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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wastage.

I'm lucky.

I can't believe I just said that. I rarely do. But after yesterday, I have to admit, I am lucky, in a way.

The string quartet I'm in was given the opportunity to perform our Haydn again, this time at some school in Putrajaya, for their graduation ceremony.

The school has their own string ensemble, with an addition of guitars, percussions and keyboard to their set up. Now without any elaborated details, one may think that since it's in Putrajaya and all, the ensemble must be pretty impressive, right?

Well, you may not necessaraly be thinking that, and it's sad to say that they aren't of the standard to be called impressive.

Before our performance, we watched the ensemble from backstage. For me, the main issue was with the intonation and technique. The F#s sounded like Fs almost everytime they played. I also noticed some players in the ensemble who obviously hadn't been taught the right technique to hold the bow and what not.

Nevertheless, there were some positives. There was this one double bassist who looked really into the music, which is always very encouraging. Also, there weren't too many problems rhythm-wise.

Too bad the hall was like any other regular school hall. Non air-conditioned, echoey. Because of that, we had to be mic-ed up for our performance.

This was a classic case of money not well spent. The government pumps money into this school for these purposes, which include even buying of instruments, and for tutors to come in and teach the students music. At the end of the day, what happens? The students have little motivation to play. They are not even of an average standard, when it comes to a music ensemble.

So what's the point of all that funding, when it will go down the drain anyway?

On a lighter note, congratulations to the newly A-Levels Student Council. Let's hope Jason Chow and his team can carry out their duties to the fullest. Although very few of the candidates I voted for won for their respective posts, it's still good to see the practice of democracy among the students, plus all the successful candidates are very capable individuals anyway. I'm sure that the chosen line-up will make us A-Levels students proud throughout our time here at HELP.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Add Layers to Reality.

Things are heating up in A-Levels at HELP.

For this past week, the candidates running for the A-Levels Student Council have been busy campaigning for their respective posts.

And by about 4 pm, their hard work would have either paid off or gone to waste.

Well, maybe not totally gone to waste, but only one candidate will come out tops when the votes have been counted, and will then take up that post.

I must say, I have seen some really fun, interesting and innovative ideas going into all the campaigning going on.

You have candidates baking cookies and cupcakes for the students, tagging as many HELP students in their campaign photo on Facebook, and even having a bashed up car out on display outside Wisma HELP to attract people's attention. Comics and poems come in handy too. The list goes on and on.

Then there are those who make designs for shirts with words which are aimed at their fellow students, urging them to vote them. Sandwich boards filled with posters are another innovative idea, with their friends taking turns to have it on them. Badges also help candidates to campaign effectively. Nearly every candidate has his or her poster(s) up on notice boards.

This is simply a gist of what's been happening for the last few days. But, it can't be denied, that it all comes down to tomorrow, when the candidates are to give their 2 minute speech to a huge audience. This is when they will make it, or break it.

For now, kudos to them for their hard work.

For tomorrow, all the best. It's very likely your speech will inspire people.

In a big way.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wear Misery's Crown.

Dec 13th 2007.

The last concert of the week-long MPYO tour, at our beloved DFP. Coincidentally, the night of DJ Prom too, followed by the after party.

I made a brave decision that night.

And I will never look back.

But then again sometimes, I do. I think back and wonder. Would it have been worth it to go for the after party with my DJ friends, so abruptly after the final concert of an exhausting, yet satisfying time with my fellow musicians?

There was no way I was going for prom, but the after party was a different agenda, really. In fact, that morning itself, I was planning to scoot from Hotel Flamingo after returning from DFP, and probably take a cab to Asia Heritage.

Some part at the back of my mind told me not to. I followed my conscience, and it has made all the difference.

14th March 2008.

The MPYO Chamber Recital. At the same time, the A-Levels Fiesta, a much anticipated event in the eyes of the new intake, particularly.

I made another brave decision that night.

It was 7.30 pm. I had already performed in my quartet. I came out of DFP. I waited outside for my dad to arrive. Yu Szen called me. I could tell he was anxious. "Performance very soon. 20 or 30 mins." I assured him I would make it there on time, and told him to try and delay the performance.

By 7.45, my it started raining. I noticed the jam going out from KLCC was atrocious. There was no point. There was no way I was going to make it for the performance. Missed out on the chance to perform in the first real event of the year.

