About Me

Jan 28, 2013

Setelah sekian lama...

   Lama dah blog ni berhabuk. Entah apa nak jadi pon tak tau lah. Where is the eagerness of keeping a blog that I had once? Mungkin ia hanyalah angan-angan yang terus berterbangan di ruang yang luas. Bahasa Melayu [saya] pon dah makin karat. Segala lontaran perkataan dan perbuatan pon makin sesat. Apa nak jadi, apa nak jadi... Maaf sahajalah yang boleh saya pinta kepada sesiapa yang berkenaan. Tiadalah hak untuk saya dijamin keampunan, namun ini juga turut dikira sebagai ikhtiar, bukan? Semoga berkat Allah melimpahi diri tuan-tuan dan puan-puan.

Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful." - Surah Az-Zumar, Ayat 53 -

Jun 10, 2012

What's going on!?

I randomly found this video in YouTube. IT'S FREAKING ADDICTING!

*terngiang2 lagu ni dalam otak masa jawab final exam differential eqn. -__-"

Jun 8, 2012

The Working Man's Perception

                In today’s reality, the great progress of human technology does not always move parallel with the progress of society and morality. There are certain groups of people who fall into the cracks of the so-called modern technological world. Unable to find any possible means to get out from the current situation, they search for whatever limited opportunity that exists and continue doing what they are best for: to survive. Such kind of people includes labor workers in third world countries, specifically those who work as ship-breakers in Pakistan as described in Michael Glawogger’s documentary “Workingman’s Death”. The country’s poor condition has led some of its needy people to try their luck in a ship-breaking yard situated in Gadani. For a few of them, working here is as the only viable choice.

                In the yard, dead, gigantic commercial ships stand tall across the flat beach, wedged between each other. The working men are like ants on dead tree trunks, dwarfed by the massive metallic bodies that sprawled along the once clean beach. Drips of sweat and blood trickled down the sea water as the men working hard to dissemble parts of rusted ships. Looking at the vast open sea, they stand 70 feet above the ground while trying to catch their breath. The greenish-blue sea blows salty wind to their face, giving a cooling sensation after having hours of exhaustive labor under the hot, humid climate. Each moment, they gamble their lives for the prospect of survival. Many of them left their families back home hundreds of miles away and only to be back after no longer than a month. They send a sum of their paltry wage back home so as to enable their loved ones to sustain themselves. Life is hard, but they pray for the best and believe God will provide to them adequately.

               The working men bind themselves in a strong, implicitly constructed brotherhood. They share their experiences together and work as one, collective soul. Religious faith further adds to the strength of the brotherhood, keeping them positive to continue living. Deep in their heart, they are longed to leave this place, and to enjoy other opportunities this world might have to offer. However, due to the circumstances they are in, they know it is very unlikely for them to escape, and thus be content for what they already have. From an outsider’s point of view, these people are considered to be very unfortunate, and cause many kinds of problems. Some environmentalists view them as ones that tarnish the nature. However, most of the time, these environmentalist are already living in a pristine, comfortable life in their private home. For the ship-breakers, they are oblivious to such opinions. They are just trying hard to survive and commit no crimes.

                Perception is indeed very subjective. Some of these working men are grateful for their condition and wish no more, others are not. Some of the outsiders observe them to be ignorant, but others feel that they are drawn to their actions because of forcing factors like poverty and hunger.  In retrospect, we have to understand that words and perceptions alone are not enough to alleviate the condition. One day, we hope that effective actions out of compassion (and even responsibility) can be made by the global society, especially by those who hold powerful positions, and make this world a better place. 

Jun 1, 2012

Fresh Post

Me and Brain during the blossoming of Sakura flowers

It has been a year since the last blog post. Many things have occurred within a year. Up till now, life in America is indeed somewhat an eye-opening experience. I'm sure those who study or even stay for a prolonged period of time abroad would notice this and have the same feeling as mine. Anyhow, this post is going to be a scholarly kind. It is about water privatization and a film that depicts a related issue in Bolivia. I warn you  though, it is going to be a long read. Water privatization has becoming a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed by the international community. The question that usually comes to people's mind when thinking about this matter is whether it should be implemented or not. There are of course opinions that come from both opposing sides. This essay will investigate the relationship between the movie, the issue, and other means of mass media: in particular, journalism. Also, this piece highlights a bit on the possible consequences of unregulated water privatization. Note that I've touched a little on the role of World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in this issue. IMF, however, is not really clearly put in this essay. You can search for it through the list of references that I've mentioned at the bottom of this blog post.

