October 7, 2008

weekly hate list

Posted in Bah!, Ranty Pants, The Thesis at 11:27 am by meldee

I dunno how some of the more emo, touchy-feely-esque bloggers can remain consistent in layout, theme, etc for so long. I keep getting distracted.

Because I am procrastinating work (what’s new) and generally feeling very angsty with myself and things around me…

The Weekly Hate List

1. The fact that White Rabbit Creamy Candies are bloody toxic and are going to be annihilated.

2. Superfruckingslow Internet in the office.

3. No news about the Bali Conference (but oh I’ve not mentioned this before aye? I’ll only elaborate when I get it pfft).

4.  Trawling shopping blogs and Liebemarlene Vintage, which is possibly my favourite blog at the moment, and feeling gloomy because I want to be out and shopping.

5. Not shopping, because firstly, I kind of shopped already in Singapore (exchange rate graarrhh!) and secondly…


7. Looking at The Thesis makes me physically ill and all brain function grinds to a halt the minute I open my chapters.

8. I have a month to finish The Thesis 😦 I’m not ready. It’s absolute rubbish and I hate it.

9. Daylight savings has started again in Melbourne. HATE. Daylight. Savings. Give me back my hour so I can talk to the boyfriend for that much longer! 😦

10. Mad hair. I very badly need a haircut but I want to wait till it’s a bit longer because if I cut it now it’d be too short. Yes, there simply is no pleasing me.

But to balance things out (I’ve got no Libra planets so this is my very lame attempt at being objective)…

The Weekly Love List

1. Watching hot Greek guys busting moves on the beach in tight Speedos in Mama Mia!. Twice.

2. Lemons to go with my green tea ❤

3. The wedding reception of a dear friend on Friday.

4.  Um…I can’t think of anything else I love this week o_O



December 12, 2007


Posted in Bah!, Dahlings, Happenings, Malaysia, My Home at 3:36 pm by meldee

Again, more depressing news in the media.

The unwarranted and completely unnecessary arrests of several Bersih and Opposition leaders and supporters intending on peaceably handing over a memorandum to protest the extension of the retirement age for the EC chairperson.

This time, I actually personally know one of those arrested. I neglected my news-reading yesterday as I was feeling under the weather, but feeling much better today I did a bit more reading (digression: I really do need to start work on my Honours thesis ideas).

All I can say is that I am appalled that the authorities have resorted to such scare tactics to prevent the public from speaking out against the way ‘they’ do things. Our democratic system is clearly a farce.


On to other stuff, as I’m quite distracted by my incessant and extremely painful back pains.


After months and months, Esther Phan is finally home and in great form 😀 Hanging out with the girls this morning over our roti brunch and then heading to Sushers’ for the cool air (and clean toilet, heh) to yabber on and on, was just like old times. Lovely.

Expect my updates to peter out slowly, as the Boyfriend arrives in 10 days and I am getting busier and busier.

I hope everyone keeps well and has a good holiday season to come, and that we’d stop hearing so much depressing news about our abusive authorities, dense policies, and plain stupid statements.

December 9, 2007

iron-clad irony

Posted in Bah!, Family, Happenings, Malaysia, My Home, Ranty Pants at 12:57 pm by meldee

Some incredibly ironic facts about yours truly:

  1. I am a faux-Chinese. I think my only Chinese traits (besides the physical, which is rather obvious) are that I can be chronically kiasu and I’m always looking for ways to save money (so I can splurge it on something else). Language skills are zilch.
  2. With a name so musical it borders on hysterical (I outgrew it’s ‘cuteness’ about a decade ago), I am completely and utterly non-musically inclined.
  3. I am, so it seems, an adult who has nothing to show for said adulthood save for monthly cramps, mammaries and a driver’s license. And oh, the right to vote and pay full fare on stuff.
  4.  For a Piscean who’s supposedly all fluffy and flighty and lovey-dovey, I am not feeling any of those right this very moment.
  5. I am a passive ‘activist’. I’ve added the ‘…’ because clearly I am not actively doing anything except breathing furiously through my nostrils like my yoga instructor taught me this morning, while the rest of my friends are out there actively defending their rights, and the rights of others.


