Filed under: Astro Awani, broadcast, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: astro, awani, britain, england, fat bidin, kamarmahtum, london, mak mok, malaysia, malaysia airlines, siti aishah, slave, united kingdom, zan azlee
When we arrived in London at Heathrow Airport, I left for the arrival hall a few steps before Mak Mok (Kamarmahtum Abdul Wahab), Hishammuddin Rais and the British reporter. What I saw was something I had only heard of all this while of its notoriety – the British Paparazzi. They were out in full force.
They flocked around Mak Mok with all cameras blazing. Flashes were blinding my eyes and television reporters where poking their microphones in the face of my Mak Mok. I, of course, by then had my camera out and shooting the whole thing as well. I was after all a journalist pursuing a story as well.
But Mak Mok had been briefed well by the reporter. She kept tight-lipped and just looked down at the floor as he escorted her and Hishammuddin Rais towards the exit. But the paparazzi weren’t having any of that. They continued to hound her and in the end, Hishammuddin Rais had to stop and make a statement.
“We have no immediate plans yet. Today is just a day of rest for us after a 12 hour flight,” he said.
They were then whisked away in a Mercedes Benz limousine. The paparazzi, keeping true to their notorious automobile-accident-conducive ways, ran along side the car as much as they could with cameras snapping away. I never had a chance to even speak to my aunty during the entire episode. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: broadcast, internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, astro, astro awani, awani, banjir, barisan nasional, BN, fat bidin, flood, johor, journalism, malay, malaysia, segamat, The Malaysian Insider, umno, zan azlee
If this week of mine were to be made into a short film, it would probably be broken up into two main juxtaposing scenes that can be put together.
And it also got me thinking. These two scenes seem to be a constant in Malaysia every single year for almost as long as I can remember.
Interior – air-conditioned trade centre building
The first half of the week involved me being in the Putra World Trade Centre attending the Umno general assembly (as a member of the press and not Umno!). Of course, all the VIPs would be arriving in their luxury cars with their entourages. And when they have their meals, these will be first-class banquet all the way.
Exterior – rubber estate
Kampung Batu 5 Buluh Kasap, Segamat, Johor
The second half of the week sees me travelling to a kampung in Segamat, Johor, which happens to be one of the last kampung to evacuate because of this year’s incredible floods. After holding out for as long as they could, the villagers gave in to the tremendous power of the flood and were forced to move to an evacuation centre.
Filed under: broadcast, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: astro, awani, britain, england, fat bidin, kamarmahtum, london, mak mok, malaysia, malaysia airlines, siti aishah, slave, united kingdom, zan azlee
It’s all across the Malaysian media now.
Astro AWANI editor, Zan Azlee, reveals that Siti Aishah Abu Wahab, the probable identity of the 69 year old Malaysian woman who was a psychological slave to a Maoist couple in London for more than 30 years, is his aunty.
Well, to be really clear, she is really my mother’s first cousin, but still my aunty nonetheless. And I have never met her. She left for the United Kingdom in the 1960s and I was born in the 1970s. So our paths never crossed. But of course, every one in the family knew her story.
A smart and brilliant student who won a scholarship to the UK to be the first Malay woman to study quantity surveying. Siti Aishah was suppose to create history. But somehow, she started getting attracted to leftist ideologies and decided to dedicate her life to it, while severing all contact with her family. And now, most of Malaysia know the story too.
It started on Monday morning when my mother, after reading the news online, noticed that Hishammuddin Rais, the political activist, had declared that the Malaysian woman in the Maoist slave issue could be Siti Aishah Abu Wahab, a left-leaning university student he had met many years ago in the UK.
She called me while I was on my way to work to tell me, and after I made a few calls to other relatives, I manage to confirm the story that a reporter from a British newspaper had indeed contacted an aunty of mine, Kamamahtum Abdul Wahab, the sister of Siti Aishah. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing
Sex between two consenting adults should not be made a fuss about. A male who is willing and a female who is willing – once they get together, they should be allowed to consummate. It doesn’t really matter if it is between a father and a daughter. Both are old enough to evaluate the situation, and if they feel it is okay, then why not.