Below is a trailer of the movie. Also, together with this is a link to a Wikipedia article that summarizes the story behind the film. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Even_the_Rain

The Essence of Water

Water is life; this is the fundamental truth that all living beings on this planet share and acknowledge. Without it, life would not be able to thrive. We see that apart from our earth, the other 7 planets in the local solar neighborhood have no liquid water on their surfaces. They are either too cold or too hot for liquid water to retain on the surface. The very existence of natural organisms serves as a clear sign that indicates the importance of water to life. Water does not only act as a basic constituent of life, but also as a crucial component for the emergence of civilizations. Peering back to the history of past societies, we are able to notice that great empires were mostly established near areas that had sustainable water resources; one of the most widely-spoken examples is the magnificent ancient civilization of Egypt which was located near the mighty Nile River. In this modern era, water has also been regarded as a commodity by few. Multinational corporations have begun to venture into water privatization especially in developing countries. In particular, the case of water privatization in Bolivia came to the world’s attention during the early period of the new millennium. From a media viewpoint, the movie “Even the Rain” released in 2010 addresses this issue as its main focus. Together with the movie, we will analyze other media sources, particularly in journalism field, that address the same issue. We shall also be able to show that water privatization, if not properly and strictly regulated, will bring more harm than good to the society as it possibly leads to social water stress and lower water quality.
                Water privatization began to spread in the 1990’s when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund required indebted countries to deregulate, abolish water subsidies, and even sell their water systems and infrastructure to private investors. The reasoning behind this was that these countries were not able to sustain a reasonably effective water system, and thus the need of privatization as it would improve the condition (World Savvy, 2009). In the United States, the increasing worry on tap water quality also opens a new path for water privatization, where local public resources are considered no longer adequate and safe; with respect to this, water privatization acts as an alternative solution (WaterWideWeb, 2010). As a small, poor country in Southern America, Bolivia has experienced one of the most controversial humanity issues that started just a few years before the opening curtain of the 21st century. Under the guidance of the World Bank, the Bolivian government leased the water system in Cochabamba (a city in central Bolivia) to Aguas del Tunari, a multinational consortium of private investors in which the major shareholder was the International Water Ltd., a subsidiary of the Bechtel Corporation (Sadiq, 2002). However, an overwhelming majority of the people did not agree with this decision, as the water rate was hiked up by the company to a point where it was unbearable for most people to pay. The protest which initially started locally began to spread throughout the nation; violent clashes and riots sprouted between the government troops and the protestors (Sadiq, 2002). Evidently, water privatization is now penetrating both the poorer developing countries and the more economically powerful nations. This issue is being constantly scrutinized and discussed by a whole spectrum of people around the world.
                A few comparisons can be made from the movie “Even the Rain” and reports provided by mass media journalism. In particular, in its website, PBS laid out a timeline of small but crucial events throughout the height of the Bolivia’s case. This is indeed useful for keeping track with the issue and providing proper analysis. In the movie, Daniel, a local person, is portrayed as being an activist that brings the people together and leads them to protest the privatization of water utility. In reality, a union worker named Oscar Olivera was the activist that led The Coalition for the Defense of Water and Life (La Coordinadora), an organization that held an important role in this event Instead of being captured by the police in the midst of a riot (like Daniel), the real persona Olivera and his colleagues were arrested in a meeting with government officials in which they were supposedly to discuss about the water-rate hikes. On top of that, the movie only shows the departure of the multinational company after the protest ends without exposing any further continuation from that. In the actual event, the problem did not just end that way. After the retreat of the consortium, Bechtel demanded a legal pursuit of $25 million in damages from the Bolivia’s government as a result of contract breaching by bringing the case to the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Sadiq, 2002). However, it is then reported that in 2006, Bechtel abandoned its pursuit and settled for two bolivianos, which is equivalent to only 25 cents (Heller, 2006).  
The most appealing contrast between the film and the actual event described by mass media journalism is that the role of the World Bank and IMF is not portrayed in the movie. Even the Rain only focuses on the conflict that arises between the multinational company and the people, without really explaining how and why privatization of public water initially took place at all. Jim Schultz, an American activist living in Cochabamba, wrote an article to Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper about how the World Bank played its part in Cochabamba’s water privatization. He asserted that “In February 1996 the World Bank told Cochabamba's mayor that unless it privatized its water system the city could forget receiving any more World Bank aid for local water development” (Shultz, 2000). This implies that the World Bank was trying to impose their privatization policy by basically threatening the whole community of Cochabamba. The monetary institution was clearly a key factor behind the decision made by the government of Bolivia on water privatization. Although there are a few differences between the movie and the reality, there is a part in the film that is astonishingly in almost-perfect accordance with an actual event occurred in Cochabamba. In the early scenes of the story, the local people are building a waterway that connects the aquifer to the settlements, only to find out that the wells are then forcefully but legally acquired from them by the private water company. In relation to this, New Yorker writer William Finnegan travelled to Cochabamba and met the locals over there.  He described in his article for the magazine that these people had in fact built a water system that linked wells to more than two hundred families. However, after the government signed the contract with Aguas del Tunari, the consortium expropriated the wells and began installing meters and charging for the water as well as for the installation (Finnegan, 2002). This had instilled deep anger into the local people, as also portrayed in the film.
We have seen how a movie and another mechanism of mass media presented the water privatization issue in Bolivia. Now it comes to the difficult question on whether water privatization should be even allowed in the first place. It seems that the answer to this is perhaps a rather unsatisfying (to some people) yes and no. It is a yes only if certain rules and regulations are met by the private company, which include a very careful evaluation on the people’s affordability for any amount of fee that the company plans to impose. Instead of focusing purely on profit gain, the company should have a strong civil conscience to actually help alleviate the social stress faced by the local society. Indeed, this is a situation where a lot of people think is impossible to occur. Privatization of water itself is capitalistic in nature; any action that reduces the profit gain from this business defeats the main purpose of privatization. Thus, it is quite reasonable to think that privatization of water would only tend to give the most benefit to the company owners and also to the higher echelon of the political society.
Looking back at the question above, it is definitely a no if the government fails to create and implement strict laws on water privatization. If it is still allowed, than various problems will arise from it. First and foremost, the price hike of clean water unwantedly promotes water stress among the poor people. Since they cannot afford to pay for clean water, they are forced to obtain water from dubious water resources. This poses possible danger to their health as the water can be very contaminated and dangerous (Grossman, 2004). In addition to this, they were also cases that have shown a deteriorating water quality because of water privatization. Since the company is profit driven, the efficiency of the service depends on places where it has the highest return of investment. Thus, poor rural areas tend to get less priority, and hence the lower water quality (World Savvy, 2009).  In South Africa, water became inaccessible, unaffordable and unsafe after the water source was privatized by Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux in Johannesburg. There were cholera infections and thousands of people were disconnected from the water supply (Grossman, 2004).   Therefore, it is evident that unregulated water privatization creates potential danger to the community.
                As a brief conclusion to the discussion presented above, there are distinct ways in which movies and mass media journalism demonstrate humanitarian issues. The movie “Even the Rain” approached the water privatization issue through a fictional lens; it still preserved the issue’s original context, but without stressing too much on the details. On the other hand, journalists carefully wrote their thoughts and observations based on real events that occurred during the Bolivian uprising against water privatization. Furthermore, we have argued that water privatization can only be possible if there is a sufficient amount of regulation that can control the level of efficiency, as well as accountability. Without restrictions, irresponsible water companies can make things worse by unnecessarily increasing the water stress among poor people and diminishing water quality.


