31 May 2010

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 May 26, 2010
Showing off is a no-no

The virtue of appropriate behaviour seems lost today when people think nothing of spending RM20,000 on drinks at a meal, or buying designer bags for a two-year-old.

WHEN I was growing up, one of the things drilled into me was the virtue of appropriate behaviour.

There were some behaviours that were deemed totally inappropriate mostly because they were either ill-mannered or unseemly.

For instance, one’s behaviour in someone else’s house was always strictly delineated because it reflected on how one was brought up. Thus, unlike today, where children are chummy with their friends’ parents,

I had to be extremely polite and even slightly scared of those of my friends.

I recall once being at a birthday party where one boy was so naughty that he earned a scolding from the host’s father. I don’t know what shocked me more, to have misbehaved in your friend’s house or to be scolded by someone else’s dad.

Inappropriate behaviour also covered showing off whatever you had that was expensive, especially to people who may not be able to afford it.

Modesty about one’s own station was taught as a singular virtue. You may be lucky enough to have nice things but you don’t need to tell anyone about them.

Thus I may be considered horribly old-fashioned when I gasp upon reading magazine articles where people happily show off their closets full of clothes, jewellery and fleet of cars.

It’s not that I begrudge them their good fortune, but I wonder why it does not embarrass them to have all these possessions photographed for total strangers to gawk at.

Similarly, I once read a letter in the papers by someone who complained bitterly that her luggage had been trifled with at the airport. Justifiable enough, until I read that the shopping that she lost included designer bags (and she named which designers they were) for her two-year-old daughter.

Rather than focus on her misfortune, what haunted me was the very idea that people would spend money on designer items for a toddler.

To be fair, the high-end designers do give people such inappropriate ideas by actually designing kiddy clothes and toys.

I doubt there would be a demand for them if they didn’t exist. Or would they?

Perhaps it is a sign of prosperity that these days people spend money in inappropriate ways without batting an eyelid.

For instance a restaurant-owner friend once regaled us with the crazy things some of his customers did, like spend RM20,000 just on drinks at one meal.

Then there was the little girl who was blithely waving the credit card her mother gave her in some high-end boutiques, only one of which was sensible enough to decline to accept it.

When 13-year-olds are way too comfortable spending money in such boutiques, you have to wonder what it’s going to take to keep them in comfort as they grow up.

But perhaps I should not complain about the inappropriate behaviour of individuals like these.

My worry however is that other people, including my children, might think that these behaviours are the norm, and then try to emulate them.

It would be a short ride downhill from there, morally speaking.

Sometimes, however, you find inappropriate behaviour at a higher level, where people who deem themselves worthy of our support take unconscionable actions.

For instance, breaking laws put there by the very law-making institution that they are part of.

Is the message “Do as I say, not as I do”? Or are these laws just for the rest of us and not for them?

No wonder they all want to get elected; apparently it gives them a licence to do what they want.

For me, my test of inappropriateness is whether my cheeks go hot and red upon learning about such behaviour.

It burned when a friend talked about a group of people who came into his restaurant every night, ran up a tab and then walked out without paying, telling them to bill their boss.

It didn’t look like their boss knew what they were up to at all, so the bills remained unpaid. I didn’t know these people, but somehow felt embarrassed at their brazenness.

And I must say I flush all the way down to my neck when I see people desperate to be seen as more important than what they are. I’ve been lucky enough to meet real heroes who do their work with no fanfare at all. So to see much lesser beings, important only because of position, being lauded for less substantial work makes me go – and see – red.

But life is short and one needs to make hay, as they say, while the sun shines.

17 May 2010

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 May 12, 2010
Simple, spontaneous and cool

Using social media to bring people together in solidarity, more than 500 Malaysians, mostly young, of all shapes, sizes and creeds, got together to simply … well, dance.

THERE is a word that young people these days often use to describe something that they disapprove of. If they say something is “fail”, it means it has earned their thumbs down.

It would not be inaccurate to say that in almost anything to do with adults in Malaysia today, young people under 30 would use the word “fail”.

Whether it is politics, law enforcement, government or religious authorities, the young would simply point their thumbs downwards. None of it appeals to them, none of it is cool. They are tired of constantly being told they are troublemakers and don’t know what’s good for them.

Yet, I have seen young Malaysians time and time again defy every stereotype that their elders put on them. Where our so-called leaders have looked as if they belonged to the 6th Century, young people are doing innovative and creative projects that show they are firmly in the 21st.

When politicians have shown that they only know how to divide people, young people have shown that they can stand solidly together.

Last year, when our leadership failed repeatedly to unite people regardless of race and religion, young people got together in a show of solidarity in the Tali Tenang project.

Using social media to bring people together in solidarity, they met in real life to show that they were for peace and unity, without the need for any political rhetoric. About 200 of them came together and, amazingly, there were no riots or any form of unruliness. Nose-thumb to their elders again!

Last weekend, they did it again. Connecting via Facebook and Twitter, more than 500 Malaysians, mostly young, of all shapes, sizes and creeds, got together to simply … dance.

Fans of a currently popular TV series, they got together on several evenings to rehearse; and on the appointed day showed up, followed instructions and did their thing in a joyous spontaneous atmosphere.

