Monday, October 4, 2010

Going For Clean Energy

From Green SURF:

Fired up by overwhelming public support for its campaign against a proposed coal-fired power plant at the shores of the Coral Triangle, a coalition of NGOs in Malaysian Borneo is commemorating its yearlong journey with global climate change movement and citizens of the world on 10.10.10.

Green SURF’s (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) Borneo-Global Work Party will feature a clean-up at two beaches – Kampung Sinakut in Lahad Datu on Sabah’s east coast which is ground zero for the proposed 300MW coal-fired power plant, and Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the state of Sabah, Malaysia. Green SURF and Sabahans are proud to be a part of a truly worldwide movement,with 5,000+ Global Work Parties in 175 countries on 10.10.10. In Sabah, we are already seeing the effects of climate change and we fully support’s efforts to bring global carbon emissions back down to and below the scientifically-determined safe level of 350 parts per million (we are now at 390 ppm).

Clean-up at both locations will start at 10:10 am. Green SURF members will work alongside citizens of Kota Kinabalu and Kampung Sinakut, strengthening the solidarity and self-organizing that has energized the movement in its ongoing campaign against the coal-fired power plant and for clean energy options. Participants and local artists will use the trash to spell out 350 on the shore, and guest DJs will provide entertainment. Green SURF has arranged with a local recycling plant to recycle all of the trash afterward. The beaches were chosen as venues to highlight their vulnerability to rising sea levels resulting from climate change.Green SURF is made up of Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA), Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch), WWF Malaysia and Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS).

During its campaign to stop construction of the coal plant, Green SURF saw support grow from day to day, and when it mattered most, over 500 people locally and worldwide wrote in to the Malaysian Department of Environment to give their views on a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment study. The Department subsequently rejected the study done by project-hired consultants. Following the mid-August rejection, it remains unclear if the project will proceed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Love Hate Relationship

I no longer have free access to Sabah dailies as I walk into the office, or my copy of the New Straits Times to take home at the end of the day. Its been 7 months and 2 days since I left the paper (including the 6 months unpaid leave to 'cool off'), but I still have this desire to catch up on the news.

I try to grab local dailies in the morning at the Likas shops (note to self: subscribe!). And I read the national papers online, and I also subscribe to Malaysiakini and read other online portals. Facebook too is a good place to catch up on news. But its sad that a lot of it is news of differences between Malaysians - political differences, racial differences, religious differences and the worst of them all -- open and blatant bigotry. Which leads me to the title of this posting.

I have had this love-hate relationship with this country for a while now. I am not sure where this relationship is heading, but I can say with confidence what I feel pretty much comes from what I read and what I hear on TV. As I mingle with friends, and read status updates on FB, I know the situation is not bad. But the news is always sensational -- it feels like everyone is going to start fighting tomorrow and the nation is going to crumble. You cant blame me for saying this. Just 15 minutes ago, I read a news portal analysis warning that we will soon become Zimbabwe in every sense of the word except for name. I have not been to Zimbabwe, but I do believe its far fetched to come up with such a prophecy. I still believe most Malaysians are fantastic people. Just look at how we handled the Allah issue in January. I bet there were bigots out there waiting for blood -- but you and I didn't bow to them. You and I decided we should not let them win.

Whenever I feel like running away to pick apples in New Zealand, I try to remind myself on how great it is to be a Malaysian woman. I went to school, I got into a public university and managed to secure my first choice course and uni, had a successful career as a reporter for 13 years, and am freelancing on media projects now. I have my own home, drive my own car, and not everyone will agree with me, but I feel pretty safe on my own. I have had opportunities to excel in my career, with offers for promotions, but I turned them down at my own will. I do not support race based opportunities, but guess what, it has made me a stronger person. I had to do extra well at school, at uni, and later at work. Maybe I should thank Malaysia for its policies -- I am who I am today because of a combination of its forward looking and backward policies.

I don't think I am making any sense anymore so I will end this post -- by the way, I love Malaysia more than I hate it :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My pockets are full, give your crap to someone else

I promised myself I would blog more regularly, but I broke my promise... again! You can't blame me though -- its been one thing after another. Its been C.R.A.Z.Y. on most days. I have taken on too much, but with reason -- as a freelancer, I need to secure as much income as I can for "drier" months ... like September...I have thousands owed to me from clients who push you but go silent when its time to pay up!

But, I am also learning the hard way that I cannot say yes to everything. Learning to say NO is something I suck at ... note to self: SAY NO!! Especially to "main board public listed, glossy brochure" clients. These are the ones that will make you cut your quotation, but expect you to serve them like kings, and ask you to do things that were not agreed on in the proposal. To them I say this -- My pockets are full, give your crap to someone else! I actually read this on a Facebook status update (thanks SA! Dont sue me ah!).

