isolated case. Almost the entire population of her village does not have ICs (or had trouble getting ICs) even though they are all Bumiputeras.

And imagine Sijah Ejut’s outrage now that she knows that one of Malaysia’s most wanted men, Agbimuddin Kiram, and the rest of his mob could have been among those given ICs and made Malaysian citizens? [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

‘IN FOCUS’ is on NJOI AWANI’s YouTube page… means you get to watch it over and over again!

If you missed the first episode of IN FOCUS, which was on Astro AWANI 501, then you’re in luck! You get to watch it on NJOI AWANI’s YouTube page over and over and over and over and over again! The first episode sees me checking out how the street protest industry works in Egypt in Tunisia!


Working together with Karim Raslan on the TV version of his column ‘Ceritalah’… on Asto AWANI!

Ceritalah Malaysia is the TV version of Karim Raslan’s long running newspaper column and book series where he travels the country speaking to ordinary Malaysians to get a sense of the true Malaysia. I used to read Karim’s writings more than ten years ago when I first started writing myself (funnily.. I haven’t read his stuff in quite a while now! muahaha!). But now we’re working together… and it’s pretty cool!

Produced by Zan Azlee and Karim Raslan for Astro AWANI (501). Every Monday nights, starting tonight, at 9:30pm (with repeats throughout the week).


IN FOCUS… a new documentary series on Astro AWANI by… who else… the ZANSTER!

Come the new year of 2013… I am producing and hosting a new documentary series called IN FOCUS every Tuesday nights at 8:30pm on Astro AWANI (501). It covers current and social affairs, local and international. Expect all the awesomeness, machoness and coolness of Zan Azlee… and others too, of course!

The first three episodes is all about the Arab Spring after two years have gone by. I go to Egypt and Tunisia (and cancelled Syria… not macho enough lah!). So don’t forget to watch the premiere first episode of IN FOCUS this Tuesday (1st January 2013), 8:30pm, on Astro AWANI (501)!

Google’s top 2012 searches… that led to my website!


2012 according to Google
By Zan Azlee

DEC 28 ― The year is coming to an end and it is time to look back and reflect upon the momentous events of the passing year. I thought it would be a good idea to look back at 2012’s top ten searches on Google… and that led to my website, Fatbidin.com!

10. Ridhuan Tee Abdullah

Number ten could be one that has given me the most pleasure this year. I disagree with everything this academician, TV host and writer ― whose real name is Tee Chuan Seng ― says. We had a brief heated exchange in our respective columns (his is in Sinar Harian), from which I emerged victorious.

9. Kabul

Being the gloriously brave war journalist and adrenaline junkie that I am, I went to Afghanistan to shoot a documentary. After a decade of war and after the Taliban, it’s quite a surprise that the country is still getting media coverage.

8. Bersih 3.0

This has to be one of the lowest points of the year. I witnessed things that I don’t ever want to witness in Malaysia again. The police were brutally attacking demonstrators and even journalists like a bunch of street thugs ― after they removed their nametags, of course. But the spirit of Malaysians that gathered, now that was a high point.

[Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

I’m on the cover of a magazine… again! And I am looking beautiful!


“Yeah pops… I’ve been on the cover of magazines too!”










I’m on the cover of the Dec-Jan 2013 issue of 360 Celcius magazine! You’ve never heard of the magazine, you say? Well, neither have I, until recently! Hahaha! This is like the upteenth time I’ve been on the cover of a magazine/newspaper over the years. I wonder what is with the obsession they have with good-looking guys like me! Muahaha! (Click on the images above to read the article)

Lessons from the Jasmine Revolution


Lessons from the Jasmine Revolution
By Zan Azlee

DEC 7 — My last stop in my Arab Spring documentary tour was Tunisia. It also happens to be the first country in the Arab region to start revolting and became the inspiration for the rest of the countries like Egypt, Syria and Yemen.

The story, if you’re not familiar, has become the stuff of legend. A young fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, in the small Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid set himself on fire in protest.

He was tired of how he was being treated by government officials who were always confiscating his goods and asking for bribes. He died of his injuries.

This caused an uproar amongst the citizens in the small town. The authorities turned violent when attempting to quash the uprising. The news spread and soon the whole country demonstrated.

The urban citizens in the capital Tunis who had always been more economically privileged soon realised how their government had been treating the rest of the country.

Once the whole country was united in solidarity, the revolution became strong and the dictator President Ben Ali was forced to flee the country and now resides in exile in Saudi Arabia.

What is interesting for me is that two years have passed since their revolution, and out of all the Arab Spring countries, they are the ones with the most successful new democratically-elected government. [Click to read the rest of the article at The Malaysian Insider]

And a brick hits the Egyptian guy protesting next to me

A passion for documentaries
By Zan Azlee

NOV 30 — Shooting documentaries in the Middle-East isn’t for the faint-hearted; there is the harsh natural environment and, of course, the volatile political situation in the region. Still, I find myself in the region (as I have many times before) shooting a documentary about the Arab Spring. My first stop is Cairo, Egypt.

The first day I arrive and start shooting, a piece of broken concrete thrown by the police hits a protestor standing literally right next to me. His injured and unconscious body was carried to safety by fellow protestors while I stood there thinking that three feet of empty space was what kept me safe. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Is there such a thing as over-protesting?

When democracy is a double-edged sword
By Zan Azlee

NOV 23 — Sometimes democracy works in very funny ways. I recently observed this first hand in Cairo, Egypt, where a revolution recently ousted a dictatorship. Everyone is familiar with the Arab Spring and one of the countries that played a big role in it is Egypt, where I currently am shooting a documentary for Astro Awani.

