Has Malaysia Failed to Progress?

Tensions were put on the cutting table last Saturday at the Prince Philip Theatre at the University of Melbourne.

About 200 Malaysian students gathered, eager to voice and hear the opinions of their peers on a policy that is seen as discriminatory and exclusive to certain groups in Malaysia.

The inaugural Debate organised by the Malaysian Students Council of Australia (MASCA) was a unbounded platform to allow the different faces of Malaysia to express their feelings about the New Economic Policy (NEP).

The motion put forth was whether Malaysia has failed to progress since the inception of the policy.

A contested Issue

(Photo by Aqmal Anis)

Standing affirmative to the motion were Monash second year law students Sri Komathy and Julie Ngai,and Shamir Hameed who is a creative advertising student in RMIT. Taking the opposite front were Kelab UMNO Association Melbourne (KUAM) president Haerris Riani, Commerce student Nor Leanna Hannifah and Masters in International Relations student Ronald Li.

The affirmative argued that the inception of the NEP  has made Malaysia less competitive within the global stage. That it had restricted Malaysia’s full potential in the economy, education, and has failed to unite the different ethnicities in Malaysia. They argued that the policy had allegedly increased corruption in the country, where funds are inappropriately allocated to only a elitist group in Malaysia failing in its idea of balancing out inequalities in the economic pie.

The rigidity of thirty percent Bumiputera policy ‘closes’ the Malaysian market to foreign investment, and has spurred disunity because of its discriminatory tone in its policy. This has led many to leave Malaysia and find opportunities overseas.

The debators

(Photo by Aqmal Anis)

The negative argued that the NEP had had pushed Malaysia through progression that was not able to be imagined during the sixties. They argued that the policy had met to balance out the equity of increasing Bumiputera share of the economic pie from 2.4% to 20% over the last twenty years and has seen great economic growth within the country, evident by the establishment of local industries and infrastructure in the country. They acknowledge that the NEP was not a perfect policy, however had done enough to be a foundation for Malaysia to progress to do better in the future.

The floor was open for the audiences between each speaker to voice their opinion on each teams argument. Where many put forth their personal accounts being affected by the policy. Many of the students spoke out how the policy had made them feel discriminated in their country, and supported that the policy had stunted Malaysia’s from its full potential. Some, argued that it was needed in the sixties to allow for the Malays to catch up economically, however acknowledged that the policy had not entirely met its goals and needed revisions in the recent decade.

Throughout the debate, there was a evident contrast between each team’s angle of debate. Where the affirmative stood that the policy had ‘completely failed’ to address the needs of the citizens of Malaysia, whilst the negative argued that the policy had ‘progressed, however has not met its goals entirely.’ Both sides agreed that the NEP was an expired ideology, and needs reforms to address Malaysia’s current economic situation.

The audience participated in a poll before the debate and after, and the results had a surprising change at the end of the debate. Where the first poll a majority of 44.1 percent of the attendees agreed that the policy had failed with 29.9% disagreeing with the statement and 26% undecided.

The numbers flipped in the end where people agreed that the policy had not faltered completely with 40.2% standing at the NEP’s failure, but a jump to 43.9% supporting that the NEP brought progress, with 15% still undecided.

The debate was a good forum to allow the young generation of Malaysians to spur different angles of opinion on a sensitive issue. Having been its inaugural staging, it was a success to bring a certain sense of closure of what the larger community feel about the policy and united Malaysian’s to be open and critical of the issues that needed to be address in the progression of future successes for the country.

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Muzika Musim Luruh @ Prince Bandroom

Its not hard to catch a great gig in Melbourne.

With its expansive music scene you can find the best crop of music here. St Kilda, with its abundance of bars and clubs around Fitzroy and Acland St,  is a great place to roam around if you want to catch some great live acts.

Hujan taking stage

The Prince Bandroom comes as a forefront, with the venue having showcased some of the best talents, boasting memorable shows, and a guranteed great time. Its stage having being graced by the likes of Jack Johnson, Coldplay, Scissor Sisters, and Lenny Kravitz to name a few.

Last Wednesday, Malaysian artists took over Prince’s stage, and showed Melbourne that there is great talent brewing from the South East Asian nation. The event, ‘Muzika Musim Luruh‘ translated as the Autumn Music Fest, brought the Malaysian community in Melbourne together, who were eager to get their oratory senses pleased.

The gig had a “Battle of the Bands” competition showcasing some fresh acoustic performances with acts like; Adi and Wani, Flu, Just So You Know, Yamud, and winning acoustic act Have you Seen Nelson.

The winning acoustic group played a snippet of The Presets “Don’t Hold Back” and left the audience confused when the vocalist picked up her phone throughout their set, which actually was a shock intro for their cover of Lady Gaga’s hit song “Telephone”.

