Saat jurnalisme Gagal mengekang resah Ketika pertiwi Dicabar, diterajah Sastra harus bicara Kerana kami insan tak punya Untuk mu wira bangsa Kami hanya ada prosa Dan do'a Kerana dunia sudah gila Kelam dalam serakah manusia Martabat bangsa jadi taruhan Maruah negara disepak terajang Kini semboyan telah berbunyi Darah satria mu jadi galang ganti Keramat keberanian mu jadi kemudi Agar masih ada esok untuk kami Dan sekiranya esok Jalang pengkhianat sudah kau hantar ke neraka Suria keamanan kembali berfajar Jasa mu kami kenang, kami julang Pengorbanan mu tiada sempadan Tapi jika esok Kau pulang dalam kafan Usah gusar wahai pahlawan Shahid mu seharum seroja Semangat mu kami julang Amanat mu kami kenang Keluarga mu kami dahulukan Kebajikan anak-anak mu kami perjuangkan Balu mu kami pertahankan Kerana kita masih Tuan Di tanah keramat, bumi bertuah ini. EM Petaling Jaya March 4, 2013 #LahadDatu #Semporna #Kunak #PrayforSabah #BakDatang
Forget designer drugs. All hail the rise of social media as the latest global addiction – an addiction that looks all set to make face-to-face communication as obsolete as Nokia 3210 (if it hasn’t already).
Gone are the days of torment waiting for The New Yorker to arrive at my flat via post from the US. Also, there’s that small matter of the exorbitant postage charge tagged to the skinny magazine to cross the Atlantic.
Now just with a few slides on the iPad touchscreen, with the new suave apps of the magazine ever ready to receive my command, information I had used to wait days for are now instantly at my fingertips.
Whenever I got bored in meetings or courtroom (which is often), a few discreet scrolls on the android to meet the magazine’s tweethandle or its Facebook page, will send me straight to Shouts & Murmurs – my absolute favourite.
And what about the magazine’s strategic affiliation with iPad’s app called Flipboard to win the hearts of its subscribers? That’s a story for another day.
Anecdotes aside, the society – from business organisation to political parties alike – are leveraging on various social media platforms to promote their products or political messages. As the dawn of social media reaches Malaysian shores, the country has seen an estimated 17.5 million internet users, out of which, 12.4 million are Facebook users. Meanwhile, another 2 million Malaysians are hooked on Twitter.
According to the latest research by Oxford Internet Institute 2012 on Twitter users, Malaysia came in 2nd position (next to Brazil) in terms or ratio of tweets per internet user. In view of the current growth of users in Facebook and Twitter as the primary platform, perhaps it is timely to analyse the impact of social media on our political landscape vis-à-vis the forthcoming 13th general election.
Facebook remains the main social media channel in terms of number of users in Malaysia. For this exercise, a total of 345 Facebook pages have been analysed. The analysis includes, but not limited to, Facebook pages that belong to political parties, political supporters’ clubs, politically motivated movements, individual political leaders, and the self-styled political analysts roaming the social media world.
The ruling coalition and its components parties’ Facebook presence receive a total of 3.71 million ‘likes’ from a combination of 164 Facebook pages. Highest contributors come from Najib Razak (1.04 million likes) and Tun Dr. Mahathir (1.70 million likes).
Meanwhile the opposition yields 2.71 million likes from a total combination of 181 Facebook pages. Main contributors are PAS leader, Tok Guru Nik Aziz (691,950 Likes), followed by Pakatan leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (376,089 Likes).
With the high number of Facebook pages created over the last 2 years, the opposition has been relentless in their effort to win supporters through various Facebook campaigns such as 100,000 People Request Anwar Ibrahim to be the Prime Minister. From this page they managed to secure 6,123 Likes. And there’s a similar campaign titled 500,000 Request For Datuk Anwar Ibrahim For The Next PM! For A CHANGE, which registered 699 ‘likes’ to date.