Because my Daddy told me so *grumbles*.

It had been all worked out, I was even on my way to the train station with Apsara and Seetha (I was driving—and I had my aunt in the front seat as I offered to drop her for her class at UM on my way) when he called asking me to turn back immediately, or else (I am quite used to these threats now, lately they’ve been threatening to take away my car keys).

For good measure, Daddy rang my aunt, and then for contingency, rang my lawyer aunt to call me and tell me to go home.

Honestly, am I that much of a child still? I ranted to my cousin, who said something which struck me and just totally reflected the attitudes of so many out there, I reckon: “Human rights is just a myth in this country. You already have everything you want, what else do you need?”

Has it really come to that? Can we as civil society merely turn the other cheek and shrug, saying “I am comfortable just the way I am, why bother?”.

The thought of it both saddens me and makes me incredibly furious at the same time.


I heard from Seetha that eight people were arrested this morning, four of them lawyers, for walking around *ho hum*. Geezus H.Krispy Kreme, are they going to arrest people for getting some ‘morning exercise’ in groups now and detain them under the Internal Security Act (ISA)?

This is fucking bullshit. All of it.

Honestly, the ISA is the best scare tactic the government has created so far. Even small fry like me and you are terrified of making anti-government statements for the fear of “being detained under the ISA”. Fuck that, are we then supposed to obediently bob our heads and agree with everything they shovel at us?

C’mon people, we can do better than this.


I am so so so embarrassed 😦 And disappointed.

And worn out because taking anger out in the gym for two solid hours is most wearying.

I hope those who went to the Bar Council today are safe and well.

Apologies 😦

I am such a failure *drops head into hands and wails*

December 5, 2007


Posted in Bah!, Malaysia, My Home, Ranty Pants at 12:45 pm by meldee

This is extremely messed up la. Reading about it in this morning’s papers after hearing it on the news last night just made me shake my head in disbelief at how screwed up things have become here in this country: the 26 individuals affiliated with Hindraf, charged with attempted murder at Batu Caves. Read the short report from AFP here.

As my mum commented, during one of her rare moments of lucidity with regards to the public interest (bless her, I say this because it’s true—she’s pushing 50 and hasn’t registered to vote. Go figure. We fight about this all the time.)—“If you rape someone, you get three years. You protest in the streets, you get 10. A bit of a priority mix-up, eh?”

And it’s true. The Johor Bar website states here: “The law has laid down a minimum sentence for rape which is not less than five years and not more than twenty years and shall also be liable to whipping. Section 376 Penal Code. This means that the court pass(es?) a sentence of less than five years if it finds the accused guilty of the offense.”

There is further information on the status of women under the Malaysian law, available here.

Another thing that angers me is the cancellation of the People’s Freedom Walk that was to be held this Sunday. I know many of my friends who wanted to go but were afraid of getting gassed, but now it looks like it won’t even happen.I’ve got mixed feelings over this; on one hand I know it’s not advisable to shit-stir with the government especially in light of recent actions taken against the Hindraf protesters, but at the same time this is a clear violation of our right to peaceful assembly!

Clearly, it’s sending out the message that while yes, the Federal Constitution is the highest law in this country, no, you cannot assemble albeit peacefully because of internal security. Like hell we’re going to want to react violently on the eve of International Human Rights Day, that’s rubbish!

It really annoys me at the blatant double-standards practiced by the government and their henchmen.

By the way, I don’t remember if I mentioned seeing dear Subang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng at the R.Age self-defense workshop. I did, and to Jolene’s chagrin was muttering stuff about him the entire time. “Showing your face here, eh, Datuk, because elections are near? Well I hope nobody votes for you, rawrr.”

I had in mind the interview with Malaysiakini this August. Since I don’t have access to M-kini (I keep losing my password), I’m gonna cut and paste from an email forwarded to me. Subang folk, seriously. Have a read of it and ask yourselves what kind of person we have as our representative.

