Contradictheory: You Malay one or 1Malaysian?

So that was the original title I had for today's article in The Star. Although I normally give really poor titles and the editors replace them with their own, I thought this one that I had was really on the mark. But I guess it could have been a little incendiary.

It just also upsets me that so much that happens in Parliament that gets attention are people angling for political points and less about the actual job of running the country (which I understand can be pretty tricky in the first place). And what sounds like it matters so much actually doesn't really matter at all.

Yet, I still have faith in the nation. Strange, huh?

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posted on Monday, April 12, 2010 - permalink
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In memory of my uncle Shah

My uncle, Shahriza Hussein, passed away on Saturday two weeks ago. It was a tough time for me, and I felt that one of the better things I could do was to write a column about it. It wasn't so much an obituary, as an attempt to make sense of what was running through my head.

I wasn't the only one on cyberspace to have noted his passing:

As I wrote in the article, funerals are more for living; so was my column for that week. I'm not sure what he himself would have made of all this fuss.

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posted on Friday, February 05, 2010 - permalink
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Contradictheory: Is a tame point better than not making one at all?

Today's column was a bit of a tough one. I wanted to write something about the whole what-do-we-call-our-God debate that is currently gripping the nation's politicians, but people told me not to go there.

So I actually started writing about why there were so many single-person vehicles in KL, and that maybe it was because of the lack of trust, and then that would segue into the doughnut story that the people we should really trust is each other, and not those at the top... but I kind of shunted myself into this article.

At the end of the day, I think I got my point made, even it was a little passive. Maybe that's not all bad, 'cos I don't think Fire-Scorched Molotov is a colour scheme I would pick for my front door.


posted on Monday, January 18, 2010 - permalink
read the article, interesting!
the image reminds me of Big Apple Donut. :D
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Facing up to FaceBook

Last Sunday's article was about the problems of privacy, using Facebook as an example, and trying to highlight our new Data Protection Act. I also quietly inserted a paragraph that noted that Governments were exempt from the Act.

The only reaction on the web that I saw about this was at, who said that she wanted to share her stuff - that's the point of Facebook. I don't disagree, but I also hope that my real lconcern was clear: that you didn't have full control of your personal data is a problem. So, yes, you can share it with the world if you want to, but you should also be able to take it away at any time too.

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posted on Monday, January 04, 2010 - permalink
greetings mr.dzof. i'm the owner of the blog mentioned above.

wow! seriously i did not intend to 'formally giving feedback' to your article. if i knew it would get published here in your site, then i would have written a better essay! and do a double-check on vocabs and grammars.

my post is merely a personal thought. it has no connection with your article actually.

neway, i'm a great fan of your writings. looking forward to the next great article! :D
Privacy becomes a problem when you call in sick at work, then have pictures of yourself at a barbecue uploaded.
A social networking site is designed for people in a social environment,yet not a replacement for the office pantry.People seem to forget that.
This is an issue close to my heart. A lot of people think I'm paranoid, but I'm better safe than sorry.
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Response to response to snatch theft article

The article I wrote last Sunday on the lady who ran over the snatch thief looks to have produced a response worthy of unsettled hornets.

Somebody wrote on their blog a scathing reply, with this sentence in the final paragraph: "I donít get how you can even get your bloody article published."

It was inspiring enough for me to craft a reply.

I was directed to your blog from your email.

I understand your anger against snatch thieves. That, added to the fact that they seem to callously put people's lives in danger just for maybe a hundred Ringgit seems unjust enough that you would want to hurt them grievously - kill them even.

You ask me how I feel if somebody close to me was killed by such a snatch thief.

I would naturally want to grab hold of him, torture him mercilessly, keeping him barely alive so I can inflict the maximum amount of pain. I would do this, knowing that no amount of physical suffering could make up for my emotional loss. Yet, I would endeavour to make him feel fear, perhaps hurting his loved ones too to make him know the gaping maw that lies within me. I would perhaps injure those he cares for until I see the loss in his eyes, and then perhaps go beyond it for good measure. I would show practically no mercy, except for him to contrast his predicament with what the absence of pain for him to really appreciate his condition.

This is why I hope somebody would stop me from doing it. My fear is that if pushed I would do this, and I know right now, right here, that this would put me on the wrong side of civilization that I would like to see the human race to be. Mahatma Gandhi agreed too, when he said "An eye for an eye makes everyone blind".

This is why public vendetta is illegal. This is why we don't let a person in the street take direct and vengeful reaction on those that wrong him. This is why we say, a man is innocent until proven guilty, and that the only killing deemed acceptable is in direct self-defence or as part of a state-sponsored execution.

