Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Steve McCurry in KL

Steve McCurry gave a talk at the Central Market Annexe earlier today. Who?

He’s the guy by the road in KL that sells a lot of tasty chicken curry. Okay, that was absolutely lame.

He is the photographer that produced that famous National Geographic’s “Afghan Girl” photo back in the 1980s.
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I found out about the talk quite late; less than 12 hours only. But I did get there in time at 20:00 hours. Unfortunately, being on time was not enough. According to a friend, the small hall was full by 19:30 hours!

I couldn’t get in. And a lot of people were standing outside, clearly disappointed because they couldn’t get in too.

I went straight home after that, heartbroken. Oh well.

9th European Union Film Festival

The GSC will be screening a lot of movies from the EU beginning this Thursday, in conjunction of the 9th European Union Film Festival.

Anybody wanna come with me and watch it in MidValley?

I thought it might be a good idea to watch one of those movies. Check ’em out.

Book launch on Halloween

There was book launch close to home yesterday and I figured out, since it was Friday night and Halloween no less, I should crash it. Well, actually, I RSVP it but hey, whatever.

Three books:

There were readings. Here are Ezra with Amir Muhammad in the background.

Yeah. Amir scared the shit out of me that I couldn’t keep a steady hand for the shot.

Yup. Halloween. As you can see, Elizabeth Wong dressed as herself. Woooo. The scariest custom ever!

Most intriguingly, the place was called Rahsia, which means secret in Malay. When I first got the invitation, I was kinda annoyed since it said the venue rahsia. I mean, what kind of invitation that says the venue is secret? It was only later did I realize that Rahsia is the name of the place.

Ezra retold the story there in a more livid manner, having gone through the same episode.

In any case, quite cozy the place. And quite close to home too.

I didn’t know there is an restaurant with great atmosphere walkable from home! This is especially a plus point since traffic is crazy.

Vigil against ISA at Bukit Aman

Yet another protest.

This time, it is against the use of the Internal Security Act by the government against a reporter who reported a racially sensitive statement made by a politician belonging to the ruling coalition, against an opposition Member of Parliament who has nothing to do with the accusation which the government made against her and a blogger who allegedly insulted Islam (whereas in fact, he only insulted those in power).

So, I was there and as promised, more photos from the protest.

The police wanted the crowd to disperse and so, the crowd did so by walking toward a car park down the stream. From a gathering, it became a procession.

I was there early but had trouble joining the crowd because a police officer prevented me to do so. But being somewhat an anarchist myself, I found another way in. There, the police with shield were surrounding surrounding the crowd.

And so we walked and walked and made a couple of stops here and there, much to the annoyance of the men in blue.

Every time we made a stop, there would be a speech and reporters swarmed the speaker.

But we moved on when the police warned us to disperse yet again. They even escorted us with cars! I thought only politicians get police escort! Ambulances, fire fuck trucks and civilians like you and me do not usually get police escort! What a privilege!

There were really not kidding about escorting us!

The cat and mouse game lasted for over an hour. In the end, the police decided to mingle with us, trying to give the impression that they were willing to arrest folks at the vigil. These officers which kept distance from the vigil participants moved in concert toward the crowd. The balaclava clad personnel was nowhere in sight however. I am unsure where were the police special branch people were though.

After a while, the whole game was getting tiring and in stages, the crowd was getting thinner and thinner and thinner…

It was time to go home.

Freedom Film Fest 2008 and bygone summer

I was at the Central Market Annexe yesterday for the Freedom Film Fest. I was there to particular attend the premier of Pecah Lobang, a documentary on transsexuals in Malaysia which is directed by a friend, Poh Si Teng. Her work is one of three films which received a grant from the organizer of the Fest.

I played a very minor in the production of the documentary by doing some translation work. So, my name is listed somewhere in the credits at the end of the film. It was fun seeing your own name up in the screen.

I thought helping to translate the document was as easy as ABC but it was harder it seemed to be. The greatest debate I had in my head was whether I should should “he” or “she” when referring to the transsexuals. I neither want to offend them nor infuse my bias into the issue because Poh Si was vehemently neutral on the matter. And translating Malay to English and vice versa sometimes takes away the context of a conversation for the sake of clarity.

The most important thing about the film however is how it makes me to become more appreciative of the issues faced by the transsexuals in Malaysia. Many transsexuals are involved in the sex industry unwillingly because of the reluctance of the Malaysian society to properly recognize them as well as the discrimination which they face. Their inability to secure a decent job due to issue of recognition and discrimination is the factor which force them to go into the sex industry. And while trying to earn a living, they are being prosecuted.

A number of transsexuals were there are the screening. Since some of them were the subjects of Poh Si’s documentary, I recognize some of them. One of them is as beautiful as portrayed in the documentary. I would not have been able know she is a transsexual if I have not watched Pecah Lobang.

