Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Latest Updates

May 24 2008 - The video is currently No.7 in Metro's (free newspaper in UK) 'weekly most viralled video'. This is incredible - and is an indication of the amazing response by which Malaysians have received this video throughout the world.

May 16 2008 - At a press conference held at The Olive, Pacific Regency Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Pete Teo announced that the song and video had been released into the public domain for free downloads.

He also said that Astro has confirmed hourly rotation for the next three weeks across 9 – 15 stations, Media Prima will put the music video on heavy play, especially on 8tv and in August they will use various materials of the project to lead their 08/08/08 campaign including making spoofs and alternative versions. The public will be invited to do the same via competitions.

Help spread the noble message. download here

Malaysian Artistes For Unity is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit
national unity project made possible by the participation of over 120 notable
Malaysians. Enlisted to the project over a short period of 2 weeks in April
2008, these participants range from artistes, celebrities, arts activists, media-
personalities, musicians, dancers, sportsmen, filmmakers, web designers,
producers, technicians, poets, models and more. All participants contributed
their effort on a pro-bono basis.

The project has a production budget of
exactly zero. The project is centered on 2 things: (1) a multi-artistes recording of an
original racial unity song; and (2) a music video of that song featuring over 50
notable Malaysians. When completed, both the song and the video will be
broadcasted and distributed to the public for free via traditional media
channels as well as the Internet.

here's a trailer on you tube

Click on the title for more info

Monday, April 28, 2008

Something Big This Way Comes Part 2

Again, a few days after my American Idol post, comes a biting analysis from an American music industry source stating that Idol has lost its shine. Click on the title to read it.

While the Spanker is certainly not beating his chest with pride at having scooped the news this past two weeks, I am asking you to keep a sharp eye on this site for another major piece of breaking news, beginning with this survey that I sent out to my friends many of whom are luminaries in the International and local music scene:

Yeoh Jun Lin, Peter Hassan Brown, Pete Teo, Eugene Ong, Dan’iel Dharanee, Gwen Manikam, Ridzuan Hamid, Johan Nasir, Zack Yusof, Martin Vengadasan, Patrick Teoh, Pang Khee Teik, Jeff Sia, Vishnushakti, Andy Fam, Shannon Shah, Kelvin Ong, Ahmad Izham Omar, Janet Lee, Lau Chak Onn, Brian Kwan, Jerome Kugan, Derek “Jingles” Jhingoree, Dawn Jeremiah, Jungle Jerry, Jack Jeganesan, Lennard Gui, DJ Groovedoctor, Jason Cheah, Dale James Caffrey, Amizan Ariffin, Saiful FYI, Stew Green, Cynthia Chen, Razlan Razali, and Neil Thomson.

This is what I sent them. You can read my analysis and compilation of their responses next week. I promise you its fascinating stuff.

I am doing some research for an upcoming article on the music industry in Malaysia and would appreciate your valuable input and feedback on the following statement:

When will Malaysia be able to rock to the music of top international acts who seem to prefer performing in sell-out concerts across the causeway? It's the same old story. Money talks, and we don't have enough of it compared to our southern neighbour.

Malaysia is actually more attractive to regional concert fans than Singapore because of its cheaper logistical costs. Yet, top international music acts continue to give us a miss in favour of Singapore. Malaysia is fast becoming the dumping ground for second-rate gigs

I know you are an extremely busy person, and sincerely appreciate your taking a few minutes to respond to my survey. I also seek your kind permission to publish your response in my blog, duly credited to yourself of course.

Kindly send in your reply latest by May 3rd as I am on a deadline. Once again, thank you for your valuable time and response.

In the meantime, ponder the imponderable – a Malaysian artiste releasing a worldwide album from the USA, produced by LA’s finest and then going on to do an 80 country tour. Impossible? Think again. Like I said, watch this space.

I Apologise. Err...Not Quite

Two days after the Spanker’s post on the keris wielding issue, Hishamuddin issued a public apology.

