Musings of a first time voter.

I will be voting for the very first time. I stupidly missed out the last opportunity due to personal reasons. Okay, truth was I was afraid that G might get deported hahaha. Laugh wasn’t funny then.

Anyway, this year I have decided to cast my vote because well, a pair of sandals at Charles & Keith was going for RM134. I blame the government for that.

Jokes aside.

The things that truly changed my perceptions aren’t the sandals…but the below:

1. Both my younger brothers are in danger of never affording their own homes, and that pains me.

2. Traffic jams, which I genuinely believe stems from corrupted driving schools=bad drivers, terrible road conditions and severe lack of reliable public transportation.

3. Rampant animal abuse and mistreatment of animals by local councils.

4. I don’t feel safe walking down a well-lit street alone.

5. The horrendously tacky & narcissistic home-made music videos which led me to think, “Seriously, these are the clowns that are supposed to govern our country!?”

6. MRR2. It’s feels like am playing Russian Roulette every time I’m forced to drive on that road.

7. The education system.

So yeah, that’s why I’m going to vote…despite still having a nagging feeling that G might be deported, hehehe.

It’s been several months of intense discussions, talks and speculations about our Election Commision. How much of those said are true and how much are made up? Nobody knows. Actually I don’t care lah.

Not like I can do anything!

I did print out my details on SPR website just in case those rumours of people’s names being struck off were true.

Honestly, I think it’s just technical glitch but just in case lah…you’re only wasting some ink and a piece of paper.

I’ve also heard that people wearing nail polish might be stopped from casting their votes because EC might claim that they “can’t tell the difference” of a finger with indelible ink from a finger with nail polish.

I haven’t been able to find anything official about it; the only information is that they say don’t get a manicure because the indelible ink will ruin your nail colours.

Anyway, I removed my gel manicures because just in case lah….what if they really can’t tell the difference between nail polish and indelible ink. I’m bored with my nail colours already anyway and them nails need to breathe from 3 consecutive gel manicure treatments.

Since we’re on the topic of indelible ink, I also don’t understand why they decided to mark people’s fingers before voting. Mark it after voting makes more sense right?

Apparently, it’s some kind of trickery to encourage spoiling of ballot papers. I don’t think there’s anything dodgy about it, maybe they are just scared that people might wipe it off within 30 seconds.

But just in case you’re worried about spoiling your ballot papers with the indelible ink, they say you can ask for a new ballot paper. In case they won’t give you a new ballot paper, show them a printed version of this news article. From NST one okay, must believe.

But just in case they still refuse to give you a new ballot paper anyhow, haiyaaaa vote only, lodge a complaint and cross your fingers. Most importantly, don’t be a clumsyass with your fingers.

Then, there’s a rumour that despite the increase of 3 million new voters in the electoral roll, the number of polling stations will be reduced compared to year 2008.

Apparently, this is a tactic to get voters to give-up midway queuing.

Also, there are words that polling centres would close at 5pm sharp regardless of people still queuing. I don’t think so, but just in case lah….bring a book, some snacks, umbrella, your printed details from the SPR website and lots and lots of patience ya.

I am really quite excited about voting for the first time. I’ve never felt so much ownership towards Malaysia. Whatever the outcome is, just in case lah….remember to stay home to celebrate/mourn privately ;)

Hunger No More in Vietnam.

Many years ago when I was in college, I participated in one of World Vision Malaysia’s famous 30-Hour Famine events. At that time, my knowledge of hunger issues was sparse at best and was limited to pictures of emaciated African children covered in flies.

It wasn’t nice to know that there were kids starving on the other side of the planet but it wasn’t that difficult to feel indifferent either. Living in Kuala Lumpur, constantly surrounded by never-ending supply of delicious, calorie-laden food – it really was quite easy to push grand issue like global hunger to the back of my mind.

In fact, I was only motivated to fast for 30 hours for some vanity driven weight loss. Not because I felt sorry for skinny, bloated bellied children. Sorry.

A few weeks ago, I followed World Vision Malaysia to Vietnam to check out the communes that are affected by poverty & hunger. Again, instead of anything remotely gracious, I was motivated by a free trip to Vietnam.

Wow, what a major a-hole; me.

Lo & behold, I was exposed to situations of poverty & hunger that I never thought existed. It was truly an eye-opening experience. This time, instead of just glancing pass pictures or visuals in the idiot box, I was actually there – seeing, smelling and feeling their lives.