Other campaign against the current ruling coalition includes, 1,000,000 People Request Najib Tun Razak Resignation, which only yielded 7,382 ‘likes’. However, BERSIH 2.0. Official Facebook Page on electoral reform has gathered a whopping 216,872 ‘likes’.
For Chinese leaders from both MCA and DAP, Lim Guan Eng and Chua Soi Lek have more or less the same amount of Facebook ‘likes’ of 143,178 and 156,523 respectively. On the other hand, Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) has registered 38,624 ‘likes’.
Cybertrooping initiatives are heating up on both sides of the political divide. The UMNO Cybertrooper Club page has attracted 4,555 ‘likes’ as opposed to Pakatan Rakyat Cyber Trooper Club, which has only garnered 842 ‘likes’.
UMNO has come a long way post GE12. They have secured a significant footing online with a total of 109,483 ‘likes’ for their Pemuda UMNO Malaysia, UMNO Update, Media UMNO Malaysia and UMNO Facebook pages.
Comparatively, Pakatan has collected a total of 50,797 ‘likes’ from their key Facebook pages such as Pakatan Official Fanpage, Pakatan Pulau Pinang, Pakatan Selangor, Pakatan Youth, Friends of Pakatan, Pakatan Rakyat Perlis, Buletin Pakatan, Pakatan Rakyat Supporters and Pakatan Rakyat Club Facebook pages.
While the number of users pale in comparison to that of Facebook, Malaysia remains the 2nd highest tweet ratio per internet user next to Brazil. It means Twitter is more dynamic than Facebook in terms of expressing one’s view.
Looking at the number of tweets posted and the viral effect it can create on current issues like BERSIH and current crime index, I dare not underestimate its power in marshalling support for both political factions.
In a fiercely intense fight – combining the tweets from politicians and their influential comrades alike – Barisan has gained 1,463,638 followers while Pakatan follows closely with 1,279,452 followers.
Given that both Najib and Anwar prefer to use the one-way communication on Twitter, other politicians have since adopted a more pragmatic approach by engaging their followers on Twitter timeline.
Take @Khairykj for instance. Despite his penchant for being blunt and cynical in answering tweets, he has gained 131,764 followers in his 3 and a half years of tweeting. Khairy’s counterpart in Pakatan, Shamsul Iskandar, trails far behind with only 9,890 followers over the same period.
However, Pakatan draws strength from the ever-popular Hannah Yeoh (47,513 followers), Elizabeth Wong (34,012 followers), Nurul Izzah (60,660 followers) and an experienced politician, Lim Guan Eng (37,564).
The cat-and-mouse game intensifies with Barisan’s strong fort being dominated by Hishammuddin Hussein (120,853 followers), Mukhriz Mahathir (74,348 followers), Tan Keng Liang (24,534 followers) and Rahman Dahlan (9,965 followers). Total followers favoring politicians from the current coalition stands at 1,170,434, while Pakatan trails closely with 774,308.
Lieutenants on both sides of the political divide are drawn to the psych-war on Twitter, like moths to a flame. I am talking about the likes of Lokman Adam, Hishamuddin Rais, Rocky’s Bru, Nathaniel Tan, Firdy Fire and Tricia Yeoh.
Of course, let’s not forget the recent spat between two local celebrities calling each other to a debate about issues plaguing the PDRM. No, I have no comment on that.
After all is told, statistics is but a collection of numbers. The true evaluation on the effectiveness (or otherwise) of political campaign via social media can only be ascertained post GE13. Political leaders must not forsake the on-ground campaign which covers the remaining 11 million people who have no access to the internet.
It is undeniable that Facebook and Twitter were instrumental to the Arab Spring Uprising and other social movements. However, the demographics and psychometrics of Malaysia is vastly different, and the impact may centralize only to urbanites and those who have internet access.
Because the dynamics of the social movement via Facebook or Twitter can be viral, I am of the view that the idea of having a social media council – to control something that is inherently uncontrollable – is but a folly.
