How did Southeast Asian identities originate? The legacy of the 19th century continues to shape us more than we think 'We also wanted to show how many of the things that we may accept and take as ‘normal’ and ever-present in our part of the world were, in fact, fairly recent innovations introduced to Southeast Asia during the colonial era'. Political scientist and historian Dr Farish Noor hosts a three-part series examining the legacy Western colonialism has left upon a region now known as Southeast Asia. The first episode, 'Conquerors & Merchants', is now available for viewing online. [more inside]
15 Funky Things Chinese People Burnt for their Ancestors A quirky look into a mainstay ritual of the Hungry Ghost Festival. What's that? From the Straits Times: All You Need to Know and Heed about the 7th Month Celebrations. From The Beijinger: Everything You Need to Know About this Year's Ghost Festival. And maybe you're familiar with the festival and all its taboos. Or are you?
On being lesbian in a straight marriage (approx. 26 mins podcast) A conversation between two friends. [more inside]
Visithra Manikam writes about the various facets of Malaysian Indian life that Indian moviegoers might have missed in Kabali 'Kabali is our story. The story of Indian Malaysians and not Indian immigrants who now come to work in Malaysia or NRIs. We are not same. [...] I realised a lot of reviews are being written based on Indian cultural experience rather than the actual Malaysian culture and issues. ' [more inside]
Two and a half years after the disappearance of MH370 (original thread), China, Malaysia and Australia have announced the search will be suspended. Why had they been so confident in the first place? How could they have been wrong? (Popular Mechanics)
U.S. Targets $1 Billion in Assets in Malaysian Embezzlement Case After a few years of investigations (and it's not the only country investigating), the USA Department of Justice announced that it will be seeking to seize more than US$1 billion worth of assets 'bought with money stolen from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund by people close to that country’s embattled prime minister, Najib Razak' (perhaps the unnamed 'Malaysian Official 1', as according to US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch - recording; press release). The route of the money being laundered can be traced all the way to Hollywood, in a little movie you may have heard of. [more inside]
What it means to be a ‘free hair’ in a predominantly Muslim society This is an edited version of a conference and seminar paper presented at the National University of Singapore in March 2016 and Australian National University in April 2016
On January 20th Medium received a takedown request from the Malaysian Government over a supposedly false report on the Malaysian Prime Minister and corruption by the Sarawak Report, a whistleblowing news organization whose main site was banned in Malaysia. When Medium Legal requested clarification, such as official court documents and proof of the report's falsehoods, instead of providing such documentation, Malaysia blocked Medium.
To say that Asians cannot be superheroes because of “Asian values” erases traditional and contemporary Asian superheroes, assumes all Asians are the same, and echoes a long history of racist oppression. It tells Asians that we can only be part of someone else’s story, and never make our own stories. Having Asian superheroes is a way of changing all that.In response to their compatriot Umapagan Ampikaipakan's New York Times piece about the "oxymoron of Asian superheros", fellow Malaysian writers Amanda Ng Yann Chwen and Louise Tan speak of the importance of having relatable role models in fiction.
Salesgirl drifts a pickup truck Professional motorsports athlete Leona Chin (dubbed Malaysia's Drift Queen), together with Mitsubishi Motors and Maxman.tv, pretends to be a sales girl on her first day selling the Mitsubishi Triton to unsuspecting male customers. Hijinks ensue during the testdrive. This isn't her first time: she's pranked driving instructors before.
The Malaysian Government is rushing through an anti-terrorism bill that has already been likened to a draconian dictatorship - providing the Prime Minister and a group of other Ministers with special powers such as seizing property, curfews with hefty fines, demolishing unoccupied buildings, arresting anyone threatening "national security", and various other emergency measures enacted without safeguards. Many groups have denounced the bill and called for its repeal, including the main Opposition coalition, the Malaysian Bar and other lawmakers, and human rights organizations.
Malaysian illustrator Charis Loke designs geek culture-inspired traditional South/South East Asian outfits, primarily baju kurung and kebaya. Some of her inspirations include Tolkein, Pacific Rim, Watchmen, and the Hunger Games.