For me personally the "apology with an escape clause" is pathetic. It is common knowledge amongst Malaysians that the Malays display the keris at weddings, traditional ceremonies and cultural shows. There is a protocol on how to do it properly. In that respect there is nothing wrong with the display of the keris.

Its how Hishammuddin did it that was wrong. He caused great discomfort to the other races with his handling of an otherwise harmless act of unsheathing and wielding of the keris. It is the attitude with which the keris was wielded, and the nature of the response it drew that became the source of dismay and consternation.

The keris itself was never a problem, nor was the act of displaying it. Its cultural meaning and value are obvious. The display of the keris purely to symbolise the Malay spirit or "semangat", given that UMNO is a Malay nationalist political party, is understandable.

However, the intent with which it was raised and what Hishamuddin was implying is highly questionable, and racially insensitive. He may have wanted to inspire enthusiasm or perhaps buy political mileage, but certainly not at the expense of other ethnic races or by making it seem that it is alright to be racially insensitive.

It became such an issue that the current Agong neither unsheathed his ceremonial keris nor did he kiss it while it was sheathed during his coronation. He simply raised it up respectfully with both hands.

Hishamuddin wasn’t alone in carrying out the dastardly deed either. It is the utter disrespect by Hishamuddin and Khairy that made the Agong forego the royal tradition. Can you imagine the conflict His Royal Highness must have been going through just because of the silly antics of two racist politicians?

Here's another opinion.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Spanker exclusive - Something Big This Way Comes

Hey, what can I say? It’s been a good week for scoops. A Malaysian is about to unleash his dream of making us proud by putting us on the world music and entertainment map. He’s put his money where his mouth is and the Spanker (err... that’s me) has got the exclusive scoop. Watch this space for regular updates. Here’s a hint…

Are y'all getting sick of American Idol yet?

Even though about 129.2 million people worldwide have been tuning in every week this season, industry insiders are bitching about the show's notable declines in key demographics and average total viewers.

Simon Cowell was quoted as saying that Idol was suffering this year because the contestants lack "personality" and are making "safe" song choices. But, industry insiders assert that it could be a fundamental problem — show fatigue.

The conventional wisdom among TV producers and their accountants is that hit shows, no matter how popular, usually start delivering diminished ratings somewhere from Season 5 to Season 7.

Idol is currently in its 7th season. The report goes on to say that some fans are seeing the program as less essential than it was a year or two ago. How many times can we see Ryan Seacrest insult Simon Cowell, and vice versa, before we say, "Enough already"?

Are you guys over Idol? Is it time to pull the plug? Can anything be done to spice it up in a good way? Can we *gasp* replace Idol?

Spanker exclusive scoop - Oops I Flashed You Again

You won’t find this tit (pun intended) bit in the newspapers. It’s taken DBKL's highly moral and deeply religious enforcement unit 2 years of wanking off to these images, before deciding to impose a fine of RM10,000 on Pussycat Dolls promoters Absolute Entertainment for allowing the act to perform "sexually suggestive" routines during their concert here.

During the routine, Carmit Bachar, who has since left the group, exposed a breast while Ashley Roberts.wore very tiny shorts and flashed her pussy lips during a vigorous movement.

go on then. you know you wanna click on the picture and see it large, right?

The fine followed a complaint from then minister of culture Rais Yatim, who said the group’s concert featured “scantily dressed performers” and “sensuous elements”. He added: “I believe the way the Pussycat Dolls behaved on stage amounted to gross indecency,”

Last year, Gwen Stefani and Beyoncé Knowles were forced to dramatically alter their dance routines and cover up during their concerts here.

In case you don't own a television or a computer and don't understand what this Google thing is all about, The Pussycat Dolls are a girl group that preach a message of female empowerment by dressing in as little clothes as possible and sing about stealing other women's guys.