So if you were me, you would've gone anyway, right? I mean, perform or not, you still would've gone for the event, regardless of the fact that you'd be late, and drenched.

But see, I'm not you. I didn't. I put my foot down. I told myself, there are some things which are more important to me. There are some things more important than just witnessing people getting bid on for large sums (large to me) of money. Sure, it's all in good fun, I admit that, but at that very moment in time, that wasn't my priority.

From what I say here, it must be extremely clear as what these camps do to me. I've said this before. It's not just about playing, it's also about the company of friends. It's not just about the experience of playing chamber music, it's also about realising what life is really all about.

I may have missed out on all the happenings in college, leading up to the fiesta. Instead, I got high (not drunk) on vodka for the first time, something perhaps many of you have already experienced.

I may have missed out on most of the post-election news. Instead, I got to gossip with friends about the latest news within the orchestra.

I may have missed out on performing at the fiesta with my buds Yu Szen, Adrian and Nigel. Instead, I managed to perform in a string quartet, in front of packed crowds on both Friday night as well as Saturday afternoon.

I may have been too preoccupied with the camp that when I received my below-par (in my opinion, anyway) results, I didn't shed a tear. Instead, I naturally shed tears while doing something I love most, playing and listening to the music around me (hint hint Jia Rong).

I may have missed out on post-SPM results outings. Instead, I made it back in time for lunch with one of my best pals, a retarded gay (joking, Kit Leong) who had just arrived from Penang for the camp.

No, I'm not here to write an essay about the camp (as Tiki says). Instead, click here for Tiki's post. Ah, the irony.

All in all, it was another one of those, music-driven, staying-up-til-late playing PS2, cards and what not, fun-filled, company-abundance (is this the right term?) camps.

Thing is, I have to be completely honest, I wish I would never grow up. I wish this could be my life everyday. I wish I could live like this forever. I wish I would always be young, with the opportunity to see all my friends this young too.

Okay. That's kinda exaggerating it.

Cheers.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

PM: ‘We’ve lost, we’ve lost’

A new dawn for Malaysia.

Or is it?

With the Oposition denying Barisan Nasional the crucial two-thirds majority in yesterday's General Election, one has to wonder whether this is a good thing or not.

Sure, I have been taking the stand for the Opposition for the last few weeks, leading up to the elections. However, are we ready for change? Are Malaysians up for this?

There is probably no definite answer to that.

Last night and this morning, BN lost control of five states which fell to the opposition - Perak, Kelantan, Selangor, Penang and Kedah. As DAP, PKR and PAS rejoiced, the incumbent leaders were left to ponder on how this could have happened.

But when you think about it, this was the decision of the majority of the people of those states. It was the people who voted. It was the people who decided. It was the people who were fed up. It was people who wanted to teach BN a lesson. It was the people who did their part.

And after all, it is the people who have a right to vote, to decide.

BN's loss in Kelantan was huge, losing 39 parliamentary seats out of 45 which fell by a huge majority to PAS. In Penang, DAP ruled supreme. Selangor was taken over by the three Opposition parties, in fairly tight proportion.

What do these successes/losses (depending on whose point of view it is looked at from) indicate? Oh so much. Still though, BN has managed to retain various other states such as Johor, Terengganu, Perlis and the two East Malaysian states with ease. Now, just imagine if the Opposition had managed to win at least, say 15 more seats throughout those states, the overall majority BN would obtain would be barely anything.

As it is, the Opposition has just managed to deny BN the two-thirds. That is already an achievement in itself. People ask me, what does this mean to us now, since Selangor has been taken over by the Opposition? Honestly, I don't know. I'm just like you. We're all waiting to see what will happen in time to come.

Yesterday, while at my Pondok Panas duty, there were people telling us, "Must win la, we will win," and I could sense at my particular polling station, there was greater support for PKR, compared to BN.

My instincts were vindicated, as R. Sivarasa of PKR beat S. Murugesan of BN for the Subang Parliamentary seat, while Elizabeth Wong, also of PKR trashed Wong Dai Ying with a ratio of 2:1.

There were huge defeats. Chew Mei Fun lost by a whopping 19,000 votes to Tony Phua of DAP at Petaling Jaya Utara. Samy Vellu lost on his 'birthday', in his territory to D. Jeyakumar by a small margin. Shahrizat Abdul Jalil lost in Lembah Pantai to Nurul Izzah of PKR.

