Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How the hell did he get one of those???

Listening to: Swordfishtrombones - Tom Waits

Dato' Nik Sapeia got into a little trouble several months back when he was charged with discharging pepper spray in the general direction of former Malaysian Prime Minister & National Supreme Overlord Dr. Mahathir several months back. If I met this guy, there will be three questions I'd like to ask him:

1. Did you do it? And why?

2. How much in road tax are you paying for your Cadillac limo?

3. Can I have your auto dealer's contact?

Ok, that was four questions.

Dato' Sapeia turned up for his court hearing in this... a Cadillac limousine with a 7.5L engine:

"Ya see, the horsey pulls the limo. Thats what I call REAL Horsepower.
D'ya know how much I save in petrol?"
(Pic from the Sta)

Probably the only Cadillac limo in all of Malaysia. I'm sure that would impress the judge in his trial.

And as for me, nope, I'm not planning to get a stretchhhhhhhh limo or anything like that... I'll leave those vehicles to luxury hotels and airports. Besides, it'll be a pain in the ass to park in my apartment's lot.

Rather, I'd be curious to know from his dealer how much for a right-hand drive 1961 Oldsmobile 88.

A couple of photos of my fave car. Color would come in dark blue...
(Courtesy to Larry for the first pic)

Yep folks, this 24-year old's dream car is a 2 door Oldsmobile 88... not a a Porsche, Ferrari (especially the Enzo, which looks like two car vacuums welded together), Merc, Beemer, or those sweet Japanese sportscars my peers all lust after. Yea Yea Yeah(s)... go ahead... feel free to call me crazy... although I prefer the term "unconventional".

On the other side last week's been busy for me, hence no posts for that time being. Last weekend was spent at the European Film Festival at Gurney, and a screening session of short movies at Han Chiang college. 'Twas at this screening where a couple of my pals and I bumped into Tan Chui Mui, producer of last year's critically acclaimed "Chemman Chaalai". Her latest work, "Love Conquers All" recently won an award at the Pusan International Film Festival and will be released on local screens December 21st, or thats what she said...

I had a small chat with her and her colleagues regarding the local independent movie scene, future plans and work, and the assorted challenges they face including from those inactive hippos at the Malaysian National Film Development Board (FINAS). Hey, did you notice their website is being upgrade (sic)? Crucial to this discussion were plans to expand and improve the little alternative film club we had formed a month ago (and already had two screenings)

Earlier this Tuesday, I read a little article about her in the Berita HAIRAN. Which is somewhat "hairan" (Transl: confusing) given the newspaper's hostility toward non-mainstream film directors. The photo in the paper had her in the same olive green tshirt we saw her in that weekend.

Oh yes, trailer for "Love Conquers All"...


* * * * * * * *

Bonus link... and definetely unrelated to the stuff above: Music video by Regina Spektor...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nineteen Eighty Four, Chapter 5

Listening to: (Miniluv unallow music to resume goodthink fullwise)


The preparations for Hate Week were in full swing, and the staffs of all the Ministries were working overtime. Processions, meetings, military parades, lectures, waxworks, displays, film shows, telescreen programmes all had to be organized; stands had to be erected, effigies built, slogans coined, songs written, rumours circulated, photographs faked. Julia's unit in the Fiction Department had been taken off the production of novels and was rushing out a series of atrocity pamphlets. Winston, in addition to his regular work, spent long periods every day in going through back files of The Times and altering and embellishing news items which were to be quoted in speeches. Late at night, when crowds of rowdy proles roamed the streets, the town had a curiously febrile air. The rocket bombs crashed oftener than ever, and sometimes in the far distance there were enormous explosions which no one could explain and about which there were wild rumours.