Tahrir Square, in the heart of Cairo, was where the entire Egypt gathered after they were all tired of the dictator Hosni Mubarak and decided to bring him down. A country that was suppressed for years suddenly took matters into their own hands and turned themselves into a democracy. Now they have a new government that they chose themselves through democratic elections. A government led by a Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohammed Morsi.

And so on the first day that I arrived in the city, I immediately headed to the iconic square (which I surprisingly find out isn’t square at all… it’s really a roundabout!). A crowd of about 300 people had gathered on a street off the square and were obviously demonstrating against something. They started to get quite violent, throwing rocks and what looked liked Molotov cocktails into a school that had been taken over by the police. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Will the real racist please stand up?

Will the real racist please stand up?
By Zan Azlee

OCT 19 — I was in Singapore recently to shoot a documentary on one of the Malay world’s greatest music icons, Zubir Said, who composed songs during the golden era of Malay cinema in the 1950s and ‘60s. P. Ramlee considered him a mentor and he even composed the Singapore national anthem. Zubir also submitted three songs for consideration for our national anthem but none was chosen.

But that isn’t the story here. The story that I am about to tell here really is about something that happened in Singapore while I was there for the said documentary. I had bumped into a Singaporean friend on the streets of this first world city-state and the first thing he said to me was: “There’s a story you can write about for your column!”

It was the Amy Cheong issue that was hot in the Singapore media. And spending many a lonely night in a cold hotel room watching Channel News Asia, I was very familiar with the story. A National Trade Union Council employee (Cheong) had posted a racist remark on her Facebook page that insulted the Malays (something to do with noisy and extravagant weddings!).

All hell broke loose and the first-world citizens of Singapore from all races raged against her. Not only that, the NTUC even sacked her. Then the politicians joined the fray, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong leading the way in condemning Cheong’s behaviour and saying that racial harmony must be maintained.

It played out for a few days and some Singaporeans even started calling for Cheong to be charged by the authorities for what she had said. Then the politicians stepped in again, saying that she had learned her lesson and everyone should move on. And it seems that things have indeed moved on over there.

Now that my shoot is over and I’m back home in my own country, I start reflecting. It seems to me that Singapore, like Malaysia, has her fair share of underlying racial problems. So do so many other countries. Yet, unlike Malaysia, overall, the people of Singapore are quite united in their stand against racism, or so it seems, or maybe I’m just naïve.

The first thing that has to go in Malaysia in my humble opinion is the racial-based politics that has existed in the country from the very first second of its birth. [Click to read the rest of the article at The Malaysian Insider]

TUNKU – The Documentary

I co-produced/directed a documentary on Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, for Malaysia Day with Noor Azam Shairi, an old Kelab Seni Filem buddy who is also now my colleague. The documentary, titled TUNKU, airs today (16 September 2012) at 6:30pm on ASTRO Awani (501). (Click here or the image above to watch the promo)

Repeats will be on:

Monday 17 Sept – 11am
Tuesday 18 Sept – 3:30pm
Thursday 20 Sept – 2:30am
Friday 21 Sept – 11:30am
Saturday 22 Sept – 5pm

It is the iznit of the izzle in the golden drizzle!

It was a different Malaysia…

It was a different Malaysia
By Zan Azlee

SEPT 7 — Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Tunku Ahmad Nerang, the son of the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister. At 79 years old, slightly over six feet in height, and with a booming voice, one could get carried away that one is actually with the former prime minister himself.

My chat with him made me realise many things. I realised that Tunku Nerang and his family feel a sense of pride being of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s lineage. And this should rightfully be. Tunku Abdul Rahman was a great man who contributed and sacrificed a lot for the country.

I also realised that it was a different time then compared to now. It was a time when things were much simpler and happier.

“My father used to say that he was the poorest prime minister and also the happiest prime minister,” said Tunku Nerang.

Although I never met the man, from the stories I heard of him, it sounded like he was a very carefree person, yet very honest and sincere. And because of him, it gave me the impression that the country of Malaysia (or the Federation of Malaya) at that time was one that was carefree, honest and sincere too. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Wanna lose weight? These KL-ites have a found a very submissive way to do so!

A couple of months ago, I did a report for Dutch TV’s VPRO Metropolis programme about obesity in Malaysia. It finally went on air in The Netherlands and is available to view online. I shed quite a lot of sweat following these… err… big-boned… participants as they shed the kilos! Click here to view the video or on the image above.

I became a ‘Lomo Amigo’! Does this mean I’m a hipster now? Astarghfirullahalazim!

Oh God forgive me… I’ve turned into a bloody hipster!! Recently, Lomography Malaysia contacted me and offered to make me a Lomo Amigo. They sent me… all the way from Hong Kong… one of their latest products to use before it was in the market… the LomoKino Super 35 Movie Maker. It’s a film camera that shoots moving pictures using 35mm film… and you crank it manually!! Knowing how Lomography hipsters keep harping on and on about great it is to shoot pictures without thinking (it’s so irritating if you ask me!)… that I decided to be the total anti-thesis of that concept. I decided to shoot a short documentary film about refugee children in Malaysia with the Lomokino. Check out my Lomo Amigo page by clicking here or on the the screenshot above. And… you can watch my documentary film below:

The camera is actually really fun to use and it was great that Lomography Malaysia gave me this opportunity.


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