Movie: Love Conquers All

Love Conquers All
Love Conquers AllI’ve heard good things about this movie; that it was financially backed by the Hubert Bals Fund of the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and that it won a couple of awards at the 11th Pusan International Film Festival. The reason for the former is simple — if your movie does not contain at least 70% of dialogue in the Malay language, forget government funding. And if other people are willing to finance your film, their faith has got to count for something in your ability as a director, a.k.a. knowing that it will not totally suck.

Similarly the latter speaks volumes; after all such accolades are not awarded lightly. At the PIFF this past October, LOVE CONQUERS ALL grabbed two awards — sharing the ‘New Currents Award’ (Best New Asian Filmmaker of the Year - “This film is using a known cinematic language in a nice way telling the life of a village girl who is going to a big city to work and face the reality and the morality of our time”) with another director, and the ‘FIPRESCI Award’ (Prize of the International Film Critics - ” for its audacious narrative structure and its intelligent work with sound and image”). Nice, very nice.

The young writer and director of LOVE CONQUERS ALL, Tan Chui Mui revealed to fellow blogger Lim Chang Moh that…

[…] the movie was inspired by a story about pimps told to her by a friend during her stint at the Multimedia University. “I was also influenced by the beauty of my hometown in Sungai Ular, near Kuantan, and I have incorporated scenes from the village,” she said. The movie was made at a RM100,000 budget.

Below is a synopsis of the movie that I shamelessly copied and pasted from the Tokyo International Film Festival website.

Small town girl Ah Ping moves to Kuala Lumpur to work in her aunt’s chicken rice stall. She encounters John at the public phone booth while making her ritual calls to her family and boyfriend back home. John follows her everywhere pursuing her fervently until she finally succumbs to him. First it transpires that he is involved in some shady deals. Then he casually reveals his familiarity with the tricks pimps use to lure girls into prostitution. When he does a disappearing act we watch helplessly as Ah Ping’s fate is sealed.

Note: It was not a chicken rice stall, but an economy rice stall. The movie was set sometime in the 80s, I am not sure if they had mobile phones back then. The main story of Ah Ping’s journey of self-discovery was slow to develop, and as it is with indie/arty movies, there are long shots of Ah Ping staring into space, as if dust mites could transmit to her vital information about the meaning of life. Actress Coral Ong Li Whei has a face that could be rather blank sometimes, so it’s perfect for these artistic moments.

The budding romance between Ah Ping and John was interesting to see, actor Stephen Chua Jyh Shyan did a commendable job playing the part of the hero-turned-baddie with a conflicting personality. The only problem I had was not with the actors, but with the storyline. In one part of the movie, John explained to Ah Ping in detail the tricks pimps use to lure girls into prostitution. So to me it was rather frustating to watch Ah Ping jumping headlong into everything that John warned her about. Love conquers all indeed, love is capable of changing a person, and it is not the type of love that I can understand.

I thought of the choices Ah Ping could have made, and the alternative paths she could have taken. I was left feeling disheartened, and I wondered about the script writer’s decision in creating the story as it is. Not that I would have preferred a fairy-tale ending, but it did make me question her intent.

Ah well, at least it was a story that made me think, eh?

Love Conquers All

The micro story focused on Ah Ping’s little cousin, Mei who corresponds with her pen-pal who lives in another part of town. I find myself very much drawn to the on-goings and development of her story which mostly depicts loneliness, and her relationship with her mother, Hong Jie (who is Ah Ping’s auntie). The chemistry between Mei, played by Leong Jiun Jiun and Hong Jie, played by Ho Chi Lai was intriguing to see, the battle of wills exhibited by both parties were frustrations of miscommunication examplified. Some of the more powerful scenes in this movie to me were the ones of Mei and Hong Jie.

I give Love Conquers All 3.95 stars out of 5. If it weren’t for the constant shaky camera movements (for some reason are vital to indie/artistic movies but gives me bad headaches) I would have given it a 4.15. Oh well.

