Monday, May 24, 2010

dirty dvds

There was a full page advertisement in the newspapers the other day warning the public that the police were set to clampdown HARD on pirated DVDs. This includes the street peddlers as well as anyone purchasing or owning one.

We all know that in this country, everybody has bought at least one pirated DVD in their life. It is such a big part of our pasar malam and our way of life, that it seems we cannot live without it. I think, this is one crime that most Malaysians don't even consider a crime in the first place.

I stopped buying pirated DVDs about 3 years ago. The last pirated DVD I bought was a box set of the complete series of Friends. My friends (and most people in fact) think I am an idiot because after I bought that set, I got into a realisation that one day, maybe I would invent an awesome product and some asshole would just copy it and rip me off the royalties that I was supposed to earn from that.

If there is one thing I really believe in is that one day Karma will always bite you in the ass. And I didn't want that to happen, so for some really messed up moral issue, I started to buy my DVDs at Speedy video or VideoEzy. I never downloaded movies. I do download on-going TV series, but that's only because you can't watch the latest episodes even if you were prepared to pay for it. Besides, the only TV series I follow these days is House and I checked, you can actually pay to download the latest episode on their website for about USD2, but it is only for US viewers.

And it turns out, it's not that bad. I watch most of the new movies in the cinema anyway. If I liked a movie I watched and think it's worth a second viewing, I'll probably buy the DVD. If someone raves on and on about a certain movie which I missed in the cinemas, then I will buy the DVD.

Most people justify their support of pirated stuff with, "buying original is so expensive-lah."

So what?

Watching movies is a luxury. It is not a necessity. If you couldn't afford to buy bread then perhaps, yes, you are left with no other option than to steal. Not legally correct, but morally understandable. So if you can't afford to buy an original DVD, then don't bloody watch it! I mean, I would love to drive a Lamborghini, but I can't afford it - that doesn't entitle me to steal it!

And yes, my friends would mock me for my somewhat skewed moral compass because I always felt that educational stuff was exempt from that rule. For instance, if you needed an engineering software such as AutoCAD, I always felt that okay, as a home user or a student, you perhaps could use a pirated version. But if you were running a business and profiting out of that software, then you should bloody hell buy an original license.

Hypocritical? Yes, but I never declared myself a saint.

So in the past, I've always touched on the ethical issue of not giving proper credit (by paying them!) to the people who created the movie or sang the song. But hey, a lot of people have very questionable ethics anyway, and that has never stopped anybody from doing anything that suited their fancy...

But today, I shall say this to guilt you, because it just crossed my mind recently.

If you spare one second to think about it, we all know that the pirated DVDs come from either China, Thailand or are manufactured locally. Have you sat down and thought about how these DVDs are brought into the country and how many palms are greased in the process?

From your RM6 DVD, how much money is spent so that the law enforcement officers 'look the other way' when the product comes into the country? If the DVDs are manufactured locally, how much do you think if spent paying someone off to conceal their illegal manufacturing? How much is spent to ensure that the pesky Ahbengs carrying around their basket of DVDs in mamak stalls aren't picked up? And how come every Malaysian knows where to go if they want to buy pirated DVDs, but our enforcement officers don't know where to go to shutdown those stalls?

There are hundreds of stalls in shopping malls, permanent fixtures in shoplots - what has been stopping the enforcement agencies from clamping down on them? If you don't know the answer to that question, you are clearly not Malaysian.

And if you think about it, it's no easy feat running such a large scale operation. Who are the people behind this lucrative business? Certainly it won't surprise anybody if it turns out that those are the same people running the illegal money lending business and smuggling women into the country to work as prostitutes. Would it surprise anybody if there was an organised crime Godfather behind all this?

My point here is simple. If you have ever complained about how this country is plague by corruption, if you have ever moaned about the seemingly high crime rates in this country, then don't buy any more pirated DVDs.

Stop contributing to this industry.

Stop throwing your blood money around.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

hamster wheel

Last week, the government announced the intention of constructing a nuclear power plant in the fairly distant future. Cue the horror, cue the outrage, and cue the inane ramblings of every random bloke on the street.

OH NO! Nuclear! That's dangerous, isn't it?! Didn't a nuclear meltdown occur in Cernoby or what's-that-name-in-Russia? Oh no, we're doomed, how are we going to dispose all that nuclear waste?

You know, everytime I read something related to power plants in this country, I get very annoyed. I get cheesed off because nobody seems to know what they are talking about, yet they all feel that their opinions count for something.

Tell me? What do you think our power plants should run on? What is your vision of our country's energy policy in the next 20 years or so?

If you said something along the likes of wind/solar dominating our energy requirements, please, seriously do everybody a favour and educate yourself. Yes, it is clean energy, but what do we do in the monsoon months of December/January when we don't see the sun for days (if not weeks)? And do you think it is cheap? Are you willing to pay a premium for your electricity bill? A small TNB tariff hike two years ago and the kiamsiap people up and down the country have their knickers in a twist. Are we prepared to pay through our nose for the 'clean' energy?

Now, putting the tree huggers' fantasies aside, we are left to decide between the traditional energy sources - gas, coal, hydro and now, nuclear.

But wait!

This is where the silliness kicks in.

60% of our current energy supply comes from gas. We need to diversify and reduce dependency on gas. Here's something you definitely didn't already know - while Malaysia is a net exporter of natural gas, msot of the exports come out of East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia is actually importing gas from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Building more gas power plants on the Peninsular should be out of the question.

Then we come to coal - which is what they are trying to build in Sabah, meeting strong opposition from politicians and tree huggers. Technology has come a long way, coal fired power plants are much cleaner than they were years ago. But hey, we were taught in school all those years ago that coal is dirty, coal is bad, we should not use coal!

