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.
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
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.
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.
— ♥ Moui ♥ (@moui) January 16, 2015
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.
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.
I am #WestPapua. They massacred my people. They erased my history, confiscated my geography. But my children remember and won’t ever forget.
— non quis sed quid (@PurePapua) January 4, 2015
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?
— AK Rockefeller (@akrockefeller) January 12, 2015
— Occupy Sydney (@occupySYDNEY) January 15, 2015
— AK Rockefeller (@akrockefeller) January 7, 2015
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?
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.
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).
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?
@bedlamfury They are trying to show that they do they work & they are taking things pretty seriously. It’s just a front to conceal hypocrisy
— Nur Farella (@blunuur) January 14, 2015
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.
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?
— ♥ Moui ♥ (@moui) December 25, 2014
ชายเร่ร่อนในคลิปชื่อ Thomas จากคลิปที่แอบติดตามเขาว่าเขาจะทำอะไรเมื่อได้รับเงิน $100 ไปแล้วนั้น ปรากฏว่าจับใจทีมงานและผู้ชมคลิปมาก ปรากฏว่ามีคนเข้าดูคลิปที่ว่ามากกว่า 18 ล้านครั้ง ทั้งๆ ที่คลิปเพิ่งเผยแพร่วันที่ Dec 22, 2014 (สามวันที่ผ่านมานี่เอง)
ธอมัสไม่ได้เร่ร่อนเพราะใช้ชีวิตล้มเหลว เขาลาออกจากงานมาเพื่อดูแลพ่อแม่ที่กำลังป่วย พ่อแม่จากไปเร็วกว่าที่เขาคิด และค่าพยาบาลสูงมาก เขาต้องขายคอนโดพ่อแม่ที่เขาก็อาศัยอยู่ เขาตกงาน และกลายเป็นคนเร่ร่อน เพราะรู้สึกสิ้นหวังในชีวิต
หลังเหตุการณ์แอบถ่ายที่พบว่าเขาเอาเงินที่ได้ $100 ไปซื้ออาหารแจกจ่ายคนอื่น ไม่ได้เอาไปซื้อเหล้า (แบบที่คนทั่วไปคิดว่าคนเร่ร่อนมักทำ) Josh คนทำรายการ คนที่บริจาคเงิน $100 แรก ออกมาแสดงตัว บริจาคเงินมากขึ้น และผลักดันโครงการเพื่อช่วยเหลือ Thomas ขึ้น เป็น campaign ที่ชื่อ Help Thomas To Get A Fresh Start! [http://bit.ly/1xkPp6h] เพียง 3 วัน มีคนร่วมบริจาคถึง $88,273USD (ยอดเงิน ณ 11:15pm)
วัตถุประสงค์ในการระดมทุนเพื่อ Thomas ครั้งนี้เพื่อ
- ซื้อมือถือให้ติดต่อกับ Josh ได้
- ซื้อคอนโดคืน หรือมีที่อยู่ใหม่ที่ Thomas เรียกมันว่า “บ้าน” ได้
- ให้ Thomas ได้งานทำ เพื่อชีวิตใหม่
ดูคลิปนี้ และดูการรณรงค์เพื่อช่วยคนเร่ร่อนคนหนึ่งให้กลับสู่สังคมเพื่อใช้ชีวิตปกติ ได้ มันวิเศษมาก เป็นคลิปที่ดีสำหรับคริสต์มาส 2014 จริงๆ จึงขอบันทึกมาแบ่งกับเพื่อนๆ ณ ทีนี้ค่ะ