Funny, also, how his website states that he lives in USJ, but the M-kini interview states he lives in Tropicana.

But seriously, read this for yourself. Especially his definition of a sexy woman. And his comments re: Subang being well-planned (I hear shouts of laughter at this point) and how people here are too rich, that’s why each household has 2-3 cars. Umm, maybe that’s got to do with the public transport system being absolute shite?

Anything But Politics: Beng only had eyes for Soo Soo

Hon Yi Wen | Aug 10, 07 12:16am

LEE Hwa Beng, the Subang Jaya state assemblyperson, sat down with Rentakini recently and talked about his life outside of the political arena…and how he persisted in wooing pretty Soo Soo some 30 years ago.This techno-savvy politician also has his own website and blog www.hwabeng.org.my.Tell us something about your childhood. What was it like?

My father was a rubber tapper, and I used to help him mangle the rubber. After the latex was collected, we would use formic acid to coagulate it, then use our hands and feet to press it into a thin sheet so it could be placed into the mangling machine.

It was hard work! I used to do this in the morning, before school which was in the afternoon.

Those kids who came from rubber tapping families were easily identified, because after you had worked on rubber, you would smell so bad for the rest of the day!

It was difficult to get rid of this smell, no girl would want to date you…you just smell rotten, very bad!

We understand you have a happy family. Care to share your family with us.

My wife and I celebrated our Silver Jubilee wedding anniversary only last year, So we have been happily married for 26 years now.

We have three daughters, one of them is working while the other two are still studying.

What is your wife’s name?

Lee Soo Soo

Oh, same surname. No wonder you and your wife are a good match.

It so happened to be that way. A Lee guy wooed and married a Lee gal. Doesn’t it sound kinda romantic?

So how did you meet your wife?

Well, we went to the same college many years ago – TAR (Tunku Abdul Rahman) College, in KL. She was one of the college’s most pretty and popular girls!

The boys she dated then had nice cars, and all I had was a motorbike. Of course this meant that they were a lot more ‘cool’… It was difficult to compete, because all I had to offer was this old bike.

But I persisted…you know… pak see boh chow (never say die attitude). When a girl catches your eye, you must only have eyes for her. Forget other girls, just concentrate on one.

So in the end, she chose you…

Yes! Well, maybe she somehow saw into my future! (

Ho ho, you must be quite a Romeo eh!

So so lah, can do lah. Not bad hoh. (Laughs)

And your daughters, what are their names?

Hui-Ni (eldest), Lyn-Ni & Yun-Ni (youngest)

You’ve upgraded your motorbike for a car since then?

My first car was a white Nissan Datsun 120Y. It was A second-hand machine, falling apart. But now I drive a Harrier 4×4.
In your opinion, define a sexy woman.

A woman with a good figure, young with a pretty face and if possible, scantily dressed.

Oh, you’re terrible, YB!

Well, you asked the question and I’m trying to answer in the manner you want – the fun way. (Laughs)

Since you’re in a ‘sexy’ mood, which celebrity would you consider the sexiest?

Here we go again.

There are so many! Really, it is hard to narrow them down. These days the media is overloaded with so many good-looking people. J-Lo has got a good figure, Angelina Jolie too… Well I don’t know any local celebrities, but from Hong Kong and China, I would say Zhang Ziyi or Gong Li when she was younger.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I don’t really listen to music these days, so it’s difficult to say. When I do, it’s usually evergreen stuff like Elvis Presley or the Beatles, music from when I was younger… ‘Love Me Tender’ is my favourite song.

Will you sing us a few lines of ‘Love Me Tender’

Love me tender,
Love me sweet,
Never let me go.
You have made my life complete,
And I love you so.

What comes next? I’ve forgotten-lah… (Laughs)

Do you have a favourite movie?

Not really, I don’t have time for movies these days. Well if I have to name one, I guess it would be Ten Commandments.
You know, I actually watched that movie before I joined the Christian faith, but it moved me deeply even then.
Is your faith an important part of your life?