I figure I am not the only person unable to recognize transsexual based on look along. As far as I sympathize with the transsexual community, I do not plan to have a romantic relationship with a transsexual. Yet, the inability to recognize them pose a problem. For this reason alone, I think there is a strong reason for our society to officially recognize transsexual and stop discrimination and prosecuting them. With that, information on one’s gender will be more readily available and consequently, avoiding awkward moments.

There was a Q&A session after the screen and I thought I admire Poh Si’s dedication to neutrality.

Several members of the audience asked of her opinion on the issues but she steadfastly refused to share her opinion, lest that affects the message of the film.

After awhile, it was time to go home.

I really love going to the Annexe but there is something sad about leaving the Annexe in the middle of the night. The walk to the train station is always lonely and I thought I would prefer to be in the company of friends all night long instead.

Talking about that, the summer has been spectacular for me. I met a lot of new friends and had a lot of fun. I do not remember when was the last time I truly enjoyed going out to the city. It is too bad that the summer is coming to an end and friends are leaving for the United States again. To borrow a couple of sentences from a friend, the “summer’s coming to an end. Even the persistently sunny skies of Malaysia are darker and the streets cooler with the constant rain. All good things must come to an end eventually, as they always say and so we all move on.”

Protesting the Kelana Jaya protest for being dull

With all the rumors and hypes, I thought Sunday should be one of those days when history is written in the most dramatic manner. With talks of army on the streets, road blocks almost to the proportion of Bersih rally, police threats and the boast of expected one million attendees, the event turned out to be quite a dull affair.

I was filled with excitement at the prospect of a state of emergency or a military coup d’tat. Nat’s appeal only fueled my expectation of “something big” would be happening.

Today however, July 6, was sort of kiddies stuff which definitely unworthy of my time. I should have stayed at home and play Civilization 4 instead. But there I was and this is a story of how I spent my dull Sunday’s evening.

In fact, it is so dull that I’ll just let the pictures tell you what happened.

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Okay, it was noisy from the outside and I thought there were many people. Of course, I didn’t expect one million turn out because the organizer has a knack for exaggeration but I did expect the number to match Bersih. So, I was all excited. Still, the compound looked nothing compared to Titiwangsa Lake Garden on a weekend.

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“Wow. They have a stage!”, I yelled to my imaginary friends.

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And then I saw the crowd. “Is this a revolution?” Clearly, an oversize party on a Sunday’s evening but nothing inspiring. Hell, all that commies talk made the event less inspiring but I did prepare myself for those leftist propaganda but I was shocked at the disappointing turnout.

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Or maybe, being a libertarian and unimpressed with socialism, I am biased and critical of the gathering because there were actually more people around.

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Yup. Add another 10s to the equation and you get the amount of people there, which at maximum was definitely 1,000,000 minus 999,999 people. Okay, not quite but I’m sure that you get the idea.

The protest was so uninspiring — did I tell you earlier that it was boring? &mdash that a guy could lay down on oh so sexily.

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Maybe it was just me. Maybe I came at the wrong time. Reports have it that there were 10,000 earlier in the morning.

But I sort of told myself, the number should swell when Anwar Ibrahim comes. At first, the organizer said the man would show up after Maghrib. That probably meant 20:00. Then the organizer said the man would show up after Isyak. That probably meant 21:00.

But I told myself, screw it. I am going home. Besides, the populist speeches were starting to get on nerve.

More photos from the KLAB 2008

There were a few prominent individuals at the festival. At least, the ones that I recognized. Some are friends while others, while, I’d like to know them more closely due to their interesting character.

The most respectable there was probably the celebrated sasterawan negara, A. Samad Said.

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The Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, Penang was there.

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Friend and the youngest candidate for the previous general election, Nik Nazmi Assemblyman for Seri Setia, Selangor was there.

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Kam Raslan was there.

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I honestly can’t remember her name.

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Amir Muhammad!

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Eli the Amazon warrior the Assemblywoman for Bukit Lanjan, Selangor was there. So was Nat.

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Nat is supposed to blog here. But he hasn’t posted anything here yet. For that, I think I’m entitled to post this up here for the world to see. Hey, hello Philly!

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Sharon and Marina were there.

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And the controversial Astora Jabat was there too.

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Kuala Lumpur Alternative Book Festival

My Facebook looks busy due to various invitation to events related to the ongoing Kuala Lumpur Alternative Book Festival at the Central Market Annexe. Since there are people that actually took the effort to invite me via Facebook, I thought, I might as well give it a visit. Besides, I unfortunately decided not to go to Endau-Rompin with my fellow hikers in the Nature Society. So, my weekends were empty and attending the book fest would be a good way to fill it.

The KLAB, as people are calling it, sells mostly local publications. More importantly, it is held in conjunctions of World Press Freedom Day. But who cares for all that. I was there for the chicks.

My first stop was the Center for Independent Journalism’s exhibition. Guess what are they bitching about? No idea? Let me give you a clue:

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Biased MSM.