The new tune which was to be the theme-song of Hate Week (the Hate Song, it was called) had already been composed and was being endlessly plugged on the telescreens. It had a savage, barking rhythm which could not exactly be called music, but resembled the beating of a drum. Roared out by hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it was terrifying. The proles had taken a fancy to it, and in the midnight streets it competed with the still-popular 'It was only a hopeless fancy'. The Parsons children played it at all hours of the night and day, unbearably, on a comb and a piece of toilet paper. Winston's evenings were fuller than ever. Squads of volunteers, organized by Parsons, were preparing the street for Hate Week, stitching banners, painting posters, erecting flagstaffs on the roofs, and perilously slinging wires across the street for the reception of streamers. Parsons boasted that Victory Mansions alone would display four hundred metres of bunting. He was in his native element and as happy as a lark. The heat and the manual work had even given him a pretext for reverting to shorts and an open shirt in the evenings. He was everywhere at once, pushing, pulling, sawing, hammering, improvising, jollying everyone along with comradely exhortations and giving out from every fold of his body what seemed an inexhaustible supply of acrid-smelling sweat.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Beautiful Junk...

Um... wrong, that ain't me. My hair isn't that spiky...

Listening to: I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One - Yo La Tengo

The area between Birch Street, The Jetty, and Penang Road is one of winding streets with crumbling pre-war shophouses. Many buildings here lie abandoned, the symptom of urban decay in Penang's post-Rent Control Act years. Repeal of the act years ago left many folks unable to afford the huge jump in rental, forcing them to move elsewhere. Smack in the middle is Armenian Street's Galeri Seni Mutiara, a shophouse refurbished into an art gallery. Last Saturday's "Beautiful Junk" would be held there.

For those of you and me who are unfamiliar, Beautiful Junk is an alternative art + music exhibition held yearly in Penang. Location varies. I had been distributing some flyers for this event at my workplace's cafeteria... hopefully, one or two from another department turned up.

It was only around 5:20PM that I arrived at the gallery; I had parked in front of the old graveyard near Upper Penang Road was. This mistake was due to be being told earlier that the gallery was "near Chulia Street"... in reality it would be a 15 minute walk all the way to Armenian. Once I got there, the band Nao was already playing. Also, those Damned Dirty Apes had cancelled their appearance... Pedram et all.

The narrow but long shophouse-art gallery was packed with various types of Penang hipsters, a number of them in the standard black tshirt with slogan or bandname and a few with those black thick-framed glasses. One guy, back against the wall, was going Interpol/My Chemical Romance-style in black with red tie. Not bad, though that must be pretty stuffy here. Poster prints of various artworks, mostly in the neo pop art style were hanging in mid air around the gallery. In the middle, was the band "Nao" halfway through another song. I stepped outside again to roll a cig, chat with the folks of "Panic Overdrive" who had finished some time ago, and escape the humidity inside for awhile...

Probably my favourite poster amongst the works...

Talked with a friend of mine who I had earlier failed to notice sitting in the corner. Now living in Malaysia for the time being, she used to be among the management of a nightspot in the States back in the 70s-80s that attracted lots of punk rock acts & other period rock groups. The Clash, Ramones, Lou Reed, Sex Pistols, Bob Dylan, etc. etc. etc.... seen them all live. In fact, its probably easier to ask who she had NOT seen. You gotta give a lotta respect to someone like that...

When it came to Citizens Of Ice Cream's turn, it had started to rain. And then...

On that chair in the middle is the biggest cassette tape you've seen, balanced above a puddle of water and a nasty electrical shock

You see, the stage area was once an airwell before they roofed the top over. What still remained was the drainpipe that served to discharge rainwater from the roof onto the floor, before being carried out through a small drainage hole. As it was raining heavily, our stage had started to flood.

Electricity and water isn't a very wise combination... especially when you have hi-powered amps and mixers on the stagefloor.

Eager not to let some water fuck up their plans, the guys of Ice Cream & the helpful hipsters/semi-hipsters proceeded to do a nifty balancing act of cables and amplifiers on chairs plus moving the whole drumkit to the higher floor. Then it back to rocking... with space-rock.

The show must go on...

