Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Denmark House

Marina and I agreed that Denmark House "has changed" so much, as we looked up the towering building. Not faraway on the right was another towering structure, the KL Tower.
"I remember it to be smaller and quite old," Marina remarked.
"Mmm. Yeah, that's how I remember it," I said, still looking up at the gleaming structure.
The truth is, I had never been anywhere near Wisma Denmark in my life to notice any difference until, of course, January 25 when I joined several others, including journalists and well-known Malaysian bloggers, to give Rocky moral support in his court case (the defamation suit against him by the NSTP and 4 of the company's top executives).
Yesterday (Tuesday, January 30) with Marina, Rocky, Sheih, Stephen, Bernard, Zahrin, Akram et al at Wisma Denmark to give Jeff Ooi (who faces a similar suit by the NSTP and 3 of the individuals) would make it just my third time there.
Hmm, it does look new and so huge, I thought.
I used to past Wisma Denmark whenever I took that stretch of Jalan Ampang. I would not give the building a second look.
The last time I walked past the building was in 2005 when I took the LRT from Bangsar to the Dang Wangi station enroute to the Pakistan High Commission to get my visa (for a media tour of Pakistan).
I had never quite bothered to look at the building which is so named because it is where the Royal Embassy of Denmark is located. The embassy occupies the 22nd floor.
Now, I am getting familiar with the building, one of the oldest landmark in Kuala Lumpur's golden triangle.
It is also where the high courts (hearing civil cases) are.
Over the years as an editor at the NST, the name "Wisma Denmark" was regularly relayed to me as our court reporters would call up to say that they would be covering this or that civil case at Wisma Denmark.
Rosnazura, former NST court reporter who is now working in a GLC, used to call in, usually about 10am to say: "Kak Ena, nothing much is happening at Jalan Raja. Just some cases for mention. I am going to Wisma Denmark. It seems there is a xxxmillion ringgit suit..."
Or, "Kak Ena, I am in Wisma Denmark. There is a civil case...". Wisma denmark this and wisma denmark that.
Now, it looks like I will be calling someone or other to say that, hey, I am in Wisma Denmark, it's Jeff's case, or Rocky's case.
And I'd be here at Wisma Denmark for anybody who is being sued by a newspaper for defamation.
By the way, my next visit will be February 22 for Rocky's hearing and March 6, for Jeff's.

* We were all at the lobby some time after 9am, waiting for the lift to take us upstairs to the courtroom when Jeff's lawyers emerged from one of the lifts.
Jeff, who was delayed by the unusually bad traffic jam (caused by the closure of Jalan Raja Laut for FT Day rehearsals), was with us.
"Is it over?" we all chorused.
"Yes, yes," said Jeff's counsel, Haris Ibrahim,
Wow, that was fast, we all remarked.
"Let's go to the mamak shop for teh tarik!" I think it was Rocky who suggested that.
What a wonderful idea, Rocky. That was everyone's thought.
Actually, the mamak shop seems to be the direction everyone takes as soon as they step out of the lift.
Here is the outcome of Jeff's case -- that all parties not publish any articles, comments or posts regarding the dispute that may be regarded as subjudice or that may prejudice the fair trial of the case.
Rocky says this is a ceasefire. It is.
Anyway, here's a thought, borrowed from Aung San Suu Kyi:

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power
corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who
are subject to it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hiding Behind The PM