Pussycat Dolls are an American pop/R&B quintet, dance and burlesque ensemble founded by choreographer Robin Antin in 1995. They began as a dance troupe based in Los Angeles, were re-cast as a music group in 2003, and expanded in 2005 with a parallel troupe at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. The group released their first single in 2004, and have gone on to tremendous international success.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Review - Genting International Jazz Festival

click here to read a full review.

Are The Malays Under Threat?

I append here verbatim a column by Dr Azmi Sharom called BRAVE NEW WORLD which appeared in the Star. Images are my own addition. I personally think Dr Azmi is a very brave man indeed. What Huevos!

Thursday April 17, 2008

Under threat? What threat?

BRAVE NEW WORLD

By Azmi Sharom

Since the recent general election, voices have risen up in a shrill warning cry that the Malays are now ‘under threat’. But perhaps the real threat is the threat to Umno hegemony.

AND so it begins. Race-based rhetoric has raised its ugly little head in response to a democratic process. Over 49% of the people of Malaysia have voted for parties that have rejected race-based affirmative action in favour of a needs-based platform.

It did not take very long for voices, both common and royal, to rise up in a shrill warning cry that the Malays are now “under threat”.

“Under threat” from what, may I ask? Let’s take a bit of time to look at this so-called “threat”. Firstly, Malays are given special protection under Article 153 of the Constitution.

Article 153 is titled “Reservation of quotas in respect of services, permits, etc, for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak”. Article 152 states that Malay is the National Language. The Supreme Head of the Federation, according to Article 32, is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Malay ruler.

This is the foundation of Malay “special privileges”.

None of the Pakatan Rakyat component parties, including the DAP, have said anything about removing Articles 153, 152 and 32. They remain safe and secure with no sign whatsoever of any sort of threat.

Besides, in order to change it, you would need a two-thirds majority in the lower and upper houses of Parliament plus the support of the Conference of Rulers. The last time I checked, no one has a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

Secondly, due to simple demographics, it is unlikely that a totally non-Malay party is ever going to win absolute control of the government. Of the five state governments in the hands of the Pakatan, four are led by a Malay Mentri Besar.

Penang is an exception, but Penang has been led by non-Malays since the 60s. Why was there was no outcry before this?

Thirdly, the proposed doing-away with the NEP (or whatever it is called nowadays), I suppose, can be seen as a threat to the Malays.

But how it can be a threat is beyond me, because the replacement suggested by the Pakatan is not some sort of laissez-faire capitalist economy. Instead, it is an economic system with affirmative action promised to those in need.

If the Malays are the largest group of people in Malaysia who are in the most need, then they will get the most help. If they are not in the most need, then why on earth do they need help then?

This is the point where I will get angry letters about how the NEP is needed; because in the business world – the real world which I know nothing about because I am just a lowly-academic trapped in my ivory tower – Malays are discriminated against by the Chinese. So we need a policy like the NEP to provide some balance.

I disagree.

If there are racist business policies being conducted against the Malays, then you face it head on with anti-discrimination laws.

If some person feels he is being discriminated against, no matter what his race, then let there be a law to help him, and let us punish the racists with a hefty fine or jail term.

Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein brandishing a keris during the UMNO assembly on November 6, 2007. UMNO assemblies had been dominated by calls to push the Malay agenda harder, with Hishammuddin leading the pack by unsheathing, brandishing and kissing the keris, a move which strained ties with Chinese and Indian allies in the ruling coalition. Hishammuddin later said there was no need for the movement to be apologetic or defensive about it.

You do not meet racism with racism; you challenge it by destroying all traces of it.

The problem with the NEP, as I see it, is that it breeds a mentality of entitlement based on race and not merit. This mentality seeps into governance, and it creates an atmosphere of mediocrity. One example of this is how the Constitution has been disregarded in relation to employment issues.

The Federal Constitution states that you can set quotas at the entry points of government services, for example, the civil service and public universities. However, this is counter-balanced by Article 136 that says all federal employees must be treated fairly regardless of race.

This means that once inside a service, everyone is to be treated equally based on merit. In such a situation, only the cream will rise to the top.