There was a talk associated with that and Jacky Ann Surin was one of the speakers. She basically repeated her presentation at BUM which was held earlier on Thursday. Oh, didn’t I tell you that I attended the second BUM on Thursday?

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The other speaker was Zainon Ahmad, the editor at The Sun.

Next, Faisal launched a BERSIH coffee table book.

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I took a lot of shots at the BERSIH rally (here and here as well) and Faisal for some reason like one of it. So, one of my photos is featured in the book and because of that, I got a complementary book. Hurrah!

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General scene early on.

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Then, it was Farish Noor’s public lecture #2.

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Farish: I’M MACHO. LOOK AT ME! ROAR!

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OMG! The girl in red is CUTE!

Olympic torch relay in KL

I was there when the relay started at Dataran Merdeka and I was there yet again to witness the torch relay on Jalan P. Ramlee under the heavy rain.

It started quite angrily for me. I had wanted to protest peacefully with no intention to disrupt the relay. Along with me was a camera and a placard with the word “liberty” written on it. Volunteers from China were not happy and forcefully took my placard away after physically harassing me. And so, I found out the hard way how violent these volunteers were. I’ve already described my experience at KL for a Free Tibet (and photos of another protester being harassed by the abrasive volunteers from China; my words there are harsh because I don’t take coercive kindly) and so, I shall refrain from retelling the story here.

But more photos are in order.

I caught a glimpse of the flame. First was at the Dataran Merdaka:

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Security was really tight. Apparently, the security personnel were there to protect PRC volunteers, not the Malaysian citizens or everybody at large. While pro-Beijing people were allowed to display their political placards, those sympathetic to Tibet were not. In fact, when the peaceful pro-Tibet protesters were assaulted by the PRC volunteers/thugs, the police arrested the pro-Tibet protesters, not the ones committing the assault. The police did nothing to stop the pro-Beijing thugs from harassing those that disagree with PRC’s policies.

I shouted FREE TIBET when the Torch passed in front of my and was quickly grabbed from behind by a volunteer from the PRC. Mind you, not by a Malaysian police officer but a PRC volunteer instead. I pushed him back and made a complaint to an officer: the officer did nothing however but thanks the heaven that the PRC thug walked off, probably thinking that he might get himself in trouble if he continued to apply force against me in front of police officers, however timid these officers were against these PRC nationals.

Once the Torch left the Dataran Merdeka, I went straight to the Petronas Twin Towers to get another corru board to make a brand new placard just like the one robbed from me by the PRC volunteers.

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The previous banner was like this, only prettier since I had time to do it properly:

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This one took me less than 10 minutes to complete. That board is about the size of an A3 paper.

It rained after that but the Torch runner went on regardless.

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This guy went off the bus to wait from the runner with a lit torch.

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Notice the police presence. This must be the most protested Olympics in recent memory.

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There were isolated small protests and all of them were forcefully suppressed by PRC volunteers with unsanctioned coercion power. Your truly was one of the victims and he got himself cited in an article in a local daily:

Another scuffle also ensued before the run in Dataran Merdeka when a group of Chinese national students took away a banner emblazoned with the word “Liberty” from a 24-year-old woman known only as Gek.

It was learnt that the group hit Gek’s head at least three times and chanted “One world, one dream, one China”.

The situation was defused when another woman calmed the members down and told them not to create trouble.

It was revealed later that the banner did not belong to Gek, but to Hafiz Noor Shams, 26, who said he came to the torch relay “to witness things”.

Asked on his intentions in bringing such a banner, Hafiz said that it was only a one-word banner.

“But they are free to interpret however they like,” he said, admitting that he was pro-Tibet. [Minor hiccups and a handful of arrests during run. The Star. April 22 2008]

I don’t like like how The Star reported the news. Like what Marina said to me through IM, it is as if I admitted to a crime. But after all, The Star is owned by a local political party, MCA after all. The Star was heavily biased but the recent election was a kick in the groin for them.

In any case, exercising liberty is not a crime. Harassment is.

Others whom plan to protest at other cities should be careful when these PRC volunteers are around. They have no qualm about using force to silent you. These volunteers which lived under suppressed society (Malaysians are suppressed too but at least, we are fighting back) have developed fascist culture of suppression where diversity of opinion are not acceptable. They know nothing about free speech or peaceful expression.

Protest peacefully though. Let teach them a leason or two about the real meaning of peace.

Olympic Torch Relay Route

Update: Exact route is now known!

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Thanks to information collected by KL for a Free Tibet (whom the author is yours truly; yeah, I’m thanking myself…), we now have some idea of the route for the Olympic Torch Relay, which was supposed to be kept secret:

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A series of protests sympathetic to Tibet (as well as, surprisingly, for Darfur and Falungong) are expected to be seen along the route. I’ll be at the Merdeka Square at noon to record it and I hope to follow the torch all the way to the Twin Towers. The relay itself will start at 14:00 hours at Dataran Merdeka.

Damn. I gotta be in shape.

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