So many stories, so many highlights. The Opposition may not have literally won, but what happened last night was enough to give us encouragement for the future, it felt as if we really had won.

So, A new dawn for Malaysia?

Only time will tell.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Glimmer Of Hope, Perhaps?

I feel tired, but good at the same time.

It's not every day you hear of a 16 year-old volunteering to help campaign for an Opposition party for the elections.

I just did that.

To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure, or keen to do it. I mean, I didn't know what to expect, for one thing, and besides that, I thought I would feel kind of uncomfortable, in the presence of politicians.

Little did I know that this was to be a very enriching experience, that taught me a thing or two.

A few days back, I had started on folding of Parti Keadilan Rakyat leaflets to be distributed to the houses around my area. That was barely nothing really, since there was to be no interaction of any sort with strangers.

Today, however, the first thing I started to help with at the Bilik Gerakan (Operation Centre) was the packaging of items, such as caps, flags, stickers and what not, which would be brought to the various polling stations. I also continued with folding of leaflets, before being instructed to go on the walkabout to join the convoy, together with R. Sivarasa, the Parliamentary candidate.

We started by driving around a kampung area somewhere near Sungai Buloh, which had barely anyone in it. Still though, that's where the fun began. We were waving flags from inside the car, whistling to get people's attention, and speaking messages like "Harga petrol dan toll semakin tinggi! Parti Keadilan janji akan menurunkan harga petrol dan toll! Undilah Parti Keadilan!"

On the road, it was great to see support. As the four cars drove in a single file, other cars that passed by were giving us honks, in support. After the first kampung though, it started to rain, so we had to wind up the windows and continue driving, pretty much aimlessly, since we couldn't continue with campaigning.

We decided to make our way to The Store, some sort of shopping complex, not too far from where we were. It was so dreary, and apparently we weren't allowed to go into the complex, so Sivarasa had to make his 'speech' outside the complex, where there were people gathered outside, not to listen to him, but to wait for taxis? It was kinda sad, cause the response from the crowd was very minimal, with some people ignoring us who were walking around giving out the leaflets. After Sivarasa's 'speech', there was no applause, no reception, nothing. Ptooi.

Just when we thought things were getting worse, the rain stopped. We ended up going to another 'taman' area, where we continued or campaigning. This time though, we actually got down from the car to distribute leaflets to inhabitants.

From what I observed, mostly kids were running to us, wanting the leaflets. As I gave them out, I wondered, is there really any point? Kids can't vote anyway. But then there were adults who also showed their support when we gave them the leaflets. They were giving us words of encouragement and said they were supporters.

In my opinion, the best was yet to come. And that happened when we went to a pasar malam, not too far from the Bilik Gerakan. It was a huge thing, and the plan was to go one round around the place slowly, with Sivarasa standing on the back of a Ford Ranger-like vehicle, with us the 'followers' walking behind, holding placards high up in the air, distributing leaflets, car stickers, flags, and other freebies. The great thing was the response from the crowd was overwhelming, from an opposition party's point of view. People crowded around us, taking the freebies and all. Sivarasa made his speeches, and at least this time there were people listening.

The irony of it all was that there were BN flags in nearly every corner of the place. Yet, it felt as if we could reach out to the general public without any restrictions of any sort. There were people who even shook Sivarasa's hand, not just because he was a politician, but more of because they were supporting him and Keadilan.

We continued our good job inside the market itself. Still though, at times I was under the impression as if people were giving us the attention we deserved only because they wanted freebies, and not because they supported Keadilan. There was one guy who went:

RANDOM GUY : Saya nak topi tu! (points at my cap)

ME : Sorry la, ni dah habis dah.

RANDOM GUY : Ala, macam mana boleh macam tu? Macam tu tak boleh support la dah!

Despite that setback, there were real supporters out there. There was a seller who told us:

SELLER : Mesti menang la tahun ni.

From a motorcyclist who yelled "Hidup Keadilan!" while riding his bike, to a dude who had his fist in the air, followed by frantic honking in support of the party, today was simply a great experience, a real eye opener. I feel as if I have done a great deed, no matter the outcome of tomorrow's election. I'll be keeping up the good work at the polling station nearest to my house, being involved in the last part of campaigning for PKR.

