27 December 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday December 19, 2007

Facets of Malaysian voices


The events of the past few weeks have thrown up a myriad of Malaysian types – from the I’m-OK-I-don’t-care-what’s-happening to the voice of the public and the sanctimonious.

WITH all the recent events going on the country, as well as past events, any astute observer will have noticed some common traits in our countrymen and women in the way we respond to what is happening around us. Many of us can be grouped into several different categories.

There’s the I-Don’t-Care-What’s-Happening-As-Long-As-I’m-OK crowd which prefers to remain oblivious to everything in the belief that as long as they keep their heads down, they will be able to carry on with their lives in much the same way as they always have done.

These are the types who complain because they were delayed two hours to their Sunday football match because they got caught in a roadblock several miles away from the events that the police decided required monitoring.

They are not even remotely interested in why there were these events in the first place.

Then there’s the lot that believes that everything should be done strictly by the book and that people who don’t follow rules are basically thugs and anarchists.

No doubt these are also the types of people who would never dream of “pulling any cables” or “persuading” a tester not to penalise their kid too much in their driving test or a cop for catching them talking on their handphone while driving.

It’s only when other people don’t play by the rules, or use “proper channels”, that they are wrong, not when they themselves do it.

These are similar to the lot that fervently believes that Other People are always capable of Extremely Bad Behaviour, even when they don’t know the Other People at all.

For instance, if Other People are allowed to demonstrate on any issue, They are bound to get emotional and turn to violence in the blink of an eye, unprovoked by anything as trivial as a water cannon of course.

Whereas, this lot, if given the chance to demonstrate, would always be nice, polite and smiling. Hence the reason why only They, and never Other People, should ever be given permits to hold any sort of march or rally. Or present memoranda.

Then there’s the bunch that thinks that we really should never whine or complain because, really, things are not that bad.

That really depends on who’s talking of course.

Those who have nice homes and cars, send their kids to good schools and go on holiday a couple of times a year probably should just keep quiet.

But anyone who has some awareness cannot help but see that not everybody enjoys such good fortune, and if they have a conscience at all, surely cannot rest easy with such inequalities.

Since many of those who aren’t so lucky cannot voice out their problems to those who can help, then it behoves those who can get themselves listened to to say something. They may come out sounding like they are whining but they aren’t complaining about their own situations but that of their fellow citizens.

I am pretty tolerant of most of these types except for the ones who always believe that everyone else is naturally bound to behave badly. Usually the word “sanctimonious” is used for them.

These types truly believe that they will never commit sins whereas other people will do so at the slightest opportunity.

It’s the type that believes that everyone else’s child is a potential drug addict while theirs will never be. Or that any three people in a group are bound to start throwing rocks while they themselves wouldn’t dream of it.

I don’t know how we got to a situation where we trusted our fellow citizens so little.

Perhaps it is because we now live in an environment where we trust so few people at all, least of all those in charge of our lives.

We look appalled at some of our parliamentarians and ministers and wonder how did we trust them with our vote.

We are aghast at how our own police cannot be trusted to care for our safety and go after those who rob our homes and murder our children.

Sometimes we find our doctors can’t be trusted to treat us properly, nor our teachers to teach our kids the right things. How then can we be blamed for not trusting our neighbours?

Couple that with an environment of impunity where all sorts of wrongdoers seem to get away with everything, from building homes they should not be able to afford to insulting half the population with sexist jokes. When so-called leaders behave badly, what can we expect from regular people?

My resolution for 2008 is to continue going against the grain and believe in the best in people and that people are inherently good. That includes believing them when they say they will behave peacefully.

10 December 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday December 5, 2007

Women the forgotten victims of AIDS


WORLD AIDS Day this year brought good news and bad news. The good news was that the numbers of people getting infected every year in Malaysia dropped a little. (Not that anybody can really explain why.)

The bad news was that among the people who did get infected, more of them were women.

There is a tendency to ignore the fact that women have been getting infected. About 10 years ago, there was a national conference on women and AIDS that expressed concern over women’s vulnerability, and made many recommendations about what to do. Nothing came of it.

The recommendation to have women represented on the National Coordinating Committee on AIDS was met with “If we have a women problem, we’ll ask you to come.” Now, according to government statistics, we do have a “women problem”.

Ten years ago, barely 1% of total reported infections was among women. Now it’s 10%. Last year, 15% of new infections were women.

But it’s important to remember that this is a national average. Local figures may be hugely different.

In Sabah where heterosexual sex is the main mode of transmission, a delegate at the First National AIDS Conference last weekend reported that one woman was infected for every three men. That’s more than double the national average.

I have to grind my teeth in frustration. Nobody takes the issue of women and HIV seriously, I suspect, simply because they are women.

A few months ago, when this newspaper highlighted a study I had presented, that HIV-negative men who married HIV-positive women still refused to use condoms consistently, a political leader from the state the study was done in blamed women for trying to infect their husbands!

When asked for an explanation why women are increasingly becoming infected, another politician said that since women wanted so much to be equal to men, this is what happens! Implying, presumably, that women equal men in loose morals.

But women are becoming infected precisely because they are not equal. Forty per cent of women who have become infected are housewives. Their husbands are almost all injecting drug users who have AIDS.

Most of these women had no idea what AIDS was and, even if they did, there was nothing they could do to protect themselves when protection essentially means either asking their husbands to use condoms or simply refusing to have sex with them.

How many married women can even consider refusing to have sex with their husbands?

That’s why it’s ridiculous to make unqualified recommendations to abstain from sex. Abstaining is not in the vocabulary of married people, especially women. Nor is simply saying “use a condom” as easy as all that when it is not women who have to use them.

Over the weekend, I sat in a time-wasting meeting called to impress on various Ministries the importance of the gender perspective in dealing with the issue of women and AIDS.

For one thing, few people beyond the usual suspects bothered to attend. Secondly, those who did come had no idea what ‘a gender perspective’ meant, not even the ones you would expect should know.

People tended to think that if things were put down on paper that meant that something had been done.

Follow-ups to see that words translated into action were non-existent.

Actions that were taken were evaluated only in terms of how many people were reached by a project, not whether the project actually achieved its objectives.

The much-touted National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS mentions women only once, and even then only in a section title and not in the content of that section.

If you don’t want to understand, you never will. Fifteen years ago, I had no idea what ‘gender’ was but now, because I wanted to understand, I do.

I see people in positions of responsibility who don’t think they need to learn anything who are given to flippant comments, who trivialise everything, as if people’s lives are unimportant.

But if some VIP decides it is important, suddenly they are rushing all over the place trying to spend money to please their bosses. It would be nice if their understanding of an issue were commensurate with the money they are prepared to spend on it.

One of the things I have never understood is why is it that there is such a gulf between government departments and NGOs in terms of a critical understanding of issues.

Why is it that NGOs routinely provide analytical reports while their government counterparts simply report facts and figures without attempting to understand what they are reporting?

Doesn’t anyone even want to know why women are getting infected?

Allowing women to become infected is symptomatic of a larger mindset: women don’t matter.