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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]

The Fat Bidin Film Club Ep (33) – Southpaw

The Fat Bidin Film Club
Ep 33 – Southpaw

Zan and Aizyl review the most cliche of all movies ever! Ohh… but Jake Gyllenhaal acts the hell out of his character and Forest Whitaker’s lazy eye really deserves an Oscar!

A new episode of The Fat Bidin Film Club comes out every Thursdays.



Listen to more Fat Bidin podcasts here.

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The Fat Bidin Vlog (Ep 17) – Talking tech at the ASEAN Youth Leadership Summit

The Fat Bidin Vlog

Ep 17 – Talking tech at the ASEAN Youth Leadership

New vlog episodes are out every Wednesdays!

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The Food Show (Ep 9) – 5 Minutes Steam Fish


PINK LADLE presents
In association with FAT BIDIN MEDIA
(Ep 9 – 5 Minutes Steam Fish)

Here is Jasmine’s recipe for juicy steam fish in only 5 minutes!

The Food Show is a bi-monthly show, so tune in every first and third Tuesday of the month for a scrumptious time!

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Pink Ladle & Fat Bidin Media

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