However, since the introduction of the NEP, the practice in government services has been to promote Malays mainly. This has in turn led to a drop in the number of non-Malay actors in the service of the public.

Taking my profession for example, the closeted unrealistic world of academia, I look down south and I see that 30% of the staff in the National University of Singapore Law School are Malaysians.

How come these clever fellows who are good enough to teach in a university that is among the top 20 in the world are not here in the land of their birth? Why are the blinking Singaporeans enjoying our talent? Is it because that talent is all non-Malay and they feel they have better opportunities there than here?

This is a complete waste, and in the end this loss of talent means a loss for the university, the country and the people of this country, including the Malay students who miss out on the best possible teachers.

Perhaps the real threat is the threat to Umno hegemony, in which case my answer to that is this: clean up your act, live up to your promises and listen to what the people are saying.

Make yourself electable by proving that you can create good government.

That is called democracy.

Dr Azmi Sharom is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

Read the original column here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy Vaisakhi Everyone

April 14th is Vaisakhi. So get into the festive mood, beat the drums, dance the Bhangra and sing “Balle,.. Balle”

Vaisakhi is the celebration of the Birth of the Khalsa (The Sikh Faith) and also the celebration of the harvest in Punjab, India.

Sikhism is the 5th largest religion in the world and originated in…duuh! India of course. I can’t be arsed to write about it so below are some links if you are interested to find out what the festivities are about and their historical importance.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/religio...baisakhi.shtml

http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/fi...00/1924698.stm

here’s the Wikipedia link to Sikhism.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Girl Who Just Wouldn’t Give Up

Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at you. I read about Poesy in the Star Metro in March earlier this year. She survived a possibly fatal illness two years ago with the help of some good people around her, so she decided that there were a lot more people like her out there who could do with a helping hand.

Poesy started a group on Facebook called Helping Angels to do charity and community work around the Klang Valley via a network of dedicated volunteers. Their main focus is government and community children’s homes, in order to add value in educational and social benefit.

Her fledging organization has already recruited about 700 angels involved in short term projects that require varying efforts and time commitments. Currently they are in the early days of a tutoring program at Precious Children Home in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

The long term goal is to introduce the tutoring program to provide academic assistance on a weekly basis to children across a range of homes, and to eventually implement a fostering program for children with outstanding results.

Having been through a similar life threatening experience myself, I was impressed and tried to read her Facebook profile but couldn’t as she was in the Taiwan network. (Her mother is Taiwanese) So I started to read up on her instead, and was truly amazed and inspired by this pocket dynamo. She’s sheer determination bottled up in a petite (and pretty) mobile package.

Poesy started young. From her pre-schooling days, she started classical training in various forms of Chinese cultural art, performing arts and music. These creative skills contributed to her later years. At age 14 she was already dabbling in television, advertisements, voiceovers and as a commercial talent.

During the height of her television career at 17, Poesy was diagnosed to have a life-threatening spinal tumor and was deemed permanently paralyzed waist down. One year after surgery, against medical predictions, she made a rapid and miraculous recovery, albeit with changed perspectives on life.

At the end of 1999, she made the decision to move away from the entertainment industry in order to seek her purpose in life, to fulfill her strong passion to live, to write, to learn and to pass it on in hope of benefiting others.

After her secondary education, Poesy trained for 3 years in architectural engineering. When she decided to quit the entertainment scene at 24, she ventured on to do her MBA to refine her skills. At 26, Poesy started to pursue a law degree but was forced to drop-out from law school due to health complications

Thus she spent her 20s exploring different jobs and industries. To quote a magazine article on her, "What she has accomplished to date is enough to last normal folks many lifetimes. Futures trader, motivational speaker, writer, television commercial talent, professional MC, VJ, artist, volunteer worker, survivor and finally started her own interior design practice. For multi-talented Poesy, life seems to be a whole series of fresh starts."