Pak Lah attacks bloggers in NSTP papers
It pains me to see my Prime Minister being dragged, wittingly or unwittingly, into the war being waged by the NSTP and its 4 operatives with Ahirudin Attan and Jeff Ooi.
As I've said before, the 4 (one is a former operative, actually) have the right to sue the Rocky's Bru and the Screenshots bloggers. I do not agree that they should drag the NSTP to fight their battle.
I certainly don't like them using Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as a shield, a cover.
I have the highest regard for the office of the Prime Minister of my country.
It pains me more because I have known Pak Lah for a very long time. Certainly longer than any of his (present) close advisers. And yes, longer than any of the plaintiffs, one of whom has written in the NSTP to brag that he is a close friend of the PM.
I, however, cannot say that I am his close friend. Let's just say he knows me well enough as a journalist of some experience.
So did Kak Endon, his late wife. But not just as a journalist. We also happened to have grown up in the same Petaling Jaya neighbourhood and whose sisters are friends of mine as we used to study in the same school.
That's not bragging, That's a fact.
I have always had a fondness for Pak Lah because the man I have known through the years, is a nice guy.
The last I met him was at the Umno general assembly in 2005 when he visited the media centre.
As usual, he would stop for a chat with journalists at work there.
He never failed to ask me about me, my father and my family.
He calls me "No'Aina", for which most northerners (orang utara) seem to have a fondness.
As a young reporter in the early 80s, he was one of my favourite subjects who had given me many scoops in the education beat.
I would wait for him outside his office until his last guest/visitor left. Rosni (his Press officer then), would let me in and Pak Lah would indulge me -- answering my questions about current issues pertaining to his ministry. He was really cool.
I remember, years ago during the Umno (team A/team B) debacle in the mid 80s, he got pretty upset over an article I did.
He met me in Parliament and asked me ever so sweetly : "No'Aina, No'Aina, who are your sources? " I felt so bad I almost wanted to make a grovelling apology. How could I have upset this nice man?
Now this nice man is a subject of ridicule.
Yes, as he said in the New Sunday Times interview -- r i d i c u l e.
The case between the NSTP/4 operatives and Rocky has already been brought to the High Court. Why would the editors of the NST and the Berita Harian want to publish the PM's quotes about "lies after lies" of the bloggers, which may be seen as prejudicing the case?
They have ridiculed him further.
Soon, if his coterie of not-so-wise advisers go about their merry unthinking way, they would have him be cited for contempt of court.
No. Mr Prime Minister Sir. I am most disagreeable with what they have been making you do.
They should start fighting their own battles.

Note: Rocky goes back to the High Court tomorrow (Monday, Jan 29) at 9 am to inform the learned Judge about his position with regards to comments left on his postings after he had been served the writ by the Plaintiffs. The lawyers for the Plaintiffs said last Thursday those comments could be seen as prejudicing the case.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Little Bru

Staying Cool -- And United
Rocky arrived at Wisma Denmark, Kuala Lumpur, a little after 9am yesterday (Thursday, Jan 25) for his court case. He was accompanied by his eldest brother, Ismail, and friend, Stephen Francis.
My sister Maria and I took the LRT from the Bangsar Station to the Dang Wangi stop and reached Wisma Denmark at about 9.40am.
As we were walking towards the building, we could spot Rocky from among the small crowd of well wishers, friends and reporters that had already gathered in the open foyer.
He was his usual self -- cool and composed. Smiling and acknowledging waves from people.
His case was scheduled to be heard in chambers at about 10am on the 10th floor of the building. Among those who were there to give Rocky moral support were A Kadir Jasin, Jeff Ooi (against whom NSTP and three individuals have also filed a defamation suit), Syed Imran, Ahmad A Talib, Salahuddin, Bernard Khoo and Tony Gayandato.
This was the outcome - (from Rocky's Bru latest post):

"1. Today was set for hearing of the injunction against me.
2. My lawyers filed an application to strike out the suit yesterday.
3. On the request of both parties, the Court set 22 February (230pm) to hear the
striking out application. It is to be heard before the injunction
application which is also set for mention on the same day.
For clarity, there is no injunction order against me.
4. Further, the lawyers for the Plaintiffs this morning raised the issue of comments by readers made on this blog in respect of my postings of 18 and 24 January which may be seen as prejudicing the case. My lawyers asked for time to look at the said comments.
The Court set 29 January (900am) for both parties to inform the Judge of my position."

My take on this : Here is a credible and responsible blogger who is being sued for defamation. Rocky is among Malaysia's most influential socio-political bloggers who have set an admirable standard in blogging.
What is the hope then for Malaysia's blogging community?
We want to promote responsible blogging. Right. Here we have one. A model blogger. A gentleman blogger who does not hide behind the cloak of anonymity, who does not use profanities to criticise his subjects. And who does not encourage the use of profanities among his commentors.
If I felt that Rocky had defamed me, I would sort it out with him. Going to court would certainly not be my first or only option.
So, you start asking why Rocky? Why Jeff?
But, you know. The answer is crystal clear.

