Category Archives: journalism

Pakchic Says: It’s stressful for a four-year-old to anticipate a new sibling


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Pakchic Says: It’s stressful for a four-year-old to anticipate a new sibling
By Zan Azlee

I’ve been picking Athena up from school during the tail-end of my wife Jasmine’s pregnancy with our second child because, well, the cramps she gets now can be quite uncomfortable.

One afternoon, as usual, I stepped up to the gate of the kindergarten and saw Athena being escorted out by the teacher with her bag and water bottle.

I waved hello at her and she waved back. She looked a little tired, as she normally does at the end of a school day, with her hair a little bit messy probably from running around with her friends.

In the car driving back home, I asked her about her day.

“What did you do in school today Athena?”

She ignored me and looked out the window.

“Athena. What did you learn today?”

She remained silent.

“Athena. Can you hear me? What do you do when someone asks you a question nicely?”

And she was still quiet.

After a brief one-sided exchange, I had to go into disciplinary mode. So I chided Athena on her manners and reminded her how she would feel if someone else ignored her if she was speaking.

But she insisted on the silent treatment towards me and eventually, she started sobbing and throwing a bit of a tantrum (throughout the entire drive home!).

When we arrived home, she was still crying and this time, even more hysterically. She didn’t even want to talk to Jasmine or be pacified by her at all.

Eventually, she stopped crying but was still sulking. I wanted to stay longer and make sure everything was alright, but I had to leave for a work engagement.

A few hours later, my wife sent me a Whatsapp voice-mail and it was Athena saying “I’m sorry Pops. I’ll be a good girl. I love you.”

Apparently, school didn’t go too well because her whole class was a bit too noisy during one of their sessions and so everybody only got one sticker each at the end of the day!

Oh, the troubles of a kindergartener!

But there was more than met the eye.

Jasmine told me that once she was all composed and back to her regular self, she started chatting while playing with her toys in the living room.

“Mummy. Adik is coming out soon, right?”

“Yes Athena. Anytime now.”

“Once adik comes out already, who will take care of me?”

All this while, Jasmine and I have been actively trying our best to make Athena feel comfortable and secure about having a sibling.

We talk to her, bring her along to all the doctor’s appointments and she talks to the baby all the time. She even calls for family hugs while stroking Jasmine’s belly.

But it goes to show that you can never assume anything when it comes to a four year old who is going to be an older sister for the first time.

Understandably, she is feeling nervous and probably scared too. So when I got back from work that evening, I think I hugged and kissed Athena more than a thousand times until her bedtime.

[This article originally appeared at MakChic.Com]

Can we create equal opportunities for social mobility?


A child from Kampung Bukit Malut, Langkawi. (Photo by Zan Azlee)
A child from Kampung Bukit Malut, Langkawi. (Photo by Zan Azlee)

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Can we create equal opportunities for social mobility
By Zan Azlee

I come from a comfortable middle-class family. Not wealthy, but comfortable. We had enough good food and could afford nice toys and regular holidays in the country as well as overseas.

I was taught to be confident and self-assured. If I wanted to achieve something, I was shown that there would always be a chance if we worked hard enough and used a little bit of thinking ability.

Everyone in my family, from my parents to my uncles and aunties, had at least a tertiary education. And so we knew that education was very important and opportunities for it were accessible.

So I have all that to thank for whatever modest achievements I have acquired in my 37 years of living. It is really the realisation and confidence that the world is my oyster that has helped.

And for some time, I thought my situation was the same for everyone else. I thought, if only they were more confident and just grabbed the opportunities in front of them.

Then I began to learn that although it was true that anyone could make equal attempts to grab opportunities and work hard to improve their lives, that realisation wasn’t easy to come by.

You see, I was lucky enough to have parents and family around me who also had the realisation and exposure to all of this. And they were lucky enough to have had parents who were the same.

This put me in a unique position that was an advantage. It is different for someone who comes from a family that isn’t so lucky. He or she would have to work harder to gain that realisation.

He or she would be lucky to gain it. Many don’t because they see the hardships that they go through as just a natural part of their lives that they have to accept and can’t change.

I’m not trying to show off here and say that I am better than the majority of people around me because I can afford to go on holidays and buy nice toys. Far from it.

The point I’m trying to make is that it would be tremendously difficult for someone who did not have much access to what I had to realise that he or she can also achieve the things that I can.

For someone who, growing up, did not have access to books and intellectual discussions, or even a clear vision of different education opportunities, things would definitely be harder.

