Friday, May 28, 2010


in remembering the words of the Buddha on this auspicious day of enlightenment...

"All conditioned things are impermanent"
"All conditioned things are unsatisfactory"
"All things are not-self"
when one sees these with wisdom,
one turns away from suffering.
This is the path to purification.

(modified verses of 277-279, Dhammapada)

Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta are the three characteristics of existence as expounded by the Enlightened One. Through experiential understanding and objective observation of conditional phenomena that arise and cease from moment to moment will we gain insight into the reality and profound nature of existence which are bound by impermanency, unsatisfactoriness and non-self.

Happy Vesak Day to all
Bhavatu Sabba Mangalam

Monday, December 28, 2009

Retrospect, Prospectively

…many roads we take
Some to joy, some to heartache
Anyone can lose the way
And if I said we could turn it back
Right back to the start
Would you take the chance and make the change?

- Kate Winslet,
What If

Too often we reflect our past mistakes with regrets and resentment. It would be easy to say we regretted them but what does it really mean when we had no choice for our actions were bound by the conditions that existed at that time. This nevertheless does not imply that past actions or the consequences of such actions are morally justified as they are volitional or deliberate undertakings and therefore, cannot be reversed. Conversely it also does not imply we have remote locus of control over the future which is often constraint by conditional factors and external forces. Simply it manifests the need to contemplate the past for a review of performance and to build on existing paradigm for the betterment without over-projecting future capabilities or creating expectation beyond current capacity. This neither suggests one to be pessimist nor optimist, but a realist to foresee and anticipate the uncertainty of the future with an open heart coupled with reasonable amount of skepticism.

The note above contains essence of and is inspired by the teachings of Jewish Mysticism which I personally find it relevant in today's context of dynamic environment where self-help through rationalization is paramount in our pursuit of happiness. Rationalization is nevertheless subject to our cognitive bias on perceived facts and bound understanding of the nature. Therefore it does not in whole validate pragmatism as an ethically justifiable approach especially when it compromises religious and individual moral stance. In conclusion, adopting an eclectic approach or the middle path is perhaps the best guide to life. Welcoming 2010 and beyond! Wishing you all the best, and good luck!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


This is my personal interpretation on 'Chocolate', Yasmin Ahmad's final, and perhaps most controversial feature to date made exclusively for the 15Malaysia art direction.

The short film started off with the mother scolding the son for letting go an opportunity to study abroad. A typical scenario that highlights the mentality well-established among the minorities who realize such opportunities are scarce and a deemed windfall. Projecting from the current standing, the mother firmly believes that their future position will be challenged and constrained as there will be minimal if any, room for progress and prosperity. By making themselves seen inherently hunger for opportunities, the minorities soon learn to be opportunist and advantage seeker. The son who nevertheless opposes by turning down the offer signifies his strong feelings against such labels placed on them. Perhaps hopeful still for a pleasant future here, the following incidents provide further evidence on the clashes in attitude and approaches among the senior and younger generation.

Then comes a Malay girl. The implicit intent of buying battery represents her denial to the common belief that the majorities are always surrendering or at comfort of being ‘fed’. It therefore expresses her attempt to seek empowerment and independence, while the mistaken milk bottle may be interpreted as a cynical act to demonstrate the said common perception. His initial hostile mistreatment is then taken by a second gentler approach, indicating a sense of guilt and vulnerability, or perhaps charmed by her beauty of youth and simple modesty. In the very second, a subtle but evolving connection is established between the two and close observation could tell that the conversation leads to a split moment where racial-conscious is absent; no impediment of racial bias whatsoever but a mere honest and mutual attraction.

The continual racial discrimination in the society is nevertheless too chronic, that it outweighs any possibility of creating a common understanding, agreement and sharing. Thusly the intolerance to accept a lower price than what is offered manifests that the prejudice created is too ‘heavy’ to be lifted as the minorities are so conditioned to merely accept what is fair and just. The deemed insignificant five cents clearly portrays this. The yelling mother and her disapproval of him conversing with the Malay girl reminded the boy of how they are treated as such. Consequently, being denied from exercising an independent judgment or discretion of his own, he turns down the sale and succumbs to the influence of his mother. Letting go the chance of creating a friendship, he slams the chocolate with regrets and frustration.

To recap, the milk bottle signifies dependency and biasness of the government in favouring the majority, while the scholarship represents an opportunity to be released from such injustice. A growing sense of prejudice and hatred is thus created towards those who are given unjustified privileges at the expense of others being marginalized. Such strong prejudice ingrained since early ages leads to selfish pursuant being ethically justified in a climate of unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity. This may also portrays how those who have benefited but now seeking for independence are disabled in their attempts as the environment is neither supportive nor conducive of such.