Yes, very much so! I am a member of the Charismatic Church. Religion is very important, it helps you stay on track. It keeps me away from the temptations of power abuse and corruption, and inspires me to serve the people in whatever way I can. My whole family are active members of our church, It’s a good activity to do together as a family..

So where do you live?

Actually, I don’t live in Subang Jaya. My house is in Tropicana, the other side of Petaling Jaya.

What’s the worst thing about Subang Jaya?

The traffic! These days, everybody has a car and the congestion is terrible. We can blame this situation on our people – these days, you see so many cars with only one (1) person inside, Car pooling will not work in a city like KL as everybody goes in different directions. I think the only way it could work is if we introduce area pricing like in Singapore where cars with less than three people have to pay a charge in high-congestion areas.

Subang Jaya was well-designed, but it simply cannot cope with the level of affluence that people now enjoy. Each house seems to have three-four cars each, people are just getting too rich! I think public transport such as the LRT is the way forward. I’m looking forward to the extension of the system to include the Subang Jaya area in 2009.

If you were appointed mayor of PJ, what is the first thing you would do?

I would say ‘No’ to become mayor! I don’t think I could do a good job. This is because I wouldn’t be able to act freely, I would have no power over what I was doing. If I was mayor, I would have to comply fully with the terms of the elected office, and I don’t think this is the best way to help people. The main thing I enjoy is giving them good service, helping with the small things…

I treat politics like a business. If I can solve the people’s problems, then I am doing good business. If they don’t come to me and I cannot help them, then I say that business is bad.

Do you own any firearms?

Yes, I do

If you could shoot one person, who would it be?

I would never shoot a person unless it was in self-defence.

What if you could pick someone to shoot in self-defence?

No, I can’t say! I wouldn’t want to shoot anyone unless I absolutely had to. I think it is wrong to have hurtful intentions towards others.

What about Osama?

I don’t think I will ever meet him in person.

What’s the strangest phone call you’ve ever received?

It was very late at night, a few months ago. When I answered the phone, I think I must have sounded quite soft, so I guess the person on the other end thought it was a woman.

A male voice started making some funny sex noises! I listened to these noises for a few minutes, then shouted “Oi!” very loudly. He hung up pretty quickly… (laughs) These people are quite strange. I think if you answer the phone in a manly voice they get scared and run away, because I received another anonymous call quite recently but this time the person just hung up quickly.

What was your reaction upon receiving the datukship?

Well I was very honoured when conferred the award in 2000. But it was in a way expected. The person who held my post before me had received a datukship after several years in office, so I figured it would come my way too.

Aren’t they too many datuks around these days?

I think sometimes this award is not given based on how well you do your job, but is instead given just as a custom. This is why I am looking forward to the plans to reduce the number of datukships given out in a year to less than 20, because by doing this the true value of the title will return.

It’s about dignity and respect here. These must stay with the honorific title.

HON YI WEN is an intern with Malaysiakini. Comments can reach Rentakini by emailing francis@malaysiakini.com (Anything But Politics is an occasional column featuring political personalities, activists, intellectuals, about everyone really!)

November 27, 2007

corporate/sleazyguy fuckwittage

Posted in Bah!, Ranty Pants at 10:00 pm by meldee

I’m going to rant today. I feel very ranty.

Doing corporate work/editing can be the shites at times. Especially when one’s boss happens to be an acquaintance (who has little or no respect for your time, hence, shows up late) who has a reputation for being NATO—that’s No Action, Talk Only, to the uninitiated.

At times I seriously want to say ‘screw you‘ to this corporate codswallop, but then again I think of my loans, my expensive lifestyle (not really, actually, but this sounds more dramatic, sooo….) and by George I have to swallow my pride and slave on because I need the money.

It’s just seriously so annoying when you have no fixed deadline, constantly changing job scope, inconsistent promises of contracts/payment and have NO CLUE as to what you’re doing.