LOVE CONQUERS ALL is written and directed by Tan Chui Mui, and produced by Amir Muhammad. The spoken language is mostly Mandarin with subtitles in English. It opens in GSC International Screens today at GSC Mid Valley, GSC 1 Utama and GSC Gurney Plaza (Penang).

Other reviews by: SwiftyPatrickLim Chang Mohyours truly.


Democracy, Low Yat style

It would be ridiculous for Microsoft to claim that there is a sudden resurgence of noise about Open Source because the community might be insecure as to the validity of their altruism. If a comparative media noise analysis were to be done, it is clear that the trumpet blows loudest from Microsoft’s new MD Yasmin Mahmood and her cohorts. I won’t be surprised that in a few months we will see some Microsoft effort in providing business opportunities for women, the way the political rhetorics have been slated in.

I don’t even blame her for it. After all, as a new broom you just have to learn how to sweep well or pay the price, even if you have to ride it occasionally. That’s just business, and she is just doing her job. The greater discussion here is not about Open Source vs. The Big Bad Wolf - although one would be inclined to think so in the scheme of things right now.

The ensuing discussion has been about the term Neutrality, and of course as some populist organisation called it, ‘Software Democracy’. I quite like the term, although for the life of me I cannot believe that software can ever be truly democratic, as in the way companies and businesses are run. What next? Employees vote for who will helm companies like TNB, Telekom Malaysia and God forbid, Microsoft?

It’s so easy to go on rhetorics about democracy and neutrality, until the stool (to borrow a term used by the medical profession) hits the fan. Then the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let’s talk about democracy to the chap who is using an Opera browser on a Mac platform trying to key in his tax returns on the LHDN website. The unfortunate sap would find that he just cannot do it.

e-hasil2.jpg

Even politicians have touted that one of the key objectives of the BILLIONS of taxpayer funds spent on information technology is the empowerment of people and businesses to enjoy a higher quality of life. The truth in the e-hasil proggie is simply that it serves to irritate the end-user, should he be using a different platfom than mentioned.

Okay, doing your taxes should not be fun. Granted.

The fact is that e-hasil is not the only one involved in this complicity. Even MDeC is not absolved from the same. The thing that needs to be looked into is the argument that ‘Neutrality’ should be really neutral, and given the examples above, no further argument are required. The point is made.

This is not about open source. Simply put, it’s about neutrality, and the democracy touted by some people is not only hollow, it’s as fake as Windows Vista that can be bought in Low Yat for five ringgit.


URGENT: Flood relief

It’s two days to Christmas and a lot of us are already enjoying our holidays.

But down South there are many families who do not have this luxury — stranded and isolated, involuntarily cut off from aid centres, their food and medical supplies are running low, and for some of the more unfortunate, non-existent.

As the waters begin to recede and a massive relief operation goes into full swing, Johor Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Dr Robia Kosai issued an SOS “to all quarters to contribute food, clothing, blankets and mats“. (story link)

If you are able, please contribute to the relief effort by donating dry or canned food, CLEAN clothes, blankets and mats to aid the flood victims. You can send your donated goods to the following collection centres:

  • Puteri Umno headquarters at Putra World Trade Centre
  • Kontena Nasional premises in Seri Setia, Petaling Jaya (full address: Batu 9, Jalan Klang Lama, P.O.B. 6503 Seri Setia, 47307 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan)
  • Multipurpose hall at Parliament House

If you would like to give monetary donations, please read the following:

NSTP Flood Victims Assistance Fund

The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd has set up a fund to help flood victims in the southern peninsula.

Donations via cheque, bank draft or postal order made out to ‘NSTP Flood Victims Assistance Fund’ (Tabung Bantuan Mangsa Banjir NSTP) can be sent to: The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd, c/o Finance Department, 5th Floor, Balai Berita, 31, Jalan Riong, 59100 Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur (Attention: Ms Aidah Nordin).

Kindly write on the back of the cheque donor’s name, address and contact number.

