Archive for September, 2008

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.”

Pray for New Orleans

Metblogs New Orleans is on the ground covering Hurricane Gustav.

KL wish them good luck. Be safe!

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