At 28, Poesy was once again faced with another health hurdle. More spinal tumors were found. Life once again posed the horrifying possibility of partial paralysis. Poesy calmly put her life on hold, and after the second spinal surgery she applied herself relearning to walk again. This was another turning point to defining Poesy's never-say-die attitude while she bravely fought the effects of the surgery and remnant tumors.

oh, did I mention she sings, too? image credit: eugene ong, all dat jazz

In February 2006, Poesy underwent CyberKnife surgery in Stanford University to treat stubborn remnant tumors wedged in her spinal cord. The efficacy of the procedure will only be apparent as time advances; it is therefore unsure how her health will turn out over the next 3 years.

She resolutely set her mind to make yet another miracle happen. During the recuperation period, she wasted no time on self pity and instead concentrated on building up her career aspects and in May 2006 conceptualized and set up POEZ Jewelers, a private collection of fine jewellery she personally designed. You can view her exclusive designs here.

This is where we come back full circle to life’s curve balls. I couldn’t believe my eyes at the recent Genting World Jazz Festival. Sat in front of me in the front row seats reserved for the media was none other than Poesy Liang!

I waited for a break in the performances and duly introduced myself to her. Initially wary, she gradually opened up and we had an interesting chat.

I admire her because Poesy believes in conquering challenges. She insists on moving forward, aided by her eccentric sense of humor and positive character. Her attitude towards life can be seen in the things she writes about in her blog. Like me, writing for her is a cathartic experience too.

If I had to sum up Poesy in one word I would say she’s a fighter.

If you’re inspired by this story and want to join Poesy and her angels in making a difference in this world, click here.

Sufiah Yusof

Here’s my two cents on the subject of Sufiah. It doesn't take a genius to understand why she's become what she is. It's good that the Malaysian government wants to help. However, the points to consider are:

1. Sufiah has a right to refuse your “help”.

2. Sufiah is over the legal age of 21.

3. Sufiah is not a Malaysian citizen.

4. Sufiah has clearly declared that she is in charge of her own life.

5. Sufiah will gain infamy and become notorious through the media hoopla.

6. Sufiah will be in demand and charge more for her services since she’s now “famous”.

So please, leave her alone to live as she chooses and don’t attempt to use her for your own selfish agenda. Here is Sufiah's family's official blog.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Fitna

Although I am not a muslin, I am nonetheless saddened because right wing Dutch lawman Geert Wilders demonstrates how little he understands of Islam in his movie by taking passages out of context from the Holy Qur’an and linking them to images of terrorist violence.

There is no hate in the verses of the Holy Qur’an, nor is there any in other religious teachings. Hate, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Hate resides in the hearts of men of all faiths who twist God’s message of peace and goodwill to mankind, to spread their evil intentions.

I am equally saddened by the call to boycott all Dutch products. Does not the Holy Qur’an enjoin proportionality in the matter of a response or retaliation to an attack?

When you fight evil with evil, evil wins.

It is Wilder who has committed the wrong deed, why conspire to take it out on the entire economy of the Dutch people? Two Malaysians were involved in Altantuya Shaaribu’s murder, so is it okay for the Mongolians to blame all Malaysians and subsequently boycott all Malaysian goods?

Right thinking and level headed persons will realize that the Dutch government and business concerns have distanced themselves from Wilders by denouncing and condemning his opinions and statements and objecting to his film.

Dutch Lady Milk Industries Berhad for example took proactive action by taking out a one page advertisement in the papers denouncing Wilders and stressing that they are 50% owned by Malaysians, employ 660 Malaysians and that their products are manufactured locally in Petaling Jaya. The ad was signed by Chairman Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin Mohd Yassin.

Other religions have been similarly insulted or presented in a skewed manner as well. Hindu gods are regularly portrayed in a bad light in many Western movies.

Irreverent movies have been made about Jesus for decades. In the 70s there was “Jesus Christ Superstar”, in the 90s “The Last Temptation” and most recently, “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Passion of Christ”

Enough of violence in the name of religion. Let us all live and let live.