I was quite affected by what I saw, rendering me in a constant struggle between guilt and gratitude.

The first family we visited lived at a bottom of a steep hill in the Tan Mai commune, 5 hours drive from Hanoi. The family consists of Toan, both his parents, his younger brother, Tinh and grandmother.

# – Toan and his family.

We had to walk down the precarious “steps” to reach the house. Several times, some of us slipped and only managed to stay alive by holding on to some small shrubs. After what seemed like an eternity, we reached the house.

# – Scary walking down a steep hill.

The house was quite spacious but there was no floor – just dirt. The wooden walls were suspended from the ground so in the rainy season, it can get pretty nasty.

# – The floor is really the soil.

Toan’s parents are both farmers, earning about RM2800 a YEAR from selling bamboos, maize and cassava!

Recently, Tinh, the baby brother suffered from muscle inflammation and had to be treated at the hospital. Luckily, the family managed to borrow about RM3000 from relatives for surgery fees.

How they’re going to repay 1 year worth of income is beyond me :(

# – Baby Tinh and his mummy.

Tinh’s muscles are okay now, but his bones are still not joined properly so he still couldn’t walk. The family would need more money to treat his leg.

After that, we went to check out their family farm. I did not expect it to be on the side of a freaking hill.

There was no walking path, no safety rope, nothing, it was scary. I only made it half way up because I knew if I managed to reach the top I would need a helicopter to bring me back down later on.

I just couldn’t walk back down without panicking. I can’t imagine how it’s like in the rainy season.

# – The farm atop a hill.

It’s heart-breaking to know that Toan and Tinh’s parents have to risk their lives everyday just to go to the farm just so they could earn a meagre RM2800 every year. It’s ridiculous but it’s their reality.

The next day, we visited Trang and her family. Her father’s whereabout was a mystery and all she has now are her mother and maternal grandparents. Trang’s mother is suffering from a mysterious eye disease which has rendered her almost blind. Her grandfather, on the other hand is completely blind.

# – Little Trang and her family.

Of the entire trip, seeing Trang’s family was the most gut wrenching. They live in a little hut by a river, which floods up in the rainy season. Half the family is in ill health (mother and grandfather) and the other half either too young (Trang) or too old (grandmother).

Everyday, they eat a little bit of rice and mostly bamboo shoots. Having fish would be considered as a good day.

# – The hut by the river they call home.

# – Tarp for walls.

When we asked Trang what she wants to be when she grows up…she said doctor. We asked her why, she shyly said she wanted to cure her mother, grandfather and help people in the village. I almost burst into tears.

Thankfully, Trang gets to go to school as her grandfather gets paid pension of about RM140 every month. The entire family practically relies on his pension.

Both these families are examples of the people affected by hunger & poverty in Vietnam. Some areas have poverty rate of up to 85%, it is unnerving!

World Vision Vietnam first identifies these areas and then sets up ADP (Area Development Program), which will then provide long term community development programmes.

For instance, World Vision drills wells, protects water sources and installs piping systems so that these communities can have access to clean water and good sanitation systems.

# – A view of an advanced water filtration system installed at a pre-school with donations raised by World Vision Korea.

World Vision also provides prenatal and natal care, children’s vaccination and treatment, HIV/AIDS awareness and counseling sessions and training for health workers & parents to recognise and deal with illnesses.

# – Parents getting their children weighed at a Health Station set up by the government with help from World Vision.

# – Young mothers learning about diarrhoea prevention in nutrition club.

Besides that, seeds, tools and training are provided to the community by World Vision so that they can secure its own food supply.

By teaching adults how to earn a stable income through provision of micro loans and income generating skills training, their children get to stay in school and further their education. In terms of education, World Vision helps the communities to build schools and train teachers.

# – A typical school classroom in rural Vietnam (in fact almost 100% of the children get to go to school).

Not only all these programmes help these communities to be self-sufficients, death rates from diseases and impoverishment can be drastically cut down. We had the opportunity to visit a family that has benefited from these long term community development programmes.

# – Baby Hoa with her mother, Sen and father, Thanh. They are one of a few “pilot families” who participated in community development programmes.

Hoa now weighs 9kg thanks to her mother’s Sen diligent application of nutrition knowledge she learnt through World Vision provided training and classes. Their
household income has also increased from RM3000 a year to about RM6000 a year as Thanh, the father took part in training courses on livelihood and economic development.