And yet, that anger if left unassuaged will need to find a way to vent itself. If you continue to hate those that you think wronged you, then you will want to take retribution on all those that person represents.

I would like to call you a friend, if only because I think we both understand the pain that a crime can cause beyond its immediate act. If you want to get your MP to campaign for snatch thefts to be classified as attempted murder, that I would support your right to do that too.

But if you want to be part of a group that hunts down and kills a man as he flees, because somebody else on a motorcycle who killed somebody else while snatching their purse, then I apologise: I have to stand opposite you my friend, and stop a criminal act.


posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - permalink
I replied. Thank you for replying to my response to your article. Please check my blog for a response as it is too much to reply here.
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Today and forty years ago

I just noticed today's date. I can't help comparing what happened forty years ago with what is happening now. Despite the media and public outcry over the Menteri-go-round in Perak (The Star's term, not mine), there has been relatively little violence. Yes, people were held under ISA for not apparent good reason, and SUHAKAM has criticised the police presence as being non-neutral and enforcing for only one side, but compared to what happened forty years ago, I think progress has been made.

Is it because both the parties involved have an ethnic mix? If it had to be characterised as a racial issue, it looks like a Malay vs Malay situation, set against the backdrop of the Sultan of Perak as community and political leader. Insofar as public response is concerned, it seems to have crossed all racial barriers: we're tired of this, can we go back to the business of running the country?

It is interesting to note that a lot of the players involved don't seem to understand the difference between standing up for your party and standing up for the rakyat you're meant to represent. I did always think that the State Assembly should have just held votes of no confidence in the Speaker and then-MB, and thus follow the line of public-appointed representatives making decisions at the state level (on behalf of their constituencies).

Obviously politics when mixed with law is not so easy to understand and interpret. To all those who claim that you should let the public decide, I say they did decide last April and all this that is happening now is a direct result of their decision. Who asked them to appoint MPs who would of such dubious character that they could find themselves embroiled in a corruption scandal? But then, who of us really take the time to know who we are voting for beyond their logo and catch-phrases.

Regardless, I reject the idea that just because you have multi-racial politics, you won't have multi-racial political arguments. I think one big difference between now and forty years ago is that we have in fact matured as a nation. I am happy for the courts to make decisions rather than to have Thai-style mob rule - people not getting beaten up should be taken as a positive development. And I am happy to see two sizable confrontational forces in Malaysian politics, because that's what check and balance in a democracy is all about.

Now, if we can just get rid of the hypocrisy and the self-serving attitude of those who should instead be serving us, then we'll be onto a good thing.

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posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 - permalink
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Contradictheory: Malaysian Hollywood?

I surprisingly got a bunch of favourable responses for the last Contradictheory article about how hard writing is. Somebody also emailed me, asking how they could be a writer, and what does it take.

Here is my reply:
Dear Sir,
The "group of writers" that I mentioned are actually the writing staff for Creative Development Unit of Astro. Our sole job is to write scripts for Astro productions (and to make sure that they are good, of course!).

We did have an interview session late last year. I'm afraid it was not as well publicised as it could have been, but we have our quota for this year already. We may hire again, but I cannot guarantee when it will happen.

If you send an email to then the person in charge will hopefully put you on the list for future job opportunities.

You asked, "what does it take to be part of the group?". Now, here is roughly what we learnt from the last round of interviews:
  1. We asked that everybody who wanted a job to email a sample of their writing. About half failed to do so. We didn't give those people a job.
  2. We asked those whose writing we thought showed promised to come to an interview. About 10% of those didn't or couldn't come to see us personally. They didn't get a job with us either.
  3. Of those that came for the interview, we asked if they understood scriptwriting jargon like "three-act structure" and "turning point". About a quarter said they did, but they obviously didn't. Some of those insisted they were right in being wrong. They didn't get a job either.
  4. About a third of whom remained came in for a second interview. One person told me with the upmost confidence that her rambling sample story (that had no clear point nor a plot that I could describe in less than fifty words) was "post-modern" because it took place in the 24th Century. She didn't get a job with us.
  5. Those that survived all this went into a one month training session, where they learnt (or relearnt) how to write, including what phrases like "three-act structure" and "turning point" meant. 40% of those did not manage to submit homework on time regularly. They are not part of our team right now.