Malaysian cartoonist Kazimir Lee documents the oppression faced by trans women in Malaysia, particularly touching on the 17 women arrested at a wedding last year as well as the landmark victory for the declaration of the 'cross-dressing' ban as unconstitutional, the first time Syariah law was challenged and defeated in civil court.
American schoolkids had spelling bees, British schoolkids had Shakespeare competitions, Malaysian schoolkids had choral speaking: a Greek-theatre-inspired cross between spoken word and choir, commonly used to teach English. [more inside]
"The main reason I got so involved with the Internet is because it was safety and sanctuary in a hostile world. I was heavily bullied in school due to racial tension — most of the teachers were hostile instigators or at least uncaring. I didn't really have a lot of space to express myself, because I was constantly told that my existence was wrong. I didn't really learn a lot from the Malaysian education system: most of it was already decades old." [more inside]
A major search is underway to find AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501 after it lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control while enroute from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore yesterday without a distress signal. Its parent company, the Malaysia-owned budget airline AirAsia (no connection to Malaysia Airlines) has had a clean safety record; AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes considers this his "worst nightmare". There were initial reports of a plane crashing in East Belitung Island, which are yet to be verified, but the multi-national search is still under way after a break due to darkness and bad weather. Indeed, powerful storms were in QZ8501's flight path, prompting the pilot to request an "unusual" route. There were 162 people on board, primarily Indonesians (including one of the pilots), as well as three South Koreans, one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one French, and one British citizen. There is currently some strong media attention on a family that missed the flight by minutes, who were told by airport officials while negotiating a replacement flight that "This must have been the best Christmas gift your family ever received". [more inside]
Cousu Main (which starts here) is an adaptation of The Great British Sewing Bee, and the blog of one of the participants features significant spoilers for this season. Although it's in French, the show is not hard for an English speaker to follow, just as Project Runway Vietnam (2013: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), Project Runway Korea (2009: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ...), and Projeto Fashion from Brazil--among others--make some sense to those familiar with the English-language series Project Runway Australia, Project Runway Canada, Project Runway Malaysia (2007 finale: 1-5 and 6), Project Runway Philippines (2008: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15), and Mission Catwalk from Jamaica.
Star Wars as a shadow play (article + video) Character creator Tintoy Chuo collaborates with tok dalang (master puppeteer) Pak Dain to bring Star Wars: A New Hope to the literal screen of the wayang kulit (shadow play). Follow the journey of young Perantau Langit (One Who Walks the Sky) as he meets Puteri Leia (Princess Leia) and faces off Sangkala Vedeh (Powerful General Vedeh) in this Peperangan Bintang (War of the Stars). A preview video. Tintoy Chuo at TedxKL. It was a match made in Facebook, so quite rightly, here is their FB page.
Last week it was announced that "Bluefin-21 completed its last mission" and that "the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370". That news came two days after Malaysian authorities released a 47 pages long document of Inmarsat's raw data [pdf]. [more inside]
In 1952 Malaya, cabaret dancer Rose Chan's bra snapped on stage. Noticing the enthusiastic response from the audience, she decided to capitalise on this, and transformed herself into Malaysia's first (and so far only) Queen of Striptease. (Many of these links have NSFW pictures) [more inside]
Malaysian human rights activist Irene Fernandez died on March 31st 2014 at age 67 from heart failure. She was arrested and charged with one year imprisonment in 1996 for "publishing false information with the intention to harm" after publishing a report on abuses of migrant workers in detention camps in Malaysia, and was acquitted in 2008 after multiple delays due to losses of important files. She received a Right Livelihood Award in 2005 for her human rights and migrant advocacy work. She is remembered by activists in Malaysia and overseas, politicians, and international media. [more inside]
Malaysia Airlines MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing is missing.
Flight MH370, operated on the B777-200 aircraft, departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am on 8 March 2014. MH370 was expected to land in Beijing at 6.30am the same day. The flight was carrying a total number of 227 passengers (including 2 infants), 12 crew members.Rumors that the plane has landed in Nanning, China are debunked. Chinese media had originally reported Vietnamese officials saying they've picked up a signal, but this has also been refuted. There has been no contact nor distress signals, and the case is especially puzzling as the plane lost contact at the safest moment of the flight. [more inside]
Smells can be very hard to identify and name, unless you are given some prompting - or you speak Jahai, the language of an indigenous group in the Malay peninsula.