Yes, you guessed it! I’m referring to that case hot in the media where a father and daughter who have been enjoying a sexual relationship were caught by an uncle. The father is 46 years old and at that age, if he still doesn’t have more than enough salt in his system than rice, then I don’t know what to say.
The daughter on the other hand, already 18 years old when she started the 3-year relationship with her father, is legally an adult. Minors are those who are under 16 years. How can you ever doubt the emotions of love expressed by an 18-year-old girl? Love is a feeling so pure, it should not be curbed and suppressed. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
*I have a daughter of my own so this is obviously a sarcastic reaction on my part. My hope is that no one becomes desensitized to issues like these.
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, art, artist, barisan nasional, BN, ernest zacharevic, fat bidin, graffiti, johor, johor bahru, johoreans, journalism, malay, malaysia, mural, The Malaysian Insider, zach, zacharevic, zan azlee
I have always been waiting for the chance to give my hometown, Johor Bahru, a nice, big burn! And it looks like the chance is now. It’s not that I don’t like my hometown, I do. I’m as proud to be a Johorean as any other Johorean out there, even if my family and I moved away way back in 1989.
I was so proud that the Johor football team was the first team in Malaysia to ever win the ‘double’ in 1991– the Malaysia Cup and the Premiere League in the same year. But what really annoys me is the blind pride that Johoreans are known to have. So blind that nothing outside of Johor is ever good enough.
Yes, I know! It’s a generalisation on my part. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. Just read on and you will see (hopefully!). Take my wife and her family for instance. Like me, they’re all from Johor Bahru too, and the things they complain about living in the Klang Valley can be so ridiculous.
“Sorry if the sambal doesn’t taste good. KL chili is plastic chili. Not like in JB.”
(I guess all chili bought outside of JB is fake chili?)
“The spaghetti they use to make Laksa Johor in KL is not as good as in JB.”
(Why a local Johor dish needs to have an ingredient originating from Italy beats me!)
“Wow! This noodle soup is really good! I’m sure the restaurant owner is from JB.”
“What kind of party is this? So boring! They’re not Johoreans, that’s why!”
(Now all you readers are getting the picture, right?)
Filed under: Astro Awani, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, allah, astro, astro awani, awani, barisan nasional, bigot, bigotry, BN, fat bidin, hijab, islam, journalism, kuala lumpur, malay, malaysia, muslim, new media, racism, racist, singapore, tudung, zan azlee
What’s the difference between Malaysia and Singapore? That’s the age old question ever since the island state decided to opt out from being a part of Malaysia. Actually, it isn’t hard to see that there are many obvious differences between the two countries and among the main ones is food.
I have to admit that the food in Malaysia, especially the street hawker kind, is just far superior from what you can find in Cheen Chia Poh. We make better lontong, better mee goreng, better nasi beriyani, better murtabak, better sup tulang, better prawn mee, better bak kut teh and even better Singapore fried meehoon.
Then there is the law that we have to abide to in Singapore, which are almost borderline mental asylum-style rules and regulations. No eating chewing gum! No crossing the street! No watching TV! No talking! No breathing! No winking! No no no no no no!!
But one thing that they are encouraging is sex! Everyone should have sex and procreate whether you are a man, woman, married or single. Play your role in saving the population! Then, of course, there is the issue about media control. If we Malaysians think that we have it bad with our media censorship and licensing, then we haven’t seen anything yet.
However, these are all differences that we can see on the surface. Look a little bit deeper and we might discover that we all aren’t that different anyway. Recently, the issue regarding Singapore’s banning of the tudung (hijab) by women working in certain governmental organisations and in school came in to the limelight.
Many Singaporeans are against this saying this it is racist and discriminatory. There is even a Facebook movement started called ‘Singapore Hijab Movement’. However, the island’s government says that since Singapore is a multiracial society, the ban is required to maintain the country’s overall social harmony. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, barisan nasional, BN, circumcise, circumcision, fat bidin, journalism, kalenjin, kenya, malaise, malay, malaysia, marathon, melayu, new media, sunat, The Malaysian Insider, zan azlee
What are the Malays best known for globally? Aside from being the inspiration for the English word ‘malaise’, I really can’t think of anything much. Well, I think I might have the answer as to why this is so. And it is closely related to a certain tribe in Kenya known as the Kalenjin.
