Author: Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

Soup Kitchen for Marginalized, Homeless Community in Kuala Lumpur

Homelessness and marginalization affects many countries, especially when development and urbanization grows unchecked by the government and ignored by society. Malaysia likes to highlight its modern cities and dramatic shift from an agriculture-based nation to a sophisticated civilization.

Yet behind the scenes, and often blatantly staring at your face, poverty and hardship grows in Kuala Lumpur, a self-declared city of successes.

On May 3 in KL, I observed a group of young volunteers, mobilized by Dapur Jalanan, providing free food and drinks to about 80 marginalized people, many of them Malaysians. Well organized, efficiently coordinated by empowered young Malaysians. Dapur Jalanan conducts food services once a week, on Sunday. If you’re interested to help or simply curious, do check out their site: https://www.facebook.com/dapurjalanankl

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Kuala Lumpur: Homelessness, Revisited

Homelessness is not a new societal dilemma in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, homelessness affect even beyond the urban and rural poor. Often communities struggle with high cost of living, poor mental health, societal stigmatization and unemployment.

Malaysia, with its 30-odd million people, is blessed with natural resources, surrounded by non-threatening neighbours, a wealth of knowledge left behind by her colonial masters. Malaysia, my country, has moved largely away from an agricultural nation, into the sophisticated, modern country that it is now, with Kuala Lumpur as its pulsing, growing heart of bourgeoisie appetite.

However with rapid urbanization, poor public administration, clueless NGOs and a money-hungry society which seems to enjoy feeding upon itself, the marginalization of communities has grown. Homeless folks, visibly more Malaysians than foreigners, some from the distant shores of Malaysia’s Borneo, of Sabah and Sarawak. They, and some with their families, flock the roads, back lanes, the commercial centres and the capitalistic monuments of modern development. Yet despite their visibility, they find that the middle-class urbanites and elites are more often uninterested in helping the poor, those in need. Class-based prejudice, sometimes infused with racism, and even xenophobia, is the dominating component that makes Kuala Lumpur what it is now.

A city, filled with loss.

Elder, homeless and begging in the heart of capitalistic Kuala Lumpur.
Elder, homeless and begging in the heart of capitalistic Kuala Lumpur.
A temporary home, in plain sight of corporate offices. Yet urban society ignores the homeless, maybe hoping they would simply disappear.
A temporary home, in plain sight of corporate offices. Yet urban society ignores the homeless, maybe hoping they would simply disappear.
Urbanites usually ignore the plights of Malaysians and foreigners who are homeless in the city.
Urbanites usually ignore the plights of Malaysians and foreigners who are homeless in the city.
Modernisation of Kuala Lumpur. Only the elites enjoy true luxury and comfort.
Modernisation of Kuala Lumpur. Only the elites enjoy true luxury and comfort.
This couple does not appear to be hungry or homeless, but they were begging near KL Sentral.
This couple does not appear to be hungry or homeless, but they were begging near KL Sentral.
Under the scorching sun, surrounded by Malaysian monuments of development, this man begs for coins.
Under the scorching sun, surrounded by Malaysian monuments of development, this man begs for coins.

 

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Soft Shell For BlackBerry Bold 9790 is “Okay”

I’m too lazy to search Bangkok’s malls and IT outlets for a cover for my second-hand BlackBerry Bold 9790. I use this device as a second cell phone, with a BIS package, particularly when I conduct outreach in the region. Anyway I ordered a soft shell via Lazada, an online sales platform. Took less then a week, before the item was delivered to my house.