Last but not least, we must remember that social media does not exist in a vacuum. For further clarification, please consult the lawyers in Twitterjaya – you know who am I talking about.
Note: The analysis on Facebook & Twitter was done a fortnight ago. The number has increased tremendously at the time of drafting.
(Published in Sinar Harian, 2 May 2012)
Ralat: Bukan untuk para demonstran atau pihak polis yang cintakan kedamaian.
Sudah lewat empat tahun sejak saya menulis untuk pembaca budiman – suatu keistimewaan maha agung buat saya. Dan selagi soal hak untuk berkumpul dan berhimpun secara aman masih diperkata, pembaca budiman sudah sedia maklum di mana paksi pendirian saya.
Ruangan minggu ini akan menyatakan satu persatu pengamatan peribadi saya tentang perangai dan ketaksuban sesetengah pihak semasa perhimpunan Bersih 3.0. Sabtu lepas, di Kuala Lumpur.
Saya menghormati hak setiap warganegara untuk berkumpul dan membantah secara aman. Sudah naik mua di muka menulis berkali-kali tentang hak di bawah Perkara 10(1)(a)dan(b) Perlembagaan Persekutuan.
Tetapi bila hak bersangkal misi peribadi, celaka Sabtu lepas terjadi.
Perhimpunan yang bermula dengan aman dan senyuman jadi gegak gempita songsang budaya, angkara segelintir demonstran yang taksub dengan ka’aabah politik masing-masing dan pihak berkuasa yang diperkuda tuan sendiri.
Saya kata ‘segelintir,’ bukan semua – tolong jangan putar belit kenyataan saya.
Apa yang tolol adalah bila orang-orang seperti saya yang kuat bertanya – memang dari kecil begitu, sehingga guru-guru dan ibu sendiri naik muak – dilabel sebagai “apa masalah?, moron, propagandist polis, anjing, manipulated,” dan macam-macam lagi bahasa kesat dalam nahu bahasa Inggeris dan Melayu yang sangat daif di laman Twitter.
Ini lah jadinya bila berguru kepalang ajar.
Bila ada yang berkicau di laman Twitter tentang tiga orang maut dirempuh kereta polis, saya cepat-cepat bertanya memohon kepastian. Nyata, kebenaran itu mahal, sementara menyebar berita panas tak berlapik bukti itu murahan.
Sebenarnya saya tidak ada masalah secara peribadi dengan orang-orang macam ini. Anggap sahaja bila saya bertanya dengan telus dan lantang, itu kerana saya memperjuangkan tekad untuk menulis apa yang benar. Bukan sewenang-wenang menulis mengikut nafsu baik di Twitter, Facebook mahupun ruangan ini.
Maaf kepada sesiapa yang terasa, I am calling your bluff. Kalau ada bukti nyata, sila tulis rebuttal kepada pihak editorial Sinar Harian dengan segera.
Juga saya tuliskan di sini, rasa hormat menggebu-gebu untuk aktivis seperti Padma. Selesai berdemo dengan aman, beliau mengajak rakan-rakan membersihkan Kuala Lumpur. Peguam seperti Syahredzan yang bersengkang mata, menggadai masa dalam memperjuangkan hak anak guam yang dinafikan khidmat guaman.
Mereka ini payah berkalih arah walau dituba pelbagai propaganda politik. Di mata saya, mereka berdua anak merdeka yang hakiki.
Kalau tidak tegar berdebat cara ilmuwan, maruah diri jadi taruhan. Bukan begitu, pembaca budiman?