My friends, Good Night and Good Luck!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Long Journey

The Start
Rocky's journey through uncharted terrain begins on Thursday, January 25 where his case will be heard at the High Court in Wisma Denmark, Kuala Lumpur, at 10am .
Let's walk with him.
See you there, Rocky. And we wish you all the best!
Remember, you are not alone...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Please, Sir

Not The NST
I am scribbling something here. But before that, let me wish my Muslim brothers and sisters "Selamat Menyambut Awal Muharram".
Back to my "scribbling". Just my thoughts to put in a letter to the Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister, maybe. Heck, the entire Cabinet. Not that anyone of them will care. I am just a blogger. One of thousands. What does anybody care, really?
But why (to) our PM or DPM? Or to the rest of their Cabinet colleagues?
Well, because it concerns the NST which (I don't think this needs further explanation) is politically affiliated with the powers-that-be.
And I am very concerned about the NST and my many friends who are still at the NST.
I don't know whether they themselves are concerned about this.
Damn, Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe there is no reason for concern.
Still, if I decide to send this letter, it will probably go something like this.
(Do remember that this is written in cyberspace. You don't like the sound of it, turn me off. Read some other blog.)
Here goes nothing:

Dear Sir or dear everyone in the Malaysian Cabinet,
I would like to draw your attention to the defamation suit by the NST and four individuals against two bloggers - Ahirudin Attan and Jeff Ooi. I am sure you are aware of this.
My concern is not the suit taken by the individuals but by the NST.
I will not go into why the NST is suing these two bloggers although I am actually
still trying to figure this one out. As far as the individuals (plaintiffs) are
concerned, like any citizen of this country, they have the right to seek redress
if they feel that their reputation has been hurt or injured by these two
But for the NST to decide to be dragged into this, I think it is a
big mistake.
The NST, already suffering poor circulation and sales, does not
need this.
I fear that many people will boycott the NST. In fact, as I am scribbling
this, a boycott has already started, of NST and its sister publications.
A boycott, and I see this will be a massive one, will really really hurt the NST.
You see, people are seeing NST's action as a terrible thing. A newspaper
acting against bloggers, against freedom of expression.
Worse, NST doing this at the behest of the goverment. Whether or not that is correct is irrelevant. This will be the perception.
People will be seeing it as a bullying tactic by the government through the NST.
I am not speaking on behalf of my friends and others at the NST. I cannot as I am no longer an employee.
I believe, though, that if they had their say, at least many of
them, would have definitely spoken against it.
And I believe too, that many consumers will stop buying the NST, terminate their subscription and, well, boycott the paper because they hate what they see as the mighty goverment coming down hard against bloggers. Others perhaps, simply as a matter of principle.
People will be looking at the NST with contempt, with odium and
with anger. The newspaper will be ridiculed.
NST cannot be dragged into this lawsuit. A newspaper suing bloggers for defamation? Think about it?
We are fighting for Press freedom and this newspaper is suing bloggers, one of whom is its former editor, for defamation.
It goes without saying that the world is watching as this is a precedent and a test case. A very interesting one.
And in the process, this will reflect so badly on the newspaper. And, of course, on
the government because of the ties that bind.
I don't have to be a clairvoyant to tell you that the implications are far-reaching.
You cannot let the newspaper suffer further because it will affect the livelihood of its
employees. It will surely affect the morale of the staff including the
journalists -- if it has not already.
Oh. I remember well the repercussions of a boycott (coupled with the pain of the financial crisis) of the NST in the late 90s. The NST has not quite recovered.
Until today, I am so baffled by the NST's decision to go on with the suit. What were the board members thinking?
Or were they?
The individuals can sue the two bloggers if they feel that they have been defamed.
(Although, if I were them, I would have set up my own
blog and let Rocky and Jeff have a taste of their own medicine, or ask them to
apologise or retract all those postings they deem offensive, untrue and
baseless. If all this fails, I'd have a chat with them at Austin Chase -man to man.)
But not the NST. If you have it in your power to do something -- then make the NST withdraw its suit.