BN pays people 300 ringgit a day for this kind of campaigning work.

Opposition parties pay people 0 ringgit for this kind of campaigning work.

In my eyes, I prefer to be willing to do this kind of thing without getting paid a single cent, instead of doing it for the money.

However, we can't deny the fact that BN will win tomorrow. Two-thirds majority or not, they'll manage to pull some strings and grab victory as usual.

Page 12 of The Star reads:

In Rembau, Anwar said he was confident the Opposition would win and "our first duty to the people is to bring down oil prices."

"God willing, we will win on March 8. You tell those Barisan (Nasional) boys we will win," he said.

I really hope so.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dare To Be Different.

Will all of this be worth it?

Will all of this hard work pay off?

No. This is not about my audition. THAT is over and done with.

I was just watching tv last night, and this advertisement started. Too lazy to switch channels, I sat there slouched, half consciously watching the ad. There were the words on the screen: "apa maksud damai" and scenes or pictures of people in some overseas countries starving, by the roadside.

The ad continued with "apa maksud something" which i can't seem to remember now, with more and more shots of the above being shown. I was kinda curious at the objective of this ad. At that moment in time, I guessed it must be to do with some association of peace or something. The questions running around in my head were answered moments later.

VOTE FOR PEACE. If I recall correctly these were the words I saw across the tv screen. Below it, the logo of Barisan Nasional.

And that's what this post about.

Related to this ad which I just saw, Raja Petra, a very popular name amongst Malaysians for running Malaysia Today the website, said recently that the government is comparing Malaysia to Nigeria. Or something along those lines at least. What Raja Petra said was, we're nowhere near as bad as Nigeria in many ways, but if we continue this way, we will even become like Nigeria!

And this brings me to another segment which has more to do with the polling processeso of this huge, drawn out, political topic. Apparently there are people registered to vote who are born in the year such as 1888. Yes. 1888. Not 1988. And the thing is, these 'people' have the new 10-digit IC numbers, something which was only introduced some 10 years ago. How is this possible? 120 year old people voting? With new IC numbers? Just proves what some people would do just to secure a two-thirds majority.

Just yesterday, the Elections Commission called off the plan to use indelible ink on polling day. Indelible ink would have been used after a person votes. That person's fingernail would be marked with the indelible ink, which signifies that that particular person has already voted. However, with the abolition of this plan, we all pretty much know what the dominating party in this country are capable of doing. The most relevant guess would be that their people would have their names registered at numerous polling stations, and since there will be no more use of indelible ink, this would mean those people can vote more than once.

I randomly went up to four of my friends today. I asked them, Opposition or Barisan? All four told me, Opposition. Just awhile ago, I was wondering, if all eight of their parents voted Opposition, there might not be much point anyway. After all, one person could potentially vote Barisan nine times. Sigh.

Yesterday, Dr Chandra Muzaffar slammed Anwar, saying it would be a disaster if he were PM. Today, it's Nalla, an old tennis buddy of Anwar's. Not just that, i turned to the first few pages of The Star today and saw these headlines:

"Abdullah slams Anwar"

"Ong: Don't fall for Opposition"

"BN: Don't be taken in by Anwar"

"MCA: Opposition behind offending SMS"

"PAS' Controversial Statements"

Five headlines. All to do with opposition. All five are negative. And the fact is, Anwar isn't even standing since he has yet to receive exemption after his jail sentence. The media is only publicising stories that benefit Barisan, and kutuk-ing the Opposition. Like even on the page where they have various photos taken by random people who submit their photos, practically all the photos are filled with Barisan flags. In some way or another.

And in yesterday's Metro, the front page had a photo of the Ryan Giggs and John Terry Celcom billboard along with other models with Barisan flags 'strategically planted' above the heads of the people on the billboard. Plus, the insanely stupid thing was they said "It seems like even EPL stars like John Terry of Chelsea and Ryan Giggs of Manchester United have made their preference on which party they are vouching for in the 12th General election." It's so not funny, it's shameful.

So, WILL all of this be worth it?

WILL all of this hard work pay off?

Well, I suppose I wasted my time distributing PKR leaflets to so many houses yesterday.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

As Your Eyes Rest In.

Will all of this be worth it?

Will all of this hard work pay off?

Will the future bring relief to the soul?

Will this life be better?

That is what remains to be seen.