Category Archives: writing

Creating the ideal Dewan Malaysia



Creating the ideal Dewan Malaysia
By Zan Azlee

I’ve always been interested in ways that different cultures are able to come together and live as one. It can be in any forms; be it how different muti-cultural groups can live in perfect harmony side by side without losing their identities, or even how different ethnicities can assimilate with one another and build a whole new culture.

This became the inspiration for the recent Malaysia Day documentary I produced for Astro AWANI the television station called ‘Dewan Malaysia’ (which was on air on Malaysia Day itself and can be seen as it will be repeated throughout the week).

We are all familiar with the community hall building or ‘dewan komuniti’ that we so often see in neighbourhoods, kampungs and small towns. Usually, it is just a big hall which the locals use when they want to play court sports such as badminton or sepak takraw, or when they want to hold a wedding. But I wondered if it could be more than that.

So I called on several creative individuals to see how they would create their most ideal ‘dewan komuniti’. The brief was simple. If they had no limitations, how would they design a ‘dewan komuniti’ that could best bring the people of Malaysia together.

They didn’t have to actually create a physical building. It’s just conceptual. They could either draw or build a model. And so the group, some architects, a t-shirt designer and an illustrator, set off on their assignment. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

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The real cost of living on RM5900



The real cost of living on RM5900
By Zan Azlee

So some survey was done to find out what the average monthly income of Malaysian households are and it seems it like it’s good news. The figure has risen from RM5000 in 2012 to RM5900 in 2014.

Official surveys are meant to be credible. They follow a system that is supposed to follow a correct sampling system that will lead to a realistic extrapolation.

But ask what the average person is exposed to around him or her regarding their monthly household income and cost of living and you will probably hear something different.

The average household income may be the average household income. But does it mean that we can lead a good quality of life with that income? We most definitely need to consider the costs as well.

Fine. Let’s take that new average monthly income of Malaysian households of RM5900 and try and calculate how an average family would live in an average major town. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]

I never took the UPSR and I turned out just fine



I never took the UPSR and I turned out just fine
By Zan Azlee

When I was growing up, there was never any stress put on me to perform well in my exams by my parents, or anyone else for that matter.

Education and the process of learning were important and that was always instilled and drilled into my brothers and me, but exam results were never a priority.

I remember my parents going to my school on report card day and my father asking the teacher, “forget about the lessons, how does he interact with his classmates and teachers?”

Of course, they always congratulated me when I achieved good results, but they never dwelled on it if I ever didn’t do as well. And this was in primary school.
Then, in secondary school, when two major exams, the PMR and SPM, were happening, my father even made us go out and watch movies or go bowling as the exams got nearer.

The lesson my father wanted to teach my brothers and me is that exams are not important because all it does is test you for what you remember (as far as Malaysian exams go).

What is important is the fact that we actually go through the learning process sincerely and enjoy the experience and that we feel enriched because of it.

When you learn and study just because you want to get good exam results, then you have gone astray somewhere along the way.

Today, it makes me sad to see how even at the lowest level of all national examinations, the UPSR, can experience a leak and now pupils have to resit several papers. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]



Prove that we are not a racist nation



Prove that we are not a racist nation
By Zan Azlee

I shoot videos for a living and I’ve been doing that for more than a decade now. The kind of videos I like shooting are the non-fiction kind where everything is supposedly real.

News reports, talk shows, magazine shows and documentaries, they all fall under the non-fiction category of video. And since its suppose to be real, no manipulation should be involved.

However, one thing that I’ve learned is that reality is just a perception and there can never be any content production with absolutely no manipulation at all.

I’m not the first person to say this. In fact, this has been a debate that has raged on almost as long as video and film has been used to document reality.

If you are a cameraman, just by the fact that you have the power of choice in what to shoot and what not to shoot is manipulation already.

If you are a reporter, director or interviewer, then you can decide whether to ask a specific question to an interviewee or not to. There is manipulation again.

If you a video editor, then you will have the power to include in the video the different shots of your selection, edit out interview segments that you don’t like, etc. Manipulation it is.

As you can see, the video creators actually have a lot of power and control in how the ‘reality’ of the video is portrayed to an audience.

So it all boils down to their intention and how they can actually portray it as if everything is presented as honestly and truthfully as possible.

That is on the part of those responsible for creating the videos. Then, there is also the other party, the ones who appear in the video like the interviewees and subjects being shot.

Name me one person who, when is put in front of a rolling camera, can act as natural as he or she would when there is no camera recording his every move and word.

There will be those who get very intimidated, nervous and shy that you can hardly get anything out of him or her while everything is being shot.

There will also be those who become a little bit too self-assured and confident in front of the camera that they can seem like they are putting on a show for people to see.

And, well, you can’t deny that there those who are just very natural. But these people are few and far between. I have yet to meet one while on all of my shoots.

Also, nobody wants to look bad in front of an audience. So, many people would be self-conscious about how they look, what they do and what they see.

Now this brings me to the matter regarding the recent viral video that is making its rounds on the Internet. The one of the fake casting call that turned out to be a test of Malaysia’s racist attitude. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

There is no real journalists’ code of ethics



There is no real journalists’ code of ethics
By Zan Azlee

Journalists’ code of ethics is something hot on many people’s lips these days because of the recent incident where a newspaper photographer was punched at a funeral service.

He was taking pictures at the funeral of a victim of the MH17 tragedy when he was assaulted by a family member. He suffered a cut nose and a damaged camera.

When news of the incident first surfaced, many people were on the photographer’s side, claiming that he was just doing his job and he became a victim of assault.

He made a police report and the media also reported it like it was. Even journalist associations started condemning the act, calling for action to be taken against the assailant.

Then the other side of the story started emerging, as it always does. Apparently, the photographer (and other journalists there) was not respecting the grieving family’s privacy.

Now, I don’t really know the exact details since I wasn’t there, neither have I spoken to the photographer, the family members or anyone at the scene.

But here’s my two cents’ worth of what I think about the journalists’ code of ethics. There is no fixed code of ethics practised by journalists. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]