Thursday, March 31, 2011

Feeling Suicidal?

A sad and horrific news yesterday prompted me to pen this entry. A second year student in one of the public universities in Sarawak committed suicide in the man made lake where my youngest sister used to take samples for her experiments. I don't know much about the deceased. But despite my religion teachings which against and condemn suicides, I pray to God for forgiveness of his sins and may his soul rest in peace. For whatever he did and what prompted him to do that, that will be between him and God. Best not to speculate, that the least we could do as a final respect.

I read the deceased blog and couldn't help but admire his writings. His English was superb. Actually 10 years ago, there was a similar incident happened in Kuching. Not far from my previous office in King Centre, a young Chinese guy around the age of 23 also commited suicide by inhaling exhaust fumes. Few days later, friends and family members published his writings - poems, songs which were beautifully written. And both in their last writings penned this down .... LIVING is HARD. It is sad that potential great writers like them decided to end their life stories with a tragic and devastating ending.

Note: Even scarier, Qing Ming is on April 5 this year. This news brought back a memory of another departing soul.

Again, though I disagree suicide as the final answer to one's misery but lately ... I too felt that life is getting tougher and harder to cope with. Keeping a positive (and sane) mind is taking too much energy and strength. Combine with  stress, insecurities, boredom and frustration is a clear recipe for potential suicidal concoction. Sometimes I wonder, am I the one complicating matters or people around me are just difficult (of course ... this is always the answer ... NEVER me but ALWAYS them hehehe).

2 days ago, a Singaporean tourist around the age of 70 came to my office, complaining that she was chased out from her hotel even though she paid her rentals. Then showed me police report that she lost her wallet and money. But when I offered to send her back to Singapore, she refused saying that she has a court case to attend. When I offered to call her family members, she refused saying that she doesn't want to trouble them.

Then she started crying telling us stories that she was being cheated by a property developer, then she fear for her safety as she felt some people want to kill her... the story went on and on and on. I had to stop her short ... rising my voice "So what do you want me to do?" 

"Actually, I don't know what and how you can help me?" was her answer.

To be honest ... this scene is nothing new to me. I saw family broken apart, blissful marriages ended up in ugly divorces, innocent men turned into murderers just because of abandoned housing projects. One time a man with parang came to my former office, just because his family threw him out because there was a delay in reviving his abandoned unit. My gut feelings told me ... there are more to it than just being thrown out of the hotel or stolen wallet.

Out of compassion, I called her niece in Singapore to confirm her mental state, then I called the tourist police to escort her to her hotel and get all her things, move her to another hotel, then I called her lawyer. It was from her lawyer that I got the whole picture and the source of her misery. Before the economic downturn in 1997 she invested about RM 300,000.00  in a timesharing program with a prominent Malaysian bank via their property arms in Penang. But then during the economic downturn, that saw the crashing of the Malaysian banking systems ...made her lost all her RM 300,000.00 investment. The property was later bought over by a new hotel company with new management. I don't know how about the buying over process but I was told that she was not listed as a creditor.

When I spoke to her niece, she told me that her aunt is a very independent woman. The last time she saw her, prior to her leaving for Penang, she seemed OK. However, the information that I got from hotels which allegedly kicked her out were the total opposite. She disturbed other guests, she always claimed her things were lost. There were times when we spoke ... she seemed OK and rational. But there were times when she broke down and keep repeating "Penang not good, Singapore better."

Deep down ... I knew that I am dealing with a very, very depress independent lady who has lost her mind over her back luck - money, property and maybe family. All alone ... in a foreign country.  Hmmm... truthfully I don't want to end up like her. Suddenly, I too felt that I should something with regards to my mental health.

