Showing posts from February, 2013

Bangkok: The Power of Choice and Change for Thai Muslims

Sweat trailing, the dust-covered forehead flushed from the humidity. My feet, unsteady almost spiritless thanks to the persistent walking and the smothering pollution of Bangkok. Perspiration grew worse as I made my way through the twisted but clean alley in Soi Pattanakarn. My Thai Muslim friends chuckled as I grumble in Bahasa Melayu while inhaling nicotine from my kretek.

We reached our destination, a house that mercifully provided shade at the front porch and the host prepared cool drinks for his friends and this worn-out guest. Cross-legged and feeling lethargic, I offered my Salaam - the traditional Islamic greeting - a smile to my host, while my fingers wrapped around the tall glass of iced coffee and the other preparing to light another kretek.

Pleasantries exchange, polite nods and within moments, we were speaking about the approaching Bangkok governor election. Posters disturbed my host, sort of a paranoia of some sort. He described to me how these posters flapped like the …

Withdrawal of Thai Troops in the ThaiSouth?

Recycled outcry and redundant demands made by people thinking themselves expert in the ThaiSouth violence.

The Student Federation of Thailand is in a delusional transition, similar to others who make outrageous claims of knowing safety concerns and security measures affecting the people living in the ThaiSouth. If the military withdraws from the three provinces, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, who would be left to safeguard the people? The police force? Against the might of the militants who are efficient in the use of assault rifles and explosives? Are there enough police, and are they trained to ward off the random ambush attacks?

Infantile, irresponsible and disgusting.

Do educated Thais think that #ThaiSouth militants would push for social integration & community building when there are no more troops?
— Zashnain Zainal (@bedlamfury) February 22, 2013
Student Federation of #Thailand called govt to withdraw troops from #ThaiSouth for peace, 555 Go bloody tell that to the militant…

ThaiSouth: Blind Faith to the Nectar of Violence

Migration. Thai Muslims making their way to peaceful settlements, living their lives away from the carnage of the deepest southern realms of Thailand. With the exception of the south Thai slang, an overlapping of Thai influences on to a rough Kelantanese-like tongue, and the scarf worn by the women folks, one can't differentiate them from the ever-growing population of Thais and foreigners in Bangkok.

The south Thai population in Bangkok are somewhat urbanized, with access to the modern infrastructure offered by the metropolis. Yet many live in the slums, scattered from one crowded settlement to another, from Khlong Toei to smaller homes near to Chong Nonsi. Poverty is naturally a concern, but many families are thankful they are away from the carnage that happens almost on a daily basis in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala

Interestingly, there is a high degree of ignorance and prejudice among many non-Muslim Thais about their countrymen from the south. Society seems uninterested, and…

People of the Sea Fighting for Their Land Rights

An ethnic minority group in Thailand is fighting to stay on waterfront land they claim is their own. 
Source: Aljazeera

Migrant Workers Subjected to Horrors in Malaysia

There are 2.3 million registered migrant workers in Malaysia, and an uncountable number of those enter the country illegally. Society is heavily dependent on the migrant community to facilitate comfort for Malaysians. The rush towards Malaysia's developed nation status by 2020 comes with a heavy price.

60,000 Cambodians work in Malaysia, providing comfort to their employers while we race for development in the corporate rat race or rushing to make ends meet in a country that suffers from an increasing standard of living. And the abuse and neglect continues.

@bedlamfury Yim got 12 yrs @ #Kajang but #Nirmala must now "prove her pain & suffering" in compo claim - already 2 yrs
— John Le Fevre (@photo_journ) February 14, 2013 John's article about Nirmala explains it all, yet barely touches on the gruesome cases of others.

Refugees in Malaysia do not have the right of identity, they are classified by the law as "illegal immigrants" - making hu…

Hunger I Endure for Life

Comfort. That consistent feeling of being in the village, taking whatever nature provides and the bounties of the sea. Fishermen coming out of their modest homes before sunrise, heading to the jetties where their boats await them. The cooling breeze with a strong taste of salt would be the element's way of greeting. After dawn, enjoying a simple meal worthy of a hungry Malaysian Minangkabau social worker, prepared by an elderly woman who's expert hands have cooked many meals in her life.