I chatted with Rizal and Lina from Paku who had arrived sometime at 7 o'clock and were readying their gear on the staircase. They were slotted in after a metal/trash-metal band which was now pounding and screaming the stage fullblast. My ears don't really have a taste for metal, and the neighbor in the shoplot next door OBVIOUSLY was allergic to it. After a good 30 minutes of heavy metal, she had a good talk with the gallery manager and... uh... threatened to call the police over the noise. The show already had a visit from some disapproving cops earlier in the afternoon and had passed the gentleman's agreement made with the neighbor to stop at around 8PM. The organizers decided to end the gig immediately before the neighbor got fed-up and called the cops to show up... perhaps with a paddy wagon in tow and several "Hairan Metro" trashporters eager for their next "Black Metal/Punk" frontpage scoop & goat sacrifices.

The tabloids will somehow put a goat in these pictures. A black goat

The plan was to adjourn to Church Street Cafe to continue the gig. Once I got there however, it seems the owner there was unwilling to let them play, even under the banner of an open-mike-night, as as he didn't have a permit and didn't want to play dice by sweetalking any cops who came for a visit. At least he led Paku play, if only for several songs. After them, I guess we could officially call Beautiful Junk 2006 closed for the day...

* * *

Anyway, I won't be surprised if the posters ended up on some future indie artiste(s) album cover...

The guys of "Nao"

"Paku" at C.S.C.

Lina from Paku, with bro Rizal on far left...

More pictures can be seen at:


http://public.fotki.com/bjunk/beautiful-junk-2007/ (Posters)

The bands that came:

Citizens Of Ice Cream

Nao -- (No English/Malay translation?)



Panic Overdrive

...and many more...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My new cubicle is like a low-cost flat, and I believe you have my stapler...

Listening to: Nickel Creek - Nickel Creek

Last Friday the whole department moved to a new office space in a faraway corner of the building. Is it any better for us? Lets do a comparison:

Old Cubicle=

pros - big space
cons - noisier, boss cubicle is just behind me in full view, sharing with 3 people

New Cubicle=

cons - still sharing with 3 other people, smaller
pros - its small alright, but its cozier. More privacy, and its closer to the cafeteria. Plus, you get your own desklamp.

The new smell still hasn't gone away yet...

Anyhow, more updates on last week's Beautiful Junk tommorow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Note To The Americans...

Listening to: (see below)

Anyway, before I start...

If you ever do any of the following:

1. Drive at night down the streetlit roads of a city, any city be it Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Chicago, New York, or even Penang...


2. Relax at night on your sofa, with a glass of Jack+Coke/Jager+Sprite/Gin+Tonic/50-50 Apple Juice+Sprite (if you don't drink).

...then a good album to listen to would be Interpol's 'Turn On The Bright Lights', or 'Antics'.

Back to the topic. If any of you Americans are reading this, I'd like to congratulate you all on the recent win of the Democrats in the recent election. You folks sure taught those Republicans and the Bush-Dick duo a lesson. You know... those guys who have held power for too long and had gotten drunk with it.

I was in the States from 2000 until last year and was in the midst of the '04 Presidential elections where sadly... Kerry lost (you folks should've stuck with Dean). I could still remember the dejection of my American pals... who along with me acting as a "foreign observer", had gathered in a friend's dormitory room that day to watch the results... along with bags of doritos and beer/soda. The concentration of disappointment of 11 odd people cramped in a dirty 15X10ft room was overwhelming.

By the way, as fucked up your electoral system is, at least you have a good chance of removing arrogant, lousy politicians who abuse their power. I would like to borrow it for a little while. You see, we have a little problem in Malaysia.... no wait, make it a big problem. For example, we have a councillor in my hometown who built a big massive mansion without registering it... on land cheaply obtained somehow through devious means. Instead of punishing him and demanding he resigns all his political positions, the Toyol has decided to go easy on him. Now that the media circus has moved on to the Mongolian explosion (which has nothing to do with a sudden interest in Genghis Khan), it appears he's gonna get away with it.