Electro rock band Super Metronome took the best Vocalist award, impressing audiences and judges with their synth inspired sounds, but admitted that their intention was not to compete but just to perform. The other bands who blasted the amps that night were Punk rockers Last Minute who played covers of Blink 182 and Sum 41, and Hardcore rock band Hell storm who simply put, raised hell with their aggressive vocals.

Accompanying the stage were some established artists, with some of the acts jetting down under to perform at the three year old festival.

The crowd were left singing along with the sweet vocals of Liyana Fizi, who performed songs from her old band Estrella such as “Ternyata” and “Stay”, and the smooth sounds of Bo Bedroom Sanctuary who provided a great cover of Nirvana’s ‘Lithium”.

Bo (Real name Amir Iqram), expressed good feelings about performing Muzika Musim Luruh and being in Melbourne,

“I’m Loving it,” He said.

“Its (Muzika) a brilliant platform for independent artists to showcase their talent and to get some exposure…call me back here next year!”

Local Melbourne band Broken Scar pumped the audience up with their energetic punk rock and onstage guitar antics,and Hujan enthralled the audience inspiring the crowd to jump around and shout back memorised lyrics with their hit tracks “Pagi Yang Gelap” and “Aku Scandal”.

Hujan Vocalist Noh thought that Muzika Musim Luruh provided great exposure for Malaysian artists overseas.

“It is important especially for bands like us to get out from Malaysia to show our talent.” He said.

“We want to show Australians that Malaysians can also rock out with some modern flavour” said Hujan Guitarist Am.

The night was blessed with musical flavour, a mixture of fresh independent artists with popular Malaysian artists which gave a great blend of sound. But what spiced the sambal flavour of this music festival, was the old school bands that graced the function.

Kugiran Di Tepi Pantai brought some nostalgia to the stage, and played some surf inspired rock that had the essence of what your parents would be two-stepping to in the eighties. Whilst The Pilgrimz made the crowd groove and sway with their Ska punk rock, and both bands made the underlying statement that old bands will always be the defining cats of cool surpassing time.

Malaysian music may not be well known expansively throughout the globe, however, the night showed that there is some auditory artistry being flourished within the Malaysian community.

With Zee Avi and Malaysian born Che’nelle breaking into American markets, it proves that all it needs is a little exposure to create a successful following.

Musika Musim Luruh was such an event, and provided a platform for these acts to shine. For those individuals who can strum a guitar, or the bands who think they’re good for the public, sign up and perform for next year’s event.

Kudos to the event organizers for a successful and smooth running show.

Having massive talents leaving their mark on its stage, the Prince Bandroom had yet another gig showcasing some amazing music and entertaining another crowd. Melodiously warming up the chilly Melbourne Autumn weather, the acts proved that Malaysians are musically inclined, and know how to conjure up an entertaining show.

(Visit the shriekingmonkeys Youtube channel to catch some interview footage with the artists and the other performances/ some are still in the process of being uploaded, JOIN OUR FACEBOOK FAN PAGE for updates on the UPLOADS!) – uploading HD is a real bitch, the delays are regretted.

Ostracised among the Godless

(I have wanted to write this piece for the past few weeks – both for myself and über Monkey ariffjunior, who asked if I would like to contribute. I thought I would “kill two birds with one stone” (For you Jo), finally penning some thoughts and making my first post.)

You would have noticed the increased number of news stories and attention surrounding the topic of atheism in the past few years. This polemic issue exploded in 2004 when Sam Harris published his book The End of Faith. In it he explores the inevitable clash between faith and reason.

Since then, public intellectuals such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett have released hugely successful books of their own on the subject of atheism.

Last month I attended the Sunday session of the Rise of Atheism Convention in Melbourne. It was touted as the first of its kind anywhere in the world. The event sold more that 2500 tickets and hosted a large number of speakers who participated in lectures, Q& A sessions and book signings over three days.

I do consider myself a non-believer, however, the idea of an atheism convention did not excite me greatly. What did excite me were some of the speakers that were going to be present: Australian ethicist Peter Singer, ABC science journalist Robyn Williams and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins to name a few.

It struck me upon entering the event how homogenous the crowd was. The demographic rule – white, middle aged, middle class men with creases in their jeans and beards but no moustaches. Any other day and it could have been a scene from the Retired Geography Teachers Convention.

None of this should have surprised me though, as a friend later pointed out, “Only white people have enough time to go to conventions.”

Huge Turnout

While in high school I read Peter Singer’s book The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush. It opened my mind to the idea that our decisions made as conscious beings should be consistent with our moral values. In the book, Singer uses George W. Bush’s presidency as a case study. Being the world’s most powerful man, his decisions arrived at through moral reflection have serious real world consequences.