There! That wasn't so bad.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Walk With Rocky

It Sure Aint Over Yet!
It was sometime around 9.30pm on Tuesday January 16, at the National Press Club (Jalan Tangsi, Kuala Lumpur) that Ahirudin Attan was served "his papers" -- notice by the lawyers representing NST, its deputy chairman Kalimullah Hassan, CEO Syed Faisal, GEIC Hishamudin Aun and former GE Brenden Pereira -- that an injunction would be taken against him and that he was going to be sued for libel.
Ahirudin or Rocky, as we all know him, was told an hour earlier (while he was having dinner at BSC) that someone from a law firm was waiting for him.
In fact this someone had been waiting since 6pm for Rocky to make an appearance at the NPC.
Rocky who is the NPC president, arrived at the club about 9.15pm, He walked coolly into the club, signed his name (as members are required to do), approached the guy, shook his hands and asked whether he was there to give him something.
The young man seemed nervous as he handed to Rocky an envelope and about a foot-high of five very thick documents.
"So which one is for me?", asked Rocky.
"Semua ni, bang," said the man, apologetically.
"Wow, ni semua. saya ingat satu untuk saya, yang lain untuk orang lain," Rocky said, shaking his head, smiling.
People at the club broke into laughter not because it was funny, although in a way it was. But it was that kind of laughter that you would make for want of anything better to say.
Rocky took the letter, signed something and looked closely at the pile of documents, still shaking his head and smiling.
"Terima kasih-lah. Lama tunggu?", he asked the young man, who was by now smiling although nervously, and appeared to be all too relieved to have got it over with.
He said he had been looking for Rocky since Sunday at Austin Chase in BSC but Rocky was nowhere to be seen or found. He was then told to go to Rocky's other hang-out - the NPC.
He was glad to have found Rocky. Not only because he had done his job but that he had finally met the man himself.
"Saya ikut blog abang," he said, as he stood up to leave.
Well, Rocky..... just about more than half a million others too.
If you "follow" his blog. Then, my friends, you can and should walk with him. And not only him but also with Jeff Ooi and Sheih.
(NOTE: Sheih Kickdefella has a real cool poster dedicated to Rocky today. Makes a real cool car sticker too)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kak Teh's Book

Not Just For Beginners
TAHNIAH to my very good friend Zaharah Othman who is known to zillions as Kak Teh of the very popular Choc-A-Blog blog for her book "Colloquial Malay - The Complete Course for Beginners". The book is written with Sutanto Atmosumarto.
The book , I believe, was published in 2004. I, however, only found out about it very recently from another blog, Dr Ve Thru.
I am so ashamed. I have no excuse. I apologise.
Ah is the syllable by which we fondly call her. A wonderful person and to me, about the sweetest person to walk the face of the earth.
We became fast and firm friends when we first met on the 13th floor of ITM (now UiTM) in Shah Alam more than 30 years ago to start our three-year course in Mass Communications.
Ah and I, together with another Mass Comm buddy, Fatimah Abu Bakar, began our journalism career at the NST in 1978.
Before she could warm her seat, the pretty Kedah lass that she was (and still is), caught the eye and heart of our senior colleague by the name of Wan Hulaimi. They both fell madly in love.
But NST had plans for Wan Hulaimi. He was to be sent to London as correspondent. So they got married and went to the UK.
And England has been their home since.
Ah and Hulaimi have four (as far as I know) beautiful children -- Hafiz, Rehana, Norhana and Taufiq.
Once again, my very dear friend. Congratulations.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dangerous Times