Anyway, these are the findings on MENTAL HEALTH STATUS OF MALAYSIANS The 3rd National and Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS) from DHRRA website:

Findings :
•  Overall prevalence - 11.2% of adult population in Malaysia has some form of psychiatric morbidity, with the Chinese population experiencing the highest prevalence at 31.1%.
•  Gender - more females than males have psychiatric problems, with 55% of them females and 45% males.
•  Residence - psychiatric morbidity is higher among urban population than rural, 12.6% for urban population versus 8.5% for rural population.
•  Education level – it is higher among those with no education or primary education, 15-16% versus 10% for those with tertiary education.
•  Marital status – it is higher among the divorcees (13.6%); followed by singles (13.1%) widow/ widower (12.2%) and lastly those who are married (10.5%)
•    Suicidal ideation – overall prevalence of acute suicidal ideas of 6.4% with the highest among teenagers and young adults, aged 16-24 at about 11%.
•    Insomnia ( inability to sleep) – overall acute insomnia of 14% with those aged 70-74 having the highest prevalence of slightly over 20%.
The findings above, is an indication on state of mental health of adult population in Malaysia at the time of survey. It also does not pinpoint to any specific mental disorder. Measured over a longer period of time, the prevalence is much higher at 48.1% using the same screening tool ( chronic psychiatric morbidity). 

This measures the presence of symptoms over a continual or longer period of time. Chronic psychiatric morbidity is much higher among those with tertiary education and among senior officers and managers and among professionals. This could be due to the stress associated with heavier job responsibilities of these people.  (OMG!!!!)

Take care.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa (The Malay Chronicle: Bloodline)

I am not sure why I was so excited to watch this movie? Could it be because of Stephen Rahman Hughes (....of courseeeeee), or to satisfy my curiosity on why a Pan-Asian actor got the starring role. OR just to see whether KRU production manage to pull it off , you know, after my BIG disappointment with Puteri Gunung Ledang, despite the fact that they had nailed it with Cicakman and Cicakman 2.

Well, admittedly it is not really easy to bring an epic adventure story, usually based on oral history or folklore to the screen without making it either confusing or illogical. Plus delivering the story to the screen without adding some "sugar,salt and pepper" and a little imagination would make it rather tasteless. Ok ... I would not look at Hong Kong or Indian epic movies for comparison because of big cultural differences and historical relations. So my benchmark for this movie was Queen of Langkasuka by Nonzee Nimibutr (who also gave us Nang Nak and Suriyothai).

To be fair, I also watched Queen of Langkasuka because of Ananda Everingham (a Thai-English actor) and like Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa (HMM) ... I also don't know much about the legend of the Queens of ancient Pattani kingdom. Interestingly, some historical writings indicate that the Queens of the Pattani kingdom were descendants of Merong Mahawangsa from the fourth child (a daughter) of Merong Mahawangsa's son, Merong Mahapudisat. Okay, please refer HERE for the storyline.

To make the experience more special, I decided to watch the movie at the brand new TGV Cinema at Penang's newest shopping mall, 1st Avenue. I watched the 2pm show and sadly the cinema hall was 25% occupied. Okay ... another problem with regional epic movies ... not many followers. Another possible reason ... many Chinese don't watch Malay movies except Jaime Yeoh and other bananas. BTW, this new cinema will definitely be my new chill out place.

So ... my overall comment about the movie. A heavy mixture of LOVE and HATE. We are almost there but  still not there. Okay we know that KRU production spent RM 8 million for this movie. And to be honest, if they have another RM 14-15 million we (as in Malaysian movie) will be able to compete internationally and position ourselves in the international film industry.

First, I would like to congratulate KRU production and the movie writer Amir Hafizi on the storyline. Notably  in highlighting Geruda as the pirate tribe instead of the mythical bird. Well, to be honest, Langkasuka was said to be located somewhere between Mount Jerai and Muda River. In the real Merong Mahawangsa text, it is said you can see Jambul Island and Lada Island from kingdom city. Now when I went to Bangkok last year, I saw a display of an old map which belongs to an English/French traveller that marked Penang Island as Pulo Lada. Those days, Penang provided a sheltered harbour for Chinese, Indian, Arabian and European ships during the monsoon months; this, in turn, inevitably made it fertile hunting ground for pirates. In present day Penang, Mount Jerai is about 50km from Butterworth and is visible from town centre.