Singer gave the days opening lecture, an extremely insightful and eloquent address on our moral obligation as humans to help those suffering when we accept the idea that we give morality to religion, and not the other way around.

While many of the speakers took easy stabs at religion to get a cheap laugh – Ian Robinson, President of the Rationalist Society of Australia, asked if there were any religious people in the audience? “Ok, I’ll speak really slowly”, Singer stuck to intellectual reasoning to make his points.

Singer asked the audience to imagine that we are walking to work. As we are walking we see a child drowning in a pond. You are the only person around that can save the child. According to Singer, almost everyone would jump into the pond, even if it meant ruining your new suit. He made this analogy in order to highlight the fact that there are millions of children dying from preventable causes around the world, and we in the West have the ability to save them by donating money to credible aid organisations.

The truth is, most of us don’t. This is because, as Singer argues, or morality has not yet evolved enough for the image of a starving child on TV to initiate the same emotional response that a child drowning a few feet away from us would.

Peter Singer

After these first talks there was a break. I went outside and joined the circle of smokers. A man said to me “welcome to the ostracised among the godless”. I politely smiled and allowed him to think he had made a witty remark but what I was really looking at was the man standing behind him. It was Richard Dawkins, taking in the view of the Melbourne CBD from the banks of the Yarra.

From watching his documentaries and interviews to then seeing him so close, I have to admit made me a little star struck, although, to be fair I had the same feeling when I met Deal or no Deal presenter Andrew O’ Keefe in St Kilda one night.

Dawkins was the final speaker of the day. He spoke in beautiful prose of the wonders of evolution and the natural world and warned the audience against complacency and just blindly accepting what we are told. We should instead to use science as a tool for rational exploration of the unknown.

Richard Dawkins

While many of the speakers presented weak anecdotal evidence to back up their arguments, Dawkins landed some heavy blows against the belief in an interventionist creator. What separates Dawkins and others, such as philosopher A.C. Grayling and biologist P.Z. Myers from the rest is that they present original research, their conclusions are based upon their own ideas and not cherry picked from others.

Dawkins could not help himself when he referred to the current head of the Catholic Church as “Pope Nazi”. Though, this must have been calculated the statement dominated the news reporting of the convention and trivialised much of the more important issues that were discussed. However, the controversy of this statement is nothing compared to the situation the Pope now finds himself in through his action (or inaction) in protecting and hiding pederasts within the church while he was a cardinal.

The day was entertaining and definitely intellectually stimulating, although there was an air of pseudo-intellectualism amongst the crowd and I couldn’t help but notice that the whole thing had a semi-cultish feel to it. On any other occasion the MC for the event could have fit right in at an evangelical gathering. From his crisp white suit to his southern accent and bouffant hairstyle, he fit the part perfectly. The catering on the other hand was excellent and good food is always important in judging the success of an event.


(Malaysian) Music Autumn Festival

Musika Musim Luruh is set to take off next Wednesday to entertain the Malaysian kids in Melbourne, and to impress the locals with a taste of South East Asian talent.

Having blessed with a great venue at the Prince Bandroom, and having featured in The Star expect the vast Malaysian community in Melbourne to converge in St Kilda to catch the likes of Hujan, Liyana Fizi (Of Estrella), the Pilgrimz, Bedroom Sanctuary, Kugiran D’Tepi Pantai,Broken Scar and the various indie acts in Victoria who are showcasing and competing for the affections of those in attendance with their talent.

One of the bands performing that has caught the glimpse of shriekingmonkeys is Super Metronome. Having a preview of the two tracks found on their Myspace, their sound is reminiscent of Miami Horror and Van She.  The electronic rock band is one to keep an eye on.

So if you’ve got no plans over the Easter Break, head over, and support some Malaysian Music.

It’ll be a great show.

Wicked Aura Batucada @ Prince Bandroom

SINGAPURA REPRESENT!

One glance at their Mohawk haircuts and black outfits, you might think that Wicked Aura Batucada is a punk rock band. But if you’re from Singapore, you will be very familiar with this 6-year-old band.

This thirteen-man outfit is a one of a kind, funky percussion army. Ranging from school music teachers to a police officer, this band is made up of strong men (biceps included) in their mid 20s to mid 40s who have travelled several continents with their performances – in countries like Spain, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea, China and Thailand.

Wicked Aura Batucada was recently in Melbourne to open for The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra’s debut, Afro-Beat album launch at The Prince Bandroom; St Kilda’s on March 13th 2010.

Upon hearing the crazily synchronized drumming skills of the band, one might associate this band with the movie, Drumline. But give it a couple of minutes later, it completely overshadows that thought when this band bursts out with groovy beats and yes, even vocals by frontman, Idham Budiman, that will excite your pulse and jolt those sleepy feet and got every one dancing to their songs.