We also had another politician who blatantly interfered with Customs after they withheld the shipment of some merchandise imported by his own company. And he had also complained publicly that the Customs had at one time, refused to reserve the best luxury cars for him to buy... at a very cheap price. All this complaining about not getting the nice things in life which he wants, while forgetting that he was elected firstplace to serve the people.

These two are just the tip of the iceberg... there are many people like these in government; from the seats in Parliament to the city councils. And perhaps the universities too.

While in the States, I've seen Governors, aldermans, city council representatives, senators, (but not Presidents, sadly) step down immediately after their shenanigans were exposed. But not so in Malaysia, where they make all sorts of lame excuses and hope the furor will pass before the next election, where the electorate would have hopefully forgotten about it and start voting with their checkbooks in mind.

So we need to clean house. Any chance we could borrow your system for awhile? Please?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Last Sunday's Silibin Incident, As Told With Owls

Last Sunday a fake text message spread like wildfire regarding a Sunday baptism in Silibin, Perak. The incident can be read here and here. I've decided to retell this story in a different manner instead.

Let us start...

Photos taken by Amit Dutta, Pieter Mullen, and various other owl-shooters....

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm not a fan of Kylie Minogue, but...

...I couldn't think of a better song to listen to get into the mood while writing this piece.

Beware of butts and hotpants, bytheway....

You see, the past week or so has been pretty interesting in Malaysian politics and local news in particular. If Sesame Street (or Taman Sesame) were to film an episode for this week, it oughta be brought to you by the word "Spin" and the letter "S" (as in aSS). Spin is particularly prevalent over here when it comes to the fine art of PR, and its used to basically portray events and facts so it will be favorable (hopefully) for your subject, even though it actually isn't.

Say for example, you got into a shitstorm for selecting your brother, sister, 2nd sister, sister-in-law, and 3rd uncle's brother twice-removed to management positions in your huge corporate firm. The shareholders are pissed at this nepotism especially since all of them has zilch experience in the corporate world. You and your Spin Doctors (not the band) can always say that "there aren't anyone else as qualified", or "you believe that so-and-so" has potential. Present facts/excuses to support your stance, while covering up the negatives. In Malaysia, use of ad-hominems and red herrings are accepted.

Of course, even the best Spin Doctors can't match the power of the Newspaper Editor. Having one of these guys as a minion will do a great boost for your image (or lack thereof) than the best PR execs money can buy.

Anyho, I'm gonna recap on three events that happened recently. Like anything nowadays, the amount of PR bullshit can also be summed into a rating of 5-stars max. Instead of using stars, I'm gonna use various pics of washing machines as it would be MUCH more appropriate. Keep in mind these are going by Malaysian standards, which like the cigarettes, are stronger than those used in the EU and US.

No washer: Guy's telling the truth. Corollary: The person is not a politician.

One washer: A little PR bullshitting being used.

Two washers: Your lawyer's doing the talking

Three washers: "Oral sex is not adultery"

Four: Your lawyer's doing the talking, in circles. And you'vehired someone from a Public Relations firm

Five: Full Spin Cycle. Not even Johnny Cochran can save you from this mess, dude...

Event One: Nobody expects the Malaysian Inquisition! Especially at 2AM!

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Randal Barnhart. A retired Caucasian couple from the United States, they've decided to settle down in Malaysia. Were they trying to escape the ever numbing idiocy of the Bush-Dick duo? Doubtful, since Malaysia would least likely be a final destination for anyone fleeing the hairbrained antics of politicians.

