Category Archives: writing

Looks like I won’t be missing the Umno general assembly after all

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Looks like I won’t be missing the Umno general assembly after all
By Zan Azlee

I have never missed attending an Umno General Assembly since 2003. It’s one of the most exciting and fun times of the year for me because of many reasons.

The first time I ever did a live news cross-over on television was from an Umno General Assembly and I remember being so nervous in front of the camera. Ahh.. nostalgia.

I also get to meet a lot of friends. From former journalism colleagues to even university-friends-turned-wannabe-politicians, it’s always a good place to catch up.

The food is pretty good too. The media get access to a dining area that is filled with good Malay dishes that will give you a heart attack in a week if you didn’t control yourself.

And of course, the best part of the general assembly would be all the speeches and statements being made by the members throughout the whole week or so.

There would be all the funny stand-up comedy material that we will all be entertained by, and the racist rhetoric that we will all be annoyed and pissed off by.

And because Umno is the biggest party in the Barisan Nasional coalition, whatever statements or commitments made during the party’s assembly by default almost like national policy.

So the general assembly would definitely be of public interest and the media would all flock to it, from the Malay press right up to the Chinese and Indian as well as the foreign ones.

To be honest, all the general assemblies that I have attended have been pretty open affairs in terms of access for the media, at least for those who are accredited.

Members of the media could walk the hallways speaking to people and also enter the different halls were speeches and debates were going on.

So it is quite a shock for me to hear that the party, through its secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, they are considering barring the media totally.

Or maybe the signs were already there. News organisations have been targeted. Several news sites and publications have been harassed through raids and even suspensions this year alone.

More recently, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) decided to stop having press conferences and would only release written media statements to the public.

It seems that they might be afraid that ‘sensitive’ issues that the party leadership may discuss could end up being reported by the media for the public to to read or view.

Wait a minute! Isn’t that the point exactly? Here is the country’s biggest political party and they are having a general assembly where party (and national) policies are being discussed.

Wouldn’t the need for the media to be there so that the public are more informed be one of the top priorities? Wouldn’t it also be good to have the media there for check and balance?

Or do you suppose that the country’s biggest political party actually have things they want hidden from the media and the public?

After his initial comments, Tengku Adnan made an about turn and has come out to say that there will be no media ban. The grassroots want the general assembly to be carried live.

It looks like the people have spoken and the powers that be had to concede. But after all these years, I’ve learned to not take things at face value too much. So let’s wait and see.

[This article appeared originally at The Malaysian Insider]

The public school system is heading down the drain



The public school system is heading down the drain
By Zan Azlee

My eldest daughter is currently still in kindergarten and has another two years to go before she enters the primary school system in Malaysia. I’m thankful and worried at the same time.

Thankful because she still has another two years of innocence before I have to worry about her being thrown into a questionable education system.

But I’m also very worried because she only has another two years of innocence before she gets thrown into a questionable education system.

Today’s news of the SPM candidate who committed suicide believed to be because he was so affected by the fact that he couldn’t answer a question in the Additional Mathematics paper is a concern.

Are so exam oriented that results of how we answer test questions becomes the end all and be all? Whatever happened to wanting to educate the youth to be holistic and well-rounded individuals?

In school, I have memories of teachers drilling us with sample exam questions almost on a daily basis. Discussions and discourse were rare, and if it did happen, it would be about exam questions.

That’s why I also remember my father would always try to divert me away from exams. Every time an exam was coming up, he would take me out to a movie, bowling or whatever to take my mind off it.

And during report card day, he would tell the teachers to brief him on how I socialised with friends or what ideas I come with when I talk to the teachers, than how I performed in the monthly quizzes.

I guess I was lucky to have parents that had the right priorities when it came to their children’s education and they didn’t leave it solely on the government’s education system.

What is even more worrying is the news that have been coming out that is just too absurd and ridiculous. And this is really making me worried about releasing my daughters into the government’s education system.

A few weeks ago, there was a news report that stated a school in Setapak wanting to segregate the Muslim students from the non-Muslims. Their excuse is because it makes it easier to schedule the time table because of the shortage of teaching staff.

I definitely would like to insert a few expletive and offensive words here in response to that but I think I would rather be wise and not do so. But I am definitely going to express my anger over it.

The government education system has a responsibility to promote racial and religious harmony and understanding. By suggesting such a move, it would mean devolving as human beings. Those people who suggested this idea are idiots.

Then, there are the reports that the recent Moral Education SPM exam paper contained questions that are politically motivated. It was a closed paper so it cannot be confirmed, but students were talking about it consistently on social media.

Apparently, there were questions based on an image of someone putting anti-government posters and he was persuading another person to join him by offering him money to do so.

What is the exam paper trying to imply? That it is wrong to be anti-government? Or is it that anyone who is anti-government corrupt? Anyway, I wonder how the examiners are suppose to grade that question.

