Tag: Malaysia

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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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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BlackBerry Prepaid Packages from TrueMove, AIS, TuneTalk and Celcom

I travel often to Thailand, and depend a lot on my BlackBerry for internet and communication. In the land of smiles and armed with my BB Bold 9790, I have tried the local telcos, for prepaid BB packages from Dtac, AIS and True. While as in Malaysia, I’ve tried TuneTalk, Maxis, Digi and Celcom. Huge difference to the pricing of the packages and the service.

Let’s start (click on the images) with…

MALAYSIA

I’m inclined to stick with Celcom at this rate, solely for the internet volume and naturally the features. TuneTalk is great when it comes to customer service (though at times they get confusing via call), though most of the time with far better responses than Celcom.

THAILAND

I’m never going back to TrueMove. Quite a horrid experience, since 2011. I recommend AIS, and if you’re a foreigner in Thailand, best to speak to a customer service officer who understands English, patient and professional. I have no problems with their service whether in the AIS stores and the call centre. Problem with Thailand: BB is unpopular and dead.

AIS, along with other Thai telcos, offer expensive BB prepaid packages. There are questionable moments of whether Thailand’s 3G coverage is actually working or simply an illusion. Don’t hold your breath.

As for Malaysia telcos, the main problem is the lack of efficiency in their customer service. Many personnel do not seem to have the right training in managing the customer, or maybe its the “tidak apa” (loosely translated, “Hey Mister, I don’t give a shit”) behaviour of those answering the calls and those manning the booths/stores. Epic fail on Malaysian courtesy.

Oh well…

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 Glimpse of My BlackBerry Passport

After several agonizing days, scores of phone call inquiries to a clueless Malaysian telco (Celcom) and friends, I was able to purchase the BlackBerry Passport at the Celcom shop in Midvalley, Kuala Lumpur. The cost: RM2,399.00

In the video my younger brother, Zuhair, decided to admire it when I left the table to pay for the coffee.

 

https://plus.google.com/u/0/108409384668190022314/posts/4whtoaGrprX?pid=6071536928292285874&oid=107544703752780653411

 

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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BlackBerry Passport in Malaysia? Not yet

BlackBerry Passport. I’ve been waiting for this, with an unconventional energy that is truly unfitting of a relief-cum-outreach worker. I have my sins, the Zashnain-stamp-of-approval, one that borders on attachment unbecoming of my so-called “activist” persona. Besides my prized swiss army watch, the so-called “sins” of materialism, I am stubbornly a firm believer of BB. I couldn’t care less of what others thought about BB, not my problem if others ridiculously fancy apps and invulnerabilities over BB security.

Pic courtesy of n4bb.com
Pic courtesy of n4bb.com

Anyway, I’ve set aside some money to purchase the BB Passport. Not expecting Bangkok to launch it any time soon, due to the terrible decline of Thai interest on BB products. I’ve reached a point in my travels in this part of the Mekong region that one can never expect steady functionality and efficiency to replace the apps cravings of the tech-hungry generation.

So I asked a few friends in Kuala Lumpur to help me with procuring some information about the Passport launch-selling date. Most never came back with answers much less grunts of regret or mock anxieties. A handful fed me bad news. The Passport is not yet available in my country. Despite the initial media news of Malaysia’s telco Celcom pricetag of RM2,399.00, no one in Celcom (via customer service) knew anything about the Passport. How disgraceful of the multi-million RM telecommunication empire knowing nothing of the Passport, or maybe they do and seem to enjoy pretending to not know. Would not be the first time that happened.

Anyway, I’ve made inquiries in Bangkok on the prospect of the device being introduced. Eventually the Passport will be in the land of smiles, but as for a time-line, similar to the regime’s fondness for obscured “road maps”, one can only dream of it being launched in the next couple of months. Though I could be wrong. Or maybe not.

 

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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Pulau Pinang, a brief time of recuperation before the journey

The storm approaching the seashore of Penang.

Its always good to be back in Penang, even though the times spent is usually on a cocktail of work and pleasure. Relaxation, no matter how brief, is something of a rarity nowadays for me. The cold weather, with the whipping sea wind and gloomy sky promised moments of rain. Nature didn’t disappoint me, as Penang was covered by the kisses of the storm. Magnificent, really.

Outreach, that dreaded word that armchair activists glued to their computer screens and urban Starbuck-sipping social workers dread. Outreach is all about being mobile, providing services to marginalized communities outside of the office and into the realms where support does not exist or injustice runs wild. I’ve done outreach work, since the beginning of 1990 and grown quite accustomed to moving about; supported by random, flickering emotions.

I’ve been focusing on work, and the northern communities living in semi-isolation, whether in small forgotten towns, a track of land devoted to bananas and papayas, or in the chicken farms and fishing villages. Out-of-school young people continue to be marginalized by their urban peers and adults who demand that the “mischievous youths” bow in obedience to the so-called societal norms. With the little funding I have secured, the work takes me to the states of Kedah, Perlis, Penang, Kelantan and hopefully Terengganu.

The break, merely one day, gave me some time to wander alone on the seashore, contemplating on the approaching storm and warding from the overbearing thoughts of work. I quite enjoy the times I spent roaming in Penang, with the local tasty cuisine, the old architectures and the narrow roads leading practically nowhere.

Indeed, what a marvellous day to unwind and consume the sights.

 

 

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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Toilet-Canteen uproar, now sedition comes into play

While its common for school administration and municipal councils to advocate for higher standards of health, particularly when children are involved… well not exactly in one Malaysian school. Some children ended up in a place where people won’t even think to bring food and drinks.

UMNO nationalists want whistle-blowers to be charged for sedition, maybe to cover up the disgusting culture of segregation or merely to silence people into submission under this draconian law.

Welcome to Malaysia.

 

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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As if people cared about the urban poor

The homeless and urban poor in Kuala Lumpur are an invisible community. They roam about the city, hidden by the shadows, or trying to earn the daily wage in the filthy back lanes from some odd job that most working class Malaysians won’t want to get their hands dirty. Whether the poor are locals or foreigners, it matters not to Malaysian society, the Institution does not seem to see nor positively react to the presence of the untouchables.

They are rendered invisible from societal prejudice, and when it suits the high society, the rich, the marginalized suddenly become visible once or twice a year during festive holy days when charity becomes a norm in front of photographers and ass-kissing reporters who have received a generous gift to write a story about some corporate social responsibility of a company or the “generosity” of a politician.

Stigmatization of the urban poor happens simply because people stopped caring for those without money and due to their lowered station in life. Society depends on NGOs to “clean the streets” of the undesirables, or what do they call them, “remove them for their own good” as someone said to me.

As if society cares for the struggles and lives of the poor. As if NGOs know what to do.

homeless in Kuala Lumpur

 

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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