Speak UP 4 Human Rights

A message from Johannes Franke, Sebastian Hasse, info@speakup-film.eu

“Earlier this year, our film crew joined the international project “Speak Up for Human Rights! Use New Media!”. The cooperation of three organizations from Belarus, Germany and Ukraine allows young adults to acquire necessary know-how to realize human rights campaigns.

What began as a cinematic accompaniment of the seminars, has become a documentary film project. The film will show the progress of the project and portraits the generation, their living conditions in Central and Eastern Europe, and the limitations they have to face.

As the project is independent of broadcasters, it will be partly funded through crowd funding. In exchange for supporting it financially you get a “thank-you gift” – from a „three-countriesbasket“ to credits as a partner or even associate producer. On this page you can support the project: http://startnext.de/en/speak-up

Thursday morning our campaign went online and it really started well. Nearly 90 fans support us already and we have already found the first financial supporters. But that’s not enough. Only when the campaign is clearly perceived in the human rights community, the funding can be successful.


Is “mamak” a racist word?

I have only fond memories of the word, as it refers to either the famous food joint run by the Indian Muslim community or the bread man who comes ringing in his motorbike with a full load of goodies on his back.

I asked a few Indian Muslim friends too if the word Mamak is offensive and they said “No”. I even asked Ghani Jiman or Ghani Kulit- the one who famously led several anti-Lim Guan Eng demonstrations in Penang. He said “no”.

Ghani is awfully quiet these days, and the talk of the town is that he is hibernating for awhile now.

The word ‘Mamak” came up again at the Penang Speakers Square last Sunday. A regular, Uncle Alfred lamented that his fellow Malaysians have forgotten their roots.

He said they have become too sensitive that even words like ‘apek’ and ‘mamak’ – used in reference to the “elderly” in the Chinese and Tamil languages – can rub people up the wrong way.

He remembered using the word “apek” for the dear old ice cream man who comes in the afternoon and cheer up the neighbourhood kids with his tasty and colorful ice cream.

And the word “mamak” is often used as a respectable title for people instead of using “dei” which is rather rude.

”Is it wrong to call an Indian Muslim mamak? No, because mamak means Uncle in Tamil and the community speaks the language,” he said.

”Now Consumers Association of Penang chairman SM Mohamed Idris – I know him personally – blew his top when Guan Eng called him an old man. Should I call him Idris mamak then?” he asked.


”Some say it is disrespectful to use the word but I would like to tell the Indian Muslims that this is their own words and we have been using it all along instead of referring to someone as dei”.

I agree with Alfred that we truly have become very sensitive and forgot out roots, even languages, and histories.

In the case of SM Mohamed Idris, though, I do have a suggestion for politicians: Try not to use “sexist and ageist” words when making a political statement. It doesn’t help. It makes matter worst and the actual points or message you want to impart for the world to read gets derailed.

Do you honestly want that?

Too much! Too much!

Lately, we have been shocked and startled by several revelations of how our leaders are flaunting their wealth and splashing their cash around. One wonders how civil servants like that could have so much money stashed away to spend on themselves and their families.

For average Malaysians like me, who have very challenging spending power, I could only gasp! and scratch my head to do the maths. I come to the conclusion that even if I have THAT much money, I do not have the gutts to splurge like some. Money is hard to come by.

My grandfather, and later his son, my dad, often refer to cash as “BLOOD MONEY”. We are taught to look upon it as some sacrifice on the part of our elders who have sacrificed much to put food on the table. That is how hard it is to get it, only by working hard and going through all kinds of perils of the workplace. This generation, who’s gone through two world wars, will tell you, as I have been told, that they can slog all days and years, and still can’t be filthy rich!

Perhaps, it is just karma, luck. Life is never fair!

The world has no love for spendthrift or excessive leaders. It reminds us of how challenging our lives are, and the lives of those who live below or at poverty lines. One may have a good job, decent pay and yet not be able to afford all the wonderful things one needs because life offers many “surprises” especially financial ones.

So when we hear about the Prime Minister and his First Lady (apologies to Her Majesty the Queen) spending spree, from birthday bashes to engagement parties and overseas holidays, most want to puke, or at the very least, pull out their hairs, even knock their heads on the wall.

RM407K ++  engagement party for daughter.  RM80,000 for birthday bash, out of which, RM30,000++ for flowers. what about that holiday in Sydney – A$20,000 (RM65,100) a night penthouse at the newly-minted five-star Darling Hotel?