I was listening to one of my favourite radio programmes called Radio Lab and it’s latest episode talked about why the Kalenjin are so good at long distance running. They have dominated the sport like no other superhuman group of people has ever done before, coming in the top three in almost every major marathon in the world.
For example, this year’s Berlin marathon saw Kenyans winning first place right through to fifth. And in the Chicago marathon, they placed first till fourth.
According to David Epstein, “There are 17 American men in history who have run under 2:10 in the marathon. There were 32 Kalenjins who did it in October 2011”. Epstein is a sports journalist and writer who wrote the book ‘The Sports Gene’, and was interviewed on the Radio Lab episode.
Now many unproven reasons, or should I say urban myths, have been thrown about as to why the Kalenjins are such good long distance runners. One of the most popular reasons for this is that in the past, the tribe did not have any other mode of transportation other than their legs. So they ran everywhere.
But the actual truth may be due to the Kalenjins having to go through cultural circumcision when they reach puberty. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
Filed under: Astro Awani, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, allah, astro, astro awani, awani, barisan nasional, BN, chinese, fat bidin, islam, journalism, malay, malaysia, muslim, new media, racist, ridhuan, ridhuan tee, telur, umno, zan azlee
I know Ridhuan Tee wasn’t aiming his latest column in Sinar Harian entitled ‘Mana telur kita?’ specifically at me. But my column today is aimed right at him.
Sometimes I feel quite stupid arguing with what this Chinese man says since what he says is always quite stupid. But I can’t help it. It’s just incredibly fun! In Tee’s latest column, he highlights the fact that no political leaders seem to have the balls to stand up against the infidels and their demands.
First up, he says that how dare the Hindus question the right of Muslims to want to slaughter cows in a public school. Hey pang yau (in case Tee has forgotten his mother tongue, ‘pang yau’ mean ‘friend’)! It’s okay for them to question it.
And it’s also okay for Muslims to concede and do the slaughtering somewhere else. It’s call respecting other religions. Islam says that’s the way mah! [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, bajet 2014, barisan nasional, budget, budget 2014, chinese, cina, fat bidin, journalism, Keadilan, malay, malaysia, najib razak, pakatan rakyat, parliament, racist, The Malaysian Insider, umno, zan azlee
So it’s been exactly one week since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tabled the National Budget 2014 in Parliament. There I was, sitting in the newsroom listening to him speaking and enjoying the attention he was getting.
There is also the cut in subsidy for sugar. It’s going to cost substantially more now so we won’t be a diabetic nation. But it is guaranteed that every other food product in the market will increase in price too.
There is also the increase in the income tax bracket and also the abolishment people having to file their tax returns. So it really looks like Budget 2014 is trying very hard to address the country’s fiscal deficit.
That’s what everyone is focusing on and it’s all good and well. But I think I’ll choose to highlight something else. If you notice, the Prime Minister announced all kinds of incentives for the Bumiputeras and the Indian community.
And guess what? Hardly any incentives were announced for the Chinese community. Actually, there was nothing. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
Filed under: writing, new media, internet, press, journalism, Astro Awani | Tags: Keadilan, malaysia, zan azlee, fat bidin, news, 1malaysia, malay, media, new media, journalism, astro, kuala lumpur, pakatan rakyat, umno, awani, human rights, barisan nasional, crime, astro awani, BN, zahid hamidi
In a previous life, I used to work with the foreign media. But then, a year and a half ago, I decided to go full on in the local media, hence I am now at Astro AWANI. Not much of a story behind the decision. It’s very clichéd actually. I wanted to feel more local stories and tell it to more local people. Basically, I wanted to serve Malaysia (chewah!).
In my opinion, for real impact, Malaysians need to be aware of the issues in their country and in their own context. Only then will they be moved to take action if it so requires. However, news about Malaysia in the foreign media is important because it puts some highlight on to the country and its issues.
Positive news that appear on a global media platform will bring pride and happiness to the people while negative news puts pressure on whoever is responsible. So I thought for this week, I would like to take a look at the different news stories on Malaysia that appeared in the foreign and international media. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: app, apps, car, drive, driving, fat bidin, gps, journalism, malaysia, road bully, roads, street, The Malaysian Insider, traffic, waze, zan azlee
Malaysia is a country with people that have no manners or civic-mindedness when it comes to being on the road and driving. Behind the wheel, even the most docile grandmother will turn into a vicious, uncouth and vile language-speaking spawn of Lucifer.