Chocolate may, as the name suggest, characterize the skin colour. It also manifests the taste of happiness we could all cherish if not of the asymmetric and dubious government policies in their attempt to be populous and to secure political position. In the end, the chocolate which was supposedly shared, failed its purpose. This simple yet profound portrayal of two ordinary souls in a setting most common explains how when different ethnic groups meet the prejudice embedded within the consciousness will manifest inherently through their responses. A lack of sincere and genuine sharing is thusly resulted.

Perhaps conceptually-bound and naive as it may sound, the long-desired and shared taste of equality can only be realized if the misalignment and conflicting interests among Malaysians are harmonized, the legitimate claims of the society at large are taken into consideration and the distribution of fairness is made with greater transparency and integrity. Chocolate is definitely another signature piece of hers, and in my humble opinion, the most abstract and defined work of art.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

To Cease, Abruptly

EULOGY"look at this ocean of minds... if we don't swim in it, why are we here for?"
- Yasmin Ahmad (1958-2009)

On the very day I got to know she suffered a stroke, I went online and sent her a get-well message via Facebook. Dedicating all my prayers in hope for her speedy recovery, it was to my disbelieved that she lost the battle and finally succumbed to death within hours after the collapse. I was devastated, ironically not so much of the tragic death, but that my message to her will never reach and that her inspiring messages conveyed through her artistic work will no longer deliver. This incident leads to a peculiar notion of how sudden death brings an end to our ‘work’ while some of these unfinished ones become abandon, unattended or remain idle, indefinitely. It is the idea of how craving survives life and that taking away of life disabled craving. The unwilling cessation of craving is then seen too brutal, unforgiving and beyond acceptance.

To reflect on how life could sometimes end so abruptly is to understand how fragile, temporary and hollow it is, yet we continue to live with strong attachment. Perhaps what remain at the end of the day is our contribution, the invaluable gift that is seemingly imprint for the appreciation of others manifested through the work. It is therefore the sudden death of Yasmin that breaks the silence of her continuous attempt to question and provoke the sensitive issues in Malaysia. Infamous indeed for her often unpolished yet poignant approach in film-making, she has attracted endless controversies particularly in respect of her frank discussion on sex, racial, religion and cultural themes.

Driven by her undying passion and through the medium of art, she restlessly challenges stereotypical Malaysians to open up and sight for the possibility of going beyond the current standing. She never fail to encourage the society to work against established norms for the betterment, a conscious perhaps already ingrained within but left suppressed or unspoken for fear of social stigma.

All her interracial romance and family-themed films attempt to explore the essence of the core and taken-for-granted assumptions among Malaysian. Her works bring us away from the continual examination and magnification of racial, religious and cultural differences but to realize and appreciate our common identity as mere human who can righteously love and be loved regardless of ideology and attribute differences.

It is always the case that when death strikes, our ego and skin colour ceases to matter, enemies turn to friends and we look not our differences but begin to cherish our similarities. Too often we conflict with our love ones only to know that if they no longer exist, we would deeply regret our mistreatment towards them and yearn to have done things differently, if time can unwind. Indeed, regret and guilt are the most difficult emotions to cope with and the possibility of a sudden death reminds us to live nobly and compassionately while we still can.

It is perhaps her ambitious attempt to educate, instill and perpetuate the idea of harmony in all different angles, and love and forgiveness being the ultimate key messages she tries to communicate in her films and advertisements. For that Yasmin, your works of art will be thoughtfully and deeply missed. Al-Fatihah.

PS: This post is exclusively dedicated to my best friend whom I care and love. I hereby sincerely apologize for all the mistakes done, strongly believing they were unintentional and of pure ignorance.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Calendar

Finally we have come to the end of the year and will soon step into the unforeseen future of 2009. Sinking gradually into world financial crisis and inflating cost of living amidst the chaotic political scene in Malaysia, 2008 is indeed a year of international affairs to include the overrated green Beijing Summer Olympics, the much-sensationalized US presidential election, and the recent Mumbai terrorist attack. Similarly looking at a micro point of view, there have been much unfavourable or less anticipated events occurred in my life throughout 2008. After all, the remains of yesterday are historical but the certainty of the future rests a game of possibilities and probabilities.

Therefore the future, signified by the new calendar year implies the idea of sighting ahead and to depart from the past. Previous benchmarks are to be reviewed but do not despair if resolutions were underperformed. Every counting year begins with renewed vision and dreams. Together with improved modes of execution, greater understanding and accelerated momentum, let us hope for the best as the New Year approaches. Wishing you all the best of luck!

…keep on the road you're on,
Runners, until the race is run,

Soldiers, you've got to soldier on,
sometimes even right is wrong……

...tonight maybe we're gonna run,
Dreaming of the Osaka sun...
Dreaming of when the morning comes…

- Coldplay, Lovers in Japan