Taken at Museum Siam, Bangkok (my own photo)
However, I was a bit disappointed that HMM did not (or could not) incorporate some Hindu customs and traditions of the people during those time to make it more realistic. Though Amir Hafizi did explained why in his blog (another constraint of a local movie),  however tourismwise ... I saw this as a pulling factor for history lovers and historians all over the world. My point is ... long before the great kingdoms of Srivijaya, Ayuthya, Sukhothai or Pattani, there was this great kingdom of Langkasuka in the Malay Peninsula. 

Thai epic movies love to showcase how great their ancient kingdoms of Siam, but historians and linguists agreed that the Thais moved from their ancestral home in southern China into mainland southeast Asia around the 10th century AD. Prior to this, Indianized kingdowm such as the Mon, Khmer and Malay kingdoms ruled the region. Langkasuka probably the kingdom that gave birth to other great empires in Malay archipelago ... hehehe. From just tribal villages into a kingdom.

For this, I love Shuhaimi Baba's works such of Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam for incorporating traditional and cultural elements like the arts of kuda kepang, black magic, royal court dance etc...Though the storyline is almost there ... however HMM still need to brush up on the "kesinambungan" from one scene to another . I am still confuse what the director wanted to highlight ... the greatness of Merong Mahawangsa martial arts or his leadership in the battlewar or the startup of Langkasuka.

Hmmm ... there are few tiny details that I was not really happy with in this movie. Like the costumes of the Chinese princess and her hand maiden. Their Mandarin and dialogues especially Nell Ng's acting. Hmm ... despite being a royal princess hand maiden, Nell's acting is more like an Ah So! I know she might be the comedy element of this movie. But sorry ... the  Chinese royal imperial courts requires poise and gracefulness. Plus their Mandarin were heavily accented with Cantonese phonetics. I do agree that, most of the scenes were about the princess and her handmaiden travelling but looking at Queen of Langkasuka, the scenes where the princesses were in their travelling costumes and traditional costume of the imperial court made me awe in wonder. Plus, they made tengkolok, sampin and baju Melayu in songket looked so grand!

Another interesting detail which was just mentioned in passing, that the meeting point  of Rome prince and Chinese princess was to be made at the Golden Chersonese because of fengshui ... it is not wrong to explained that in the Chinese Admiral line on why that place was chosen fengshuiwise (another point to promote Langkasuka site and Penang will benefit from it too hehehe). Good thing they mentioned Golden Chersonese, but what so Golden Chersonese about it should actually be highlighted in the Goan scenes ...  or in the Chinese Admiral line ... you know despite being "a wild ground, with wild people". Just like how Merong advised Prince Marcus about the Chinese ("the Chinese had fought battles long before the Romans" ) haaa for that matter, we could take some idea from Pirates of the Carribean.

Stephen Rahman Hughes is a great actor, but because he doesn't speak or understand Malay, some of the punchlines and expressions were a bit off. Most of the Malay dialogues were beautifully written as "pantuns" and very poetic so it need some soul to express it in words (verbally). Perhaps with the soothing sound of traditional wind instruments in the background. However, I was sooooooo not comfortable with some secenes of Merong with Prince Marcus of Rome. Funny, I feel like Merong has more chemistry with Marcus than with Embok hahahaha (OMG).

Initially I was questioning on the choice of Ummi Nazirah for the part of Embok. Then there were certain "supposedly intimate scenes between Merong and Embok, I realised yes .... we should highlight on the  authentic Malay beauty ... the skin, the lips, the hair (bibir merah merekah, pipi bagai pauh dilayang, rambut mayang mengurai). If this is not a Malaysian movie ... definitely there will soft sex scenes. But then again ... I thought of The Adjustment Bureau ... Emily Blunt and Matt Damon played with their facial expression, body language (you know the restlessness), their eyes keep looking at each others lips - that was enough to make me feel uneasy on my seat. HOT!!!

But I still don't get it why Embok suddenly acting angry with Merong. Though it was explained later (she was raped by Kamawas) but still "kaku".I think Embok's part will be better if Embok initially gave cold shoulder to Merong but slowly she was attracted to him but being a "hero warrior" Merong was also admired by young ladies of the tribe which sparked some jealousy on the part of Embok, thus the "angry intimate" scene between Merong and Embok.