I have to admit, I get pretty edgy when I’m driving too. Even the slightest unintentional wrongdoing by another driver gets me screaming and throwing certain fingers around. But I think everything is about to change. And this is all because of a wonderful app available on the smartphone called Waze. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
Filed under: Astro Awani, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, astro, astro awani, awani, barisan nasional, BN, fat bidin, journalism, malay, malaysia, new media, umno, waze, zan azlee
My father recently started learning how to use Waze on his smart phone. He’s 62 years old, so you can imagine the comedy that ensued for my brothers and I! Of course, we already had our fun when he was trying to figure out how to use his smart phone when he first acquired it (“Okay daddy. You have to turn it on first!”).
But when it came to Waze, that wonderful Jewish app that helps you beat the ridiculous Kuala Lumpur traffic, it just took our amusement to whole different level! As many would know, Waze helps you navigate roads so that you can always beat any heavy traffic. And this is done through user generated data.
It’s kind of like a GPS system, but way better since you would know how heavy traffic is at a location before getting there, from people who are already there. Waze would then also recommend to you an alternative route that would get you to where you want to go faster, if you trust it enough.
My father would type in the address of his destination and off he would go to follow the directions of the sexy voice of Ms. Waze. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, allah, barisan nasional, BN, christian, christianity, fat bidin, god, islam, journalism, malay, malaysia, media, muhammad, muslim, quran, The Malaysian Insider, tuhan, zan azlee
Call me murtad (apostate), I don’t care. Call me syirik (polytheist), I don’t care. Heavy accusations in Islam, these two. I hope the accusers have the necessary proof, evidence and criteria to do so. I, an official Muslim, hereby publicly declare that I have no problems with other religions aside from Islam using the word Allah to refer to God.
Most of the times when I write my column, it is to address a readership that is as wide and as general as possible without targeting too specific a group. But this week, I am writing to Muslims in particular (err, but if you are an infidel, you can still continue reading!), and especially Malay Muslims.
As Muslims, we are obligated to believe in the existence of the prophets and this includes the prophet Jesus, who brought to the world Christianity, and even Moses who brought Judaism. As a Muslim, we are also obligated to believe in the existence of the holy books and this includes the Bible which taught Christianity and the Torah which taught Judaism.
And, when we believe in all this, we also have to believe that all Abrahamic religions come from one God, and in Arabic (the main language of Islam’s Quran) the word is Allah. So, when an argument is made that Christianity and Islam are two different religions, no one can deny it. It’s true. These are two different religions.
But when it comes to God, both these different religions refer to the same God. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet (oh crap, did I just objectify God as a rose?). [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
Filed under: Astro Awani, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, allah, astro, astro awani, awani, barisan nasional, BN, christian, fat bidin, god, islam, journalism, malay, malaysia, media, muslim, new media, umno, zan azlee
Malaysia is a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious country, according to the government of Malaysia. And, Malaysia is also supposed to be harmonious, peaceful and tolerant, according to the government of Malaysia.
There are a lot of initiatives and efforts done to ensure that Malaysia continues to be a multicultural, multiracial, multireligious and harmonious country. And having a common national language is just such contributor to encouraging and promoting harmony and a self of belonging.
In Malaysia, the obvious language that is used to pull people together is Bahasa Malaysia. It is taught in schools and is also the official government medium of communication. Basically, almost every single Malaysian can speak the Malay language in one form or another and this is the common denominator for us all.
I like that we have something that is inclusive and makes all Malaysians similar. By having a common language, we all have something to call our own. A language that has been spoken since the 7th century (most likely even before that) and was the business language of the Southeas Asian region has deep history.
Anyone from around the world had to master the Malay language if they wanted to be able to trade and do business successfully. And it was a welcome to have Arab merchants, Chinese diplomats, European explorers and African traders learning the language when they came to our land.