And Living Dangerously
Two very well-known bloggers are being sued for libel by a newspaper, its deputy chairman, CEO, GEIC and its former GE. Another who had "disappeared" for a while, re-emerged in a different mode but made a swift return to his former popular style, has also been threatened with a lawsuit.
Before all this action was being taken against these guys, we heard about one of them, Sheih Kickdefella, having received threats that must have really spooked him, and the blogging community.
But he got back and picked up where he left off. And everyone is happy that he is back and kicking. But before he could say "next showing", he was spooked again. This time with legal action.
The other two -- Rocky (Rocky's Bru) and Jeff Ooi (Screenshots) -- face court action that will be set in motion this month, I am made to understand.
All I can say is that they all must have spooked some people or made some people very very very angry.
And these angry people are hitting back.
When Sheih was being targeted by some very sinister people, bloggers were told to "watch your back".
Now bloggers are being warned "Watch what you write!"
Berani bikin, berani terima padah! And this works both ways.
Funny thing. These three guys are immensely popular. We open their blogs to read and see their postings. We tell them they are doing a good job.
We thank Rocky for posting scoops that the mainstream media follow up on but don't care to admit. Jeff for his critical analyses and Sheih for his creative talents.
We tell them "keep on blogging", "don't stop".
And they keep on blogging, in their names.
But do we fear for them?
Today, these three are being threatened with lawsuits that, in the short term, are aimed at silencing them and in the long term, possibly, bankrupting them.
Oh my, what have I got myself into?
Some people say that the authorities are coming down (hard) on bloggers, seeing that some blogs have grown in popularity and are already influential.
These popular blogs happen to be pretty critical of certain political leaders, corporate figures and high profile individuals.
So, are bloggers like Rocky, Jeff , Sheih and others whose identities are known, living dangerously in dangerous times?
Well, they began to live dangerously the day they started blogging with their names and identities known to all and sundry.
Another question comes to mind -- will this threat (lawsuits) spook our three friends that they will cease and desist what they've been doing?
Today is no less dangerous than yesterday for anyone brave enough to push the limit, to go against the tide.
Sometimes, though, it is not even about pushing the limit. It's just about displeasing some people. You see, sticks and stones may break your bones but sometimes, words can really really hurt.

Friday, January 12, 2007

It's Your Country

Yours, Mine and Ours
This is one story I am so embarrassed to tell. But I will tell anyway since this is my blog and nobody can stop me.
I am already beginning to feel very empowered. Don't know whether that is a good thing. I hope I will not be my own victim. You know -- power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
You do see that around, don't you? But, this is the blog world. How powerful can you get?
More apt is -- how influential can you get?
I suppose you will know when the people you irritate, anger and irk start squirming and use their "power" to get at you.
But, I am digressing as usual. Can't help it. Thinking about Jeff Ooi, Rocky and Shieh. "Big" and "powerful" people gunning for them.
Funny. On one hand, these very same people have been pooh-poohing bloggers. On the other, they wanna kill these little powerless people call bloggers.
Now, back to my embarrassing story.
Up until 2003, I was not a registered voter. I never felt embarrassed then. I felt that as a journalist I had to be impartial, neutral. So, I decided, for a very long time (way way too long, I think) to stay away from making a choice, a decision.
It was, of course, such a stupid stand. And I took it to the extreme. Not only was it stupid. It was so irresponsible.
But back then, I did not feel stupid. Neither did I feel irresponsible. I felt that it was the right thing to do, although I knew that I was not exercising my constitutional right. How could that be right, right?
I had been covering general elections (as a reporter) since 1982. Perhaps, that was why. I felt comfortable being on the outside and not casting my vote.
I can go on and on about how stupid I was....until 2003, that is, when I decided, yes, I want to be part of the election process.
I went to the nearest registration station, signed up, and the rest is history.
Early one morning in March, 2004, my sister and I went to Sekolah Sultan Abdul Samad in Petaling Jaya to cast our ballot. We were among the very few early birds there.
I cannot tell you how good I felt after I had cast my vote.
Did I feel that the destiny of this country was in my hands? I sure did.
That feeling still remains even though I have been told over and over again, that no, the destiny of this country is not in my hands. Nor the hands of voters. That it is in the hands of a few people.
I am a very realistic and practical person. I know that right now and right here, I cannot do much to right what is wrong.
The system of political rule in this country is not bad. Of course, of course, I hear you, I hear you. There are some not so good things there.
Maybe right now, the destiny of this country is in the hands of a few people. Maybe, there is nothing you and I can do, right now.
You and I know, all is not lost. You and I know too, that this country we call home, cannot be all that bad.
I am sure glad I did what I did back in 2004.
I like that overwhelming sense of responsibility when I marked the ballot papers -- one for a parliamentary seat, the other, for the state.
Sounds silly sometimes, just talking about it.
But no. Not silly, after all. It is about making a choice for this country. It is yours, remember? And mine.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Toll Hike, Gen 2 and Changing Jobs