These are only some of the excesses we know of, tip of the iceberg, they say.

If you have the money, would you be splashing on your lifestyle like this? Some would say “yes”, but I would say “no”. It takes a certain courage and greed, some madness and hunger for glamour to be able to splurge like this.

For excessive spending habits is a reflection of some hollowness in one’s life, some kind of disease that is borne out of stress, loneliness, etc….

I believe our PM and his wife need help! I suggest both of them read this and seek some treatment:

Overspending or excessive spending can often be used as a mind-altering ‘drug.’ As you notice, there are certain feelings that prompt you to overspend. Common ones are stress, loneliness, anxiety, sadness, and boredom, to mention a few. However, don’t be surprised if you find that happiness, success, or accomplishments may prompt you to “shop ‘til you drop” as well.

Read here, and try to curb your excessive spending habits, please!

Excessive Spending Habits – Avoid Temptations & Spending Triggers

Sharizat: Cows came home, bullshit remains…

So we waited till the cows came home and they did!

Today (March 12), Woman Minister Sharizat Abdul Jalil’s hubby is facing four charges of criminal breach of trust (Malaysiakini.com).

People are saying this IS still a sandiwara, as the case would take its time, though hearing is set for April 13. RM500k was set for bail…sap-sap-sui, as in no sweats, coz 1/4billion ringgit of the people’s money has been thrown out with the cowdang.

Yesterday, in a much expected move, Sharizat “tendered” her resignation as a cabinet minister…next month, in April. While quietly writing her obituary, from rising star to fallen mama, we shall also shout praises of her courage and her willingness to take responsibility for her failures.

Bull!  The truth is, this is NO resignation. When one leaves a post when one’s work term expires, in Sharizat’s case, her senatorship ends in April, it is called, “not being renewed”. In other words, she is being “kick-out”.  In other words, one is condemned, or rendered too obsolete to contribute anymore.

Najib does not view her in this manner, however, because she still retains her posts in Wanita BN and Umno. Politically, she is still there. How Wanita Umno fares after this is another story.

I guess you can’t fault her for this. With a chief like Najib in Umno and Chua Soi Lek in MCA (I do not have to go at great lengths to explain what I mean), Sharizat’s “sins” are no more than a “childish prank”.

It is appropriate ( for her to leave), as Prime Minister Najib Razak says, I agree, but she is certainly no sacrificial cow. If this is not election year (should be called by May 2013, why the delay?), would we see this great performance by Sharizat and Najib? It is anyone’s guess.

The deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin is awfully silent on this, and what is his stake, being the Agriculture Minister at that point of time, to oversee the issue when it happened?

So the real question remains, and we should not allow ourselves to be distracted by all the cowing and bulling over this ‘Bollywood drama” (as deemed by certain quarters), for we must continue to ask: how do we recover the RM250 million wasted in the “cow-in-condos” scandal?

As social activist – Organic/Electronic and now Election Ong Boon Keong says in my facebook post on Kak Jat:

“The real issue is, if there were corruption involved-thus the settlement should be on getting back the corrupted money! Her resignation is merely a PR damage control, no substitute for a proper, legal settlement of the original issue. If people forget the issue after this it is an indictment of how politicised the atmosphere in Malaysia had become!!!

What do you think? Read Malaysiakini.com for more details:
Shahrizat to step down next month 

Are women really happy?

ImageIt’s just the cynic in me asking, as always.

Happy International Women’s Day anyway to my sistahs!

But here we go again. Another year to rejoice for our freedoms, achievements and lessons learned from our errors. Sure we have cause to celebrate! And lots you can do on this day.

Check out the Washington Post blog and find out 10 ways you can celebrate this day meaningfully.

But…do we need to keep reminding the world that we need “special treatment”…for if we keep asking for “crutches”, how do we become equals (with men and other creatures)?

We must be beating our chests, though, because women in our day and age, continue to grab the headlines.Malaysian women are becoming more and more famous by the day. Those simple, ordinary, hardworking women…are just ordinary, and their achievements are not news, not sexy enough, you can say.

We’ve been given roses, and now we are returning the gifts with gloves. Read more on our local women’s campaign in Malaysiakini:  “Super’ women to rally for clean governance.