Forest fires due to slash and burn farming in Sumatra, Indonesia have led to unprecedented air pollution levels in Singapore and Malaysia. In Singapore particularly, Facebook and Twitter are aflame as well. For a country used to very clean air, the sudden pollution has led to public outcry, with air purifiers and face masks being snatched off the shelves. So far, no stop-work-order has been issued, and there are complaints that the government is not tackling the situation rapidly enough. Indonesia is working to put out the fires and is considering cloud seeding; their response to pressure from Singapore to do more was that Singaporeans should stop behaving like children and not disturb their domestic affairs. While image macros about the 2013 haze continue to fill up Facebook feeds, some people are taking the whole affair in a more irreverent way. [more inside]
On 21 October 1993, the working face separating the ocean from an open-pit tin mine collapsed dramatically, leaving a cove where the mine had once been.
In Malaysia's continuing efforts to persecute and combat the "deviant wave" of homosexuality, after banning a LGBT rights event claiming a threat to "public order" and training parents and educators to spot "LGBT behaviors" in school children for possible entry into a gay rehabilitation centre, they are now producing and presenting Asmara Songsang, a musical where LGBT people live lives fuelled by sex, drugs, and rock and roll...only to be struck by lightning and go straight or die. [more inside]
"Honey laundering is a complex exercise that involves several players in the honey chain from apiary to wholesaler to retailer. In the case against ALW, evidence was presented to show the use of fake country-of-origin documents for shipments, replacement of labels on Chinese containers with fraudulent ones, switching of honey containers in a third country, and even the blending of Chinese honey with glucose syrup or honey from another country."
We Were Wanderers On A Prehistoric Earth (3m14s, fullscreen)
Malaysia is proposing a Computing Professionals Bill, based on the Registration of Engineers Act [.PDF] which makes it mandatory for all practicing "computing professionals" to be registered with a government body. Dealing in the IT industry, including sending “proposals, plans, designs, drawings, schemes, reports, studies or others to be determined by the Board to any person or authority in Malaysia” without being registered will incur a fine not exceeding RM20,000 (~US$6380) or 6 months in jail. Malaysian IT professionals and geeks are up in arms, and similarities have been drawn to Nigeria's law on computing professionals.
Australia's High Court has handed down a 6-1 judgement against (PDF) the Commonwealth Government's deal with the Malaysian Government, to replace the so-called Pacific Solution, under which the two countries would have "swapped" asylum seekers.
When you combine Kung Fu, Soccer and Volleyball you get an awesome sport called Sepak Takraw | the film version, Libas | 'Just Give Me The Damn Sepak Takraw Ball'. A few more examples: grass court | women's match . About the Sepak Takraw ball. [more inside]
I will not Tweet indiscriminately. I will not Tweet indiscriminately. I will not Tweet indiscriminately. I will not...
Malaysian performer and social activist Fahmi Fadzil was sued for defamation by media company Blu Inc after a Tweet in January alleging that the company maltreated a pregnant friend who was an employee. His punishment? To tweet 100 times over 3 days:
I've DEFAMED Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine. My tweets on their HR Policies are untrue. I retract those words & hereby apologize.Responses from other Malaysian Twitter users, mostly on Fahmi's side, have been interesting.
The Borneo Blog - fascinating photographic journey from the late 1960s of life and culture in Kapit, Sarawak, Malaysia* via Mefi Projects. [slightly NSFW - some topless locals]
There are many types of Reogs in Indonesia but Reog Ponorogo is the most famous. Waroks hold a 50kg singobarong mask in their teeth while performing. Malaysia has attempted to annex the performance.