" jika pintu empangan sudah dibuka, manakan boleh ditahan airnya"- Kamawas
Khir Rahman was great as Kamawas. What can I say (I am speechless)! His acting was so natural (and blown me away) that I would say he deserved an award for his supporting role. Mantapppppp .... though his line (refer to the photo caption) where he was being "seduced" by Princess Meng Li-Hua is a bit XXX for Malaysian viewers but I think in Malaysian words ... "memang ngammmm"  with scene. That guy was so horny that time what...

I love Dato' Rahim Razali in this movie. His voice, his facial expression and the soul that he brought into the character of Kesum. Well, many of his lines were a bit poetic and looking at the way he expressed  it, sent shivers to my spine. Yes, like other "unpaid critics" ... I don't like the hair hehehe

I don't want to comment much on the cinematography - I am seeing a bit of 300, Gladiator and Troy. The CGI was superb but need some polishing as in some of the scenes, the ships looked so obvious like toy ships.

Hahahaha ... panjang pulak komen. But anyway, it is because we are almost there but still not there. However, I applaud the efforts and money spent on the making of this movie and most importantly ... I did not fell asleep (tu yang banyak komen hehehe).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Memoirs of Roy & Lin's Wedding

Years ago, I was not a big fan of weddings. I tried to avoid weddings as much as possible so that I could avoid being asked that big "mystery question" (or being lectured about the blissfulness and contentment of being married) by Good Samaritans and .... to be honest, seeing two souls being reunited as one in holy matrimony "was too much" for my then faint heart hahaha. That's why Emel, Jett and myself decided to give standard answer ... "December" (tiba-tiba si Taylor Swift polah lagu Back in December indah).

But as years gone by and maturity starts kicking in, I realised that weddings are indeed also stressful on the part of the brides and grooms (let alone parents) as much as the "unmarried" ladies attending it. They couldn't eat much, (nanti lipstick hilang), couldn't move much (nanti tiara jatuh) ... let alone "nak kentut" (nanti hilang glammmm). I remembered Nijah's wedding, even during "bersanding" she still gave instruction to her parents and aunties on the wedding cues.

Sate tulang ... one of Negeri Sembilan signature dishes.
So I started enjoying weddings ... on behalf of the brides and grooms. Tasting the food and wine (Tony's wedding was set in a very famous restaurant in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur), enjoying the ambience of the banquet hall (Kazen's wedding was set in the latest hotel in Kuching, the 4-points), enjoying the marriage  of culture (Niejah's wedding incorporated a mix of Malay and Bajau tradition) ... and taking a point or two  (taknak bohonglah ..) for "any" future weddings. 

Roy and Lin.
Anyway, I guess this special wedding of Roy and Lin (the beautiful princess of Norzah and Datin Zaitun) deserve to be featured in my humble blog. All I can say is simple, creative and timeless. The wedding  reception on the bride side was set at the bride's residence in Taman Melawati. 
Kompang group leading the bride and groom's procession.
Traditional musical group.
These are not bridesmaid but more like ladies of the chamber and knights.
The gift bearers from the groom side.
The bride and groom on the ceremonial couch. Gifts from the groom were adorned with white flowers whereas from the bride were with bright coloured flowers.
Look at this very sporting and loving couple!
Actually, I knew Datin first when she was in KPKT with me and she was also the person responsible for pulling me to MOTOUR. Myself and Norzah only met for the first time (and briefly) in Langkawi but we bonded through our blogs and Facebook. Then Norzah bonded with Yoyop through my blog and Facebook, which then extended to my mum. Wah ... very the social network gitew.

My mum never attended a traditional Malay wedding in Peninsular Malaysia before. She had attended Indian wedding (when my foster brother Puvan got married last year where she even wore saree) and Chinese weddings. So when Norzah requested Princess Director to fly Pehin Datin Seri all the way from Kuching to attend the wedding, of courselah akan ditunaikan oleh Princess Director. 

