Monday, May 17, 2010

Sibu - Stand Up and Be Counted

Caution - long rambling post ahead :)

For as long as I can recall, the people I share a place called home with had always had an independent streak. Coming to Sibu out from the famine and poverty in China, the first generation of Sibu folks knew they had to rely on themselves to build new lives in a remote jungle in the middle of Borneo island.

And build they did. From barbers to tailors to farmers, each one toiled patiently and ceaselessly, was thrifty with their money and gradually accumulated wealth for their next generation. They ensured their children have the best education, and any old folk you meet in town today will probably have at least one child who went to university, some even to overseas.

Most of them were also God fearing, the pioneers of the town having been in contact with Christianity.

And so, they owed no one for their lives, and apparently someone forgot to tell BN that in the last few weeks. Gifts and grants are all well and fine, but to tell Sibu folks to be grateful (?!) and to return the favour was just laughable politics.

Sure, there were issues that needed the government's intervention, such as flooding and land lease renewal premiums, but they had been disappointed by the government so many times in the past few decades that when the goodies finally came, there was just a muted response.

In the recent vote, they had been given an opportunity to say something, and I have to say that unlike many of the Semenanjung folks, they did.

As I looked at the results streaming in on the Malaysiakini website last night, my thoughts turned to those hardworking folks of Sibu, recalling the faces that I saw whenever I wandered around town. In their wisdom, they had looked beyond the cynical and destructive politics of West Malaysia, and sent a loud and clear message - we are standing up to be counted.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


My three year old is a sponge.

The other day while watching tv, when the adverts came on, she casually rattled off the names of the tv series being promoted - "Pao Tai Yan" (Justice Pao), "Ah Sien", "Jiat Pa Pa".

That got my attention, and I began to notice what she's saying. It seems like she's been absorbing everything that she sees and hears. After my wife's car accident earlier this year, Cynthia gets scared whenever I do any sudden braking. "Daddy, 撞车“ (Daddy, car colliding), she would say.

She would pretend her toy's a handphone and repeat verbatim phone conversations that she overheard.

I now no longer watch violent or scary shows like CSI in front of her - she gets disturbed and starts asking awkward questions.

All these made me realize the heavy responsibilities that parents carry - who your kids become do depend, to a large extent, to what you fill them with.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Long Live The Empire

Early on in our friendship, Simon noticed an odd obsession I had with a British movie magazine called Empire. Despite earning barely enough to survive in the early years of my working life, I always bought the magazine every month without fail.

I bought my first copy of Empire in Belfast in December 1991, and was instantly hooked. It costs £1.85 then. In 1995, I shipped my 4 years worth of Empire back home in a tea chest, along with some of my uni books. I can't recall where my uni books are now, but my Empire collection now takes up 25% of shelf space in my study room. Yep, all the way from 1991 to 2010.

What prompted this post was the surprise I got when I purchased a copy recently. In 1996, Empire was RM 15 a copy. In 2000, it went up by a third to RM 20, and it peaked at RM32 a few years back. But on Saturday, I was surprised to see RM25 starring at me on the cover of the April 2010 edition.

Over the years, editors and writers came and went. Some writers like Kim Newman, Ian Nathan and Angie Errigo had been around for so long it felt like listening to an old friend talking when reading their movie reviews.

I think what made Empire last so long was the genuine love its staff had for movies. That, and a great sense of fun and humour.

Nowadays, I've made a fan of Simon, who shares my copy every month.

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