Rolf Potts will travel through 12 countries in 42 days, with his current location updated here. He intends to do all this with no luggage, no backpack, no man purse -- not even a fanny pack. [via mefi projects]
95 snakes found in bag at Malaysia airport. That's 95 live boa constrictors. Keng Liang "Anson" Wong, 52, was previously convicted of wildlife trafficking in the United States. It is unclear whether he served the full term. (previously)
The Malaysia Design Archive: Understanding Malaysian history through Graphic Design. "This project is an attempt to trace, map and document the development of graphic design in Malaysia. It is also a project to highlight the importance of archiving as a way to protect and preserve our own visual history. What is our design history? Do we have one?" Examine Malaysian movie posters; discover the visual detritus of an old jail; peruse political artifacts; explore the country's visual history from Colonialism, through Occupation, Emergency, and finally, Independence. [via DO]
Malaysian Catholic newspaper Herald was recently involved in a major lawsuit against the Malaysian government, stating that their constitutional rights were violated when they were stripped of their license to publish in East Malaysian indigenous language Kadazandusun. The ruling was overturned, amidst support by state ministers and protests by the Government, the Islamic Opposition party, and Muslim activists - some of whom have spent the past week attacking churches and convents through firebombs, Molotov cocktails, paint, and bricks thrown at glass. [more inside]
Air force personnel stole Malaysian fighter jet engine(s) from a military warehouse to sell on the black market abroad. Chaos ensues. Humour lurks. Rumours fly. Previously.
Best known as an Indonesian handicraft, batik is a distinctive technique for textiles that has been used for millennia and can be found as far away as Egypt, Ghana, China and India. An integral part of daily life in Java, batik has spread around the world as a wellknown artform as well as clothing. From its hippy heyday to the smart couture outfits of the Singapore Girl, batik is still daily wear for many and the equivalent of black tie in the ASEAN. [more inside]
Acclaimed Malaysian film and advertising director Yasmin Ahmad has passed away at 11:52pm Saturday night at the age of 51, after collapsing from a stroke at a media presentation the day before. She leaves behind a legacy of film that captures the modern multicultural spirit of Malaysia, winning international festival awards and local hearts while at the mercy of conservative censors. [more inside]
Viewing the Penanggalan of Malaysian folklore usually takes intestinal fortitude [NSFW], but there are also emotional, wistful, girlish, and playful depictions of this monstrous creature. (Previously)
Frustrated with recent political developments, Malaysian blogger Kickdefella started an online protest of posting the Malaysian flag upside down on his blog, reflecting the use of an upside down flag as a sign of distress. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi decries the move as 'evil'. More information at Global Voices Advocacy.
This year's elections in Malaysia are historic due to the major wins by the Opposition/People's Front and the National Front's loss of 5 states and the 2/3 majority in parliament (one they've held since 1969) (comparisons). Two of the newly elected Members of Parliament are bloggers Tony Pua and Jeff Ooi; another blogger, Elizabeth Wong, has won a seat in the state assembly of the now-Opposition-run Selangor. This is significant, as Malaysian bloggers had been under attack by the government. (last link YouTube video in Malay with subtitles).
You cannot live in Malaysia or Singapore without being a foodie on some level. Makan lah! or come and eat is a common and popular expression of welcome. Uniquely in the region, both countries have multiethnic populations each of whom have added their flavours, spices and condiments to the region's foodie heaven. There is Chinese food - Kuay Teow, Chicken Rice, Char Siu and Yong Tau Foo. There is Malay food, rendangs, sambals, petai and belacan adding a certain something to the mix. South Indian food proliferates like banana leaf restorans, idli-thosai pure vegetarian fast food joints like Komala's and of course the fish curries and prawn curries of the coastal regions. The colonial influence is felt with Roti John served up in hawker centres and food courts across the peninsula and islands, ending with cooling desserts like cendol, sago pudding with gula melaka and santan or 'pancake'.
An Indonesian TV crew was invited to Malaysia for their Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign but encountered many problems. They write up about it - and start a flurry of comments and controversy across the Malaysian government about blogging. [more inside]
Malaysian bookstore Silverfish Books recently pubhlished a list of books restricted by the Malaysian Home Ministry (confiscated at the border by Customs) - a list that includes Chinese teapots, children's prayers, and Dora the Explorer. Banned books & magazines aren't exactly news in Malaysia; indeed, possession of said books can lead to severe penalties, even jail time.The Opposition has made a statement before, but that hasn't led anywhere. However, since Silverfish's list, Malaysian bloggers have had enough with the arbitrary and Kafka-esque bans and restrictions, and have come together to form Manuscripts Don't Burn, to protest and talk about banned books and the larger issue of freedom of speech in Malaysia.
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