FAT BIDIN MEDIA


Being objective in the case of Azizul and Shalwati

azizul family

Being objective in the case of Azizul and Shalwati
By Zan Azlee

This week, Malaysians who have been following the case of Azizul Raheem Awaluddin and Shalwati Norshal, detained in Sweden for abusing their children, got the shock of their lives.

After two months of being held under remand, the prosecutor has finally charged them in court, and the list of what they have been accused of is a long one.

Both of them are accused of a total of eight counts of gross violation of integrity of their children, and all includes beatings, inclusive of the use of rotan, belt and even a carpet beater.

The shock is because everyone in Malaysia were of the thought that it was an obvious case of a clash of cultures.

In Malaysia, moderate corporal punishment is mainly accepted. Initial reports in the media (including here at Astro AWANI) stated or implied that the abuse was merely a smack due to one of their sons not performing his prayers. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

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Culture is never wrong… except for Swedish culture?

My attempt at cheering the kids up.

My attempt at cheering the kids up.

Culture is never wrong… except for Swedish culture?
By Zan Azlee

One of the subjects I used to teach undergraduates many years ago was Human Communication. It was one of my favourite subjects to teach. I loved it because it was the study of how people communicate with each other, taking into consideration the context of different cultures, languages and beliefs.

A core principal of good human communication is to understand that there are many different people in the world. And being different doesn’t mean being wrong. In fact, it is important that we never judge people based on their culture because culture is never wrong.

Vietnamese and Koreans enjoy eating dog meat and it is considered a traditional dish. But most Americans would find it wrong to eat an animal that is normally a pet. Who is right or wrong? It is a norm in Chinese culture (and many Asian cultures) to have the extended family all living in one house together. But in Europe, this is not accepted as children are suppose to leave the nest when they grow up. Right? Wrong?

And now that the world is getting smaller, people are more exposed to different cultures and clashes start happening. It’s not wrong to have these clashes. People just need to be understanding and open-minded. But of course there are cultural practices, after being compared with others, come out as totally wrong.

And through education, these are slowly expected to disappear. For example, many indigenous tribes in Borneo practiced head-hunting a long time ago. Now that everyone is more educated and ‘civilised’, the practice has been totally wiped out. Which is a good thing. Genital mutilation may be the norm in some African cultures but with more knowledge, campaigns are now being conducted to educate the people so they know that it is not a good thing to do.

But one thing that cannot be done is to blame these people for their tradition and culture. It is what they’ve been doing for generations without thinking it is wrong. It’s the way they are wired to think. But of course, the key word is education.

With more clashes of culture happening, the more our minds are exposed and opened up. We get to see things from many perspectives. And that will eventually cause the entire human race to progress and evolve.

Now what am I actually getting at? It’s quite obvious I’m going to relate all of this to the Malaysian couple, Azizul Raheem Awaluddin and Shalwati Nurshal, detained in Sweden for allegedly abusing their children. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]



Looks like Parameswara lost the election!

melaka

Looks like Parameswara lost the election!
By Zan Azlee

I have fallen into the trap. The trap of going on family vacations during public and school holidays. So is my luck now that I am married and with a daughter. And so, last weekend, the long three-day Malaysia Day weekend, my wife, daughter and I decided to head down to Melaka, Malaysia’s historical and heritage city certified and endorsed by UNESCO.

It’s not much the holiday that I want to talk about. That was overall a fun and enjoyable time my family and I had. What I do want to talk about is a little bit more political. Any holiday to Melaka city needs a ride on the famous Melaka River Cruise. It’s a 45 minute boat ride up and down the Melaka River, which saw the glory days and also the downfall of Malay civilisation.

The boat ride was pretty good actually. But then, the audio commentary guide that played over the speakers on the boat explaining the ride was horrible! Being a UNESCO heritage city that is rich in history and culture that dates back centuries, I was really expecting to hear (and then imagine!) the different stories that is related to the Melaka River.

I wanted to hear grand stories of old Malay adventurers, Chinese explorers and Arab traders making their way to this great river mouth to the grandest East Asian city of the 14th century. I wanted to hear about the bloody and deadly battles that took place between the Dutch, Portuguese, British and Malays as they tried to conquer, colonise and defend this mighty empire.

