tough week. but what i’ve learned from it: even if you have nothing nice to say, say something nice anyway. the other person will appreciate it.


Whirly World

i could write a whole bunch of stuff tonight
but all i want to say is




small grains of hope sometimes explode within my chest in the most mundane of moments, like at six in the morning when i am dressed in sweatpants and still tiredly wading through dunes of reading assignments. he sleeps beside me as i read, and now and then there are spliced seconds when his foot brushes mine, and suddenly i feel – yes, this is it. this is the bubble that i need. this is the space that i want to be in, free from the oppressive heat of hostile manners, from bad news, social media, and impaired judgment (my own). occasionally he wakes up, violently ripped from the fringes of his strange dreams and begins to talk about ethereal things, and i cant help but wonder if he is made out of thin air, if at this time a little more than a year ago i embarked on this miraculous fantasy and created for myself a good thing that doesn’t actually exist. but then slowly his mystical speech begins to become more real, and familiar, and actually tangible — and i am faced with the sad truth that i am the anti midas. this is what i do, and it is unfortunately cyclical and permanent. then the small grains dissipate, and i go to sleep too.

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Stretchy Heartstrings

slightly sleep-deprived but feeling so emotional that i don’t know where to go and deal with the verbiage on the surface of my soul — a familiar feeling that i’ve almost forgotten! but here it is again, coming to me as certainly as sinking sensations in my stomach can sometimes do. it is nice to know that this space still exists, even if it looks very different. a big thank you to Waffle, who has so kindly helped me restore some semblance of the old quaintly back: as you can see, archives after Sept 2008 are now returned to my blog!

September 2008 was when i first arrived in New York City, a reservedly wide eyed college-bound freshman, who still had no idea what anxiety or contest really meant. i snigger at myself in my head sometimes when i think about how composed the 19 year old me thought i was, and how in less than three years i have grown up more than i even knew i had room for. so i suppose in a small way i don’t mind the discarding of my pre-September 2008 self. it is a me i hold close to my heart, but it is gone, and i don’t think shall return, quite unlike sinking sensations in my stomach.

it has been a difficult and emotionally tumultuous couple of days. nothing is happening to me and i am not displaced, but it feels like the world around me is being shaken violently into dust. do you know the feeling? it is like locked-in syndrome, being rendered immobile and helpless, forced to watch everyone around you get hurt and go through trying times but not being able to do anything real. it is like cringing and shielding yourself from water that never hits you, but also never quite shaking free the permanent cringe and shrink from your bones and guts. i just want to help. but for some reason i seem to be doing all the wrong things even without trying.

i’ve given up a long time trying to figure out what’s wrong with me, cos god knows i’ll never reach the end of it. but what is wrong with this world? why do adults behave like children? why do friends have to compete in malice? why do people do horrific things you would never expect them to do? why do people get sick? why are people born sick but don’t realize until much later what is wrong? why do people have to go places that they don’t want to go? why do people die?

i miss all of the above people, who in each of their different ways have departed from my life or are about to. but maybe i will see you all soon, in another life.


Malaysia Forum: Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Boston

quick plug for Malaysia Forum before i return to the coffee-laced pages of my books!

Malaysia Forum is a small group of Malaysians who are based in KL and abroad, and every year we put together a global conference to discuss issues that are close to our hearts and home. this year, our three forums in KL, Singapore and Boston are happening simultaneously on April 8 – 10, which is this weekend! find the one closest to you:

UCSI University North Wing, Kuala Lumpur: 10 April 2011

Boston University, Massachusetts: 8 – 10 April 2011

Hackerspace, Singapore: 10 April 2011

i will be working out from the Boston forum (together with sweatlee!!), but i know most people reading this are probably closest to our KL forum, so here’s the schedule for the forum happening in KL:

9.00 AM – PANEL 1: “Aspiration Malaysia”
This panel aims to address the “bright side” of Malaysia that is little talked or thought about, and how it can augment the cita-cita that Malaysians have for their country. The name of the theme Aspiration Malaysia was inspired by the oft-cited “American Dream” — and through this panel we hope to discuss what the unifying Malaysian ethos is, or could be.