He learnt to plant rice and maize in a more effective way, and also learnt how to treat diseases of the crops. The family is also raising pigs which they have bred from a single pig gifted by World Vision.

I hope families like Toan’s and Trang’s one day will enjoy self-sufficiency and comforts such as Hoa’s. Judging from the passion and dedication of World Vision, I have no doubt they will benefit from all the programmes and assistance.

You too can contribute by doing either the following:

  • Join the 30-Hour Famine – The 30-Hour Famine is a global movement against hunger and poverty, the event I mentioned earlier which requires fasting for 30 hours. By the way, this year’s theme is “Hunger No More” and it will be held on 5th August 2012 and will be attended by Lee Hom!!!!!
  • Sponsor a Child – Help a child by contributing a minimum amount to help develop and create a better future for the children, families and communities.
  • Make a Donation – Your gift will be used to provide assistance and relief in areas where the need is greatest.
  • Volunteer – Spare some time, talent and energy to change the lives of children and families in need.
  • Thank you World Vision Malaysia for opening up my eyes.

    What is LYNAS – perspective of an average dumbass.

    A few hours ago, we were in a pub. G suddenly asked me if I knew what this “lynas” thing that was being mentioned so often on our Facebook and Twitter timelines. I said, “No. Can’t be bothered. Everyone’s protesting against something these days”.

    So he went on Google and then told me, “Oh, it’s about rare earth”.

    Huh? What?

    “Rare earth. You don’t know what’s rare earth?”


    “Dumbass”. And we continued drinking.

    Later, we got home, watched a few episodes of Homeland (truly awesome series, btw) and now G has collapsed in bed.

    For some reason, I’m still not ready to sleep. Probably has something to do with the couple of candy bars and a packet of pork scratchings I inhaled while watching TV. So I ended up googling “Lynas”.

    The sites I found were and

    The more I read what I read, the sicker I felt in my guts.


    1. Lynas is basically an Australian company that’s building a $230 million rare earth processing plant in a location called Gebeng that’s about 30km from the town of Kuantan, Pahang. The project has been approved by our government.

    2. So what is “rare earth”? From the little that I’ve read….oh, nothing much. Just a beautiful, politically correct name for natural occurring minerals that are RADIOACTIVE.

    3. In a nutshell, what this Kuantan-based Lynas plant will do is remove radioactive elements from the rare earth minerals so that what’s left can be used in various industries, namely electronics.

    4. When a part of something is removed, there will be waste. In the case of Lynas, radioactive elements will be removed from rare earth minerals resulting in a humongous amount of RADIOACTIVE waste; in the form of gas, liquid and solids.

    5. Lynas is not sending the radioactive waste back to Australia, because the government of Australia forbids it. So yeap, it will be disposed in Malaysia.

    6. Errrr…how will it be disposed?

    7. Some said the radioactive waste will be dumped into the South China Sea. Some said it will be dumped on open ground just like what happened in Bukit Merah. Yeah, I know right, I also didn’t know that we actually had experienced radioactive disaster in our very own Malaysia too!

    8. Then I immediately googled “How far does radiation spread?”. Basically, 50km radius is YOU ARE SCREWED ZONE.

    9. And crap, it doesn’t stop spreading. The radioactive levels just get lesser as it gets further but THEY DON’T STOP.

    10. Which means, although we are 260kms away from Lynas in the comfort of Klang Valley, we are all also at risk.

    11. I have relatives in Mentakab and they are a pretty far 140kms away but for them to just be in the same negeri/state concerns me.

    12. Our food sources, seafood sources, water sources….they are all at risk.

    13. Let me put it this way, if the Japanese can fail to defend their own nuclear power plant, how much faith should I put into our government and in the Ozzies for ensuring a radioactive disaster-free life?

    14. 5 years? 15? 25? 30 years is about the maximum and bloody hell, I should still be alive then, possibly with grandchildren.

    15. Or not, cause exposure to radiation affects fertility.

    I believe we should tell everyone we know what Lynas is. Read up about it. Speak out. Don’t ignore your gut feelings.

    # – By the way, the Himpunan Hijau 2.0, a peaceful protest against Lynas plant is happening today at these locations:

    And that’s what an average dumbass such as I, thinks about it.

    So what are you? An average dumbass or just average?