I suppose I’m not the first, nor will I be the last to bitch and moan and gripe about corporate fuckwittage, but I really admire those who put up with it and take it so well (but then again, money talks, bullshit walks, le sigh).  Give me tips please on how to grin and bear it?


I don’t get why some guys still hit on, or pretend to ‘want to be friendly’ with someone who’s already attached. These are the sleazy guys on Facebook or Friendster who message going, “Hey, (insert compliment), want to be friends?”

Pardon my stuck-uppity-ness but I have an inbuilt radar for such instances, and many other girls have it too—dude, we can so tell when you’re trying to honestly be friends or trying to hit on us! No need to get all defensive and shit too, saying we’re being ‘perasan‘ or vain, because honestly we just know.

Especially when you get emo and send message after message about how we’re being snobbish. Honestly, why does it matter so much if we don’t want to be friends, isn’t that our prerogative? Yeah so we could be snobs or bitches, but as far as I’m concerned I’d like to be discerning in the formation of my friendships. If I feel threatened or uncomfortable in any way, why put myself in that situation?

Urgh I just find people (guys and girls alike) like these so…gaaah I shan’t even dignify that with a comment.

November 19, 2007

emo post #328.2

Posted in Bah!, Random Ramblings, Strange Feelings at 7:23 pm by meldee

I’m so not drinking anymore alcohol for…well, a while.

After a night of emo-talk with an emo girlfriend in Stabucks Taipan (where we got pissed off with snoopy customers giving us weird looks as we did our Goddess/Angel card readings respectively, so my friend offered them readings—sadly, our efforts to extort money from them did not work, but we did manage to convince them we were from (a fictional, as far as I know) Paranormal Institute of Australia, P.I.A. and to go on vacation wtf), I got home and emo-ed some more.

And listened to (and leeched off another friend) more emo acoustic songs, I decided for the first time since….well, a reeeeeeaaaaalllly long time, I needed alcohol.

So I went trip-trip-tripping downstairs and attacked the Baileys (had three glasses, on the rocks) as I had no mixers for the vodka, and didn’t feel very much like red wine (though I suddenly do now, hmm!). I then embarked on a journey of Feeling Sorry For Myself, which is actually a road I take quite often lately, especially at times when my life feels pointless.

But don’t we all have that? Those niggling, nasty moments when routine seems  more dreadful than anything else in the entire world (I have no earth planets whatsoever in my astrological birthchart, if that explains anything) and the idea of doing this (i.e. continue living as per usual) makes you want to rip your hair out, strip buck naked and run screaming the lyrics of an aggro Linkin Park song, running down your street. No? Well then, maybe it’s just me.

When do we ever know when ‘our time’ is up? Why are we so preoccupied with studying, getting good grades, making money, etc? Hasn’t there got to be more to life?! *cues Stacie Orrico music*

But oh, you know what I mean. I was playing with my Angel cards today when the question, ‘what will my life’s legacy be?’ popped into my head, and I drew the Family card. Which is actually quite sweet because it totally resonates with what I want to do with my life. Um, which is, to get married, have kids and continue saving the world from home (I am perfectly capable of doing this, thank you).

What irks me is the limitations society imposes dictating when you can get married and have kids, and to whom. By virtue of my, oh, well, upbringing, education, qualifications (because all this counts, the way good teeth, etc matters when farm animals are being bought wtf), potential (like farm animals have the potential to give birth to many healthy young for meat wtf) and all that…the average age for someone in my position is to settle down by 27. At the very least. 32 is about the max; after that it’s all downhill and people (i.e. nosy gossipy relatives) will start speculating that you’re too fussy or fatally flawed in some way (like maybe, you cannot cook, for instance)—you’re never gay or single-by-choice, because those are both Unnatural States to your typical Chinese family.

But what if I only had enough time to live till say, 24? Does this mean I have to give up my dreams of having a family of my own simply because I’m not the right age? No no no, don’t ask me whether I’m sure I’ve met ‘The One’ or whether I’m sure I want to do this, this is purely hypothetical and thus completely inconsequential. But just for argument’s sake, yes, say I’m abso-positivite-luuuutely sure.

