Tag: life

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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Tragedy of the Poor, Living in Societal Apathy

Sunday, hellishly humid and blisteringly hot. Bangkok. I’m in one of those random moods to explore places, away from anything that looks and feels elaborate in structure and decoration. The feet, thighs and lower back set in motion, and I’m off. Bangkok holds much for a traveller, particularly when one is away from the main roads and shopping malls. Life, as in many cities, begins in the older districts, where tourists would not venture, where the middle-class are conveniently absent.

Elderly man working

Elderly Thai man walks slowly to the roadside, in search for discarded wealth, at least to him. Bottles, recycled goods, a source of income for him, and many others like him, who wander the old streets in search for something to sell, to trade, in exchange for baht. Survival, in this city, is challenging for those without a stable income. High cost of living, in particular, the rent of a small flat or a hut in the slum. You’re expected to pay, whether to the landlord, gang or corrupted official, to stay, to live on the space we call land.

Elderly man recycle work

I see a decline of what’s left of empathy among the middle-class population of the metropolis. Aye, people seems to be quick to offer the coin, or two, to the street beggars. But that’s just about it, about the act of giving, a confinement of empathy. Passing loose change to the vagabond, the disabled homeless person in Bangkok is habitual in nature, almost an instinct to reach into the pocket to offer unused coins. Behaviours are still the same, as we walk by the bowing beggar, and within a heartbeat, we forget their faces and their existence.

 

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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Societal Pursuit of Gratification, during Ramadan

We swing, most often with relish, from euphoric intensity, then to the other, to immortality of emotions; self-emptiness, shreds of self.

 

Ramadan, during the month, Muslims engage in the ritualistic obligation of fasting; the deprivation of cycles, the consumption of limitation, of modest portions and outwardly respectable behaviours. Not an easy task for many, if one is conscious of the glares and the mock looks of disgust from other Malaysian Muslims. Society’s obsession with trying to subdue others into similar paths of emotional repression, to share in the growling hunger, the throat-constricting thirsts, usually reaches epic proportions; the every bit of anxiety that exposes one from the norm, that almost sadistic delight that those who cannot, would not, shall not fast are still expected to submit to the might of superficiality.

 

Despite the ridicule, the boasts, the attempt at religious lecture and the peculiar looks some would surely give me during the particular holy month, I care not, to be blunt; as if their world evolves around my personal space, my faith and my responsibility, and as if I care to indulge in the whims and fancies of ‎attention-seekers. I have always found their intention, the great holier-than-thou behaviour, coupled with talks of racial supremacy over the lesser race, to be offensive, and would not hesitate to match foul words to lessen their interest in me.

 

There’s a high degree of immaturity, of expectations from both society and religious pressure groups. One is expected to blend into conformity, during Ramadan, to display a mockery of solidarity, when in reality there is none. Diversity of free-will, of common sense and identity works against the institutional wheel that moves, and at times crushes the resistance of those who are different. ‎One conforms, simply for appearance sake, or fearing the ostracization that comes your way when actions and thoughts differ from acceptable norms. Of which, these people fast for societal acceptance and in accordance to their character flaws.

 

For as long as I can remember, people begin their fast with prayers, then off to the work place and expecting the world to stop just because they are restricting themselves from food, drink and seductive thoughts. Then after hours of the absence, they indulge in the Malaysian art of buying food that can, for a couple of days, feed some poor or homeless family. Abandoned food, are kept in containers and left forgotten, or simply thrown into the ‎trash bin, where at times the beggars would search for scraps.

 

Ramadan, brings about memories of seeing waste, the loss of consumption and the gluttony of senses. I dislike the waste, having experienced hunger and poverty in my late teens; and homelessness thereafter. ‎I dislike the culture, this period when society feast; with large and sumptuous meals, sinking their teeth into tender meat, and the tongue tasting the savoury delights of fine desserts and gulping, almost greedily, the sweet, cold beverages.