I hope you appreciate that the one thing you need to become a writer in television is dedication to the craft. You must really want to write so badly; so much so that you already have a lot of writing done in your own spare time just because you love it. You must want it so
badly that you even write when you're "not in the mood" to do so.

You must accept that you are probably not yet "there" as a writer, and probably have a long, long way to go. Humility and an awareness of hubris will be your references. You believe that everything you write can still be better. You know this, because when you give your writing
to honest friends to comment on, they tell you the glaring truth that it isn't really great yet.

Lastly, it really helps if you enjoy telling other people stories, and you are not shy in entertaining them. Really makes the work worth doing, I find.

Best of luck, don't stop writing.

Yours sincerely,

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posted on Monday, February 09, 2009 - permalink
Your idea has its merits
Hmmm... now I want to write!
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Contradictheory: Boycott what?

Last weekend's Contradictheory was one of the tougher ones to write. I wanted to say something about the Israel-Gaza conflict that I didn't think any of the mainstream press were saying (and certainly none of the blogs I read), but how to dip a contradictheory toe into the pool of opinion when almost everybody has painted Israel as the devil?

So I crafted a piece that for once was read by two friends for opinion before I posted it.

So my suggestion is this: Let us focus on the correct ultimate aim. Whatever our religious and cultural differences, peace is always preferable over war. Not only must we metaphorically shake hands and hug our cultural antitheists, but we must also be involved in each otherís interests. A downfall for one hurts the other as well.

For all that worrying I had about being fair to all parties, I think I was perhaps too gentle. I purposely neglected to lambast the short-sightedness of those who thought the boycott of US products would somehow be a solution to the Gaza conflict. I could have said,
"Those who think a simple boycott is all that's needed to affect change and to right an entire country gone wrong are deluding themselves; what is needed is to extend a hand of friendship, instead of waving a clenched fist, because the people driving tanks are following orders from a government who wants votes. And not only that, you're waving your banners from behind a wall of apathy protected by a trench of ignorance."
But I didn't want to upset too many people.

As a result, there was only one letter this week in response. There was no complaint, just a quiet nod of agreement.

No change from my side too, I'm afraid.

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posted on Sunday, January 25, 2009 - permalink
Your idea has its merits
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What happened to drunk malays on film?

Watching Keluarga 69 on Astro Prima, and I see a drunk P. Ramlee walking back to face an upset father at home. It's played to comic effect, but the comedy is more in the argument between father and son, rather than a stumbling drunk not being able to make sense of his situation or environment. In other words, the drinking is bad

Could we do a scene like this these days without a character saying "Astarfirllahulazeem..."? Why has a moral imperative seeped into our entertainment?

I glanced over yesterday's headlines on PAS wanting to establish Hudud laws in Terengganu. Maybe I'm just a middle-class urbanite stuck far away from the realities of Kuala Terengganu, but it smacks of politics of the worst sort - we say what we say because it'll win us support.

Is this what has happened to the Malaysian film industry? When maybe a good story was once enough, now we have to incorporate 'good' values into the scripts. Again, we say what we say because it's what we feel people expect.

I want to say, let's remember the story comes first, and let viewers decide on the morality. So there.

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posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - permalink
Yes, let the viewers deal with the story. Our film industries, I am sure we have many talents to advance interesting stories. The facts of life would be interesting.

But then, handling problems has shifted to number two in priority. Top priority has been pointing fingers; the blame game has become the culture of the Malaysian society. Part of that society, the viewers. Blame the movies for the existence of Mat Rempit? The irony, The Fast and Furious still get a place in the Malaysian cinemas.

This affects everything and we can't move forward easily when our own society seems to be conservative. But who can shout this out to be heard?
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Contradictheory: Thoughts not expressed

The original draft for last Sunday's Contradictheory column was much longer than required 900-word limit. This was partly because I wanted to write lots about self-censorship in life in general, but mainly because there's so much of it in the entertainment industry as well.

As it was, they cut out a bit I talked about Ghost. I think it was because of space rather than of anything offensive. The paragraph was this:
Yes, it's a game of guesswork. We generally look at what has previously been allowed as a basis. Once, horror films were taboo but recently things have been different. We even did a whole series about a ghost this year, which we felt was never at any risk of being banned because, (a) Our ghost looked like Naz Rahman, who isn't scary in the least; (b) It wasn't really a horror story about the supernatural, but a love story about two people who can never be with one another.

I think all of the examples come from Popiah Pictures productions. If you want, you can try figure out which came from which. The specifics are not that important, anyway.

Other examples that I could have used, but didn't:

...and so on and so forth.

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posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - permalink
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