Anyway, the Barnharts were rudely woken in the early hours by an unexpected visit... not from the Spanish Inquisition, but from some Islamic officials knocking violently on their apartment door. For those who don't know, Malaysia has a state-sanctioned Islamic Department that sees themselves fit to police the faith and morality of the local Muslims. Something like Saudi Arabia's muttaween, just not as extreme. Part of their work includes going door to door to Muslim households... busting unmarried couples as they go. Their jurisdiction fortunately doesn't apply to nonMuslims, especially Caucasians with the surname Barnhart. Well, upon seeing the very-white Randal who had opened the door after his repeated assertations that they were Christians, the goons must've been shocked to catch a very angry Mat Salleh instead of a Mat Ahmad. But instead of apologizing for the disturbance, they further demanded to "see his woman", and after getting an eyeful of his also-Caucasian wife clad only in a sarong, the goons next wanted to see their marriage cert. I won't be any more surprised if they next wanted the duo to recite the Lord's Prayer to prove they were really Christians, but I guess that would mean exposing themselves to 'kafir' and 'syirik' incantations. Which might mean they may start praising Jesus, Mary, or The Jesus And Mary Chain.

The next few days, the Tourism Ministry got wind of this and are now um... "looking into it". However, the State Religious Department instead turned on their washing machines, claiming their goons were following procedures during the raid. Yes, "we were following procedures..." says they...

Ahem, Memo to the theofascists... Always check beforehand who fucking lives there before you go in for a raid. You can't go around busting nonMuslims as friendly fire who do not fall under your jurisDicktion.

I'm reminded of a similar case where a friend from church was fined by the Selangor religious department for eating during Ramadhan. Although she was a nonMuslim Serani (those of Portugese descent), the theofascists still proceeded to write a summons even after viewing her IC. What the fuck?! Up today she refuses to settle the fine, (and it should remain so) as a little monument to the brainlessness of the religious officials.

Now I wonder if such abuses of power was highlighted only recently since it happened to a white Mat Salleh couple? How many nonMuslims have become "collateral damage" to these roving religious Kempetai, especially those who "look Muslim"?

As for the Barnharts, they've decided to abort their stay in Malaysia after being overwhelmed by such elements as fear and surprise. I'm sure their friends, associates, ex-colleagues, and relatives are keen on visiting Malaysia upon hearing their tales. Guess I can't really fault my pal from Minessota for her being afraid to visit our country...

I've decided to rate this 3 Washing Machines for the excuses coming out from the state of Kedah's religious dept.

Event Two: "Its 1984 already!" ~ Tun Dr. M

In the latest Livejournal drama between Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi and Mahathir, the latter has accused Badawi of turning Malaysia into a Police State. Also included are accusations that Chief Rempit No.1 @ First Son-In-Law has been receiving business favors. Well, hate to break it to you sir but Malaysia has already been a Police State since the late 70s, or mid-80s at latest. You're just a little 20 years late in your observations. The signs were alrea..... Hey, waaaait a minute! Isn't this the same Mahathir who I remembered, did the following?
  • Ordered Operasi Lallang where scores of social workers, politicians, activists, educators were arrested and detained (including ol-dinosaur Lim Kit Siang)
  • Detained various people under the ISA during his tenure. Criticize the government? Go To Jail. Do NOT pass go and collect RM200
  • Kicked out his dissenting deputy and just like in an Internet Forum (where you're called a fag if you disagree with some 13-year old boy on an online discussion) ... labelled him a homosexual with false charges of sodomy thrown at him.
  • Muzzled the press, controlled its editors, removed anyone who showed the slightest sign of disloyalty, and turned newspapers into his political attack dogs.
  • Helped foster an environment where corporate and political corruption thrived in Malaysia during the 80s to 90s, until in 1997 when the bubble burst.

A lame duck the present PM is, but I doubt folks will easily forget Dr.M's shenanigans above during his tenure. No one's allowed to criticize the PM, perhaps... but that was indeed the case when Mahathir was in power. Anwar, Salleh Abbas, and Old Dinosaur Lim found out the hard way. Hey, at least no one's gonna throw you into ISA like you did with hundreds of folks, and you can still keep your advisory positions...

