29 December 2011

The silly season is already on us and no doubt will be a fractious and prolonged one going into 2012.

IT’S the end of the year and, like everyone else, I’m going to try and summarise what made it an interesting year indeed.

Time magazine named The Protester as its Person of the Year in 2011.

I couldn’t agree more, because really few people have made an impact on society than protesters this year.

From the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and Syria to the Occupy Wall Street protesters and its many offshoots, these largely peaceful protests have forced things to change in their societies.

In the Middle East, corrupt and authoritarian leaders have been forced to step down. In some, it’s still an ongoing battle.

Of course, these steps towards democracy are not perfect. Nor are the results.

But that’s democracy for you.

Just because people don’t know what they want is no reason to dismiss democracy.

It is the fact that they finally have choices is the triumph, after so many years of not having any.

For those who insist on equating the London riots with the Arab Spring, do get your facts right.

The former was not about changing an authoritarian government for a more democratic one, nor was it meant to be peaceful.

The latter was a peaceful demand for change; the violence came from the government response.

If you want to equate the London riots with the Syrian government’s response, perhaps it would be more accurate.

Time magazine has mostly recognised the Arab, Spanish and American protesters in their essay.

But perhaps they should have also looked eastwards.

I think the Bersih rally goers, protesting peacefully for clean and fair elections, are also deserving of the award.

For the first time, ordinary Malaysians went out to demand what should be their right, to be able to vote fairly.

Young and old of all races and religions, Malaysians marched to protect this basic human right. And were demonised because of it.

While the Government responded to the Bersih demands by establishing the Parliamentary Special Committee on electoral reforms, at the same time the so-called Peaceful Assembly Act – aimed at curbing any other rallies like Bersih – was passed.

In any case, it is delusional to think that curbing protests will curb rebellious thoughts. These will continue to thrive in 2012, that’s for sure.

Perhaps 2011 was also the year of the Strong Woman.

On the international scene, not one but three women won the Nobel Peace Prize this year: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Leymah Gbowee, also of Liberia, and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, the youngest-ever recipient.

It’s interesting that all of these women are rebellious women, who refused to accept the established, and patriarchal, way of doing things.

Instead, they found their own way, and worked for peace in their countries.

Malaysia, too, has its share of strong women. Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan is the prime example of someone who has had to withstand personal attacks from all quarters like no other person has had to in our country, yet still carries on with her strong principles.

Let it never be said that she lacks courage.

For women to get ahead, it really is imperative that they have the sort of integrity and display the sort of ethical behaviour that we often find lacking in men.

This year is, of course, also the year of the Obedient Wives Club, hardly a great leap forward for womankind.

Nevertheless, the OWC knew exactly how to get publicity for their causes.

And, I suspect, despite the sniggers over their sex manual, there are many who actually agree with their basic premise, that a good wife is one who blindly obeys her husband even when she doesn’t feel like it.

Finally, this year has been a bad year for justice and equality.

Children born less than six months after their parents married are considered illegitimate, thus forcing them to bear the sins of their parents.

Even if legitimate, children can be married off at even 10 years old, surely a blight on our society if we are to consider ourselves progressive.

Muslim women still don’t have the same rights as their non-Muslim sisters when it comes to marriage, property and inheritance.

And people of different sexual orientations are not regarded as full citizens.

I’d like to be optimistic about 2012 but that does not look likely.

The silly season is already on us and no doubt will be a fractious and prolonged one.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, folks!

07 December 2011

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 7, 2011
Gimme, seems to be the easiest word

In a land of opportunity for all, people should remember John F. Kennedy’s famous words: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

THIS is going to be one long sigh of exasperation, folks. I get like this when I think of my country sometimes and despair at the sheer shallowness of how we talk about her.

How, amid protestations of how much we love her, we insist on treating her with such disdain and thoughtlessness that in fact we are ruining her every day.

Once upon a time we used to talk about our country and what we could do for it. We used to think that what John F. Kennedy said – “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” – was so admirable.

We wanted to make our country so good that we could hold our heads up high anywhere in the world. Instead, all we hear these days is what can I get from this country, how can I get rich off this country.

While this should be a country of opportunity for all, why is there this attitude that this country owes us a living? Indeed, some of us think that we are entitled to be cosseted and pampered to the nth degree for as long as we live.

When I was little, my aunt gave us children a book that taught us about how to be good people. Basically, it meant expelling from our vocabulary two phrases: “Give Me”, and “I Couldn’t Care Less”.

People who used these phrases often were selfish people who were not considerate of others; indeed, thought the whole world was only about them. We learnt that it was better to give to others than to take, and to always care about other people.

So my jaw has to drop to the floor when I read the papers these days, and almost all that anyone says is “Give Me” and “I Couldn’t Care Less”.

“Give me,” they say, even though they have done nothing to earn it and even though it will bring ruin to the country. When asked to consider the feelings of others, basically they show a finger and say that they could not care two hoots.

Obviously nobody gave them the same book.

It’s hard enough to teach values to our children these days without adults showing every day in our papers and on TV that they have none at all.

How do I teach my children that nothing comes without hard work and discipline, and that consideration for others is not just a value but a duty as a human being?

As a little girl, I was taught one of the biggest sins was telling lies. Nothing made God angrier, it was drilled into me, than telling untruths, especially about other people. To this day, I cannot fib much, not even about my age or weight.

But nowadays people tell such blatant lies. You can always tell when a person is lying; they always feel the need to shout it out, as if sheer volume makes it truthful.

I’ve never known people with clear consciences to ever be anything but calm. So you watch this lying and you have to wonder how come their parents didn’t scare them to death about God as mine did?

Of course you only tell lies because you think that people will actually believe them. Which means that you think that such people are fools.

And indeed they often live up to the label. The astounding thing is, why are there so many of them? Are there absolutely no smart people around?

People who see through all this, and say something about it, are somehow made to feel as if they are unpatriotic.

Just because we don’t buy into the improbable stories, we are not playing by the rules. Of course, nobody wonders if the rules are good in the first place.

Actually, rules have been broken a great deal in these past few years. The rules of simple civility, for one, are long gone. I used to think of my people as the gentlest, most polite people on earth.

Until I saw a video of a meeting with much shouting and screaming, and someone pulling a chair from under an old man. We don’t censure behaviour like this, but we tut-tut at people kissing. Go figure.

I struggle to teach my children to be kind to others, to mind their manners, to never emulate those who are doing things that are wrong.

I tell them that whether it’s five ringgit or five million ringgit, if they take what’s not theirs, it’s called stealing. And if they make up stories that can cause harm to others, they must own up and apologise.

But when adults are the ones doing these things, what do I tell them?