Friday, August 24, 2007

when the colonised struck the empire:a postcolonial commentary in conjunction with Malaysia's 50th National Day

i'm now watching "rising of great powers" on history channel. as someone who's been exposed to colonialism and postcolonial theory, i'm much appalled by what i've learnt in this programme.

this episode tells of how the great powers during the rennaissance era, portugal and spain, coveted spices that would bring them more wealth. spain and portugal then signed a treaty which partitioned their control of the seas. spain took the americas while portugal, as we know it, claimed asia. thus, these two countries plundered and raped the other countries' natural resources which included gold and silver from the americas, and spices from asia. in later centuries, great britain decided to get her share too, and like a parasite, sucked india's wealth. that is why india was called "the jewel of the empire".

colonialism entails the power expansion of one country over other countries. this hegemony does not only mean territorial expansion, but also monopoly of the country's resources. they also brought western modernisation, and assumed that the "savages" need to be civilised and thus the whites carried "the white man's burden", of educating the "savages" to become better than their forefathers, but not in anyway better than the whites. in short, the colonial power is a parasite and a psycho. unfortunately though, this parasite and psycho still exists in the form of one country who tries to convince the rest of the world that they're doing justice when in fact all they want is the control of the oil.

for years, the belief that everything about the west is superior is imprinted in the minds of the colonised and also postcolonial societies. the rise of the educated from the third world countries, such as Edward Said (author of Orientalism), Homi Bhabha (author of the Location of Culture) and Frantz Fanon (author of Black Skin, White Mask) helped to produce postcolonial theory, which fights back the colonialism and seeks to redefine the position of power of the colonisers and the marginalised or the colonised. it also redefines the identity of a postcolonial nation.

from the perspective of postcolonial theory then, the Occident has no right in asserting its power over the East. true, the europeans brought with them modernisation, but it came at a great expense - the loss of our national treasures. the civilisations of the colonised are as great or perhaps, greater than the europeans - India's civilisation dates back thousands of years before, the Africans also had their civilisation just like we the malaysians had our civilisations hundreds of years before the Brits came.

so why do we prefer the western cultures then? why do asian women colour their hair blond or red? why do they wear skimpy clothes? why do we want to copy them, when we have our own values? this is another way of how hegemony works - the hegemony of the minds.

education is a means of freeing oneself from the hegemony.

we're a postcolonial nation which has redefined our identity. no one should tell us how to talk, how to eat, how to dress, how to act. we live according to our moral values.

be proud to be a malaysian.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

sweeping statements on health services

i have a colleague who does not go to government hospitals because in her opinion they give mediocre service. she prefers to go to private hospitals instead.

i, on the other hand, have no qualms in going to government hospitals. my late brother was a good senior medical specialist, and now his son and another nephew of mine are doctors. i believe in them. of course, we cant deny that in some circumstances, tempers will start to fly, but still, i think they're quite okay.

last year, i went to a private dentist and had my molar removed. unfortunately though, she removed the wrong molar. i still felt pain in my molar even after my other molar was removed. so, i consulted my oldtime friend, who's a dentist in australia. she asked me if the dentist took an xray of my molar. what xray?? after hearing my answer, she advised me to go to the government dental clinic. which i went a few days ago.

i went very early, expecting a huge crowd. but this is a district clinic, so in no time i was ushered in. the dentist probed here and there, told me to get an xray, and then proclaimed that my molar wasnt rotting, it's just the case of gingivitis and that regular flossing will do. still, she had some drilling to do. believe me, nothing scares me more than the drill and the sound it makes. i survived the ordeal, and was pleasantly surprised with their warmth and professionalism.

the moral of the story? you dont need to spend hundreds (or even thousands) of ringgit to seek medical care. the government hospitals are getting better in terms of their services. as for me, i thanked my friend for her advice which saved me from having another still-in-good-condition molar removed.

kudos to the dental clinic of jalan air jernih!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

on diet (again!)

now that i dont have anymore CDC or LPM courses, i am able to continue my lifelong project, which is to diet. the word sounds awful, as any woman can tell you, except of course, for anorexic looking models and those who can eat a horse and still look gorgeous.

i've been eating healthily, which means a lot of vegetables, fruits and nuts. and of course, the usual exercise. but the tragedy is that, from time to time visions of delectable food come to my mind - like secret recipe cakes...and roti canai...yum yum...i can still resist secret recipe cakes, because the topping can just kill my desire (hmm...on second thought) but today, after craving for roti canai for days... i succumbed to the temptation and had one. and to make up for extra calories, today i walked 2.7km, thanks to my neighbour, who pushed me.

well, i guess having a walking buddy (same kepala, same wavelength) helps. so hopefully this time i can stick to my diet (although one celebrity said you have to cheat once or twice in oder to make your diet work)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

tailored to your needs

although i sometimes believe in feminist theories (like equality and stuff), i'm much a conservative girl, which means the feminists wont like it when i say i like cooking and sewing (as they deem such activities as burden being thrust to the womenfolk by the patriarchal society).

i may be able to whip a tiramisu or make fresh croissants from made-from-scratch pastry, but unfortunately, much as i want to be good at sewing, i simply fail miserably. in short, i suck.

i was influenced by the presence of a mother who is the perfect housewife who cooked and sewed for the family. and that's not all. my sisters took ERT at school while i was the only one who took Commerce. so i had no basics in cooking or sewing.

but now that i'm a adult i find that i like to create something because it s therapeutic. however, unlike baking a cake which lasts only an hour, a sewing project can be tedious and time consuming. i still have an unfinished embroidery project and another unfinished very colourful quilted comforter (stashed somewhere in the mountains of cottons that i bought).

one of the legacies that my mother wishes me to have is her beloved Singer. it's an old sewing machine, dated from the 60s and to make it work, you have to exercise your feet (rock the foot pedal to and fro). when i was younger, she used to scold me for making a mess with the thread and the bobbin until the machine was stuck. so you see, i dont really get along with the sewing machine.

but that didnt deter me. i have this wonderful idea of cutting cost by sewing my own curtains. yep, you heard me. sew me own curtain (as jamie oliver might have said if he's a tailor instead of a celebrity chef). i had problems with the first set of curtains - which is for the dining room. the fabric is nice, it speaks volumes of drama. from afar they look like curtains, but dont get too close and scrutinise the stitches. buoyed with "success", i then decided to sew a set of curtains for my mother's room. the result? well...i guess mine would have been picasso's version of curtain. my mother gave her opinion, but nothing could be helped. she did say that if i ever want to change the living room's curtains, i should get professional help.

last month i had 3 days break, and i decided to sew a nightgown for myself. and because i had no basic knowledge of whatsoever in terms of sewing clothes, i bought the cheapest cotton so that i wont feel bad if i mess up. i did mess up, not once but many, many times. i already cut the cloth but then i realised that it wasnt according to the measurement, so i called my sister for help. she said that i must have a template and then started to get technical "you take your measurement then plus 2 inches..." i didnt listen to her after that. i did make a template, and despite my mother's warnings that the gown looked small, i boldly sewed it and was ready to try it on. only to find that i was stuck like a sarung nangka inside my nightgown. had to call bibik to take it off.

so now i'm back to sewing curtains, this time for my own room. okay, my sewing has improved, but still, dont scrutinise my workmanship.

well, i'm only human, after all.