Even the Rain. Dir. Icíar Bollaín. Perf. Luis Tosar and Karra Elejalde Gael García Bernal. 2010.
Finnegan, William. The New Yorker. 8 April 2002. 28 May 2012 .
Heller, Kevin J. Opinio Juris. 10 February 2006. 28 May 2012 .
Sadiq, Sheraz. FRONTLINE/World. June 2002. 28 May 2012 .
Shultz, Jim. Common Dreams. 15 July 2000. 28 May 2012 .
WaterWideWeb.org. Water Privatization: An Overview. 28 June 2010. 28 May 2012 .

Aug 11, 2011

Pre-determined or Shaped Unconsciously?

We all know (or at least I know) the plague that is shrouding the horn of Africa. More than twelve million people are malnourished, including half of the Somalia's population. 640,000 Somali children are starving and in southern Somalia, 29,000 children starved to death in the last 3 months. The numbers are pretty gruesome, right?

Consider this: Aisya, a Somali child, was suffering kwashiorkor disease because of the famine. Her mother could only sit by her bed, lamenting the condition that they have to endure. Even the mother couldn't shed her tears since she too was malnourished.

Which situation above will touch you deeper emotionally ? The previous or the latter? Multiple researches show that if given one personal situation like the Aisya's case, people were much more inclined to listen and care more. If you notice, one single event could induce lots and lots of attention from the global society compared to a repetitively and on-going disaster as in the 9/11 disaster to the Palestinian suffering (or the famine in northeast Africa).

Some current opinions say that this is the dark-side of human consciousness, where we are just that; we care only for a single, individual suffering and cannot withstand the thought of millions of people suffering as much for a long period of time. For me, I don't think that is the fact. For a couple of hundred years, our mind and culture were largely incorporated or partly incorporated, directly or indirectly, with the Western culture of individualism. We were taught, since school, to care for ourselves and think and act what is best for our personal needs. We were introduced to a thinking system that was proposed by the so-called modern society and also, by the governing body that was controlling the politics of our society.

During these few days, the world (not just our country) were struck by the news of one, single Malaysian student who were injured and robbed during the riot in London. It was in the CNN and BBC and, well, practically everywhere. Funds were raised, issues were made. Even UMNO is willing to help the student's family by sponsoring the trip to London (this is, not without prejudices of course). The trip alone costs RM20,000. That is a hell lot of money for a single family, yeah? Why not UMNO send a team of physicians to Somalia instead, and help those poor fellow children out? I bet this will send out a better and more positive look to the Malaysian society, don't you think so?

My stand here is this: God created the world undivided. Only we, humans, adapted the crippling culture of dividing ourselves according to races and countries. For Muslim brothers and sisters, look abroad. Spread your view. Look at the atrocities and cruelties that are held upon our sisters and brothers at Southern Thailand, Indonesia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and so many others. They are not strangers; they are our flesh and blood. The lines that border countries do not border our faith and ties. If we continue to only care for our kin, our local people alone, we are no different than the ignorant Arabic people during pre-Islam times. Do not dwell in assobiah, where it will cripple you. My prayers and well wishes are for each and every one of us; to live in this God given world without the feeling of distress and discomfort.