How can you give us roses when our women get into trouble and into the limelight for all the wrong reasons? Is this what it means by women’s liberation? Rosmah Mansor, PM Najib Razak’s wife heads the list of the most “famous” of infamous women with her (reportedly, allegedly, purportedly) lust for shopping.

Our (Umno) Women minister (of all the persons in the country) Sharizat Abd Jalil is embroiled in her ‘cash, cow and condos’ controvery, MCA’s Jessie Ooi for being “tow-truck aunty”, PKR’s Nurul Izzah for being “protected by Umno” (aka as treated roughly” during one of her outings, and the number of little gals missing and never found until now…

We give roses to women when all they want is respect, recognition, and equal treatment. We give gloves to politicians telling them we want a clean government, when what we need to do is vote them out! Women carry half of the sky and our votes are influential. But disunited, we shall never be able to be agents of change.

OK, I’ll stop preaching but will tell you to go read this website for more about International Women’s Day 2012. and be happy that we are not alone.

KDN-STAR wars: whose head will roll?

ImageWhy is the Home Ministry (KDN) prolonging the issue?? Is it for political reasons? What does it take for the KDN to be satisfied with the STAR’s explanation that it was a honest mistake to publish Erykah Badu’s photo with her tatoo of the word ‘Allah’ in Arabic on her chest. Must heads roll? Whose heads? Surely not the big boss (es) !!

Surely an honest mistake must be given another chance? Funny, the MCA champions rights of “gamblers and drunkards” but they don’t seem to speak out for journalists/ editors under their payroll. Must they run to Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Razak to beg for mercy? Will the PM intervene this time?

Malaysians have been punished enough for the STAR’s oversight. Badu’s concert was cancelled last minute and surely this had hurt the “sensitivities” of her thousands of fans in Malaysia. But who cares about you right? Unless you fit in the political equation.

So, will Najib have pity on the STAR? Or will he, like those guys in KDN (Umno Ministers), stand firm and try to show that they are as serious in “defending Islam” as much or more than their rivals, PAS?

We’ll see in a few days…but if STAR gets the suspensions, will we as journalists, come together and protest in support of their freedom? So many questions, too little answers.

Read more in Malaysiakini: Home Ministry not satisfied with Star’s proposal .

“Motive” not essential in Altantuya’s murder – what a GREAT judgement!!

It is NOT!

So, it looks like we don’t need a motive to kill someone. Wow! What a great judgement. Only in Malaysia, I guess. What happens to the basic elements of crime – “the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty?” . This is something I learnt in first year law studies. I did not continue to study law but I remembered this element. It is the basis for all crimes, and also to ensure just punishment.

So, if there is no motive in her killing, does it mean this is not murder? So, Altantuya must have died of natural death? Natural death caused by “blasted-related injuries”. A new one in medical science. Haha.

Hahaha, in Malaysia, semuanya terbalik (everything’s opposite). That’s Malaysia, truly Asia, for you:

Read further in Malaysiakini: Altantuya judgment: Murder motive ‘not essential’

Anti-Lynas fracas: police reveal 29 photos of “witnesses”

Police revealed 29 photos of those involved in the anti-Lynas rally on Feb 26, PenangFinally…Penang police are looking for these “witnesses” to assist in their investigation into the Feb 26 (Sunday) chaos which aborted the anti-Lynas rally at the Speakers Square.

Yes, they are witnesses, until proven guilty, that’s what OCPD Gan Kong Meng said. He revealed their photos to the press, saying he had downloaded them from newspapers and the internet.

I told him they are “famous personalities” and can be found easily. He said give them a chance to come forward or else he would invoke Section 111 of the criminals procedure code to compel them to come forward.

Brave words, let’s see lah if it works, Tuan Gan!

Please read further details in the story here: Anti-Lynas fracas: Cops release pictures of 29 witnesses


249 Journalists!

Journalists outside Penang Police HQ, Mac 1, 2012

At 6.30pm on Thursday, March 1, 2012, 249 Penang journalists signed/ sent a petition to state Police Chief Ayub Yaacob , urging him to take action on those who attacked two journalists during the anti-Lynas rally at the Esplanade (Speakers Square), on Sunday, Feb 26.

See here for video evidence.


1 MARCH 2012


We, the ( ) undersigned journalists in Penang, condemn the action by those who acted violently towards journalists and the public during the Anti-Lynas rally in Esplanade on 26th February 2012.