Donations to the fund can also be made at NSTP branches in Johor Baru, Klang, Alor Star, Batu Pahat, Ipoh, Kota Baru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Kuching, Malacca, Muar, Penang and Seremban, or its regional printing plants in Shah Alam, Prai, Senai and Ajil.

Thank you.


Better things to come with passing of new Bill?

THE Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Bill 2006, aimed at reducing maintenance and management problems of strata property owners, was recently passed to protect the rights of buyers of common property such as high-rise units including condos and apartments.

[more…]


Prawn Hokkien Mee in Lebuh Armenian, Penang

One of the dishes I never miss when I go back to Penang is the Prawn Mee, or in Penang, we usually just refer it as Hokkien Mee. Do not be confused with Hokkien mee in Penang and the dish of the same name in KL though. The closest thing to Hokkien mee in KL at Penang is called Hokkien Char.

Have I confused you yet? I’ll refer it as Prawn mee for the remaining of this post.

Prawn Hokkien Mee in Penang
small old school kopitiam

[more…]


Masih

Biarpun aku anak tanah-air

yang bercampur kaum migrasi dari gagasan rempah

diadukkan dengan kaum nun di-sana yang sepek

tapi aku masih anak bumiku.

Walaupun tapak jejak-ku resah

cuba menyentap upih-upih pertanyaan

disebalik kecaman yang dilempar.

Takziah ku-ucapkan

kepada bangsa tanah air

yang kian kehilangan arah

bagaikan rajawali yang dipatuk matanya.

Sambil meniti pentas dunia

yang asyik menjadi idaman

disebalik penjuru buah fikiran khalifah-ku.

Aku masih suram

dan masih terfikirkan

dimanakah arah semak kerimba ceria

Dunia seakan berganti

tapi aku masih disini

Biarlah

Janji aku masih anak bumi

yang mungkin bermacam warna

tapi aku tetap

dengan hitam-putihku


Ah Long days are numbered…

Top Story: Number’s up for Ah Long!

KUANTAN: Now that most prepaid mobile phone users are registered, the authorities have a potent weapon to use against Ah Long.

They can now trace loan sharks through the telephone numbers printed on their call cards and advertisements. The police and the Housing and Local Government Ministry planned to check phone numbers used by moneylenders to verify whether or not they were licensed, said the deputy internal security minister yesterday.- more here

Finally - such a simple solution to a long standing problem.

I wonder if anyone figured it out previously when prepaids were not registered - that Ah Long distribute business cards and that these business cards have phone numbers. And you can, if you wish, call them and go undercover to find out where they are located and how they operate, pretend to be a borrower, and finally nab them.

In anycase, better late than never, let’s hope the authorities will use put technology to good use and clamp down on them.

ps: Does anyone know how the name Ah Long originated?


Front Page: State of civil service: Too few, or bloated?

Need more be said?

State of civil service: Too few, or bloated?
M.K. Megan

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has shot down a suggestion by Cuepacs that the civil service should be beefed up by an additional 200,000 employees by 2020 when Malaysia attains developed nation status…more

Well, what do you think?

Posted in: Front Page

Author's web site: http://www.monsterblog.com.my


Public sector negligence

It is unfortunate that so soon after I wrote the piece advocating a pay hike for civil servants that the following news came to my attention.

Summary: Zara Davies Abdul Rahman, a businesswoman and a mother of five chanced upon an accident last Wednesday (13th December 2006). A driver had hit a young highway road sweeper, later identified as Mohd. Yusry along the Elite highway. She stopped to help, and found that Mohd. Yusry was ’still alive but heavily concussed’. No one had called for ambulance, so she told the driver to do so.

After an ugly-go-round with the telephone operator, and more than an hour after the accident occurred, the driver finally allowed his car to be used to send Mohd. Yusry to the hospital. Another Samaritan drove his car (as the driver was too shook up to drive) and they followed Zara’s vehicle to the Klang hospital.

Unfortunately Mohd. Yusry died in the car on the way to the hospital.