From Cyberjaya to Taman Megah
Truth be told, and I am unapologetic about this, I often take tolled roads and highways, if it means getting to my destination fast and hassle-free. That's why I am prompt in reloading my touch-&-go.
I use my smart-tag very regularly. In fact, I often wonder why motorists don't do as I do -- use the smart tag lane -- if they are regular highway users.
Just looking at the heavily-queued "tunai" lanes makes me so stressful, I have to turn on some really good music to be de-stressed or distracted.
I don't mind paying that extra ringgit to reach Putrajaya, Bangsar, KLIA, Subang Jaya and Shah Alam.
And if it is going north to Ipoh or south to Singapore via Johor Baru -- do I have a choice?
Actually, I should be talking in the past tense because the recent toll hike on several highways which include those I frequent, is making me feel the pinch.
I know, I know. Everyone's bitching about the toll hike. Enough said already. As though anything I say now will make a difference.
I will say my piece, anyway.
Before this, I did try to make that little difference. I "boycotted" highways where the increase has been in effect. Yes, I had to bear with the inconvenience.
But, I suppose I no longer have the zest or the energy to continue doing so.
Too old for all this. I avoided the tolled highways once or twice. Maybe, even three times. Then, I went back to being the impatient townie who just wants to get to her destination fast and hassle-free.
Most times, of course, I do have a choice, because I do have the time to bear with the inconvenience.
Some people don't.
Take Jay, my niece who lives in Kelana Jaya, PJ and works in Cyberjaya. And this is about Jay and the many people like her.
She is a young (married) mother of two -- Ayra (19 months old) and Ayna (5 months). Just your average young working woman.
Before she was married she worked with an NGO in Taman Megah, PJ. After she got married, she was offered a job in Cyberjaya that came with better pay. She loved her NGO job because it was what she believed in. But she had to be practical. Soon, she was going to have a baby and the family could do with added income. She could take the Cyberjaya job with better pay and still hold on to her beliefs and idealism. What a happy compromise.
Besides, Cyberjaya wasn't that far. There was the LDP.
Yes, there was the LDP. And there is still the LDP. But today is a different story for her. Today she is reviewing her financial situation and is forced to make some adjustments.
She has made some calculations -- she has to fork out about RM460 a month on toll charges. She reckons she can buy a Gen 2 and make monthly loan repayments of that amount. But that is not the point.
You feel like you are being held at ransom. You pay your taxes so that in return you get good roads, among other things.
Good roads may not be your God-given right, but this is the new millennium, for heaven's sake. We are supposed to have good roads, good infrastructure.
So, we pay toll to have a nice drive to wherever we have to go. You have an option. Don't pay toll and you can take the dirt road, so to speak.
So, you pay the toll for that good drive along that good road, although sometimes I feel cheated because traffic seems to be piling up by the minute on these tolled roads.
So, my dear Jay. Looks like you do have to make that major adjustment. No one is listening to you or the thousands of motorists affected by the toll hike.
You are on your own. Your hardship is yours to carry, to bear. You are, after all, just the common people.
That NGO job in Taman Megah never looked so appealing, huh?
Now, you see her point?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Warming Up

Bread, Butter or Politics?
Pressure, pressure, pressure! I know I don't have my hawk-eyed bosses anymore to go through my columns or analyses. That had never been a problem for me when I was at the NST. Bosses will be bosses. But where I had been for a long time before I left last year, there was a great degree of trust in my sense of judgement and, basically, my capabilities.
I have left the "view my complete profile" quite incomplete.
Perhaps I should say that my last-held position at the NST was as deputy chief news editor. I was political editor before that, and news editor before that.
Joined the NST right after college (then ITM) in 1978. Went to Boston University for a year and returned to NST to resume work.
I have also not indicated what my blog is -- whether it is narrative or issues-driven. In the style and mode of Rocky's Bru, Kak Teh's Choc-a-Blog, MarinaM's ranting, Jeff Ooi's screen shots, Tengku Elida's Mokciknob or Sheih's Kickdefella?
Oh! What a smorsgasbord of ideas and models.
Can I just be me?
Was with MarinaM and Rocky (and later Azmi Anshar, my bro-in-law) yesterday at Austin Chase.
Rocky thinks I should do what I do best (it seems!) -- comment about politics.
Marina says be what you want to be, write what you like. (my kind of woman!)
Azmi -- "whatever you like-lah".
Pressure, pressure, pressure. A different kind.
You are really bare and naked. You are so exposed. You can also be so vulnerable.
How much of my life do I want to share with others? How gung-ho should I be?
Do I do a Kak Teh? Do I do a Rocky or Sheih?
It is so easy to lose track, to be free in blogosphere. At the same time it is hard because you are your own editor, gate-keeper, and judge. You have to know how much to give and how much to hold back.
It is so easy to whack the government, political parties, politicians and individuals liberally and unrestrained. It is harder to do so tactfully, with maturity and style.
So I have, ahem, decided. No surprises. I will ------ be myself and write about anything and everything I like. That excites me. That stimulates me. That shocks me. And that pleases me.
Bread, butter and politics.
Now that I am on the outside, looking out, with a lot of time doing so, I think I will have a lot of fun. I am on a roll, people.
What a start!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Never Too Late