Over the past four years, journalists on duty have been treated violently during demonstrations. In the recent incident on February 26, during the Anti-Lynas rally held in Esplanade, journalists were beaten up again.

It is regretted that the authorities did not learn any lessons from previous incidents and improve the situation, instead the public and journalists continue to face danger.

Journalists are always in the forefront when reporting, and are often face to face with dangerous situations while on duty.

Hence, when journalists are beaten up again and again, and when peaceful assemblies are interrupted time and again, we want to state our concerns as below:

1. The responsibility of the police is to protect public safety, but in the Anti-Lynas rally, although traffic police and some police officers were around, they did not stop the violent incident to ensure that the rally continue peacefully and smoothly. We regret this, and we hope that the police will give us a reasonable explanation about this.

2.We feel the police should look into this matter seriously and investigate it thoroughly. If the police are proven to be negligent during the incident, necessary disciplinary action should be taken.

3.Since the reporters attacked in the Anti-Lynas rally had lodged police reports, and handed the photographs of those perpetrators to the police, we hope the police will take action in one week’s time.

4.In order to prove that the police are highly effective, we hope the police will announce to the public the outcome of their investigation into the cases where journalists were attacked, and what kind of action has been taken.

The undersigned,
Penang Press Club,
Penang Chinese Media Journalist and Photographers Association,
Journalist Union Of North Malaya,
Penang Press Employee’s Cooperative Society Ltd.
Seberang Perai Press Association

Thank You.

Knickers politics

Argh…even love is politicized!

From the food we eat – halal or non halal – to who gets into our knickers/briefs – are the daily concerns of politicians, and the religious zealots and bigots.

What is most detestable is that women are always the first casualties. Just the other day, YB Elizabeth Wong’s
past returned to haunt her. And for what? Some silly still shots of her sleeping in the privacy of her home.

These were photos allegedly taken by an exbeau but they went viral on the internet. But what of it? It wasn’t even nude or porn stuff. It was a blatant intrusion of her privacy and self respect! But this is not the angle that the newspapers have gone to town with. Not sexy enough yaar… but a clear cut case of politicking.

It is politicking to disparage her so that she can vacate her state executive councillor and state assemblywoman’s job! It is only to our benefit that Eli is a strong woman.

The recent hype surrounding Valentine’s day is another classic case in point of what I call “knickers politics”.

Both sides of the political divide turned this ancient day of fun into a political circus. PAS and the religious holier than thou put an “immoral” tag on it. Its a prelude to premarital sex, they say. A launching pad to other immoral acts.

Hey bigots! Get a life! How many bomohs or priests and supposedly moral looking grandpas, professionals like doctors and lawyers, have been raping their clients, wards and grandchildren? They don’t need no valentine’s day for those hideous crimes!

Ah, what is a bit of smooching around holding hands and kissing your date? Its like these bigots had never been young before. They’re probably ashamed of what they’ve done and now want to police everyone especially strangers they do not know – like you and me!

It’s not like I am a great fan of Valentine’s. I don’t even celebrate the occasion. I like to be in love though. And I am continously in love with love! Many celebrate the day by appreciating their parents, elders, siblings, and many others.

It’s unlikely to be religious at all. Who remembers St Valentine, the love struck Italian priest who gave the day a meaning? No one! That’s right, I don’t even know what St. Val looks like! I do know how Rudolph Valentino look like though, ha, ha!

But people should be given a choice to celebrate the joyous and (for some) sexy day without fear. Snooping around for couples by some Valentine squad – read: bigots – is a super, major ridicolous thing to do, not in a country that spends millions to attract tourists.

To the snoop squad – You’re not their bloody parents, ok! You’re not even their bloody brothers! or worst, husbands!

Now the Penang CM Lim Guan Eng also took a chance at Valentine’s to draw extra marks for his reputation by handing out carnations to women of all races at the famous Chowrasta market.

Okayyyy…the flower sellers and the women were beaming from ear to ear I can see. From photos taken by famous blogger minus one MAC – Chan Lilian, I can see that Guan Eng’s strategy also managed to capture the hearts of the female reporters who were there covering the event.

But is the act necessary? Isn’t it better for example to give 100 single mothers something to improve their livehood or quality of life with? Maybe put a roof over some heads…

Or else that Romeo act of giving flowers is nothing more than a publicity stunt! And the carnations, unlike the BRIM RM500 (for those earning below RM3,000 per household) from the federal government, won’t live to see the next GE, dear….