The 17th century Dutch scholar, Francois Valentijn, even wrote that the Malay language was the lingua franca of the eastern region, much like French and Latin is in Europe. He added that it was a language that was even spoken and understood in the lands as far as Persia to the west and the Philippines to the east.
People around the world actually embraced the language. How cool is that? So it should be no problem for Bahasa Malaysia to be embraced within Malaysia itself. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, barisan nasional, BN, education, fat bidin, journalism, kuala lumpur, malay, malaysia, multicultural, multiracial, racism, racist, school, sekolah, The Malaysian Insider, zan azlee
Last week, my wife and I were called to our daughter, Athena’s, school by her teachers. They had something to report, they said. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind. Did she blow up the school toilet? Set the classroom on fire? Beat up another student?
“Athena is doing fine in school as far as her mid-year review is concern,” said the teacher.
“So she didn’t blow up the school toilet!” I sighed in relief. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
Filed under: Astro Awani, broadcast, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: accent, astro, astro awani, awani, english, fat bidin, journalism, mahathir mohamed, malay, malaysia, malaysian, manglish, singlish, tun mahathir. samy vellu, zan azlee
My first language is the English language. Sure, people can criticise me all they want if they think that being Malay, I have to speak to Bahasa Malaysia. I speak Bahasa Malaysia too. It’s just that the language isn’t the first language that I learned and I feel much more comfortable expressing myself in English.
It’s just the way I was brought up. My entire family speaks English, with just a smattering of Bahasa Malaysia and Cantonese here and there (and slightly less often, Bugis). But if you listen to the English that my family members speak, you will realise that it is entirely colloquial. But if you were Malaysian, you would immediately understand.
And, myself, being a writer and also involved in the broadcast media, language skills is something very important and crucial. So I honestly try my best to perfect my language skills in both the main mediums of English and Bahasa Malaysia. But, my personal preference is still English. I can’t help it.
And if you aren’t living under a shell, then you would know Malaysia seems to have an issue with the English language, both learning it and also condemning it. All around, it seems that Malaysians’ proficiency in the language is rapidly dropping. And the government is trying to do everything it can to improve the situation.
However, my gripe (it’s depressing that my weekly column has become a tirade of bitchiness complaints recently!) is more about the way English speakers in Malaysia choose to speak. Almost everywhere I go, I hear Malaysians speaking English in all kinds of accents, but never the Malaysian accent! The three favourites are American, British and Australian.
What is wrong with speaking English like a Malaysian? Does it make your language proficiency less… proficient? Well, I guess the reasoning is… ‘Forget the grammar and language proficiency. As long as I sound cool people will think I speak English well!’.
Look at Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. He speaks like a true blue Malay. In fact, comedians even imitate his accent whenever they want to sound Malay. But his English is excellent. Look at Datuk Seri Samy Vellu. He speaks like a true blue Indian-Malaysian. In fact, comedians even imitate his accent when they want to sound Indian-Malaysian. But his English is excellent… or wait a minute. That’s a bad example. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: broadcast, directing, documentary, internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, auditor general, barisan nasional, BN, corruption, documentary, endless possibilities, fat bidin, film, journalism, ketua audit negara, lost at sea, malaysia, media, new media, news, pdrm, police, politics, The Malaysian Insider, zahid, zahid hamidi, zan azlee
As many would know, aside from writing my articles, I am also a broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker. Hence, a lot of my time is spent on film and television production shoots. I shoot alone as a solo-journalist and also with a crew whenever the treatment calls for it.
I have been in many different and sometimes unnatural and even dangerous situations when I am on my production shoots. I have been in quiet and serene environments such as in the jungle, small villages and air-conditioned studios where everything is nice and comfortable.
I have been in war and conflict areas whereby I have had to wear protective gear such as helmets and bullet-proof vests. I have even had to learn to shoot a gun (which I hated). I have been in huge protests, riots and demonstrations where people around me have been shot at, gassed, bludgeoned and even pelted with concrete slabs.
