Category Archives: journalism

5 things that thrive during a currency recession


kopitiam

5 things that thrive during a currency recession
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia’s currency, the ringgit, has been dropping at a constant rate these past few weeks and many people are saying that it could even go lower that what it was during the 1997/98 financial crisis.

It is now at 3.56 to the US dollar (at the time of writing) and the lowest it got in 1998 was 4.88. It was then that the Prime Minister at that time, Tun Mahathir Mohamed, capped it at 3.8.

Why has our currency been dropping of late? There are many details to why it is so, but the main reason has to be the slump in crude oil prices which is US$48.36 (at the time of writing).

Our country’s economy is highly dependant on oil because Petronas’ revenue contributes about 40 per cent of the government’s revenue. So you can imagine the significance of oil prices.

Although many would see the drop in our currency as something that is detrimental (it actually is if prolonged), there are advantages to. We just need to understand where and how to benefit from it. [Click to read the full article at KopitiemEkonomi.Com]

Change our perception of protests and demonstrations


IMG_3010_watermarked

malaysian-insider-logo

Change our perception of protests and demonstrations
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia began its journey as an independent nation through protests and demonstrations organised by our founding fathers against the colonial masters.

It was democratic and peaceful, but the message the entire country sent to the British was powerful. They were not happy and tried as much as they could to suppress the dissent.

But of course, as we all know, they were unsuccessful and in August 1957, the British were forced to let go of our nation.

Unfortunately, the perception of this sacred democratic act today has been relegated to something negative, uncivilised and barbaric.
Those who partake in protests and demonstrations are labelled as hooligans and troublemakers, intent on destroying the daily lives of the rakyat.

Ironically, the same party that organised the protests and demonstrations to free our glorious nation are now stifling that same democratic element.

Is it just because now, these activities are mainly done to protest and demonstrate against them? So have the tides turned that they are now forced to suppress dissent?

Shouldn’t they embrace the tradition that brought us to independence instead of totally erasing it from their memories? Isn’t that a form of ungratefulness?

So many of the great nations in the world have attained independence and progressed due to the democratic process of protests and demonstrations. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

We need free tertiary education for all


10404443_10154780090130253_2371725665212157480_n

astro_awani_logo

We need free tertiary education for all
By Zan Azlee

Listening to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, give his State of the Union address can be pretty entertaining and boring at the same time.

It’s basically a time when the president of the country tells Congress everything that is right with this country, hence, the state of the Union. But sometimes, he outlines his annual agenda as well.

And one of the things that struck out to me in his speech last Tuesday is the fact that he is trying to persuade Congress to approve free education for community college students.

I have been an advocate for free education for quite a while now (ever since I’ve been a student!) and I think it makes sense because education is a right and not a privilege.

It seems that in Malaysia, education is almost like a privilege. Not all schools are equal and alike. Some are better than others in terms of infrastructure and teachers.

We have normal public schools, fully-residential schools, Mara Junior Colleges, BESTARIs and whatever not that polarises the education system instead of making all schools equal.

People resort to all kinds of ways to get into a school of their choice, like ‘borrowing’ different residential addresses, appealing to officials to be admitted into certain schools, etc.

And then there’s tertiary education in Malaysia. Although there are many scholarships to be obtained, they are still limited and not to mention that many follow racial quotas.

Even the entry to public universities are perceived to follow racial quotas and so many who aren’t included in the quota are forced to study in private institutions that cost even more.

And because of the cost, many will also be forced to forego tertiary education and head straight into the workforce. And that is not fair to the people. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Pakchic Says: Potty training is a cinch, really!


athena toilet

makchic_logo

Pakchic Says: Potty training is a cinch, really!
By Zan Azlee

One of the scariest anticipations for me as a father is when it comes time for potty training. The reason it scares me is because it conjours up bad memories of my childhood.

I didn’t really have any problems with potty training during my waking hours. It was during the night, when I’d be sleeping, that the problems occurred.

There would be many a nights when I’d wake up in the wee hours of the morning to a sudden wetness in my pants area only to find out I had relieved myself.

And this problem went on right up till I was six or seven years old. So my determination to successfully potty train my daughter Athena was really to redeem my honour!

So we started when she was about three years old. We’d constantly take her diapers off at home and just put her on the potty seat until she would either pee or poo.

After a few times of doing that and explaining to her that she has to tell us every time she felt the urge to go, we’d leave her diaper-less totally, but only at home.

I have a friend who, on the first day of potty training, immediately went diaper-less at a dinner party at another friend’s house! Now that’s confidence that my wife and I don’t have! [Click to read the full article at MakChic.Com]

Can a writer really make a living?


IMG_9431

kopitiam

Can a writer really make a living?
By Zan Azlee

When I entered university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I love writing but I never knew it could be a career. So I graduated with a degree in accounting. But lucky for me, as soon as I graduated, I managed to wrangle a job at a newspaper company and that was how my career in writing started.

Fast forward fourteen years later, I was at the George Town Literary Festival 2014 in Penang on the invitation of the festival’s director Umapakan Ampikaipakan. It was to hype up my latest book (Adventures of a KL-ite in Afghanistan – go get it at a bookstore near you!) but also to be on several panel discussions. One of it was about writing for money.

And judging by the crowd that was there, many were interested. Maybe they wanted to see if they can get rich or they were just interested to see if they can make a living from writing. Aside from myself, Miguel Syjuco from the Philippines and Rozlan Mohd Noor from Malaysia were on the panel. We all have different backgrounds. It was a good mix.

Miguel went the hardcore author route – struggling doing odd jobs right up to pursuing an academic career. And he just kept writing, writing and writing. Then his first novel ‘Ilustrado’ won the prestigious Man Asian Literary Prize in 2008 and he started getting knocks on the door and his writing career kicked off.

Rozlan, on the other hand, started writing a little later in his life. Now in his fifties or sixties (who knows… he’s a man full of enigma!), he has written six books in the past four years. His crime novels have gone on to being shortlisted for awards and becoming bestsellers, the former policeman is just enjoying the heck out of life and writing stories.

And then there’s me. I’ve written three books. None have won awards or come close to giving me royalties to buy a mansion or a couple of Bentleys. Rich I am not but a living I am making. I started at a newspaper, went on a freelancing career which started with copywriting for websites, brochures and ads and then continued to do the journalism writing I love. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]