4 Washing Machines. Malaysia mungkin mudah lupa, but we still remember.

Event Three: Dato. Zak's Palatial Palace of Pandamaran

Klang Bandar Di Raja is known to have one of the richest Municipal Councils in the state. Growing up there, I recall all those annual "beautification projects" repeatedly done always to spruce up the city, where healthy decorative plants, trees and flowers planted last year would be torn up again by the same ol landscaping contractor. However, little cash was spent to help address the ever rising crime rate, poor bus and taxi system, flooding risks in low-lying areas, and the holey roads that were blessed with Immaculate Potholes. Instead, we got:

  • The council building decorated to look like a casino, complete with a green-domed gazebo on the roof. I bet it houses a jacuuzi where the councillor can soak in with a bikini girl or three.
  • A food court built on the hulk of the old Fort Bridge, over the stinking Klang river. Now, I know Malaysians have this notorious trait of eating anywhere even in a crumbling filthy shophouse, but no one was willing to dine over a river polluted with sewage, industrial chemicals, and the occasional drowning/murder victim from upstream. So, the whole project was a waste... several million ringgit in all. Who the hell did they hire as our town planner?!
  • Several horses to... don't laugh... fight crime. RM 250,000 in all. Andrew Sia has a good article on this which he also published in The Star newspaper.
  • And various other pork-barrel projects for their contractors and supporters

Meet Dato Zakaria Md. Deros, the former Councillor of Klang now awaiting re-elec... I mean selection to another term in office. The former railroad crossing keeper and two other relations have been "chosen" to fill various posts in the city council. Tis the year of the in-laws. Not just that, it was also revealed that he had constructed a 4-floor mega McMansion in Pandamaran. Without approval. On government land that had been alienated to his wife. Oh boy!

Dato. Zak's McMansion, complete with penis extension on the roof.
Note: Single floor dwellings of the lowly rakyat of Klang in foreground
(pic from The Star Online)

Oh yea, did I mention he also had a separate satay restaurant built without approval? And illegally on state land?

Not pleased at Zak was the Sultan of Selangor, and he was summoned to explain such nonsense. Zak instead declined, citing health reasons but he was found to be taking a vacation over at his hideaway in Malacca . And any PR bullshitting Zak did was undone by his capos' and minions who assaulted a crowd of protesters that had gathered in front of his McMansion.

BrightEyes: It is claimed racial slurs were tossed about by Zak's minions. [1] [2]

Ok, this really PO-ed the Sultan and Don Zak was this time ordered to the palace where the Sultan had some advice for him. Frankly, the Sultan's advice to the Don could be put this way...

As for his illegal McMansion, the penalty is death... for the house, of course. You see, illegally built structures are by law supposed to demolished. But the Klang Council only tears down building extensions, houses, stalls, built by nobodies, not million buck castles built by Big Men. When confronted about what to do with the mansion, Selangor Chief Minister Dato Dr. Mohd Khir Toyo only had this to say:

“I have been told I must be fair; to act without fear or favour. If so, then these properties and building extensions are also subject to demolition,” Dr Khir told reporters yesterday.

“Such properties include temples and even the headquarters of political parties. If I go strictly by the book instead of taking into account public interest and racial harmony, imagine the outcry if I were to execute the demolition orders.”

Ah yes, a "friendly government" to the rakyat. Would you like some fabric softener before the next spin cycle Dato?

Perhaps Khir Toyo(l) is right. We shouldn't demolish the mansion. Thats a big waste of resources & manpower. Instead, lets take this suggestion from KC Lee, a reader of The Star; Seize the property and turn it to a library for the Pandamaran area. Speaking of libraries (or lack thereof) in Klang, do you know our present City Library is a tiny single floor building opposite the Convent School? I'm sure we could always have another one. Actually, we could have at least 4 total, serving the various areas and housing estates of Klang. Thats better than spending money on useless road decorations, horses, and that non-functional decorative wall by the Klang river.

5 Washing Machines over this pathetic wishy-washy attempt by these Selangor politicians.

PS: A attorney friend of mine was part of a legal team sent to negotiate with Klang council's top-brass. He mentioned that Zak was a very "interesting" character.