Well packed, good box and soft shell was covered with plastic.
Well packed, good box and soft shell was covered with plastic.
The black shell has a smooth feel to it, and light. Texture feels slippery.
The black shell has a smooth feel to it, and light. Texture feels slippery.
Used it for about a week, and sometimes the BB9790 overheats. Most probably due to Bangkok's incredible summer and the casing traps heat.
Used it for about a week, and sometimes the BB9790 overheats. Most probably due to Bangkok’s incredible summer and the casing traps heat.
Accidentally dropped a few times, and its not bad, as it absorbed a bit of shock. Paid 298 Baht for it, which included the delivery.
Accidentally dropped a few times, and its not bad, as it absorbed a bit of shock. Paid 298 Baht for it, which included the delivery.
Soft shell doesn't add bulk to the device. So its 'okay' to buy if you have lose change to spare.
Soft shell doesn’t add bulk to the device. So its ‘okay’ to buy if you have lose change to spare.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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ICT Future: Lets Start with Participation in Thailand

Often young people are the first to take advantage of information and communication technologies. I see this in developing countries within the region, a prevalent desire for continuous content consumption, be it via sharing on social media, engaging on the internet, advocacy with mass dissemination and, or simply for one’s private entertainment. Traditional sense of socializing, at least during the “old days” of my youth, have been aggressively challenged and even in this day and age of modernization, we still see the present socialization challenged by young people and by people of my generation.

New technology is not only bringing about the uniformed culture of information. There has been frequent outbreaks of anti-conformism to this culture, bordering on the right to internet freedom to socio-political self-awareness of ideas and propagandas. Such culture is visible in almost every corner of the youth community, where experimentation, tentative prodding and the curiosity swells.

Though often, such in Thailand, this behaviour of internet autonomy is discouraged by the cultural conservatives, right-wings and the authorities. Some groups, traditionalists fearing a backlash to their lives or to their sense of “order” and make it a point to exclude young people in decision-making process, such as in consultation for the country’s national internet-related policies.

I’ve noticed, such exclusion takes place when authorities demand for development (in this case, a so-called “reform”) of national strategies with the secret introduction of a new set of laws, governed by a rebranded government strong-arm, called “Ministry of Digital Economy“. Though in truth, its a far-removed agency with politically motivated individuals championing its conception. I worry about the digital divide, in itself caused by the junta-inspired groups of decision-makers, with unsolved social inequality, marginalization and that obvious institutional desire to ensure conformity.

So let’s start with basic questions, by facilitating the brain juices of young people:

Are there government programs and policies that specifically address the right of participation of not just young people but also the masses into consultation in drafting laws that affect ICT? If so, what areas of focus?

Are there government-related programs to empower young people to be part of the growth of ICT in Thailand? What about NGO programs? Is the private sector involved, and what about individuals?

Have young people or youth organizations been involved with the present planning of the proposed laws? And what about the evaluation of the future impact of such laws on them?

Without their active participation in decision-making and problem-solving, and without taking into account of their concerns on censorship, surveillance and other internet regulations, the government will surely place young Thais on the wrong side of the digital divide.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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They Massacred My People. They Rape West Papua

West Papua. Genocide. In this modern age of development and sophistication, the international community barely maintains a sustainable thought for a land colonised by a regional power, Indonesia.

Papuans, also known as the indigenous Melanesians, are not “Indonesians” nor are they from the same racial stock of the Javanese population. The atrocities by both the Indonesian police and military seems to barely affect global politics, much less leave an impact upon the thoughts of the civilised world.

Joko Widodo, the president of Indonesia, seems to be more interested in increasing his public profile in West Papua than actually exerting his executive power to enable a greater voice for the Papuans in decision-making or even self-determination. Is Joko a smiling-pawn of the military, with no authority to advocate for basic rights and social justice? Or perhaps, the government’s dependency on the multi-billion dollar mining projects in a land that does not belong to the Indonesians?

West Papua. The ancient land belongs to Papuans, their home, and home to the largest goldmine with huge natural gas deposits. Yet its obvious, even to the millions of Indonesians, of their government’s systematic, institutional rape of land and sea. Of consorting with foreign and local corporations to petrify the soil and destroy the environment, just to fatten Indonesia and fill the national coffers with blood money.