Of course there are hydro plants, but hydro plants involve building dams and flooding a great big land area, displacing thousands of orang asli and flooding countless acres of million year old rainforests. So of course the human rights activists and tree huggers get annoyed.

So, let's summarise, shall we?

They say we can't use nuclear because it's dangerous.

Can't use gas - we don't have enough.

Solar/Wind is out of the question because too expensive.

Hydro dams displace people and wildlife, so evil!

Coal is dirty, dirty, dirty!

So what the heck shall we use??!!?

Shall we build a great big hamster wheel and get the politicians and tree huggers (and the general public) to run on it all day long to generate power? It seems that would be the only reasonable choice after the public had shot down every other option!

Look people, nuclear power is dangerous. But are petrol stations, if you think about it. You can point to Chernobyl and you can point to shoddy construction work done in our country. But I can also point to the fact that our oil refineries have amongst the lowest rates of plant fires anywhere in the world. You can point to risks associated with a nuclear plant, but I can also tell you that our LNG complex in Bintulu, up until 2 years ago was the largest such facility in the world and an explosion could have flattened Bintulu, but that plant has been running for almost 30 years and Bintulu is still standing.

We take our precautions, we conduct proper risk analysis and we put the right people in charge of it. You don't just rule something out just because you have an irrational fear of the unknown.

Friday, May 7, 2010

i don't get it

Okay, seriously...I don't get this.

Why is everybody so hung up about the police shooting dead a kid?

Is it because he looks cute and innocent in his photo? Or is it because he is 14 (would it be okay if, under the same circumstances, they shot dead a 35 year old)? And perhaps, most importantly, is it because everybody hates the cops anyway and this is a convenient excuse to spew more hatred on them?

Doesn't Osama bin Laden look absolutely adorable in this picture?

Me, I love the cops. When it mattered, they have always done their job. When I tried to bribe a cop yearsss ago, I got busted. The 3 times I have been stopped by the traffic police, not a single one even tried asking for the shortcut route out. They all dispatched the tickets and got on with life. And when I did call the cops to my house a couple of years back, it took them THREE minutes to get to my place.

So, yes. I like them, I think they are genuinely trying to do their job to their best ability. Which is why I am extremely miffed that people are slinging mud at them when it isn't their fault.

Let's put everything aside and look at the facts. Now "facts" is all about who you listen to, but hey, I think the dead kid's friend's version is a pretty good - because if he was lying, his lies certainly wouldn't exonerate the cops, would it?

"The police pursued us until the Caltex petrol station and started firing," Azamuddin said.

The teenager added that they managed to shoot the tyres of the car at the corner of Jalan Tarian and Jalan Wau, some 500 metres from the deceased's home, causing the vehicle to swerve uncontrollably.

One of the bullets fired hit the 14-year-old driver's head.

"His body fell onto my lap but his foot was still on the accelerator so the car continued to move and we crashed into a wall," he said, causing police to continue shooting.


Now, we do know this - this was a 14 year old kid who took his sister's car without her permission, drove it without a license, got into an accident and didn't stop (that's hit-and-run for you, is it only a crime is rempits do it?). Then they ran a police roadblock because he "wanted to go home". When the police were giving chase, they still didn't stop. When the police opened fire on their car, taking out their tyres, THEY STILL DIDN'T STOP!

Azamuddin Omar, 15, accompanied by his lawyers N Surendran and Latheefa Koya, was quizzed for about 30 minutes this evening.

Speaking to reporters later, Surendran said most of the questions posed by the police were repeats of what had been asked previously.

There were, however, several “interesting” new questions posed.

Among such questions, said Surendran, was: “Was the last shot fired before, or after the crash?”

Commenting on this, Surendran said, “The witnessed confirmed that the last shot was fired when the car was still moving, which contradicts the police version of events.


Only when the tyres popped and the car started swerving, and one of the bullets hit him, that is when they crashed the car. And as confirmed by the witness, the last shot was fired when the car was still moving (why the police would want to say otherwise, I have no idea).

I think what happened was an accidental killing, and the policeman panicked and came up with the story of the parang, which they shouldn't have. But why are we blaming the police for opening fire? They did their job! Someone runs a roadblock at 2 am, doesn't stop when you chase, and still doesn't stop when you take out the tyres - obviously it's all very suspicious to the police!

Now, on a separate note, could the police have handled it better? Damn straight!

The story with the parang is just bloody ridiculous, and certainly the IGP shouldn't be throwing his toys out of the pram. Yes, I can understand and in fact, I know how it feels to be part of an organisation where you are contributing something positively, but because of the ignorance of the idiotic 'rakyat', you get a shit storm rained down on you so hard, it just saps your motivation to get your job done. Yes, I imagine that morale within the police force must be at an all-time low - I would be pissed too, if my colleague DID HIS JOB and then because of that the whole country paints the entire organisation in bad light!

That said, as the head honcho of that organisation, it is the duty of the IGP to tell the people what happened and to raise the morale of his staff. Certainly, he shouldn't be going around threatening to pull his men off the streets. That is no way for a leader to behave.

So, yes - the police deserve critisism, not for the shooting, but for the way they handled the aftermath.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


This is new.

I would like to think that this template is more befitting my current state of mind.

When I started the old blog, I was a student in university procrastinating on my penultimate year thesis. And no matter how much the things I said back then made sense back then, no matter how many people (and there were loads) who told me how awesome I was for my age, when I re-read the archives, I am amazed that I actually wrote the way I did.

Perhaps, in another 5 years, this blog would have outlived its purpose and it would be time to move again.

But for now, update your links people, and here we go again....