Friends ask me what its like to freelance. It is liberating, but its far from easy. Yet, I wouldn't trade it for my old high pay stable job at the paper. I cherish the fact that I can see my closest friends without saying "I will come if there is no assignment" or "I hope nothing else will come up after 5pm." And I have my weekends, except of course when I need to finish a project, or when I am helping run a programme.

So how do I end this post? With a pledge that I will have another post in 2 days!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Life Is Fragile

Dear Friends,

I received a call at about noon on 8th July from the Children's Wish Society of Malaysia (CWS) asking if I could help get a Sony PSP game console for a boy with Leukemia. I was told he did not have much time left, so I got in touch with Dr Ong at the Likas Hospital, who said he will call me back at 5pm to see if the boy has been warded, and to send the game then.

With Haslin's help (good timing, he flew in at 3pm), I managed to get the game console in Centre Point, and we waited till almost 7pm to get some games downloaded, including a Fifa World Cup match. Dr Ong did get back to me to say that Said Abdullah Uksung, 10, has refused to go to hospital, and asked what should we do. I offered to send the game to the boy at his house in Kampung Pulau Gaya.

The next morning, six of us (Haslin, and four from the press) got on a boat at the central market jetty and reached Said's house in 10 minutes. He was asleep -- his dad Uksung Kong said his son was on pain killers. He managed to wake Said up, but perhaps shocked at seeing so many of us, he turned his face away. Eventually, his dad got him to accept the gift -- which he had wished for. Soon, his brother Afizudin joined him, and gave him some pointers on how to use the game console.

We decided to talk to Uksung on the verandah, and when I peeped in, I saw Said Abdullah busy pressing buttons on the game console. Perhaps he was too shy to do so before us. We left after an hour, and managed to wave goodbye. The next day, the story came out in the New Straits Times and Daily Express.

On Sunday, 11th July, at 10am, exactly 48 hours after we met him, Said Abdullah left us. I found out through an SMS from Dr Ong. He had sent the SMS at about 3.30pm, but I was teaching, and only saw it at 5.30pm when I got into my car. I just stayed in my car for the longest time -- unsure what to do. Sent messages out to CWS and to friends who knew I had gone to Pulau Gaya.

Rest in peace, Said Abdullah.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writers Bloc

It is odd to be writing about "writers bloc," a condition that means you have no idea how to string sentences together even if you have loads of ideas in your head -- and a table filled with documents to refer to. This is what I am suffering from at this minute -- juggling a book (and another one on the way), and requests that pop up for me to write this and that.

Guess the best remedy is for me to switch my laptop off, make myself a hot drink and watch TV :) No point sitting here trying to write when I cant -- weird though how I managed to write these few sentences in less than five minutes ... hmmmm.... okay, go take that drink NOW!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I say NO to a coal plant in Sabah

Dear Friends,

I have been busy with a cause -- with some NGOs and concerned individuals, I am asking Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd, the State Government of Sabah and the Malaysian Government to opt for CLEAN and renewable sources of energy for Sabah. We in Sabah are BLESSED with some of the most iconic wildlife and marine resources. Please, we dont need a coal plant.

I took this photo at Kg Sinakut, which is where this 300 megawatt plant will be built. Villagers told me they dont know how much they will get in compensation, and where they will live next or what will happen to their livelihoods. Would you do this to them? Would you?

If you havent signed the petition, do it here at And if you want to download postcards to the Prime Minister, do it here at The postcards were created by Sabah born visual artist Yee I-Lann. Kudos to her.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Power of Words

Dear Friends,

I was at SJK(C) Chi Hwa in Sandakan last week, and I came across this poster. It had pictures of cooked rice that looked okay, and rice that had gone bad. Before I could ask, the headmistress, Mdm Ooi, explained it to me.

She did an experiment on what she calls the "Power of Words." She placed cooked rice in 3 cans, and covered them. She placed the first can on a table in an area where pupils and teachers pass by frequently, another can in a quiet area, and the third can was kept on the floor, next to a trash bin.

The experiment ran for 10 days. The first can was showered with words of love and kindness. Students and teachers spoke to it saying that it is good, it will do well.

The second can was left in a lonely part of the school, so no one passed it. No one spoke to it. It was left to be.

She instructed students and teachers to say bad things to the third can, placed next to a rubbish bin. So each time someone threw something, they would tell the can that it was useless, that it doesn't deserve anything.

After 10 days, Mdm Ooi opened the 3 cans. The can that was loved had rice that had turned fluffy (like snow) and even smelled sweet. The second can that was left to be was half mouldy. The third can, the one that was cursed, had rice which had turned rotten and smelled very bad.

Her message is simple -- speak kindly to others, and they will bloom.