Sasterawan dan aktivis sosial Indonesia, Wiji Thukul, dalam puisinya bertajuk Merontokkan Pidato, telah menyimpul pendapat saya tentang Kuala Lumpur yang berantakan Sabtu lepas. Begini bunyinya:
Bermingu-minggu ratusan jam
akrab dengan sudut-sudut kamar
lalat semut dan kecoa
mereka gagal memaksaku
aku tak akan mengakui kesalahanku
karena berpikir merdeka bukanlah kesalahan
bukan dosa bukan aib bukan cacat
yang harus disembunyikan
kucari apa yang tidak tertulis
kulihat apa yang tidak diperlihatkan
kukibas-kibaskan pidatomu itu
dalam kepalaku hingga rontok maka terang benderanglah:
ucapan penguasa selalu dibenarkan laras senapan!
aku tak akan minta ampun
pada kemerdekaan ini
Mengimbau cara-cara Saleh Ben Joned yang selalu menyindir dalam puisi, mengata secara tersirat, saya pohon masa pembaca budiman untuk mencari mesej subliminal dalam frasa puisi Wiji Thukul itu.
Jangan sesekali kita minta ampun pada kemerdekaan ini. Lihatlah apa yang tidak perlihatkan, merintis bangsa cara orang budiman.
Melihat secara menyuluruh pasca Bersih 3.0. selepas Kuala Lumpur kembali bernafas seperti biasa, kotoran dan debu bantahan menipis, demonstran pulang ke rumah masing-masing, iluminasi kebangkitan rakyat masih kekal tidak tersangkal. Nyata, ada kekhilafan besar bila seramai itu bersuara. Sekarang para memanda menteri boleh tepuk dada tanya minda. Jangan tanya selera.
Dan untuk pihak pengajur, seperti yang selalu saya kata, sila nyahkan anasir politik dalam perjuangan anda. Mereka itu bukan si Jebat pejuang kebenaran, mereka itu menangguk di air yang keruh untuk jadi perdana menteri semata.
Membantah itu seribu cara, diam tidak bermakna takut, bersuara kecil tidak bererti kecut, enggan berarak di jalanan bukan bodoh. Ini tanah tumpah darah saya dan anda, saya lebih rela mati beragan, tak tentu batu nisan dari menjadi hamba ikutan tanpa pendirian. Alur pendidikan saya mengajar saya bertanya dan mengeluarkan pendapat seperti orang berakal – bukan untuk jadi wahana politik sesiapa.
Sila hormat kemerdekaan saya.
Dan jangan lupa pembaca budiman, luka angkara dipukul bisa sembuh, kereta yang rosak boleh diganti, tapi luka yang diguris mata pena, kekal sepanjang zaman.
- Elviza juga seorang peguam dan penulis. Pohon bertemu minta di http://twitter.com/elviza
I swear I can metamorphose into a stark raving lunatic whenever I find myself in the wondrous confines of a bookstore. As a result of my slightly unconventional behavior, I suspect that a few sales assistants at MPH would secretly give their proverbial right arm for the privilege of duct-taping my lips shut – and for keeping them so sealed until the dawn of the apocalypse.
But it’s nothing personal, it’s just books.
Living in this quirky (but ever so real world) that exists in my head, I often help (read: on my own initiative) rearrange books in MPH, Borders, Kinokuniya and independent bookstores according to their respective genres and author’s names. I believe that this is the least I could do in return for them allowing me to read their precious books for free. However, I don’t think the storeowner is even aware (or approves) of this arrangement.
When occasion warrants it, I also would write disgruntled emails detailing a shop’s seeming lack of soul in selling books. At times, I would also call to ask them the most inane of questions about their new arrivals and bestsellers lists.
Sorry for being pedantic, but this world can’t move on its rightful axis when a giant bookstore labels its shelves like this:
I once asked a book assistant at – I should refrain from naming; let’s avoid litigation shall we? – regarding the whereabouts of Theroux’s latest title, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. For my troubles, I was confronted with the assistant’s overconfident, “Oh, that’s in Astronomy’s section please”. And I suppose 84 Charing Cross Road would therefore be in the – let’s see – maps section?
Spare me the torture, dear friends. Please take a knife and deliver unto me an untimely death so I can fly to the Utopia of books where the ignorant and non-book-lovers are denied entry.