Then again, how sure am I that I’d die at 24, hmm. Hell, I could die any time. Like…even in 5 minutes! Or 5 years ago! Or…

Oh, bugger it, this could go on forever.

I just hate how we’re all contained in small little neatly compartmentalised boxes. Ping! Time’s up, move on now to the next inherently natural phase of your life. This is all bollocks. A friend of mine told me how she had a minor disagreement with her colleagues about why she should get married now and start having kids so she can have someone to look after her in her old age.


Ya, ya, ok maybe it’s not Neanderthal; it’s tradition, it’s sweet, it’s being pragmatic, proactive and far-sighted. But with cases of child abuse on the rise (as per today’s The Sun; but for some reason I cannot find the story online), even the educated elite cannot escape from being abusive parents if they are that way inclined. Because honestly, don’t flout someone’s education as a reason why they would not abuse their kids, education is inconsequential in that sense.

Raaaaaaah! I am such an angry child.

And incredibly random too. Just verbal-diarrhoeaing again. The point of this entry was to blab about how I felt so sorry for myself I drank alone and ended up a tad bit inebriated and sent silly text messages (which I now deeply regret) to my poor boyfriend at 3am (my time) telling him all sorts of Really Embarrassing Stuff. Which I am obviously not repeating here.

There, that wasn’t so hard was it? I am too cheong hei (long-winded, one of my 5 Chinese Terms) for my own good. Now let’s all get on with our boring, mundane and utterly pointless lives *flings hand around dramatically*.

November 17, 2007

al-jazeera on the BERSIH rally

Posted in Bah!, Malaysia, My Home, Social Responsibility According to Me at 12:28 am by meldee

I just watched a two-part interview discussion on last weekend’s peaceful rally to hand over the memorandum calling for free and fair elections to the Agong on YouTube, starring Khairy Jamaluddin, Nazri Abd Aziz and Malik Imtiaz, moderated (very effectively, might I add) by Teymoor Naibili.

I actually laughed out loud at Nazri’s bumblings, shook my head with utter disgust at Khairy’s cocky statements and arrogant air, and quirked more than one grin at Imtiaz’s incredible cool and quirky facial expressions (more often than not amusement expressed at the statements of those two clowns).

For those of you who may be familiar with Khairy and Nazri (you may also know them by their various nicknames so affectionately given to them by members of the public, some of which are too colourful and varied for me to deign to mention here) but not with Malik Imtiaz, well, Imtiaz happens to be one of the most respected human rights lawyers in the country. His claim to fame of sorts is probably his handling of the conversion case of Lina Joy—he has faced death threats even, but remains in the public eye. He even blogs here, have a read.

I advise you to have a watch. It’s 20 well-spent minutes of your time. In fact, I’m so keen on you watching it I’ve very kindly embedded it here for you 😉

This is Part One.

This is Part Two.

God, you gotta love the things Malaysian politicians say. A perfect system? No changes required? Then why bother have elections, why call the country a democracy?

My cousin is right, I’m very politically-inflamed at the moment. But how can one not be, and merely stand aside watching things pass, hoping our ‘rice bowls’ will not be affected? I speak of the apathetic, business-first mentalities of the Chinese, something I experience too often and too frighteningly, who continue to blindly support the MCA because they are still under the impression that their ‘kinsmen’ in the government will not betray them.

Wake up, friends. The MCA has been accused of being UMNO’s ‘running dogs’ (the argument of the infamous Raja Petra Kamarudin), rightly or wrongly I shall let you decide for yourselves. Stop trying to ignore the realities in front of you and only get caught up in worries regarding business and education; don’t you get it? With the way things are going now, what guarantees do you have that your business and children’s education are not going to be affected by the government at the helm?

Sigh. Too many thoughts, too much work left undone, so many hours of sleep I need to catch up on. Bombard me with thoughts, please.

