From Rants and raves

We are not special

Let’s face it. We are not special. We like to think we are, that our goals, rants, aspirations, and struggles really matter. But we are stardust, as Neil deGrasse Tyson reminds us.  Sounds poetic but it is also true. We are made up of molecules constructed from the crucibles of stars from deep space. When…

Malaysian social media regulation? Welcome to the dark side of social media

We thought the social media such as Facebook are a boon to finding out only the truth. We believe this because information flows unrestricted and uncensored from an open, diverse, and hyper-connected network of friends, friends of friends, and freedom fighters in the social media world. There are no gatekeepers here. No one decides which…

Courage: How much is your PhD worth?

I first met Amir (not his real name) in my office about six years ago when he told me that he wanted to do his PhD under my supervision. While I do not remember much what we discussed, I do remember being a little annoyed by his presence. Overdressed and smelling of strong cologne, Amir looked…

The many ways to kill a communist: Indonesia’s communist purge 1965-66

Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing” is the most unsettling documentary I have ever watched. This documentary focused on a group of men in North Sumatra who were involved in Indonesia’s purge of communists in 1965-66. Like Malaysia, Indonesia has a history of violence in dealing with communists in the country. But unlike Malaysia, Indonesia’s…

Manipulating the net: How much can we trust what we read on the net?

Evgeny Morozov’s “The Net Delusions: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom” is one of the most important books I have read. Having read it two years ago, I now often treat web news, in particular those coming from social media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter), with plenty pinches of salt. Recently, another important book “Trust Me,…

Where’s my water? Water rationing and water shortages in Selangor

Update (Jun 28, 2012): This blog entry was published today in the New Straits Times newspaper. There may be talks about water rationing soon in this country, but for my family and I, our neighborhood in Selangor has already been experiencing water rationing as early as February this year. The water to our home would often…

Newsflash: Malaysian government concedes to Bersih 3.0

“So, how credible is it – this Bersih 3.0?” the Prime Minister looks at the three men in his office. “Very credible,” the Inspector General of Police answers, “It is all over the internet: in blogs, independent news media, people’s Facebook, Twitter … everywhere. Our informers close to the organizers  also confirm the date. They…

The involvement of the Chinese in Malaysia’s agriculture sector

The book “Land to Till: The Chinese in the Agricultural Economy of Malaysia” by Tan Pek Leng is a welcome find in the local bookstores. This book is a welcome addition because it tells about the role the Chinese have played, past and present, in the Malaysia’s agriculture sector. Although this book contains some valuable…

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