Through the years, I find myself raving on the same topic for years – what more with the advent of social media platform where over-sharing is considered the new black. Here’s an example, I once tweeted the Prime Minister about the ridiculously exorbitant book prices in this country. No, let me be honest – I tweeted him about 10 times. The busy man, however, has never replied.
Now, I will take matters into my own hands. My friend (read: the poor financier) and I will open our own bookstore. No, it is not my intention to give Amazon.com a run for its money. My aspirations are of a much humbler nature: I just want to share with you books that can challenge, move and maybe perhaps even steal a permanent place in your heart.
If I were a trust fund baby, I would have opened something like this yesterday:
Alas, since life has plans on its own (often quite independent from mine), I will instead start with something like this to appease this hunger for sharing books.
In the meantime, I will start reviewing books deemed fit for sharing in Book Snob on a weekly basis. When the website is launched to all and sundry, I pray for your support. And if you were to ask what kind of bookshop it will be, I will answer, “It’s simply a place where good books meet”.
Let’s start with some gems from our neighboring country, shall we?
(Published in The Malaysian Insider, 15 January 2012)
I realise with great consternation that travel is not about being a gawking tourist at historical destinations of the world.
I have since accepted that travel is less about ticking off the checkbox in my list of destinations than it is about collecting images of sun-kissed faces and pallid lips of locals at the foot of a mountain.
Travel, to me, is always about striking up odd conversations with equally odd strangers.
I have so far learned to accept certain acute situations: for instance, that half an inch is a perfectly comfortable margin between life and a horrific car accident in Istanbul’s traffic.
But reality, of course, is a slap in the face: you certainly are no Marco Polo when you insist on a decent toilet, a GPS device supported by cut-throat international roaming rates, and a hotel room equipped with a UNIFI-speed internet connection. Duh!
I awoke the sleeping traveller in me during one random train ride from Aberystwyth to Birmingham circa 1995. A boy had just broken my tender heart of 20. I couldn’t decide which was colder at the time: the menacing gales from the nearby Irish Sea, or my frozen heart.
The hüzün in my soul matched that of the grey, overcast Welsh sky — I was no longer the Skylar of his heart.
Disillusioned by the injustice of romance, I made a vow to never fall in love again (that has no bearing of truth whatsoever). I also swore off boys till the dawn of Apocalypse (this too is fiction), but I kept travelling whenever time and money were kind to me.
Fast forward to 16 years later: armed with a much healthier state of the heart and overrated guide books, here I was, half away to the top of the Acropolis, cursing the travel bug in me like a mad sailor.
Late autumn sun refuses to simmer the heat, the temperature lingers at 35 degree Celcius. And tackling the limestone steps of the Acropolis in hostile temperature is an affirmative way to premature cardiac arrest — especially to those who avoid exercising.
Still, no possibility of cardiac arrest could deter millions of visitors from ascending the Acropolis in search of, the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the virgin patron of Athens, the goddess Athena.
More than 2,400 years after its construction, the Parthenon still dominates the azure skyline of Athens above all other historical attractions.
This is Herod Atticus Odeon at the foot of the Acropolis. It was built by Herodes in memory of his wife, Regilla, who died in 160 AD.
The structure, originally painted in myriads of red, green and blue had survived until 1687, but it was reduced to ruins when the Venetians who were hiding from the Turkish invasion sparked an explosion.
Until today, the Parthenon is still undergoing massive restoration effort.
Next to the Parthenon, the Erechtheion stands proud with six draped female columns — Caryatid Porch (the porch of the maidens) — but there are only five left.
Lord Elgin of England had stolen the last column to decorate his Scottish mansion and later sold it the British Museum. Legend has it that at night, the five remaining caryatids could still be heard wailing for their lost sister.
And at this very same spot goddess Athena and Poseidon had fought for control of Athens. Poseidon struck his trident into the rock of Acropolis and salt water gushed out from the city of stone, whilst Athena offered olive tree. The Olympian gods had decided that Athena was the winner of the battle.
