Showing posts from November, 2014

South Thailand: Investing in Hope and Participation

Spike in violence in Thailand's Muslim-majority south has left thousands dead across the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, which were annexed more than a century ago by Thailand. About 6,000 people have perished, the majority civilians, since 2004.

I had the opportunity to speak to a 27-year old woman "Nik", born in Narathiwat, and works in the conflict-ravaged "deep south" (ThaiSouth) region. Before the interview, she asked for anonymity, fearing repercussion.

Full transcript:

Asalaam mualaikum. First off, do you think the violence is growing in the ThaiSouth?

Waalaikumsalaam abang Zash. The violence is becoming more aggressive. Sometimes, it happen for the purpose of revenge. Attack their opponents. Because of this, it caused the loss of life of innocent people. Many children, students, women and orang tua (elders, in Bahasa Melayu). The violence has not only cause the loss of life but also damages (to) the properties. The orphans and suicide rate due …

Bangkok Soup Kitchen For The Urban Poor

Its empowering to see young people in Bangkok conducting outreach activities, such as this soup kitchen #FoodForFriends program. Their goal is to provide food and basic health services for the homeless and the urban poor. Most-at-risk populations, particularly in the slums and roadsides, are vulnerable to malnourishment, disease, labour exploitation and violence.

I've been keeping an eye on their work for a few months, and am delighted to find that the volunteer-based program is sustainable. However it seems they face an uphill battle when it comes to empowering the majority of Thai society towards positive 'charitable' behaviour. Not to mention the lack of accountability of the 'welfare department' of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

At this point, most feel that by dropping coins into the palms of the poor would satisfy this criteria of charity. Giving loose change doesn't help in poverty reduction, but empowering yourself to volunteer in community-ba…

The Impairment of Logic: Land Rights and Identity

Defenders of ethnic Malays, or commonly referred to as Melayu in parts of Souteast Asia, are once again deluding this fantasy of their claim that they have been in the peninsula from time-immemorial. Aye, right-wing class-based delusions.

Malays at risk of becoming Red Indians if PAS, Umno don’t cooperate, warns ex-chief justice « Melayu not indigenous!
— Zashnain Zainal (@bedlamfury) November 23, 2014 Land rights, racial identity of the so-called majority are purely for championing political ideology, one that threatens the extinction of the Orang Asli populations in Malaysia.

And what of the land that #indigenous people lost to ultra nationalists? Melayu forgot history ke?
— Zashnain Zainal (@bedlamfury) November 23, 2014 The migration of "civilization" (that we are so fond of self-classifying) had pushed the Orang Asli into the hills and rugged terrains - such that the early migrants and foreign traders desired. The indigenous populations were see…

The Case for Youth Participation in Decision Making

Young people have a wealth of creativity, knowledge and experience. In most aspects, its unique to their situation, and beyond the comprehension of apprehensive adults. I see the construction of walls within the insecurity, and distrust, of age-gaps. Often, these barriers prevent others from listening, much less understand, the voices and concerns of young people.

Working with marginalized young people in a few Southeast Asian countries has enabled me to see the existence of a defective mechanism, the one we build to keep young people from having a voice, in that age-old "Be Seen, But Not Heard" practise. Preventing the youths from co-developing policies with the government, to discouraging their involvement in sorting out challenges in civil society, at most the adult-structure institution provides tokenism in its effort to keep the young from excitability.

There is a refusal to recognize and endorse the legitimacy of participation, of their contribution to decision-making,…

The Public Manifestation of Dissent

In 2012, Isa Ibrahim and I observed a rally of a large group of folks, for a few days in fact, in front of the Government House. My cousin was amazed to see daily peaceful protests in the heart of Thailand, so unlike Malaysia. Then the country was administered by prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Majority of the demonstrators, more than a thousand strong, came from the north and descended on Bangkok seeking Yingluck's intervention on their concerns of land. Some criticized the government for not quickly reforming land policies, which affected rural population and the environment.

Land rights, landless, homeless and the poor. In the end, Yingluck went to the demonstrators to collect the petition, amidst brief applause and some cheering from her supporters. 
Now, in 2014, post-coup Thailand. Yingluck is out of the political scene. General Prayuth Chan-ocha is the undisputed, self-appointed prime minister. Martial law, and the obvious delay of returning to democracy has created poc…

Conquest of Paradise

Fundamental extremism, a topic that makes the headlines though one that appears to have left very little impact on the prevailing current of behaviours. A gifted, educated middle-class Malaysian society, that enjoys the economic luxuries, thanks to rapid transformation from agriculture-based community to a heightened corporate-conscious population. Yet, within this complex illusion of peace and tolerance, the multi-racial country is struggling for identity as groups rush for social, economical and political dominance.

Aye, there are no short cuts to achieving a culture of acceptance, particularly with lingering and at times the dominating institutional ideology that smacks of so-called "governance" through what we perceive as a valiant attempt to instil morality and racial supremacy. Perhaps people have forgotten of the numerous raids, detention of Shia Muslims, all in the name of a puritanical exercise. Is this Islam?
Shia Muslims have been targeted in a campaign spearheaded…