And what of the member states of ASEAN? Are they twiddling their thumbs, to maintain respectful silence of non-interference despite knowing of the piling broken, bloodied bodies as a result of Indonesia’s brutality? What of advocates of human rights in this region, these high-so champions of articulate morality and righteousness, are they blind to the horrors?

Or perhaps, we as a whole, fancy the thought of a mighty empire grow on top of a mountain of Papuan skulls?

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Grand Delusion: A Road-Map To Nowhere

Thailand apparently has road-maps for everything under the sun. Road-maps for national harmony, road-maps for unity, road-maps for peace in conflict-torn south Thailand, road-maps for digital economy, and road-maps for solidifying power.

This “road-map” is of course debatable, something that politicians and right-wing factions widely abuse when they speak to their audience, to the unconvinced rural crowds or the applauding teary-eyed urban middle class. Road-maps, aye, so often mentioned by uniformed powers that at times the general public forgets to ask what is this so-called strategy all about. I, for one, am clueless.

Clueless, simply because there is no elaboration, no detailed explanation to such a plan, during the weekly rants on telly, and in public forums organized by patriots. Often enough, officials mouth what has been repeated a thousand times, almost to the point that they themselves believe in the delusions.

Let’s take housing in Bangkok as an example, and more specifically, permanent and temporary homes for the urban poor.

Bangkok’s local government, sort of a city hall system with its own governor, has been pretty silent about housing for the poor. No word about access to low cost housing, and silent about the increasing homelessness in the mega city, this heart of the land of smiles. And what of the residents of slums, squatting on land that clearly does not belong to them. In some areas, local and foreign residents of such crowded communities, and those wandering from one street to another,  are without access to the road-map.

The obvious absence of rights-based social programs for those who are in desperate need for housing is the only sure thing in this equation. Oh aye, and also the missing Bangkok governor; who seems to be frequently away from the limelight after the coup of 2014.

With the increasing speculation of an economic meltdown in the country, starting with Bangkok, people are genuinely concerned about their wages, their livelihood, their bowl of rice. Families are worried about their children’s education, their debts and their homes.

Such concerns are not solely affecting the working class and the dirt poor, as you may already know. An economic slowdown will surely affect the middle class, particularly when people are uncertain about their future despite their government’s weekly assurances of a road-map for socio-economic recovery. What does this plan envision, and how are communities involved in shaping their future? No one knows, and not many dare to ask the ruling junta. So how now? Oh hell, I’m still clueless.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Compassion Is Not An Embracing Virtue

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The tudung-clad Malay girls who were seen hugging and kissing members of a K-pop band at a concert in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday have been given a week by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) to come forward or face arrest, Utusan Malaysia reports. (The Malaysian Insider).

kpop_fans_malaysia

Meanwhile the institutions in Malaysia neglect social concerns on rampant poverty, poor education system, and marginalization of young people. However they, these mighty moralistic bodies have the resources and time to purge those they classify as deviants. Deviation from what? The morality of a bunch of officials who seem to harbour personality deficiency and insecurity?

In recent years, the puritanical approach of race supremacists, moralists, and politicians have spread the culture of fear. Its as if the individual thought and body no longer belongs to the individual. Welcome to Malaysia, such is the new Talibanisation over a 30-million odd population, in a realm rich with natural resources and an arrogance to boot. Welcome to the demise of compassion and common sense.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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The High Cost Of Wishing For Better Days

Strong winds, dreadfully cold temperature. Night time, in Bangkok. Its the “winter” season in most parts of Thailand. How bizarre, and how odd. That word, “winter” in this region. The chills forces me to walk further, past the narrow alleys and the dim lights almost hovering. No fog, but expecting the early morning mist much later.

Where are the others? The homeless. In this wretchedness one calls a city. They’re not dead, they couldn’t be dead, at least I hope not. The intense cold offers no comfort to those without shelter, even for the outreach worker who struggles to find them. The streets where they normally sleep at nights, they are not seen.

Easy now, there’s usually an explanation. For some reason, there’s logic behind this… Or not.