Umapagan Ampikaipakan – Freelance writer and book critic. He resides, for the most part, within the pages of the New Straits Times, where he ruminates on everything from the idiosyncrasies of Malaysian politics to his unnatural obsession with the written word. In the fall of 2008, he covered the U.S. Presidential Elections for his newspaper. He can also be found (his disembodied… voice, that is) rambling over the airwaves, on BFM 89.9.


1) Tan Sri Prof. Emeritus Dr. Khoo Kay Kim – Leading Malaysian historian and academician. He is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Malaya’s Department of History as well as Chancellor of KDU University College. Prof. Khoo was also a co-author of the Rukunegara, which was crafted in reaction to the May 13 race riots in 1969. Click http://chenchow.blogspot.com/2009/02/lecture-by-prof-khoo-kay-kim-on-unity.html for a detailed account of a public talk given by Prof. Khoo on unity in Malaysia.

2) Malik Imtiaz Sarwar – Leading Malaysian human rights lawyer and activist and the current president of the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM). Through HAKAM and a coalition of NGOs called Article 11 (after the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion) of which HAKAM is a member, he has been actively involved in efforts to promote the rule of law and constitutionalism, particularly in the face of worrying trends of Islamization and race politics in government and wider society. He further actively promotes a civil rights discourse both in and outside court.

3) Keeran Sivarajah – Co-founder and Executive Director of Teach For Malaysia — an independent, not-for-profit organisation that is enlisting Malaysia’s most promising future leaders in a mission to end education inequity. He also serves as a member on the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) Advisory Panel for Education. While at university, Keeran was a tutor to children of African refugees, and taught primary and secondary children at the Carlton Primary School in Melbourne.

4) Jo Kukathas – Director of the Instant Café Theatre Company, Malaysia. She is a theatre maker, writer and actor. Jo works with local as well as regional artists to create collaborative work that deals with contemporary issues.

10.30 AM – PANEL 2: “Muda-mudi Buat Kerja”
This panels is composed of young people who identified a problem that Malaysia faces and decided to fix it in the ways that they know best. Our aim for this panel is to engage the panelists in a conversation with each other and the audience on how their initiatives were borne from (or has impacted/changed) their cita-cita for the country.

Jason Lim – Co-founder of Perantauan Enterprise at age 20 to meddle in independent film, music, theatre and literary production. The enterprise exists today as Perantauan Pictures which produced and has released three feature length films screened in Malaysia, UK, US and Australia. He remains a (noisily) sleeping partner in the enterprise. Today, Jason writes a monthly column on film in The Star and is involved in developing an initiative to help address Malaysia’s brain drain challenge.


1) Johnson Oei – At age 22, John-Son Oei co-founded E.P.I.C. (Extraordinary People Impacting Community), a platform for people to be inspired, mobilized and empowered to make positive changes in their community. Currently E.P.I.C. is focused on Project E.P.I.C, their outreach program that does hands-on work in Orang Asli communities to improve the welfare of the indigenous people in Malaysia.

2) Khailee Ng – Khailee is a co-founder of Youth Asia, a group of young people who build businesses focused on social technology and the collective power of people. Youth Asia is known for launching businesses such as GroupsMore (now acquired by Groupon) and SAYS.my, a community of Malaysian social media users. In his students days he was part of the founding team of theCICAK, a socio-political youth magazine, and Project Bazooka, a indie music promoter.

3) Hwa Shi Hsia – Shi-Hsia and six other friends form the team at Mari Kita Membaca, whose main objective is to support the educational needs of the rural villages in Malaysia by providing books and other resources for community learning centers and village libraries. Mari Kita Membaca aims to empower children in rural Orang Asli communities to read and to learn.

12 PM – Lunch and discussion sessions

For schedules at MF Boston and MF Singapore, please click on the Facebook events linked above. If you can’t make it to any of the forums, we will be streaming the KL and Boston panels live at a publicly available link which will be provided soon. But try your best to make it to the actual forums, especially if you have questions!

we’ve been working very hard to put together these panels of great and inspiring speakers, so if you guys are free on the morning of Sunday the 10th of April, you should definitely not miss the chance to hear them speak. MF is very much based on the spirit of discussion, and we always make sure that there is a lot of time for Q&A with the public, so if you’ve always wanted to ask any of the above speakers some tough questions, this is a good time.

feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions!


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