Just watching the participants rehearse already gave one goosebumps. Each night some 200 people, who mostly did not know one another, gathered together in one spot to do one thing together, dance.

They submitted themselves to great discipline and effort, enjoying the sweaty camaraderie. You looked around and can’t help but think: this is every politician’s dream; but there is no way they can do this, for the simple reason that they can never be cool enough.

The whole event was organised by young people themselves; they volunteered to teach the steps, take photos or videos or spread the word. While there was some sponsorship, it was not a hugely commercial event with no greater objective than to do something fun together.

I’m sure there will be detractors who will tut-tut about how this is not our culture and such. They can go ahead and organise a culturally-appropriate flashmob if they want. But it takes a certain generous frame of mind – one that essentially believes in the good in people – to truly organise such a community event.

The flashmob also underscores the power of social media, something so underestimated by our leaders. The entire organisation of this event was done online. All it needed was a good idea and some key people to promote it on their Facebook pages and on Twitter – and that was it.

Before long, more than 1,300 people had signed up. Although ultimately not as many people actually showed up for the event, it was still a success because it was likely the biggest flashmob ever held in the world.

The entire event held so many lessons that the powers-that-be could learn from. Firstly, to appeal to young people you need to tap into whatever is current and trendy, and not try and invent something new.

Secondly, young people can come up with better ideas than most adults, and know exactly how to organise it themselves.

Thirdly, young people are quite capable of enormous discipline and effort if they like, and want to do, something.

Fourthly, there is absolutely no need for any VIPs to officiate at these events. In fact, the absence of any ups the cool quotient of the event.

Fifthly, when young people get together like this, they do not automatically destroy. Rather they build friendships, community and peace, regardless of race, religion or creed.

Where else can you see girls in tudung boogieing next to girls in shorts, and boys, and then grinning at each other with joy at having successfully done a perfect routine?

There is no greater feeling than from having participated in something with a whole bunch of strangers that is creative, organic and fun. No need for special T-shirts, expensive equipment or long official speeches. Simplicity and spontaneity is in. Pity our leaders can’t understand that.

01 May 2010

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 April 28, 2010
Moral police need policing, too

Fearing public embarrassment, couples accused of infringing religious laws on morality often put themselves at risk of physical hurt, and even death.

WHEN a fatal accident happens, usually there will be an enquiry to find out the reasons behind it. Landslides may cause homes to be buried along with some occupants so an enquiry is needed to decide who is at fault and to be held responsible.

Or schoolchildren out on an excursion may wind up drowned and investigations must be done, not least to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.

Sometimes fatalities occur involving government departments or officials. A proper enquiry must therefore be done so that the public gets to know the truth and retains its trust in the government department or official.

Usually this happens because there is a public outcry over the death.

But one area where there is no public outcry is when there are fatalities as a result of khalwat (close proximity) raids.

Just recently a young man aged only 21 was found dead at the foot of his apartment building.

Apparently panicked by a raid by religious department officers, he had tried to escape through a window and fallen five floors.

Who is responsible for the death of such a young man?

When the police, in the course of their job, cause a fatal accident, they are brought to book. Their only defence would be that they were defending themselves.

But in the case of the 21-year-old, there was no aggression involved, unless one counts the fright that a group of moral police causes a young couple that we don’t know for certain were doing anything at all.

This is not the first time that young people have been put at risk because of these raids. Last New Year’s eve, religious department officers rounded up dozens of couples for allegedly committing khalwat.

In one case, a young girl, in attempting to escape, went onto a window ledge many floors high above the ground. Instead of persuading the girl to come in, the officers asked her boyfriend to coax her.

Had anything happened to her, who would have been blamed?

In other raids, people have fallen and suffered injuries. In none of these cases have any of the religious officers been held responsible or accountable for causing these injuries to happen.

Mostly that is because people are embarrassed to pursue any action against them.

But this reluctance means that these religious officers are free to act with impunity because they will never be called into account for the result of their actions.

They may say that their aim is only to prevent vice. But is there something in their job description that says that injuries and deaths of those they raid are acceptable by-products of their jobs?

Or is death considered an exemplary way to stop vice?

It is only when the victim or the victim’s family decides to take action that anyone is held accountable at all.

A few years ago a young woman sued the religious department for insulting her dignity and causing her shame in public, and won. But she is rare in her feistiness.

Most of the time, these cases pass by unnoticed. Worse still, judgments are made on their morals without them ever being able to defend themselves.

Indeed most people caught for khalwat are never asked to enter their defence. Usually they don’t have any legal representation in court, especially if they are young and poor.

Is this what moral policing means, for people to be found guilty unless proven innocent?

For people to have no recourse if they feel wrongly accused? For there to be no way to obtain compensation for injuries or even death?

People are charged in court regularly without legal representation. No auditing is ever done of the budgets of religious departments or whether they do what they are supposed to do, which apparently is to propagate religion.

But is religious propagation to be measured by how many people you catch for alleged vice?

Pretty soon there’ll be more people arrested than there are to be propagated to.

We need to get the moral police under control if we cannot ban them altogether. Never held up to account for neither their actions nor any transparency in whatever they do, they hide behind religion as justification for all sorts of misbehaviour.

Just as others are held responsible when accidents happen, religious officers must be, too. Otherwise we foster a society where it is not only impossible to have a private life but it becomes dangerous as well.