But no legendary anecdote could rival the view of the Parthenon from Lycabettus Hill at night or the electrifying ambience of Plaka Street.
Packed to the brim with tourists and locals selling all kinds of souvenirs imaginable — from brass Sparta helmets to hand woven fabrics — Plaka serves as the heartbeat of Athens where friendly Athenians can be seen smiling towards the boisterous tour groups. They don’t do the same at city center, Syntagma.
In a lifestyle that parallels to ancient democracy tradition, Athenians often gather at Syntagma Square to protest over austerity measures and the quality of life in Greece.
A quick chat with the book-cart owner down at Piraeus reveals that things are ‘generally hard’ around Athens: money is scarce, the number of tourists has dwindled in the wake of economic downturn and the euro currency crisis threatens to break Athenians asunder.
Apart from the five wailing sisters next to Parthenon and the gleaming edifice of the New Acropolis Museum (estimated to cost 130 million euro), my battered Moleskine has recorded plenty of hastily scribbled notes.
I get to squat at the spot where Socrates addressed his public and where democracy was subsequently born at the Agora. I could sense the palpable desperation of Plaka shop owners urging the visitors to buy something, anything at all.
I recall conversing in sign language with an elderly gypsy selling gorgeous white tablecloth — suffice to say the transaction did not go through due to a communication breakdown.
I remember sitting next to one Christian orthodox priest in Athens Metro only to snoop at what he was reading — he wasn’t very amused with me.
I laugh reading the scribble on page 45 of my notebook: “husband mad cos the sound of my shutter button awoken the sleeping homeless at National Garden.”
Until today, I still cannot comprehend the barrenness of The Temple of Olympian Zeus, too sterile and forgotten.
Not forgetting the hours I had wasted trying to decipher the graffiti on the walls of Syngtagma buildings.
The impossible fights I had had to endure with the husband trying to translate signboards written either in Greek or Latin to English.
That moment when I had to stifle my laugh looking at the pompom-decorated shoes of the guards in front of the Parliament, or to just stare lustfully at the gorgeous Greek god in an Armani suit, on a Vespa, along the cobblestone path of our hotel.
But above all, it was the street tango dance in Monastiraki Square that stole my heart in Athens. A few nights a week, in between the old mosque and the water fountain, Academia Del Tango held free tango lessons for all and sundry.
The sultry rhythm coupled with sexually inspired movements suffused the air throughout the night. Ah, tango is still the most vocal expression of chemistry between the bodies, espoused in language known only to the dancers.
The next day, I left Athina airport with that tango scene wildly playing in my mind. Till we meet again on my next note, hopefully from Istanbul.
* Elviza Michele Kamal loves the traditional maps but cannot resist the GPS.
Thomas Wolfe on writer’s vocation:
“For sleep was dead forever, the merciful, dark and sweet oblivions of childhood sleep.
The worm had entered at my heart, the worm lay coiled and feeding at my brain, my spirit, and my memory — I knew that finally I had been caught in my own fire, consumed by my own hungers, impaled on the hook of that furious and insensate desire than had absorbed my life for years.
I knew, in short, that one bright cell in the brain or heart or memory would now blaze on forever — by night, by day, through every waking, sleeping moment of my life, the worm would feed and the light be lit, — that no anodyne of food or drink, or friendship, travel, sport or woman could ever quench it, and that never more until death put its total and conclusive darkness upon my life, could I escape.
I knew at last I had become a writer: I knew at last what happens to a man who makes the writer’s life his own.”
But I woke up this morning to looming hearing dates, screaming clients, unanswered affidavits and 30 email messages. I stick to what the poet-sandal maker, Stavros Melissinos, said:
“A writer who does nothing but write is like the moon, which gives off some light, but borrowed from the sun. A writer needs first-hand experience, which only working in another field can give him. Otherwise he is rewriting what he has read in other books.”