Category Archives: new media

Ben Affleck, the super hero



Ben Affleck, the super hero
By Zan Azlee

It seems the Muslim world has a new hero in the form of a tall, handsome, charismatic Hollywood actor and celebrity by the name of Ben Affleck.

Just pay a visit to his Facebook fan page and you will see the hundreds of postings and messages expressing adulation for him and how he defended Islam.

Affleck appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher where he, along with several other panelists including Sam Harris and Nicholas Kristof, talked about Islam and the Islamic State (Isis).

From the discussion, it seems that Maher and Harris were berating the Muslim world and basically calling the entire global community a pool of stupid ideas and beliefs.

They called Islam a religion that kills and murders people and said that the entire Muslim population believed that was the right thing to do. Hence, it was a dangerous religion consisting of dangerous people.

Then action hero Affleck raised his voice in defence of all innocent Muslims by saying that the broad statements by Maher and Harris were racist and ignorant.

He said that Maher and Harris’s statements regarding Islam and Muslims were very stereotypical and an insult to the millions who weren’t jihadists or extremists. Occasionally, Kristof would put in a word of support.

Here’s the thing: Muslims in Malaysia (and around the world) are going head over heels expressing how Affleck succeeded in putting forth his support for Muslims against the “enemy”.

What they don’t realise is that a debate like this can only happen because it is allowed to happen. Different views are allowed to be expressed, discussed and debated. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

About these ads

I’m now a public transport commuter



I’m now a public transport commuter
By Zan Azlee

I may have lamented last week on how I should be taking public transport to save a bit of money and also to create a little bit of relaxation and stimulation for my mind.So guess what? I finally did it! I’ve been commuting regularly by train for almost two weeks now and now it’s been going relatively smoothly.

Here’s how a typical commuting day goes for me:


I would drive from my house to the Shah Alam KTM Commuter station, which would take me around 10 minutes. I have to also go through a tolled highway and the cost one way is RM1.20. I would either park my car at the station’s car park (RM4.00) or slightly further away at the residential area (free!).


The train arrives and I hop on. It’s early on its route so I always get a place to sit. This is when I would whip out a book to read or my iPad to either reply e-mails or to write articles. I can do quite a lot before it stops at KL Sentral because the ride takes about 45 minutes and a ticket price of RM2.50.


Arriving at KL Sentral is when the serious action begins. The number of commuters can be overwhelming and I have to manoeuvre my way from the KTM platform to the MyRapid platform to catch another train that will bring me to Masjid Jamek. But that’s just a few minutes of manouvering. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]

Yes to no petrol subsidy

My fixer, Ahmad Bilal Raghbat, at a Kabul petrol kiosk


Yes to no petrol subsidy
By Zan Azlee

Talks have been rife about the increase in petrol price which was announced recently (right before the tabling of the national budget!).

Okay fine, it’s not an increase in petrol price. It’s really the reduction in subsidy for petrol. So what call it whatever you want, a rose is a rose by any other name.

So most of the talk about the petrol price or subsidy have been of anger and frustration of how inconsiderate the government is towards the people.

But I have to say, I totally disagree. I am in full support of the reduction of petrol subsidy in the country. In fact, it should be cut totally.

First, I’m a firm believer of the saying ‘if you give a man some fish, he eats for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime’. So no subsidies for me!

Second, and more importantly is that the price of petrol is really not the main issue. Everything surrounding it is what really matters.

According to Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, in an interview with Freakonomics co-author, Stephen Dubner, petrol is usually subsidised in developing countries.

Lomborg adds that the subsidy is usually given by the government to appease the citizens because there might be something lacking elsewhere which they cannot fulfill. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

What It’s Really Like Taking Public Transportation to Work



What it’s really like taking public transportation to work
By Zan Azlee

I woke up today in an adventurous mood. I suddenly had to urge to head to work by taking our Klang Valley’s notorious public transportation system. I live in a so-called suburb far from the Kuala Lumpur city centre (where I work) because that is the only place where I can afford a decent home to live in. I normally drive and, in rush hour traffic, it can take me up to an hour to reach my work place. To and fro, that’s really two hours a day (ten hours a week!) wasted on the road.

I can afford to live in the city if I wanted to. But it would mean boxed up in a small and tiny concrete compartment somewhere way above ground. I don’t want that. I did when I was single and wanted to have an extra cool bachelor pad to entertain the ladi…. errr… just kidding! But now I have a family and the kid needs space to play.

So back to my story…

After my daily morning run, I sat down in my garden with a glass of orange juice to plot my journey while I to waited for my sweat to dry before going into the shower. It seems that my suburb didn’t have any train stops or even feeder busses to any of the nearest stations (the nearest ones for me are the Shah Alam or Subang Jaya commuter stations). Taking a taxi wouldn’t be very economical so I would actually still have to drive to the station. And that would also mean having to go through a bit of traffic and look for parking space.

Okay fine. I guess a 15 minute drive isn’t as bad as a one hour drive through almost stand-still traffic on the highways. That’s a relatively fair compromise. I also found out that it wouldn’t be just one single train for me. I would first have to take a KTM commuter train from Shah Alam to KL Sentral, then change to a LRT to Masjid Jamek. My google search revealed that it would take me one hour and five minutes to get to KL Sentral and another 15 minutes from there to Masjid Jamek. Then, it’s a ten minutes walk to the office. So all in all, it would take me one and a half hours one way. Two ways means three hours. Compare that to if I were to drive, that’s an additional hour every day. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]

I pray Malaysians won’t start self-censoring their thoughts



I pray Malaysians won’t start self-censoring their thoughts
By Zan Azlee

A few prominent people who have been either arrested, charged or investigated under the grand old Sedition Act 1948 in the country these past few months are a cause for concern.

Associate professor Azmi Sharom, professor Aziz Bari and lawyer Edmund Bon have been hauled up for speaking about subjects that they are considered experts in.

They spoke based on their vast knowledge, research, experience and observations, yet what they said has been considered by certain people to be seditious in manner.

Unfortunately, under the law, the authorities have all the right to investigate, probe, interrogate, detain, arrest and charge them because of the vagueness of the act.

But just because something is the law doesn’t mean it is just and fair. It all depends on context. The act, as we are all aware, was created decades ago at a time when it was necessary.

But what about now? Yes, as we all know without having to explain much, it is an archaic law which has the potential of being abused to stifle dissent, or anything else.

If they, who are considered experts in their fields, were probed for things they said which should be considered under their jurisdiction, then what about ordinary folk like me and you?

What would stop the powers that be from coming after us if we were to express an opinion or thought that they didn’t agree with?

It shouldn’t be a crime to have different opinions. It shouldn’t be a crime to be offensive. It shouldn’t even be a crime to be racist or deliver hate speech. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider.]