Saturday, April 21, 2007


Time: 12:39

Allow me to indulge in a moment of extreme narcissism.

Okay. If I die tomorrow...
How will I be remembered?

A good daughter, sister, friend and person?

"Her smile lightens the whole room", bla bla bla?

Had I made a difference in someone's life? Shaped who they are? An important aspect of their perspectives? What impression had I left those whose lifepaths had crossed mine?

Or will people only remember the ugly side of me?

Isn't it a little too late to pile accolades on people...posthumously?

Do we receive enough hugs, love, words of encouragement and affirmation of who we are while we're still alive?

Sometimes, I wonder.

After V Tech, and after an accident I saw on the road with a man in a pool of blood, I told myself, I will not go like that. But you never know. We're not invincible.

Life is as such.

I hope I will be remembered well.

Friday, April 20, 2007

work or not work?

Time: 11:08

I've always been pretty gung-ho about work and had extended my internship from April 7 to April 30.

I've had half a mind to extend it til May 20...and that thought came to a haaaaaalt this morning when I woke up at exactly 8.55am. Work starts at 9am.

Not only do I sleep at the general hours of 3-5am, I'm a wreck in the morning. I'm tired. I'm not enthusiastic. I'm unproductive. And as of this morning...I don't wanna work no more.

I'm also mulling over something so complex, I don't wanna begin to figure out how I feel. I'm pretty numb to infatuations and crushes at this point. Hard for me to even wanna fall for someone. And no way I'll do it through the Internet. True, behind the screen names are real people. But real people who're far, far away and whom I'll probably never meet. Therefore I should learn to keep a distance. Don't fall hard cos it'll be my own knees that's going to be scraped and bleed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

V Tech shooting - dying for nothing

Time: 15:43

Why? Why? Why?

That's the question ringing in everyone's minds. What was the hatred, the despair, the anger that drove 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui to act the way he did? Why were the laws so lax, a young man could purchase firearms, no questions asked? How was he allowed to kill two, trek across an entire campus and kill another 30 and injure scores of others?

Why in school, a supposedly safe place for young people congregate to gain knowledge and to better themselves and the world.

In fact, how can a country, in the name of freedom, allow the legal sales of firearms to literally anyone when it is precisely this freedom that imprisoned people in fear? Fear of knowing guns are everywhere and fear of not knowing if they will be shot today, for five dollars, for looking at someone's girlfriend...for nothing, not a reason.

Thirty-two people had died for deepest, sincerest, heartfelt sorry to the victims, whose lives had been cut short at the brink of achieving their hopes and ideals; and to their parents, family, friends and everyone associated with them. To the instructors and their knowledge annihilated forever. Think of those parents whose darkest, deepest fears are realised; whose children will never go home, the convocations and weddings and career advancements they will never see, let alone live through. To them. All the victims who died, and the people who were hurt and scared, and everyone left behind to deal with the pain, grief and trauma.

No anger, no hatred can justify a fellow student opening fire at random people who've never crossed him. Nothing justify it. If he felt he needed to die, he should've had jumped off a building alone. Such irony of a country that advocated all the counseling and freedom of expression and resources available to its people to seek help. Irony of a society that encouraged individualism. Irony that one felt so compelled to express one's anger in the most expletive, obscene way possible to make himself heard and to make a mark and a statement.

But as a student of the media, and having watched CNN for the past two days, I had mixed feelings about the coverage. The repetitiveness couldn't be helped. Insufficient "meat" to fill in alloted airtime made 9/11, Katrina and Iraq War news repetitive in their own days. The tribute given to the victims was touching; an aspect I respected of CNN and American journalism that allowed audience to comprehend that the dead weren't just numbers; they were someone's child, a friend, a loved one, a person who had a life, a somebody.

What I despised was the way Cho was both demonized and glorified. His murder weapons and MO was mentioned over and over; I wondered why. It's glorifying him to place his mugshots over half the screen while they interview someone in a small window. Copycat crimes, anyone? And he was demonized... by the way he was described, by the interview of his roommates whose claims and potrayal of him, I'm sorry to say, I am skeptical over. Cho is dead; anyone can say anything about him now. He had mental problems. His writings worried his lecturer. He was a loner. He was quiet. He was a boy with so much pent up pain and a streak of violence that ended up in such tragedy...demonizing Cho, making him sound like a hopeless, trigger-happy mental case. What of his parents? Were they not interviewed? They went out of their way to interview neighbours and even the postman, but not the parents or his friends?

And why was his Korean native background emphasised? He migrated to USA along with his family in 1992 when he was eight. He spent all his developing years there. Why do they use the word "resident alien"? It's so deragatory. Why did they point out even a resident with a green card can purchase guns? So if laws change and only lawful citizens can purchase guns...will crimes involving violence go down?

Why are the stories framed again and again in such a way that it exposes his Korean roots? Whatever was his issue and his pain and anger, it was bred and incubated and hatched in the US, not the land he was born in once upon a time.

Does it matter that he was Korean? Does it matter what sort of nationality or status he had? The point of the issue is - this young man, whoever he was, held guns and killed people - Why?