Excerpts from Zara’s letter:

At 1.57pm I received a call from the phone number 03 3371 7989 - the ambulance control centre at the Klang Hospital. The guy in charge of the control centre asked to speak to me and asked for the location of the accident which I gave, adding that the victim was dying and that this was an extreme emergency.

The guy manning the control centre did not know my location, so I repeated it clearly and concisely. It seemed that he needed to understand it for himself otherwise he could not pass on the information and dispatch the ambulance. It was a frustrating conversation. I repeated the details of my location and he asked me if I was sure that Klang was the nearest hospital. I repeated firmly, yes.

I told him the injuries of the victim, hoping he would feel the urgency. Instead he wanted to know whether ‘dia jatuh motor ke…?’ I told him politely that his question was completely irrelevant and to hurry up with the ambulance. I had to hang up and attend to the victim. I called back at 2.06pm to ask if an ambulance had been dispatched. The same guy told me ‘belum’. He asked me the same questions. I answered them.

On the Federal Highway despite our attempts to notify motorists that we were in a state of emergency, many blocked our path and only relented to give way when I practically sat on my car horn.

I was so angry, my words were simple, ‘Kecuaian pihak hospital menghantar ambulans membantu mangsa ini telah mengecewakan rakyat’. (The negligence of the hospital in not sending an ambulance to help the victim has let the public down).

You can read the fully-published letter written by Zara recounting her experience here, or here.

It’s not a pretty letter, but it is what it is: we Malaysians are not a pretty nation.

It has been less than 3 months after NST highlighted the problem of ambulance crisis in our country. Other than the promise of 800 new ambulances, there doesn’t seem to be much follow-up to the story. Besides, a promise remains a promise — Rapid KL promised 100 accessible buses in 30 days, erm… sorry to point this out, but that was on the 26th September, today is the 18th December, you do the math.

Talk is cheap, unfortunately in situations such as this, it comes at a very heavy and tragic price.

Worse of all, it is reported that Zara ‘has received an intimidating call from the Klang Hospital authorities’ after the case was highlighted by DAP opposition leader Lim Kit Siang (link).

Now more than ever, we need to seriously monitor the quality of work of those in the public sector and SERIOUSLY enforce disciplinary actions against those who are deliberately negligent. We need a thorough review of the hospitals and other such service providers’ systems. We have been depending and literally putting our lives in the hands of these people, and if it’s you, dude, you wouldn’t want to be in Mohd. Yusry’s place.

And WHAT THE *@&#^% is with the people who drive slowly past an accident site to get the numbers of the wrecked cars?!?! Do you know that you are DIRECTLY contributing to a traffic jam, hence delaying help to the victims?!? Dahlah the road systems in Malaysia is not efficient, it gets WORSE when the greed and selfishness of people take over. Next time if you encounter an accident, feel free to stop and try to help. But if you are going to just gawk and jot down numbers, allow this blogger who is a Buddhist to remind you that it is disastrous karma to make money off the unfortunate.

Please do not brush it away as ‘not my problem’. Imagine it’s YOU or YOUR LOVED ONE involved in the car accident — life is full of the unexpected so never say never.

But yes, Datuk Chua Soi Lek, it is mostly your call now.

Posted in: Issues

Author's web site: http://www.suanie.net


Front Page: Peak hours levy - KL flirts with congestion fees

What do you think of this:

Peak hours levy: KL flirts with congestion fees

19 Dec 2006
Minderjeet Kaur

KUALA LUMPUR: Motorists used to stewing in the capital’s worsening traffic jams can look forward to an easier ride but it may come at a price.

On his first day at work, Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan said the time for road or congestion charges — much discussed and long in the pipeline — has finally arrived with the city’s improved public transportation.

Vehicles entering the city centre during peak hours will have to pay a levy. But the new Datuk Bandar’s proposal differs from the restricted zones of Singapore and London, where congestion charging has dramatically freed up traffic and reduced pollution.
… more here and here

And before we forget, welcome aboard, Datuk Ab Hakim!

Posted in: Front Page

Author's web site: http://www.monsterblog.com.my