Mendailing, Javanese and Blogging

Been wanting to do this since last year after I left the NST.
That would be 10 months ago, give or take a couple of weeks.
Ah, Blogging. An entirely new experience for me. I kept saying I would do it.

Man, I could do it. Easy Peasy. Nothing to it. Piece of cake.
Heck, everybody else was doing it. How difficult could it be?
After all, my pal, Zaharah Othman, started her 'Kak Teh Choc-a-Blog' two years ago. (Oh, she just celebrated her blog's second anniversary).

Isn't it just a matter of putting your thoughts into this thing called blogosphere?
Been working as a journalist for more than 27 years. Surely, writing for myself without anyone else subbing or editing it, will be a picnic.
And if people want to read it, they are welcomed to do so. And if they don't , they can skip it. It's a free country.
It's a free world. We have choices. Options.

Yeah, yeah. So I did start a blog. It was called 'Seri Mendahiling'. Rocky (of Rocky's Bru -- and I am not dropping names. I know the guy. He is my latte mate) helped me get started.
He suggested the name because of my Mendailing heritage on my (late) mom's side.
He seemed to be intrigued by that, he being a Minangkabau, Antah and Lerap et al.
But I am a Javanese because my dad is Javanese. Tradition, custom and culture dictate that we have to follow our father's line, I argued.
Seri Mendahiling sounds more, er, exotic than Seri Jawa, he reasoned. Ok, ok. Sounds ok to me.
I give up.
So. yes, there was a Seri Mendahiling blog started sometime last year. In June, maybe. Or was it August. My first posting was a one-liner about belly-dancing. It went something like ' Let's belly dance. Liberating'.
To make it easy for me to start posting, Rocky suggested that topic as I had taken up belly-dancing as a once-a-week keep-fit routine and enjoying every minute of that liberating experience.
But I was too nervous to write beyond that one line.
Suddenly , it seemed sacrilegious to let anyone else know about that bit of my life.
So aware was I that it was a blog. God knows who could be chancing upon it. Judging it. Criticising it. Criticising my passion for dance.
Suddenly, I was nervous. As though my articles written those years I was at the NST were never read by anyone but me.
That was that. No more postings. Writer's Block. Writer's Blog Block. Dead Mind. Dead Brain. Brain dead, more like it.
'Seri Mendahiling' got lost, never to be recovered.
And Rocky kept bugging me about it.
'You should start blogging, you know. Seriously blogging. I am sure you have a lot to say about things', he would tell me.
More like a challenge. Always indicating that I shouldn't let my experience as a senior journalist/editor go to waste.
Yes, Rocky dear. I have a lot to say about the state of country. The state of the world. George W. Bush. Guantanamo. Saddam Hussain's hanging. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Toll increase. Crooked politicians. And belly-dancing.
So, at 9.15pm, at Austin Chase, BSC in Bangsar, KL, on Jan 7, 2007, I began seriously blogging under a different blog name.
Thank you, Rocky for helping me get started again.
So what's with the number 3540 and that road name?
It is a very very special number. That's all I am willing to let on.
Now, about Jalan Sudin -- just being sentimental. It was the road (in Singapore) along which stood my (maternal) grandfather's house. I was born in that house 50 years ago.
The road is long gone. So is my Oompong's (grandfather in Mendailing dialect) house.In fact, so is the entire Kampung Melayu in Singapore 14.
That is the reason for 3540 Jalan Sudin.