But from the way they angled the coverage... is the American media trying to say that the US had been kind and opened their arms for people to enter and live there, and now they've been stepped on, violated, by an alien? Or are they simply too quick in trying to say "Its not us, Americans' fault. It's someone else's and we're victimised." Is that why they emphasised he was Korean native? He lived in the States for 12 fucking long years, fer God's sake. They even felt the need to emphasised his green card was renewed in 2003.


What if it was a 23-year-old white male who did it? Would they dig up his Irish/Italian/Jewish background? And if it was an African-American, would they frame it that blacks are prone to violence? If it was a Middle Eastern or a Muslim, would 'terrorism' be a catchphrase?

But no. Unfortunately, it was a deranged person who also happened to be a black-eyed, black-haired yellow-skined immigrant who did it. Someone labelled "Resident Alien".

Cohen's Agenda setting is a theory where the core principle stated that "The media does not tell people what to think, but what to think about". It is perhaps the first and most important concept in understanding, interpreting and analysing media content. Think about it. Why should you let the media tell you how to think?

And the agenda in this tragedy has been set. The stage has been prepared for a Korean/Asian-hating manifesto. I fear for the yellow-skinned Asians there now. Would they be looked differently? Harassed? Judged? Obstracised? Killed? Hated? And now Korean descents, whether they are Korean-Americans or Korean migrants (and other Asians with yellow skin) are leaving campus or huddling up together in fear of retribution.

Prejudice and discrimination exist and will continue to be reinforced given the opportunity. People who never admitted to this fact are either in denial or live in their own bubble. And now there is a new excuse to dig up old scars.

Objective newsreporting is bullshit, even in the land of the free.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Still working

Time: 18:05


Mmmph. I have a lot more off days now than previously and I'm fresh from another day off yesterday. Had an exclusive interview with a survivor from the Greek cruise ship Sea Diamond which sank on April 6.

How come I'm feeling rather harried and worn?

Must be that final report. And everyone around me have different formats for that report making me 100x worried and paranoid. I, afterall, am the only one under my supervisor. Everyone else was under someone else. And my supervisor was not much of a help because she's too busy with her students' final year projects and her own PhD work.

My training ended April 7 and my one thought was, how did three months pass us by this quickly? It's unbelievable we've gone through 14 weeks. FOURTEEN WEEKS, gawd. And never did I regret extending my training...I like working here.

*To be continued*

*Continued april 15 @ 11:55*

It's a Sunday and I'm at the huge office with the total of 5 people. Left rather abruptly on Fri to go home. I got a byline for my interview, yo. Anyway, I was saying, I like working in this line simply because with all the bad people I've met, I met really, really good ones too.

It's a blessing as I get to widen my social circles and see people I normally only read about in the papers or online. This fact was illustrated yet again when I came back from my first assignment and Lam sent me on my way to Jalan Gasing, PJ with Ivan to yet another.

It was to an emergency press conference by the Barrier-Free Environmental and Accessible Transport Group or BEAT, who were, well, "extremely disappointed" by Penang State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan's statement that RapidPenang will not introduce special buses for wheelchair users.

I'd use the word enraged myself, but mind you, I am not very diplomatic.

It's just yet another nonsensical reminder of living in Malaysia where human rights and equality is lip service. The thing is, you can't see disabled persons as people on wheelchairs, can you? They are like you and everyone on the streets. Taxpayers! PEOPLE (with stories to tell), dammit! Same rights to get on a damn bus!

BEAT said despite assurance from other ministers that the needs and interests of disabled people will be considered and that new buses in Penang will be "disabled friendly", in the end, RapidPenang is puchasing 120 buses that are not for everyone.

And anyone who've been on buses like ours will testify to the difficulty of climbing in and out of the buses. Although I've been blessed with a car and do not take public transport as often, I remember with every single bus, you gotta make a huge step up onto the buses. And if you're as short, heavy and klutzy as I am, you've probably slipped once or twice heaving yourself into a bus. And there's no wide spaces for wheelchair users to park themselves and within the buses, there's another huge step somewhere midway across the bus to the back seats.

I do use KTM, LRT and monorail often, and I don't think I've really noticed if they're disabled friendly. I know awhile ago KTM Kepong built a ramp up outside the station, and the other side is strictly a slope; no steps. Truth be told I don't think I've ever seen a wheelchair user on trains, and to be politically incorrect, you'd notice them if you see them.

My friend in London said they're trying to make the city more disabled friendly, and in his words, "they can drop the front of the bus down to let wheelchairs on".
In reference to the tube in London, he said, "only has some newer parts of the line with wheelchair access. Jubille line from westminster > stratford [but] all the rest have little or no wheelchair access. its almost impossible, the tunnels are so small". Another in Singapore said, "they have spaces for wheel chair [in buses], but have steps so technically, wheelchairs cant go on unless they're folded".

Hmm, okay.

The BEAT statement was written by Peter Tan, a wheelchair user whom Darlene had blogged about. Darlene and Meikeng met him in Midvalley and I didn't see what was the hype until I met him at the press conference.

