Showing posts from January, 2014

Of Joblessness and Poverty, Riddled with Concerns

Hot, humid, that leaves me sticky to touch, and wet from the trailing sweat down my neck. Met a friend at a lonely jetty, about 11km from Sungai Pelek in the state of Selangor.
Still the same stories, shared by people, of revealing rural hardship and the fuckery of Malaysia's so-called development for the poor. Yes some things have changed, for the worse, like the high cost of living, forcing those who depend on the fruits of their labour to make more sacrifices. Malaysia, outwardly at least, appear to be a successful 'developed' nation in southeast Asia, yet far from the truth, as rural folks struggle with the farms, livestock and their small plot of agricultural land.
Fishermen face similar challenges. Rural poverty affects their spouse, parents, siblings and children. Education, or the lack of quality in the national curriculum, doesn't guarantee stability of jobs, as one young woman in her late-20s mentioned to me, "I have a local degree in communication, and…

From Siam with Love

Haze, that dreaded smog stifling the mega-city Bangkok as it was at Malaysia's poorly maintained LCCT airport. The plane landed safely, though the flight was dotted with turbulence, and a two-hour lethargy. Travelling the usual route back and forth, since 2011, brought about older memories of overseas relief work and adventures.
The driver from the airport took me to a wrong turn, and with apologies he managed to steer the vehicle to Sungai Pelek, my intended destination. An old town where you can easily find rural plantation workers, farmers, fishermen and an assortment of characters from the city or from distant states. Nothing impressive about Sungai Pelek though I usually found similarities of the small town square and wet market as those in the southern provinces of Thailand, the towns of western Indonesia and Cambodia. It's the same, and I constantly welcomed the familiar sights of rural southeast Asia.
Even at night, some familiar faces of villagers living in some hous…

PDRC's failed attempt to "Shutdown" a Thai Mosque and School

PDRC's tried to "shutdown" a mosque and Islamic school in Thailand's Trang province.

[View the story "PDRC fails to shutdown a Thai mosque and school" on Storify]

And the situation, the horror in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

[View the story "Momentum of Terror: escalating violence in ThaiSouth" on Storify]

Abandoned Dreams, Hovered About Her

Conscious production of natural elements, is countered by the wastage; deterioration of our casual desires we grasp at a reality burdened with this erroneous perception... a perception deceived by the thrill of materialistic embrace, indeed such casual talk, a glance into the netherworld of fancy.

Light diminishing in intensity, there is no trace of bitterness in her motions. Her work, unnoticed by the sprawling profanity of this city, in slow steady gestures, the heavy shrug of shoulders while those hands clenching the thick stick. Then pausing briefly, she breathes, adding the stench of foul air into her tired lungs.

She goes about, as always, seeking to clear the misery of our discarded, old dreams.

Last Gasp of Reason, the Beginning of Malignity

A swarm of insects obscured the street light deep in a godforsaken narrow road, off the main street, Arkhan Songkhro. I see Bangkok laborers returning to their cramped houses, while others visit the street vendor, a husband-wife team, who sold spicy Isaan food and cheap Thai alcohol. Plastic chairs and tables are arranged neatly. The night grows chiller, while the laborers laughed softly among themselves at a private joke.

Bangkok has seen tough times these days, with the whiplash from within the terror-inspired protesters of Suthep Thaugsuban, and the presence of the whistling bourgeois, encouraging their southern distant kin to provocation. Hell, it is a political chess game to the lot, when the ultras are far too eager, and confident to step on the heads of the ostracized, the rural folks from the northern provinces.

Utter "Yingluck" or "Thaksin" without the usual feverish contempt, or without the venom-tone, and the flush will appear on their faces as suddenly …

The Curse of the Dream, The Cloud of Loss in Rural Malaysia

Humidity clouds the air. Aye, I'm back in the palm oil plantations for a visit back to a part of my family roots. Tall majestic trees and a hastily dug pit filled with stagnant oily water, a visual from a dark scenery of some forgotten feudal war movie.
Folks living near Sungai Pelek, whether at the makeshift jetty or the plantations, are sturdy folks. "Kampung" (village) people with livelihoods tied to the sea and farms. Many are still struggling against the tide of development, that wishful curse of capitalism and promises of a better life.
I see and meet some who have tasted the better life, here and there. Though all are submerged in the terrible price hike, the high cost of living. Housing has always been a concern, land is growing unaffordable while the cost of food has jumped beyond their means. Poverty is common, particularly in rural Malaysia. Any educated fool, sitting in a comfortable office in Kuala Lumpur, would know this as reality but most urban folks pre…

Furtherance of the Cruel Face of Thai Fascism

Suthep Thaugsuban announced that Monday, January 13 as the start of his shutdown campaign of Bangkok, this capitalistic heart of Thailand. His face, along with a handful of ambitious opportunists, strikes a cord in society. It's now all about rioting until common sense and conventional wisdom of democracy dies.
Fascism in Thailand has a bold leader. It's also about Bangkok and the whims of the Thai urban middle class and elites, along with hard muscle from the south.
The shutdown, based on urban educated perceptions are meant as a show of power. Particularly a grand display of street violence, thuggery and propaganda spin. This campaign is meant to force the rest of Thailand that the February 2 election must stop to make way for Suthep's self elected council to lord over the masses. So-called reform in the name of rights has been the backbone of Suthep's puritan mission.
Blackmailing Thailand into submission is acceptable based on the desires of the opposition groups, …