September 24, 2007

bringing human rights home

Posted in Bah!, Family, Random Ramblings, Social Responsibility According to Me at 10:11 pm by meldee

I actually wrote this for publication, but since it has far exceeded the usual word limit (it stands currently at 1,489 words, so bless you if you persevere throughout this article) I shall share it here. I anticipate many to have fallen asleep by the fourth paragraph, but I’m hoping you will surprise me.

I surprise even myself, when I really go off on a tangent or start rambling about something I feel strongly about.

Share with me your thoughts. Am I being unreasonable, or am I not being reasonable? 😛



As a quasi-feminist currently undergoing a third-year unit in global consumption and Otherness, I am at times left wringing my hands in despair on the odd occasion when I make attempts to bring what I’ve learned in the classroom into the family living room.

Oh, not just speaking about it, of course, anyone can do that; but making actual attempts to enforce them—my parents, bless them, are learned, worldly folk who obtained their professional qualifications overseas; while I deeply admire and love them, at times they drive me stark raving mad. They are remarkably forward thinking in some ways, and in others, make me feel as if I am transported back to feudal times.

The current bone of contention in my household is the fact that I, an adult, working hard freelancing as a writer for eight solid months to scrape up enough for a return ticket to Australia to see my friends (and boyfriend) in celebration of the completion of my undergraduate degree, want to “leave home without permission” for a holiday.

My parents are very reasonable people. They can, for emotional reasons due to their acute unexplainable fondness for a prickly, cantankerous being such as myself, also be incredibly unreasonable. Please do not tell me patronizingly that they act the way they do because they love me; doubtless to say, I am aware of this—what antagonizes me is their selective approach to applying this ‘love’.

As a young woman, I see no real harm done in taking a few weeks off after completing my course of study, using hard-earned money I have saved, to go on vacation. Article 24 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights says in recognition of the limits of the human mind and body, that “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure.” Article 13 also talks about the freedom of movement, assuming one has valid corresponding paperwork: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

So, one might argue, what is the problem here?

I am thus being guilted (‘emotional blackmail’ is too strong a term, though with critical distance one could argue it is such) into wanting to take a vacation using my own money, at a time where I am legally and financially capable to do so. Mind you, I have not amassed a grand fortune in my pitiful bank accounts, nor am I normally the overly rebellious kind. But I am being punished for my decision and actions, and this is the point that I disagree with.

If I am faced with the prospect of such a familial uproar over me taking a holiday, what more when I choose to marry? What if it turns out that I am homosexual? What if I conceive out of wedlock, refuse an abortion, and decide to bring my child up as my own? Where then can you draw the line? Will I be punished even more severely then for my decisions? Of course, I do not doubt this for a second.

Even coming from a semi-modern Asian family where old, quaint values are (unhappily?) married to the practicalities of day-to-day living, there are still absurd and redundant rules we as children have no choice but to follow. Double-standards exist everywhere and are applied on a whim; we are left no choice but to concede when the filial piety card is played, because heaven forbid, we might be accused of being the ungrateful spawn of Satan himself.

Speak too radically against societal discourses, and one is accused of being ‘Westernised’ (oh the cardinal sin of it; when we are constantly and willingly exposed to Western ideas and discourses via Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatuses, namely law, religion, the media and one’s own family in the name of progress; should one’s ideas deviate too drastically from the Asian norm one is practically burnt at stake for it), or worse still, ‘immature and idealistic’.

The disagreement I am having with my parents thus brings to light two possibilities: one, that my parents for all their book-learning, are really close-minded conservatives who are unable to accept a universal document as applying to everyone including their beloved girl-child; or two, the UNDHR is problematic in the sense that it does not specify its scopes or limitations to include or exclude certain peoples.

My father’s argument when I informed him of the charter stating the right to travel and leisure was a terse “This only applies to working people, not those living off their parents.” At this response, I smirked internally, because I know when the family trump card is laid down, one has a fair indication that one has touched a raw nerve or made a comment there is no reply to.