My mum would love so much to meet Norzah and Datin (and in fact she did mentioned about wanting to meet them zillion times months ago). So ... untuk mengelakkan dari disumpah jadi batu (hahaha), I siap flew her to KL guna the brand new Firefly Boeing 737-800 aircraft. And when disatukan pulak dengan Cik Tipah .... memang happening!!!!

Actually Norzah, Tipah and myself were actually eyeing this one tall yummylicious looking guy ... Masa tu we all on the way nak masuk rumah nak tengok bride. Suddenly Tipah exclaimed, "Handsomenyer mamat tu Mieeeee"...  I pun dengan kepantasan luar biasa terus menoleh dan .... zasssssss pertembungan mata berlaku dan (quoting ayat feveret Niejah) "dada berombak ganas". Tapi Norzah recommended pulak geng-geng "overtime" dia yang eligible dan available sampai I ngan Tipah tak tau nak kata apa tengok "uncle-uncle" semua tercengang. Hahahahahaha

Sekadar gambar hiasan. Actually I took this photo because it was so 1Malaysia.
I think the best part of Roy and Lin's wedding was the phototaking sessions at the photo booth corner. We all had a good laugh there. But hold on a second .... wah apa nie???? PANASSSSSSS
Alamakkkkkkk .... kantoiiiii

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Are You Made Of?

Sugar and spice and all that's nice?

Ok ... I was reading Norzah's entry last night A New Wave Rising of Expectation on uprising in African countries like Libya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon and Senegal that saw one leader after another being ousted by common citizens.. The same is happening in the Saudi Arabia States of Bahrain and Yemen.

What triggered all this? 

Well that was the interesting part.  My humble comment was:

African countries (which coincidentally in these incidents happened to be Muslim countries) might have opened their mind like the people of the Great Republic of China. Suddenly they realise how rich their countries are in terms of natural resources, however many still live in poverty and hunger.

Leaders should realise that internet technologies have made the world seems smaller and nearer (information wise) and have ears. Education and awareness made the people of these countries more exposed on what's going on in the other "negara aman dan makmur".

As oppose to this:

The cause of an uprising seems simply the wish of people for a fair share of wealth, or a fair share of suffering and poverty. But I wonder if it is more to it. Where we see the current uprising I fear other players, interested parties are the unseenn hands in the game. Their objectives are not about sharing power, wealth and suffering.

This is all very scary because we cannot say we are above it.
 (this is the comment by blogger Al-Manar in Norzah's entry)

Or this:

We still don't know whether the uprising and the revolts are bringing the results expected by the people or they are just jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Our fear is that the interested parties whether local or foreign will waste no time to put a quick end to the ousted leaders ( who to say the least have maintained peace and stability in the countries concerned for years) in order to do what they could not get done all these years, This is especially so with regard to leaders who have all these while defied the western powers. If bombs and mortars could not get rid ot them, the new uprising or revolt is doing the work for them. We'll have to wait and see to know the truth, But the uprising seems to be catching on before we can evaluate who is gaining from the hellfire and bloodbath.

(Norzah's own comment)

Can you see the difference in the opinion?

Of course ... if we are to compare, my thinking level (including proficiency in English) of courseeee lahhhhhh NOT AT PAR dengan buah fikiran seorang ex-KSU, ex-KP MAMPU and seorang philosophical doctor. However, I am not going to elaborate about the uprising but rather the way I see things (or choose to see things. If you read carefully, you will see I usually angle my opinion with a little faith on the people, the system or a little idealistic thinking.

However, these past few days I began to ask myself ... how long can I pretend "blind" to the self interest, personal agenda, hypocrisy and greed that is lurking at the corners. And here in Penang, I sudah jelak with the word sensitive (or its derivation) cause all I am getting is sensitive skin from all the stress.  Hahaha... gosh I really need the laugh.

I remembered years ago, I put my heart and soul in salvaging a low medium cost abandoned housing project only to realise later that the residential area had become a perkampungan Mat Hitam. So much of helping the so call poor people.

So sugar and spice and all that's nice? (maybe for now)
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