He is a charismatic man and an excellent writer.
And I, Pui Yee, do not, I repeat, do not throw those two compliments around. I consider myself honoured that I have had a chance to talk with him, albeit briefly, and also Christine Lee, BEAT's coordinator, a beautiful, soft-spoken woman (and may I confess I stared at and admired her eye-shadow application skills). I'd want to know and talk more with them in future too. The issues they fight for, their lives and who they are as people, as persons. Individuals.

Anyways, Peter wrote the statement and here's some excerpts:

BEAT would like to point out that wheelchair users do not need special buses. Accessible buses can take wheelchair users and the public at the same time. In the Asia-Pacific accessible buses are already widely used in Japan and Australia to serve not only wheelchair users but the general public. These non-step buses are also convenient for senior citizens, pregnant women and adults with prams as the floor of the buses are flushed with the height of the bus stops.

It makes no sense to deny wheelchair users the right to use public transport at a time when the country is celebrating the 50th year of independence and it is ironic that we will soon have a Malaysian in the international space station 250km above us but a wheelchair user cannot even go from his house in Gelugor to Gurney Drive in Penang that is only about 25km away.

It is noted that many barriers to transportation continue to exist, preventing the full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in society. Willing disabled persons are unable to work because of inadequate accessible public transport in this country. By not providing these buses, wheelchair users are further marginalised from mainstream society.

Cost should not be used as a justification to not bring in accessible buses as by saying that, is Dr Teng saying that the needs of disabled persons are secondary?

We should learn from past mistakes. The disabled community protested the inaccessability of STAR-LRT to them. 13 years on, STAR-LRT is still inaccessible to wheelchair users.

BEAT calls on relevant authorities and RapidPenang to seriously reconsider their decision. The needs of disabled persons should not take a backseat. It is an apparent act of discrimination to deny Penangites [their] rights to accessible public transport, irrespective of the person's condition.

BEAT is a coalition of 16 NGOs of disabled persons in Malaysia advocating for the equalisation of opportunities for disabled persons


Thursday, April 05, 2007

pY Masters Degree Fund

Time: 22:23

The past couple of weeks, I've been checking out universities in UK and giving my future a good, long thought.

Actually, many long thoughts, but yeah. And you know me. I love talking about myself.

I'm graduating in May next year, barring any complications. That's just slightly over one year before I enter the workforce irrevocably. But also at least I have a clue to which direction I want to bring my life to. It's slightly off the beaten track, so to speak, and of course I'm scared, cos I'll be alone and I'm expected to behave responsibly, be independent and make the right choices and decisions.

And I am 100% sure I want to earn a Masters Degree too, and most probably in International Relations/Studies from Sheffield University, UK. I've been asked, what, will that sort of Masters give me a job?

That is why I'm studying journalism and not follow my whim to major in Sociology in some shoddy institution today. I believe, no matter where I go, I will be able to become a journalist, because information is vital in our society today, and there is no lack of news for journalists to seek out.

Information is power, for pete's sake.

But, my interests have always been sociology, people and culture. Check out their International Studies programme, cos everytime I load that page my tummy goes a little warm and "bomp!" out of excitement.

I see these:

Research methods in Politics and international Relations
Global Governance
Human rights
Advanced poltical analysis
Political thoughts and the rights of War and Peace
Social and Political Change in European Democracies
Multiculturalism and Democracy
Theories of political economy
US Hagemony
Theories and Issues in International Political economy
Development politics and policy
Gender and Globalisation
War, new wars and the Liberal State
The politics of Migration

...and my heart goes thump thump thump.
(No it didn't pop! if you know what I'm referring to)

Many Human Rights Officer posts in the United Nations require a Masters in this subject as well as related humanitarian work experience.

Even if I don't enter humanitarian work, it'll enrich my career as a journalist, and as a citizen of Malaysia, and the world, to study these topics in depth. And like I told everyone, if there's anything I am good it, its that I can survive academia.

So why am I so hesitant? First, of course, the tuition fee. It now stood at UK£9,850 for the academic year of 2007/2008, set to rise in near future. Can you imagine the figures in 4-5 years' hence? Of course I'll try to exhaust every mean possible to score me a scholarship or at least, a loan. Sell my car, sell my soul, something. Anything. But I need something concrete, to save up to RM77 000 in my bank account before I can even consider flying off. And RM77 000 don't drop from the sky.

My 5-year plan is this: graduate, work at least 3 years (5 being the absolute limit), and apply.

But even if I manage to put away RM400 a month, in 3 years it'll just going to accumulate to RM14 400. Meagre, paltry sum still. That is even if I manage to save that much a month.

I'm turning 21 soon and I'm considering telling my family members instead of buying me gifts, give me cash and bank it into my account straightaway.

Yes, I'm starting Pui Yee's Masters Degree Fund right here. All support welcomed. Freelance writing job? A permanent writing/editting job that I can manage while studying full time? I'm on! I'm on I'm on I'm on!