 

During these times, I offer prayers, most importantly the private devotions. Not for world peace, nor for the good name of a country or to a dysfunctional race and supreme individual. My devotions are partly focused on the demise of society’s common sense; the absence of humanity when groups are at this rich embroidery of food, and their part-worship to fill their bellies with waste, and allow their hive-mind to shroud in loss. In fact, I look forward to the start of Ramadan, away from the egocentric masses, I find with the presence of loved ones, the rare tranquillity of self.

 

 

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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Rejuvenation in Rural Pathum Thani Province

A rural road, in the depths of a province that I am unfamiliar with. Pathum Thani. Imposing highways, leading to narrow roads, and how I remember the small dusty town, somewhat a taint of resemblance of Phnom Penh, though not quite. The escape, away from Bangkok, was thankfully rejuvenating. The nap, a couple of hours in the moving vehicle, prepared me for the “rural” province. Relaxing, despite the signs of the dry season in these parts. I’ve always enjoyed the trips, and outreach, in rural Thailand, whether in the plantations of middle south, to the most southern fishing villages and the northern rice farms. I shall return.

Pillars made from petrified tree trunks held an old roof. Scattered chairs, a comfort, away from the sunshine.
Pillars made from petrified tree trunks held an old roof. Scattered chairs, a comfort, away from the sunshine.
Algae-filled pond, though the farmers find it helpful, during the drought.
Algae-filled pond, though the farmers find it helpful, during the drought.
Blistering heat, with a touch of humidity, however the obvious absence of towering buildings. I like.
Blistering heat, with a touch of humidity, however the obvious absence of towering buildings. I like.

 

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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My Random Snapshots of Life

Mix-matched, I know, though I see life almost through random events. The longer I travel, the more I see the neglect. Society rushes to fulfill its desires, and yet we sometimes, or often forget to capture the moment.

 

 

 

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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A Quick Visit to Malacca

I had the opportunity to visit Melaka during my last visit to Malaysia. When I was there, met a good friend, tasted the local food, managed to finish my reports and unwind, despite spending only two days in the ancient city.

An alley
An alley
Back lane of Chinatown
Back lane of Chinatown
Shrine, lantern and bike
Shrine, lantern and bike
Sweet, sour and salty: Preserve fruit
Sweet, sour and salty: Preserve fruit
Lonely shrine
Lonely shrine

 

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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Rohingya: A Dying Community

http://akrockefeller.com/media/rohingya-the-forgotten-people/

They are branded as one of the most persecuted communities in the world by the UN, yet nobody knows their name. They are the forgotten people.

In recent weeks, the escalating violence has displaced more than 90,000 Rohingya people. Villages are being burnt, people are being abducted, concentration camps are being created, women are being raped and children mercilessly killed. The persecution against the Rohingya can be described in no other terms but that of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Check out: Burma’s Rohingya – The Human Story

 

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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Contradiction of Behaviors, The Arrogance in Time

Time. I feel life seeping out from hunger, from that dreaded cold we find in humanity. Left behind, we are running out of time. Society cannot help itself, nor does the cosmos demand such.

Last night, as I slumped into the shadow reality, I saw the contradiction of civilized behavior. We claim to know much, yet we use the skills and opportunities in pursuit of materialism, a ghastly illusion.

Society is unfamiliar with our own doom; we find nothing in the presence of chasing that erroneous perception of time. Our greed, is like a snake hastily devouring its tail, bent on satisfying its hunger.

time in Bangkok

 

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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Labyrinth of Capitalism and Hardship

Life in the fast lane of Bangkok, a heavy burden for the urban poor and working class. Such wickedness of life, yet Thais and migrant workers struggle together towards a common goal. People work on the streets, selling products and services of all sorts to that eager odd tourist who seems lost in the labyrinth of capitalism and hardship.

 

life in the fast lane of Bangkok

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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