Now back to my original concern. Yes, I am very worried of my daughters going into the public school system. I was hoping to be like my parents and be the balance that my kids need. But I don’t know if that would be enough.

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

Is this all a joke for Hasan Arifin?



Is this all a joke for Hasan Arifin?
By Zan Azlee

Here’s the deal. If you’re a public official who was elected to public office the represent the public who voted for you, then whatever you say is accountable to the public.

This is even more so when you hold a position such as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and are responsible for the investigation of Malaysia’s high profile scandal – 1MDB.

I’m just saying because it would be ridiculous to utter something in front of journalists when you are the chairman of the PAC and then get upset if it gets reported.

Datuk Hasan Arifin responded by saying “Janganlah. Saya pun mahu cari makan juga”  to questions by the press on why the PAC wouldn’t be calling up Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

(Translation: “Please don’t. I need to make a living too.”)

Apparently, he said it jokingly and the press decided to report on it. Now if he said it jokingly, what would that mean about the perception people have about the investigation 1MDB?

Then, chairman Hasan said that he actually meant to say that he was referring literally to lunch that was being served after the PAC press conference that he had chaired.

And, what would that mean about the perception Hasan has about the press in Malaysia when he assumed that what he uttered would not be reported?

By doing so, it seems that he is looking down on the press. Does he not respect the press or take them seriously? Does he see it as a big joke that can be laughed about?

I’m just saying.

Now, chairman Hasan has decided that the PAC will no longer hold any press conferences and that all communications with the press will be through formal written media statements.

There goes any opportunity for the press to ask any questions if they have any about whatever investigation result that is being released by the PAC.

Also, there goes any risk of chairman Hasan making mistakes and uttering wrong statements that could be reported by the press and make him look incompetent or stupid.

No more press conferences equals no more extra clarification on issues. No more press conferences also equals to no more screwing up in public.

Although written media statements will still be released, by having no press conferences where the press can interact with the PAC, they really are practicing a form of censorship.

What this really means is that the right for the public to be informed on the investigation of the 1MDB scandal would be stifled and limited. There goes transparency and there goes democracy.

If chairman Hasan cannot even handle the press and the public in a professional manner, how would this reflect on his ability to handle the PAC investigation professionally?

Why should the public be punished and the investigation be compromised by a chairman who appears to be incompetent and unprofessional? That seems to be a little bit unfair.

[This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]

Smoking mums: What is wrong with you?



Smoking mums: What is wrong with you?
By Zan Azlee

Here is the problem with vaping and I don’t need a health expert to tell me about it. It’s chemicals mixed together, heated up and then inhaled into the body.

You tell me if that sounds right or not, because to my logic, inhaling chemicals into the body just sounds a little unhealthy to me and could probably have major negative consequences.

But I find it annoying to discuss vaping because something so insignificant has become a public interest and people are grabbing the opportunity to be involved in the conversation without even really caring.

So I’m going to abandon the vape talk and go straight to the real issue with I think really deserve the attention – that is smoking actual cigarettes.

I don’t want to be a nag and if someone of sane mind and is an adult makes a decision for him or herself, I don’t want to be judgmental and all self-righteous.

It’s really just a ‘suka hati kau’ moment. It’s up to them. They can do whatever they want as long as they don’t harm anyone else and it really doesn’t mean they are bad people.

But when it starts hurting people around them, people who did not make the decision to have their health affected by smoking, that has all my hair in a ruffle.

And the worst is when mothers make the responsible adult decision of smoking and affecting their children, whether born or unborn.

I know many ‘sophisticated’ women say it’s their choice to smoke. But then if they decide to have a baby, is it the baby’s choice to have all that toxins entering his or her body while in the womb?

Smoking during pregnancy, lowers the amount of oxygen your baby gets, increases his or her heart rate, increases the chance of stillbirth and increases the risk of the baby developing defects.

And don’t think that stopping right when you discover you’re pregnant will make any difference. How many years do you think it takes for your body to clear its system from the toxins?

Three to five years at least, study says.

And I haven’t mentioned mothers who smoke while breastfeeding. These are the worst kind because it has tremendous adverse affects on the baby.

It is a fact proven by research that the amount of nicotine transferred in breast milk is more than double compared to that transferred by the placenta.

Babies who are breastfed by mothers who smoke also have very altered sleep patterns. They have much shorter sleep times compared to normal babies and this will affect growth.

Smoking also decreases a woman’s ability to produce milk. This means that smoking mothers will have to wean their babies faster, taking away all the benefits of breastfeeding.

So what’s keeping these smoking mothers smoking and directly harming their innocent babies? I think there is just one simple explanation – pure stupidity.

Oh, and what about vaping? Who cares.

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

The Fat Bidin Vlog (Ep 16) – Signing books like a superstar!

The Fat Bidin Vlog

Ep 16 – Signing books like a superstar!

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