City hall commands the streets of Bangkok. Responsible for the city, them with their office monuments covered by walls and warmth. Yet they, these pesky officials, appear not to be interested in the struggles, nor radiate that caring aura that some people boast about. Responsibility. Aye, there’s no logic to that, nowadays.

Hallucination. The grand illusion of middle class empathy for those living on the streets. More like phantoms, shifting shadows, from one corner to another. I’ve seen through them, the supposedly mystery buried in the filth, on the streets and in the many polluted canals.

A question mark that lies in the night, now, with those howling whipping winds. Bangkok, a shrine of more troubles, in the months ahead. Could we expect the high cost of wishing for better days?

Bangkok Poverty

Source: bedlamfury

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Cracking My Head With ShopCrackBerry

I ordered, paid for a case via ShopCrackBerry. The site is supposedly the place for all BlackBerry mobiles and accessories. The cost of the “custom BlackBerry Passport skin case” didn’t bother me, though the USPS courier (US$47.95) did.

Priority Mail Express International, that’s what its called, and despite the hefty price-tag, I decided to burden the cost as I wanted the case to arrive in Thailand as swiftly as possible. I figured the only problem faced would be delays on the Thai Customs.

But then again, ShopCrackBerry tells me after days after the failure for timely delivery, that the stipulated time was merely an estimate. I’m expected to be patient, despite the delays and that horrid thought of not knowing what else I (they) could do. So what now? I’m left at the mercy of a foreign courier system that seems to take forever to reach Bangkok and curious why after paying so much that the package is still in the US. So how long will it be in the US?

And I’m not happy with ShopCrackBerry either, after all its my first time ordering online from them and the obvious delay is causing me to be edgy, and terrible anxious.

USPS Product Tracking Information - that doesn't seem to explain the delay
USPS Product Tracking Information – that doesn’t seem to explain the delay, and when the product would arrive.

Lesson learned:

  1. Keep on pushing ShopCrackBerry for answers, namely what’s happening with the delivery and when will it safely reach the destination.
  2. Avoid using USPS.
  3. Just maybe, this will be my first and last time that I shop via ShopCrackBerry. After all its, not worth the headache.

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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GrabTaxi’s ‘Speed, Safety and Certainty’ Approach in Thailand

The state of public transportation in Bangkok is often tarnished by the unavoidable presence of drivers who either would take a passenger to where its convenient for the person steering the vehicle or when the taxi meter is not used. Welcome to the troubling state of affairs of not only Bangkok but other cities in SouthEast Asia.

What started in Malaysia, has spawned to other countries in the region, as their enterprise model cleverly supplements the urban transportation industry, a synergy of internet, gadgetry and travel.

During a “Meet and Greet Wei Zhu” event in Bangkok, GrabTaxi’s chief technology officer outlined the fundamentals of the growing company, which relies on their app to efficiently link passengers with their taxis.

Wei Zhu
Wei Zhu

Wei Zhu gives an impression of safety, of travel monitoring via the app, and that one is able to get around without the hassle of negotiating with the driver to use the meter. GrabTaxi takes pride in their selling points of “Speed, Safety and Certainty“.

Though its obvious while user-friendly technology and effective supervision makes the service attractive, there are no guarantees that you may not end up with a moody driver who may just make your trip unbearable. However the plus point on the service, since the taxi is registered with GrabTaxi, is that lodging a complaint would be easier.

There’s also the 25-baht booking fee, on top of the metered fare, that one has to pay the moment you reach your destination. I don’t mind, depending on how far I go, transportation (when using the meter) via taxi is usually affordable, unless one gets caught in Bangkok’s notorious traffic.

The GrabTaxi app on my BlackBerry Passport looks amazing, compared to a tight, poorly aligned visual when one uses the BB Q10 or of a lesser OS. Its available in BlackBerry World, a free download. I recommend this app for those travelling in Bangkok and especially in Malaysia.

If you’re planning to travel in the city, check it out, download and then use it.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand
This work by Moui is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand.
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