But I am not in the village, nor am I in Malaysia. Memories sweeping tonight, signs of being alone in my journey. 
I'm still in Bangkok, the urban chaos-infused metropolis where the stench of humidity blends with the diabolical smog. A shock to the senses, while the mind awakens to the painful fact that the enormous day will be filled with back-to-back traffic and an unstoppable wave of rushing people. Posters of candidates for the governor election decorate the street lampposts, a few gro…

ThaiSouth: Reinforcements Balancing with Social Development

The cabinet today approved an Interior Ministry proposal to assign 2,700 territorial defence volunteers to Thailand’s far Southto help maintain peace and security in the insurgency-plagued region.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra instructed the recruitment of southerners for the volunteer forces so that they could work closely with the southern authorities and people.

The Interior Ministry promised to dispatch the defence volunteers to the region as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, leader of the opposition Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva, called on the government, which contemplates imposing curfew in risk-prone areas in the far South, to learn from a similar lesson in 2005-2006 when curfew was declared in the South to gauge the impact of the measure. If the government believes a curfew is efficient in solving the southern unrest, it should communicate with people in the region for common understanding and acceptance, he said. 
(MCOT online news)
The security and safety of civilians is …

Bangkok, the Distant Past and Now

Old cities spark curiosity. Bangkok draws the image of neon lights, urban poverty, politicians on a frenzied war path to destroy one another, and endless terrible traffic.

I spent hours, talking to people living and working in Bangkok about the city they call home, at times a love-hate relationship for many, while others are obsessed with pushing themselves in a make-it-or-break-it end. Bangkok is a city that draws people from peculiar circumstances into the arena of urban suffocation.

People are preoccupied, those caught in a never-ending cycle of work, while others senselessly focus on the much-awaited Bangkok governor election. In a way, whoever is elected for this illustrious position wields control over a city in which the national government of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has very little authority. The system of administration of this capital city of Thailand is exceptionally unique.

Bangkok has been plagued with floods, poverty, poor infrastructure, pollution and self-i…

A Glimpse of Extreme Prejudice

Somsak Jeamtheerasakul is a professor of a Thai university. The ultra right-wing felt a need to send Somsak a message for his views on human rights. 

So what do you think?

Observing CNY in Thailand

It has been a week since I arrived in Thailand; made my way through the Malaysian-Thai border, reaching Hatyai where I met with some Thai Muslim and Buddhist friends. The topic of the day wasn't the violence in the Thai south provinces, rather they were all looking forward to the Chinese New Year. Almost similar thoughts with Malaysians, obsessed with the CNY holidays, open houses and feasts.

I actively avoided celebrating any festive seasons last year, a period of mourning and contemplation. Yet this year I look forward to living life, celebrating life and embracing the joys of living. Speaking to my friends about the CNY was refreshing, though in some ways, with some nervous hesitation of some sort.

Anyway, I managed to take a few snapshots in Bangkok today, not the usual celebratory message one would be accustomed to. To all my friends, foes, acquaintances and loved one who celebrate CNY, or merely for the sheer sake of joy at the opportunity, may you have an enlightened new y…

Re-exploring Kuala Lumpur and Melaka

I try my best to avoid visiting Kuala Lumpur, unless its for work or that urgent need to meet my friends and swap stories.

Then there was my trip to Melaka (or popularly known as Malacca among tourists) where my friend @anthraxxxx to me around. I have been to Melaka many times, yet this ancient city proves to be a delightful treasure of history and simple pleasures of exploration. And managed to convince a friend from Europe to visit. 
Nevertheless, I managed to take some pictures. 

Steering my sights to Bangkok... Again

A journey, seems I'm always on the move, if its not somewhere here then it would be somewhere there, jumping from one country to the next. Travelling doesn't bore me... not one bit though often during long trips that lethargic feeling of physical abandonment would creep upon these old bones.