But by virtue of the fact that it is called the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, one would thus be able to deduce according to elementary logic that I am human, ergo, these rights also belong to me. Unfortunately, for most, the UNDHR remains an ideal—if such rights are a challenge to uphold even in an educated middle-class urban family like mine, what more for those in marginalised positions?

One might not hesitate to critique my navel-gazing at this stage, but I would like to impress that it is more than this. I am merely using my position and experience as a point of reference to point out the inherent contradictions we occupy in this liminal space between tradition and modernity.

I just love it how parents and those of the older generation spout such things like ‘children are the future’ and encourage us to live our dreams—so long as we obtain their stamp of approval and hand in a 24-page proposal before attempting to do so. Where then lies room for exploration of new ideas and frontiers, if we are only allowed to roam within preset boundaries?

Our Asian dilemma is an unusual one. We are thrust into the arena of the global in terms of culture and education, keeping up with the trends and current debates—yet, should something contrary to traditional values I have no idea why we cling on to with such desperation, such as embracing homosexuality, cohabitation or single motherhood arise, lips are thinned and we are grimly told that we cannot act this way, we are Asian.

Does being Asian make us any better, or worse, than anyone else out there? We are all part of one race, and that is the human race—ethnicity and difference has for far too long been used as an excuse not to take down these absurd boundaries we have erected around ourselves and our community in the name of keeping things pure.

Has it not occurred to the purists that by building these impenetratable walls around us in the name of protecting our culture and heritage, we are not only keeping others out, but ourselves in? On what basis do we pick and choose what to keep in and what to discard? Where does one draw the line between plain logic and tradition?

This leads me back to highlighting the issue of the selective embracing of the UNDHR—for as long as we cling on to ideas that we are protecting our culture and heritage and thus choosing to knowingly snub a universal charter on fundamental human rights, we cannot hope to progress mentally and emotionally. It says naught about real progress if one has only amassed a material fortune but possesses nothing in one’s head and is so closed up to new ideas.

If this matter regarding my taking a holiday causes such an uproar, what more my right to religion, marriage, owning property, health and education? It does not make sense to say, “Oh no, education, that’s different,” because it all still falls under the declaration on human rights, of which the right to travel is one of. And this is just my personal quandary; I am sure there are many other unheard voices of dissent out there.

I am not asking my Asian counterparts to launch into a mass revolt, or to start denouncing one’s heritage—I am merely asking us to consider where we draw the line, and to be more conscious of it. It made me ache in my Women’s Studies class when many of my female (in terms of both sex and gender) classmates admitted to being marginalised, or treated as a second class citizen by their own families, even, because ‘that is the way things are’.

I do not doubt that true progress will come eventually. But real change takes time, and I encourage young women, and men, out there to stand their ground. Know your rights, because as Foucault said, (specialist) Knowledge is Power. When we are aware, we are empowered. And we should not hesitate to take a stand, even on an issue as seemingly insignificant as taking a holiday.

* the UNDHR is available here in case you felt like doing more reading.

 Bless you for persevering.

September 5, 2007


Posted in Bah!, Happenings at 5:30 pm by meldee

Because I have to plug myself at some stage of this *grimace*.


Because it’s a popularity contest and I’m too busy being a nerd and trying to rake in 4 HD’s this semester (I got a rockin’ 90% for one of my assignments already, woots!) to campaign in a way that the others are doing (including mini-movies, songs at lunchtime in the cafeteria and hugeass coloured, photoshopped posters on the noticeboard).

So you guys have to vote for me lah 🙂

Also because it’s my final semester la, dei. Must give some face right?

I think the week before the ball (I forget when, and where, oops) 40% of the votes come in from the regular uni week, and 60% on that night. So if you’re coming for the ball vote for me then only mmkay. But if you’re not, vote for me anyway.

Because I also have no idea what I stand the chance of winning. Even if it’s a Monash t-shirt I can wear jogging, also can.

Anyone wanna volunteer to help me make ‘Vote for Melody’ blog badges? 😀

Thank you kind souls. You and the 56 other generations of your spawn after you.