Category Archives: journalism

The Fat Bidin Vlog (Ep 10) – Blue skies in Borneo (The Borneo Eco Film Festival)

The Fat Bidin Vlog

Ep 10 – Blue skies in Borneo (The Borneo Eco Film Festival)

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The Fat Bidin Podcast (ON VIDEO!) Ep 66 – Umno love letters

The Fat Bidin Podcast (ON VIDEO!) Ep 66 – Umno love letters

Zan and Aizyl discuss love letters revolving around Umno and its members. From legal matters to show cause responses, you can’t tell if you’re reading news or satire.


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We can’t afford fast Internet, duh!



We can’t afford fast Internet, duh!
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia has never run dry of politicians who say the darndest things. And this is even more so in recent times when statements made by them are like funny one-liner comedy routines.

The most recent one was made by a new minister, who assumed his role roughly about two months ago, during a Cabinet reshuffle.

If you still remember, this Cabinet reshuffle saw the sacking of two senior members, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal. It was a controversial decision.

Now that you memory has been refreshed, back to the point of my column this week: Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak says the darndest things!
He was reported to have said Malaysians prefer to have slower Internet speeds. His conclusion was based on data showing 71% of Malaysians chose slower, cheaper Internet packages.

This is quite a ridiculous conclusion. One reason is that there can be no way that an average Malaysian would prefer an inferior service over a superior one.

If you had a choice of either driving a top-of-the-line Porsche and the most basic Proton, and where price is no issue, which would be your first pick?

But the thing here is that a luxury car is not a basic necessity while the Internet is considered in the developed world to be a basic human necessity.

It is more an issue of affordability rather than preference. Malaysia is well known for having one of the highest Internet prices in the region, if not the world.

Because of monopoly in the industry, prices have remained consistently high while quality has been inconsistent to say the least.

It’s not because they don’t want to, it just means that most Malaysians really have no choice but to choose a cheaper Internet package due to affordability and suffer through slow speeds.

Now, I’m not the only person saying this. Some prominent individuals have also criticised what Salleh has said, including former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

She said it was shameful for the world to think, from the statement made by Salleh, that Malaysians were so backward in wanting to have slower Internet.

I am currently in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, attending and conducting filmmaking workshops at The Borneo Eco Film Festival, and the feeling here in Sabah is of shock and surprise.

Salleh is a Sabahan. He was the chief minister of the state from 1994 to 1996 and is currently a Senator in the Dewan Negara. He is the same age as the American actor Kevin Bacon.

One Sabahan I spoke to said that “he used to be quite normal before he became a minister”, while another, after hearing his name, said that “isn’t he a famous novelist?”

Earlier in the year, I had a sit-down interview with the then Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek (who also is the same age as Kevin Bacon).

He was telling me of the Malaysia’s efforts in trying to build and develop the infrastructure in order to improve the speed and quality of the Internet.

Ahmad Shabery also stressed on how the ministry was trying its best to create an environment which would bring prices to a more competitive rate.

Hmm… now I’m wondering if Salleh was given a proper handover report from his predecessor.

[This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]

Pakchic Says: She Won’t Use a Wet Toilet, but Everything Else Goes into Her Mouth!



Pakchic Says: She Won’t Use a Wet Toilet, but Everything Else Goes into Her Mouth!
By Zan Azlee

Most parents would agree that it’s a challenge to instill good hygiene in a toddler. And it’s no different for me and my wife when it comes to little Athena.

This is even more so when I’m a little bit of a clean freak and need to wash my hands three times before I go to sleep (well, not that crazy lah).

We tell her the basics like never putting her dirty fingers into her mouth (or any other object she gets her hands on), always washing her hands before meals, etc.

We explain to her how unhygienic practices can make her sick like suffering from stomach aches and things like that. She nods like she understands and we get really convinced.

But it seems to always get past her when the actual time comes to be clean and hygienic. And that is what annoys me like crazy!

When she remembers (basically, when we remind her!), she’ll pull out that rubber band she found on the floor from her mouth, or wash her hands before sitting at the table.

Sometimes, I get really annoyed and lose my patience. That’s when the screaming battle between me and her begins. And it could be at home or even in public.

My wife usually steps in as a referee. And you would expect a referee to be unbiased and, well, referee, the whole thing. But no! She seems to always side Athena!

Apparently, according to the referee, I can’t scream at a four-year-old and expect her to calmly understand adult reasoning and except that her counter argument is wrong!

Yeah! Whatever!

According to the biased referee, you have to talk calmly to the child and slowly persuade her to do as you say. And when you do it often enough, they will form it into habit and understand.

Yeah! Whatever!

But Athena is getting there. She’s slowly forming good hygiene into habit and doing as she is supposed to (the bias referee who is smirking, I say it’s just a coincidence!).

You see, the thing that really gets to me is that ever since Athena was toilet-trained, which was probably when she was 2 years old, she has this one habit that surprised me.

If we’re out of the house and she needs to use the toilet, she’ll have to check it out first.

There are several criterias for the toilet to be usable:

  1. The floor needs to be dry with no wet spots at all.
  2. The floor needs to be of large pieces of tiles (and especially not mosiac!).
  3. The toilet needs to be speckless without even a scratch on the seat at all.
  4. No squatting toilet.
  5. There must be no foul scent at all.
  6. The toilet must be brightly lit.

If you look at that list, Athena’s criteria for a usable toilet would beat even the strictest city council health inspector. If just one of it isn’t fulfilled, she’d rather hold it in.

Very hygienic, right? But then a piece of lead from a broken colour pencil that she finds under her bed passes the cleanliness test and it goes straight into her mouth!

What can you do?

[This article appeared originally at MakChic.Com]


Dying in Makkah does not guarantee you Heaven



Dying in Makkah does not guarantee you Heaven
By Zan Azlee

I have a strong desire to perform the Hajj.

I’ve had this desire for a long time now, ever since I started travelling extensively in the Middle East about ten years ago.

My travels started as a road to self-discovery through my adventures of making self-reflective and immersive documentaries back in the day.

I was interested in my own identity as a Muslim Malaysian and wanted to explore and find out more by traveling to the heartland of where the religion was born.

I visited so many holy places in so many countries. I can’t begin to describe my feelings as I passed through Shiite country, Sunni country, Druze country, Baha’i country, Zoroastrian country, Christian country and even Jewish country.

And so I can’t even imagine the sensations I would experience if I had the opportunity to perform the Hajj and be in such a holy land.

Which brings me to the tragedies that occurred during this year’s Hajj season, more specifically, the deadly collapse of a construction crane in Makkah, and the fatal stampede in Mina.

There is a wide belief that it is considered blessed if one dies while performing the Hajj and for many, especially the elderly, it becomes like a ‘hajat’ or intention.

Of course, this is, for someone who is spiritual and religious, definitely understandable because dying while doing something good just sounds really nice.

It doesn’t guarantee that that the deceased will enter Heaven, but at least it is hoped and prayed that he or she will.

With all due respect to those who lost loved ones in those incidents, there is a distinction between dying while performing ‘ibadah’ and death due to human negligence.

If there was indeed human error involved in what happened in Makkah and Mina, then those responsible should be held accountable, and action taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

I, for one, would like to avoid dying even if it is while performing any kind of ‘ibadah’. The intention is to continue to live a more enlightened life once I have experienced spirituality.

Al-Fatihah to all the victims.

[This article originally appeared at English.AstroAwani.Com]