I wanted to be serenaded by romantic stories about Parameswara, Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, and the beautiful Hang Li Po as the wind blew my long silky hair and sprays of water moisturised my face. But did I get that? Absolutely not! [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]



Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 10 – Living at the feet of Buddha)

This week is part 10 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 10 here:

Living by the feet of Buddha
By Zan Azlee

FEB 13 — After the days I spent on patrol with Malaysia’s MALCON ISAF 2 in the rural areas of Bamiyan building water filters, educating health officials and saving lives, I was glad to be back in the safety of Kiwi Base in the city of Bamiyan.

Bamiyan is actually one of the safest provinces in Afghanistan and this is due to its population of predominantly Hazarat people who fiercely reject the Taliban. They are Shiites and were terribly oppressed, hurt and killed during the rule of the Taliban. So walking the streets of Bamiyan city is really like a walk in the park compared to in Kabul.

Now that I was feeling a bit secure and safe, I wanted to do something that I had dreamed of since I was 15 years old. That’s right! I wanted to go and see for myself, with my own two eyes, the great Buddhas of Bamiyan.

I was apparently still under the responsibility of the Malaysian Armed Forces, and the commander, Lt Col Rusman Sanip, did not want to allow me to roam outside of the army base on my own (although I had spent all my time in Kabul alone before meeting up with them in Bamiyan!). He was kind enough to escort me together with a couple of security team members. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 10 of 10
‘Living by the feet of Buddha’
Zan fulfills his 19 year dream of seeing the Buddhas of Bamiyan! And he discovers the ultra poor Hazarats living at his feet… literally.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 10).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!



Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 9 – A Taliban ambush)

This week is part 9 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 9 here:

A Taliban ambush
By Zan Azlee

FEB 6 — The next day, we all had to wake up early because our vehicles were supposed to start rolling right at dawn. We were in for another challenging journey and heading deeper into the heartland of Afghanistan. I decided to forego another shower since the temperature in the mountains of Bamiyan were in the single digit in the early mornings.

Before we headed out, we had a security briefing. This is a must since it is when everyone gets information on the journey and also to talk about any emergency plans should there be an attack by the Taliban. After the briefing, we had the mandatory prayers for a safe journey and then we headed out.

This time, the journey was almost twice as difficult. The mountain area we had to go through was higher and rougher. Security was another concern since we were moving further away from central Bamiyan and heading nearer to the border with Daykhundi province, which had a stronger Taliban presence. This time it was serious and I made sure my bulletproof vest was strapped on tighter than ever. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 9 of 10
‘A Taliban ambush’
While embedded with the Malaysian Armed Forces in Afghanistan, Zan and the soldiers encounter a Taliban ambush.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 9).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!



Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 8 – Lending the Afghans a hand)

This week is part 8 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 8 here:

Lending the Afghans a hand
By Zan Azlee

JAN 30 — We arrived in Yadkawlang in the evening after travelling for several hours. Yadkawlang is a small village in Bamiyan province. The Malaysian troops (MALCON ISAF 2) were due to conduct a blood donation drive and also to fit a water filtering system at the village well. When we arrived at the location, which was a school, another group from MALCON ISAF 2 was already there and had set up tents for the day’s event. They had arrived several days earlier and had been staying at the Yadkawlang base.

A group of villagers had already gathered and the commander was informed that the local mullah, Ali Muhammadi, had also arrived. One of the mullah’s men rushed inside the school block to call him. When the mullah came out, the commander greeted him and they proceeded to brief the crowd that had gathered. The main reason the mullah was involved is to convince the villagers that what the Malaysians came here to do is for the benefit of the village.

The local Afghans are actually very apprehensive about foreigners and I can only guess that it must be due to the decades of oppression they have faced from the foreigners that have invaded their country; from the British to the Russians and now the Americans. So it was important that MALCON ISAF 2 implement the proper strategy if they wanted to penetrate and help the local community. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 8 of 10
‘Lending the Afghans a hand’
Zan is embedded with the Malaysian Armed Forces as they patrol the mountains of Afghanistan.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 8).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!



Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 7 – Malaysia at war!)

This week is part 7 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 7 here:

Malaysia at war!
By Zan Azlee

JAN 23 — Being a journalist, one of my dreams has always been to be embedded with the military in a conflict zone. I had been to and reported on conflict zones before, but always as an external journalist and never embedded, and when I was given the chance to do so, I jumped at the opportunity.

It wasn’t so much of an opportunity that cropped up rather than one that I had to persistently pursue and create for myself for more than a year. I had been writing multiple e-mails and making phone calls to the Ministry of Defence ever since I learnt that Malaysia had started deploying troops to Afghanistan.