I have had experiences shooting on flat ground, on hilltops and mountains, on skyscrapers, underground, and even in the sky. But I have to admit, there was one situation in which I have to say was the most dangerous of all, and that was when I had to shoot on a boat at sea. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
Filed under: Astro Awani, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, astro, astro awani, auditor general, awani, barisan nasional, BN, corruption, endless possibilities, fat bidin, journalism, k-pop, ketua audit negara, malay, malaysia, media, new media, news, politics, zan azlee
I’m just an average person living an average life. I work an average job and I make an average salary. I’m as average as the average Malaysian can be. That is why I feel so helpless after reading the 2012 Auditor-General’s report and knowing that there is nothing I can do it about it, just like many Malaysians out there.
Some of the highlights (among many) of the report include:
- A RM303,813 travel claim by a Ministry of Communications and Culture senior officer to Geneva, Switzerland, which was worth RM50,000.
- TM was overpaid by RM27.59 million for the MERS999 project.
- The police lost equipment worth RM1.3 million, which included 44 firearms and 29 vehicles.
- Khazanah Nasional Bhd mishandling RM3.05 million worth of paintings.
- RM1.6 million spent on a K-Pop concert was declared by the Ministry of Youth and Sports as being paid by sponsors when it was really tax-payers’ money.
The annual Auditor-General’s report is always a very revealing document for the public. But history has shown that after reveal, nothing ever happens. This year, a tremendous amount of revelation happened and almost every single media (even the government controlled ones) are making noise.
But do you expect anything positive to happen now that all these revelations have been highlighted for all of Malaysia to see? The only thing I see happening is politicians going on the defensive and just denying everything that is in the report, or having an excuse for it (logical or illogical). [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing | Tags: 1malaysia, barisan nasional, BN, cpa, crime prevention act, draco, draconian, fat bidin, internal security act, isa, journalism, law, malaysia, media, new media, news, The Malaysian Insider, zahid hamidi, zan azlee
How well do we know our politicians in Malaysia? We know them well enough to know that they are populists when it comes to election period.
How many people remember when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, announced that the Sedition Act be abolished? It was before the elections. Then, when the elections were over, the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Ahmad Hamidi, stated that it should not be abolished.
And how many people remember when the Prime Minister said that the Internal Security Act would be abolished? It was before the elections. Then, when the elections were over, two days ago as a matter of fact, the Home Minister stated that there will be amendments made to the Crime Prevention Act.
Study the amendments carefully and you will notice (as many have) that the Crime Prevention Act will then become a new form of Internal Security Act. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]
Filed under: Astro Awani, broadcast, directing, documentary, film, internet, journalism, new media, writing | Tags: astro, astro awani, awani, burma, documentary, fat bidin, in focus, journalism, myanmar, poverty, rangoon, solo journalism, urban poor, yangon, zan azlee
Myanmar is a country close to my heart. It’s not because I have relatives there or that I’ve lived there before. In fact, it’s because I have failed in my attempts over the years to enter the country as a journalist.
The most recent failure was in early 2012. But this year, I finally made it into the country successfully. And I’m convinced that it is due to how the country’s military junta government has slowly started to open up to the world, allowing foreign journalists in and freeing up the media (relatively).
In fact, it isn’t just the foreign media that has been entering the country, an increase in foreign investments such as GLCs and SMEs have been on the rise due to the lifting of trade sanctions, with countries like South Korea, Japan and Malaysia leading the pack.
And with my trip into the country, it is clear that this has directly affected the economics of Myanmar in a positive way. The number of jobs is increasing and Yangon, although with buildings and people who look like they are from a time two decades ago, is bustling with activity.
Progress is progress and we have to acknowledge it no matter how slow or late it comes. But problems are problems and it will still exist, especially for a country that is now forced to have to adapt to a new world order fast if they want to survive.
The local workforce is still obscenely underpaid with normal blue collar workers earning an average of between 10,000 and 25,000 Kyat a month (RM36.40 to RM91.00), while local journalists are still very sceptical about the government’s approach to the media.
Aung San Su Kyi, who has been the symbol of human rights and democracy in Myanmar, has been freed from house arrest and is even now a member of parliament. But, in recent months, has kept quiet on issues that she would have made a fuss about back then.
During my trip, I meet lots of everyday Burmese (or Myanma) from journalists to factory workers, and even taxi drivers and cobblers, and they tell me about life in the country from their perspective.
So tune in to the last episode this season of In Focus this Tuesday, 24th September 2013, at 8:30pm on Astro AWANI.