There shouldn’t be any judgment because there could be many reasons for this, from lack of financial resources to lack of knowledge or exposure.

Whereas I had the time and opportunity to study, read books and go for music lessons, etc when I was younger, others may not have had that opportunity.

So I believe that there should be equality in opportunities. I don’t support affirmative action in which a particular racial group gets an advantage over others.

But I do support efforts by the system and institutions to ensure that opportunities are given fairly for the underprivileged, regardless of race or religion.

Just having the opportunity to go to school isn’t enough. There needs to be affirmative action to ensure that the financial and economical situation of the underprivileged is improved.

As much as we like to believe that a person’s life can be turned around through his or her own will, most of the time reality doesn’t work that way.

There needs to be a conducive environment that will allow for this to happen. There needs to be an indicator that social mobility is a very accessible possibility and not a difficult one.

So who do you think has the responsibility to create such an environment?

[This article appeared originally at The Malaysian Insider]

Malaysians are inherently racists


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Malaysians are inherently racists
By Zan Azlee

Recently, I had a conversation about politics with an acquaintance who I don’t really know very well personally.

Yeah, politics has been on the lips of so many Malaysians lately, looking at the number of scandals breaking out on the local political scene.

“Hey Zan. What do you think of the money controversies surrounding our Prime Minister?” she asked.

“It sucks. To think about how the people are struggling and then listening to how our leaders are presumably swimming in cash makes me feel lousy,” I replied.

“Do you think we need to change our Prime Minister?”

“I don’t know. It depends on the people,”

“The main thing is that the Prime Minister needs to be a Malay.”

“I don’t agree. I think he or she just needs to be a Malaysian.”

“Oh no! Then we Malays will be sidelined!”

“What are you talking about? A Prime Minister has a responsibility to all Malaysians.”

“Well, then the Prime Minister has to be a Muslim.” she persisted.

“I don’t agree either. He or she just needs to be honest, responsible and capable,” I concluded.

I find it very difficult to believe that in this day and age, people in Malaysia are still so racially inclined. Yet, it is also not very difficult to believe.

It seems everything in the country has been designed to be racially segregated and everyone has had racism ingrained into their minds from the get go.

Look at the recent Bersih 4 rally that took place in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend. It was reported that more than 100,000 people attended the rally.

The message they were trying to get across is clear. The people wanted clean elections, a clean government, the right to protest, to uphold parliamentary democracy and to save the economy.

But so many people, were too focused on the racial make up of the crowd on those two days. The main contention was that there were too little Malays who were there.

And this is even when everybody knew that the ultimate Malay, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was there (many people believe that he alone counts for at least 100 Malays)!

What I think is that all this is due to the racist mentality inherent in all Malaysians, because of the way our country is built.

Racism is the reason why the percentage of Malay participants of Bersih 4 was so glaringly small, and racism is the reason why we also immediately picked up on that issue.

Firstly, we have a political system that consists of race-based parties. Our former colonial masters had succeeded in pitting us against each other then, and it has carried on till today.

We have become so insecure and scared that our race will be oppressed that we feel the constant need to make sure that we as separate groups needs to be protected in the government.

Like I said previously, an elected leader has the responsibility for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender and whatever else.

Well, actually that is the root of the problem – a political system that is so inherently racist that it bleeds into other policies and institutions that we have in the country.

Now if you think I’m saying that the component parties in the ruling coalition (Barisan Nasional) are racist and we need to get rid of them, then you are dead wrong.

The Opposition is not any better when it comes to this issue either. No one can deny that DAP is perceived to be a Chinese party, Pas is a Malay one, and PKR is a well… a problematic one!

We urgently need to take drastic steps to overcome this problem. We need to eliminate race-based politics. How do we do this? I don’t know. And that makes me a little bit worried.

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

The Fat Bidin Film Club (Ep 23) – Inside Out


The Fat Bidin Film Club (Ep 23) – Inside Out

Zan and Aizyl Azlee talk about how much of an emotional roller-coaster the film INSIDE OUT is and if Zan really is a sociopath with no feelings.

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Listen to more Fat Bidin podcasts here.

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The Fat Bidin Vlog (Ep 5) – We had a baby and missed BERSIH 4.0 (but had a correspondent there!)


The Fat Bidin Vlog

Ep 5 – We had a baby and missed BERSIH 4.0 (but had a correspondent there!).

Subscribe to the Fat Bidin YouTube Channel.

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Visit Aizyl Azlee’s YouTube page.