But my attempts were never fruitful and I finally decided I would just head to Afghanistan on my own without being embedded in the military, just like the times I’ve been to Beirut in Lebanon, and Patani in Southern Thailand to produce my wartime documentaries and news reports.

I had been in Kabul for almost a week shooting and filing news stories for the TV station that was commissioning me as a correspondent when I thought I would just send a text message to Lt. Col. Salawati Yahaya, the army’s Media Operations Director, in Kuala Lumpur to say that I was in Afghanistan.

Her reply caught me by surprise. Probably impressed (or shocked!) at my ballsy move to just head to Afghanistan on my own, she managed to get clearance from her bosses to actually allow me to be embedded with MALCON ISAF 2, the Malaysian contingent that was currently serving in Bamiyan. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 7 of 10
‘Malaysia at war!’
Zan arrives at the military base in Bamiyan to be embedded with the Malaysian Armed forces in the war in Afghanistan.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 7).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!



Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 6 – Skateboarding in Skateistan!)

This week is part 6 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 6 here:

Skateboarding in Skateistan!
By Zan Azlee

JAN 16 — Merza Muhammadi is one of the best skateboarders in Afghanistan. This 17-year-old is an instructor and mid-level manager at Kabul’s only skatepark, Skateistan, and is looked up to by hundreds of Kabul kids. But Merza hasn’t always been in this positive situation. Only four years before, he was working the streets cleaning cars to help support his family. 

“Skateistan has been a real positive influence in my life,” said the ever-smiling Merza. 

Started in 2007, Skateistan is more than just an ordinary skatepark. It’s an NGO that aims to bring together the many different ethnic youth in Kabul, whether privileged or not, through the sport of skateboarding.

“Skateboarding really fits the Afghan psyche in the sense that it challenges the local kids to overcome personal fear and limitations in whatever situations,” explained founder and executive director, Oliver Percovich. 

Merza had always been interested in skateboarding ever since he saw pictures in a skateboarding magazine, but never had the opportunity to try it out. Not until he met Oliver who was working in Kabul at that time and often skated near an old fountain in a park on the outskirts of the city. That was back in 2007. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 6 of 10
‘Skateboarding in Skateistan!’
Skate or die on the streets of Kabul.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 6).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!



Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite (Part 5 – Rambo is alive and kicking in Afghanistan!)

This week is part 5 of my multimedia documentary, Guide To Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite, which includes video, still photos an text. As you would know, this is concurrent with the 10-part feature on The Malaysian Insider website, of which you can view part 5 here:

Finding Rambo in Afghanistan!
By Zan Azlee

JAN 9 — No matter how much I read and watch the news about Afghanistan, the one thing that always frames my perspective when it comes to the country is its Islamic extremism. And I know that this is how many people around the world perceive it as well. So, during my time in Afghanistan, one of the issues that interested me was the fact that so much of the country’s culture had been suppressed, or even eradicated, by the Taliban during their rule.

And now that the United States has blown the Taliban out of political power, a lot of this culture, which was deemed haram by the Taliban, is making a comeback. I spoke to Ahmad Bilal Raghbat, my local fixer, about this and the first thing that came to his mind was movies.

“I love watching movies but during the Taliban time, cinemas were shut down,” said the big Bollywood fan.

After days of driving and walking around Kabul with Bilal, I noticed that there was actually quite a big cinema in the middle of the city right next President Hamid Karzai’s office. It’s called Ariana and you can hardly miss it due to all the brightly coloured movie posters adorning the walls on the outside. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Guide to Afghanistan: The Adventures of a KL-ite
Part 5 of 10
‘Finding Rambo in Afghanistan!’
Zan finds Rambo, Nicholas Cage and Dolph Lundgren in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Full Synopsis:
Zan Azlee, a Malaysian KL-ite journalist who has lived all his life in non-conflict zones, travels to Afghanistan to see if he can come up with the best travel guide for the country. With no idea what he is getting himself into, he dodges suicide bombers and IEDs, and even gets embedded with the army, to plan out the best tourist route in Afghanistan. This is a multimedia documentary produced by Fat Bidin Media and directed by solo-journalist Zan Azlee.

To view all the episodes, head to FATBIDIN.COM/AFGHANISTAN.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay (Part 5).

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are still available… just give me a buzz if you are interested and we can talk! If you would like to own original FAT BIDIN MEDIA documentary films and books to enhance your coolness factor, visit the FAT BIDIN e-STORE!




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