This percussion band includes a guitarist and a bassist and played smooth and groovy tunes like “Brothers Gonna Work it Out” where the Wicked boys swayed sexily with their instruments on stage to adrenalin-pumping and energy-boosting original like “Fight” to end their set with a bang.

Wicked Aura Batucada truly satisfied the crowd with a full hour of awesome funk that is perfected with the years together as a band which included a tambourine trio display as well as an electrifying guitar solo.

Be sure to don their signature black and green colours at their next gig and wicked it out!

Check them out on their Websites:

Wicked Aura Official Page

Myspace

Phoenix @ Festival Hall

Can you remember a time that made your heart wrench in delight. Where the emotions of excitement and jubilation filled your veins, and made you feel full with contentment?

Phoenix did just that to a full house of excited fans last Friday.

From their success from their Grammy Award winning album ‘Wolfgang Armadeus’ the French band stuck smiles across Festival Hall, exciting the crowd with their riveting performance and exemplary showmanship. Playing a mixture of songs from their new and old albums, from “If I ever feel Better’ to ‘Lisztomania’.It kept fans and new listeners engulfed in enjoyment the entire night.

Live shows define a respectable band, if they sound good on record they should naturally sound good live. With current technology in sound engineering, recording and remastering a song can sound flawless on track, but this illusion fades when playing live, and cuts the divide with a band with a natural sound or one which is heavily manufactured.

Phoenix earned this respect. They took the songs intimately cherished by the audience, and delivered them flawlessly in a way that will not be forgotten.

The crowd was jumping, singing along, and clapped on command. The atmosphere in hall  heated up to uncomfortable levels, ironically, because of the warm feeling of fulfillment and blissfulness simmered deep in the souls of everyone in the crowd.

It was an extremely good night.


indie meat

Outback Delight.

Coventional can get repetitive, especially with food. Each human being could not eat the same meal for the rest of their lives. Even if you could imagine your favourite dish, could you devour it every single, living day of your short reality?

Indomie Goreng – Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner – repeat till you bowels bleed.

Variety is the spice of life. Trying something new each day can revitalise your fascination, and in this case excite your tastebuds. If you’re conservative with your eating habits, why not step out of your shell and try something different. There are almost 195 independent countries in the world, which would equate to double the amount of unique dishes that you could sample.

In China and Korea, you could feast on the ‘Earth’s mutton’; which is dog meat. If your love for the domestic animal is unconditional, then head to Vietnam and feast on some feline instead. However, if domestic animals are really a taboo in your books, Papua New Guinea has an interesting marination process, where certain native ethnic groups, breastfeed piglets and then serve them for dinner.

Even dishes that share familiarity worldwide such as the ‘Burger’ will have a local twist in each country. In Malaysia the Ramly burger has even become a ‘national’ dish.

Visit Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne look out for Banjo’s Burgers stall. If you’re bored of conventional meat such as Chicken, Beef, Lamb, and Fish; Banjo’s Burgers offers an outback selection that’ll keep your eyebrow raised.

Exotic Eatery

A majority cringe when glancing at the sign, but there were those who could not contain their salivation when given the opportunity to consume such creatures that were once not imagined to be settling in your belly.

The line was impressively long, and shriekingmonkeys waited anxiously, but patiently, to join the curious public in devouring these ‘exotic’ animals.

We paid $8.50 for a Kangaroo burger, intimately known as a ‘Roo’ burger, and a ‘croc’ burger for $9.00.

I decided on a Croc burger because I was fed up with the aggresive power of the creature, in instilling fear in human beings (Steve Irwin an exception) with their ferocious teeth and stoic looking stare that shouts ‘Imma eat you bitch’.

Well, crocodile, I had the power now, and you’re in palms waiting to be tortured in my mouth. The tables had turned.

Roo meat is low fat, lean, and is very tender. However it has the qualities of lamb which has a high level of nitrate, which can give you a ‘heaty’ effect and leaving light headed. Croc meat is unique in its taste, it has an ambiguity of tasting like salmon and beef, probably because the animal lives in water and devours human beings (and other forest/bush creatures as well I guess).

It was an interesting meal, and it could be suggested that you could get addicted to croc meat because of its unfamiliar taste. I find some slight guilt in consuming Australia’s icon, because they’re so damn cute, and you could give Roo meat a pass because of its ‘heaty’ qualities. Leave culling kangaroos by running them on the highway (they’re considered a pest now before you judge) and instead consume the cold blooded lizard, and end their tyranny of eating our species.

So when your out next, try something different, if you love meat, try something new, it doesn’t have to be something so outlandish, you could even make peace with the vegeterians and try some Tofu chicken or beef instead. Whatever it is, your tongue is the strongest muscle in the body, and enjoys curiousty with its tastebuds. Do it a favour, try something weird, different, and keep you sense of taste invigorated with something fresh.