In Defense of the People’s Paper
January 28, 2013

Love them or hate them, Harian Metro is the number one newspaper in the country. And with an average circulation of about 400,000 per day, they have rightfully earned this status. In clinics, offices and cabs, ruffled copies of “Metro” are everywhere. Not to mention that they are the primary source of exclusive news on massage parlors.

This weekend however, saw an error that might have put a dent on their reputation as the leading publisher of exceptional journalistic content.

In case you missed it, they had a feature on a celebrity couple who’d just made their romance public. In it, was a call-out that highlighted a quote from the male celebrity. It read, loosely translated,

“We like each other, and our love is mutual.”

Underneath it however, was not the male celebrity’s name. Printed in italic instead, was the name of the Prime Minister.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, this was probably an honest technical error more than anything. And it could happen to anyone with all the hassle of editing.

Not too long ago another Bahasa newspaper printed “Facts About Justin Bieber” instead of “Facts About Kazakhstan”. Which was a mistake unless Justin Bieber is actually a former Soviet country.

On that note, I hope we could all now move on and continue our undying support to the nation’s newspaper of choice. We’re behind you, Harian Metro. Keep on providing us with the good stuff, for us to read in the cab.

Be Patient and Do Good
January 26, 2013

Tok Ayah was a batik trader. He would often travel to Kuala Lumpur from Kota Bharu to meet his clients and counterparts. And one day, I remember vaguely, I joined one of his business trips to Wisma Yakin, together with another cousin. We were sitting on a bench near Jalan TAR, and he had just bought us each some kebab from the roadside stall.

As we were munching away, paying no attention to anything else, he imparted the following words of wisdom on us,

“If you want something in life, be patient and do good. If you don’t get it now, God will give it to you in the afterlife.”

Of course, that wasn’t how he said it word-for-word. We were probably 8 at the time. But that was the gist of his advice and he made it simple for us to understand.

I’m not sure if my cousin still remembers this occurrence, or even that day. But these are the words that I’ve held dear for more than 20 years now. While I may not have put it into action all the time, I do go back to it to steer myself straight.

Today I had the honor of being among the sons and grandsons who bathed and prepared him for his burial. Tok Ayah left us this morning at the age of 88, leaving behind great memories for us to cherish.

Thank you for everything, grandpa. We love you. Al-Fatihah.

A Matter of Speech
January 22, 2013

Be it for nomination, presidential acceptance, or Letterman interview, it’s no secret that Barack Obama has a way with words. And yesterday, during his second Inaugural Address, President Obama has yet again outdone himself. Within 19 minutes and 2,117 words, his speechwriters had put together some of his most beautifully articulated lines.

“Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.”

I had to re-read the above paragraph a few times to fully understand its context -- unsuccessfully. But I suppose that’s the sign of an effective speech. It gets you intrigued and mesmerized as the words linger on, long after the man has left the room. You might not comprehend its meaning entirely, but it leaves you inspired. It's a bit like watching Family Guy.

As I went through the text on the White House website, a part of me wished that I was on the website of one of our own government ministries instead, scouring for that striking line the minister had tactfully delivered in his speech earlier that day. Doing that in the real world however, would probably leave me lost in the jungle of titles and salutations that takes up half the speech.

I may not have the exposure to garner enough experience to speak from. But within the few official or corporate events I’ve attended, “the speech” is often times the dreaded part of the agenda. Long, monotonous drone of big-worded murmurs fill the room as the speaker gets more absorbed in himself and the audience doze off or post photos of their shoes on Instagram. Until dinner is served.

A speech is an important platform for leaders to project their ideas. As elementary as that sounds, it’s still being overlooked by certain quarters as merely a formality. I certainly hope that people who often grace the podium take note of this and invest more time in crafting out their speech. Because I’m running out of stuff to Instagram while they speak.

A Case of the Trays
January 15, 2013

I was at KFC the other day. And as always, I made my way to the shortest line, mulled over what to have, and waited longer than the other lines because the person in front of me decided to order 13 barrels. Just another day at the old Colonel’s place.

Once I got my Snack Plate however, I couldn’t find a place to sit. The dining area wasn’t full. There were several vacant tables. But they looked like they’d just been used by ogres. Stacks of trays with overturned plates and ravaged leftovers were all over the place as the two staff on duty struggled to get them sorted.

To be fair, while it is a common practice overseas, fast food customers are not expected to clear their tables over here. It’s a well-accepted norm. And that’s just how it’s been since the first A&W opened in Jln. Tuanku Abdul Rahman in 1963. You line up, dig in, and leave the mess behind.

Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to lend a hand. Stretching at 36cm x 46cm, the average plastic tray weighs 0.5kg. Assuming that the plate is made of porcelain, a medium-sized one would weigh around 1.3kg. With two plates on a tray, the cumulative weight is approximately 3.1kg -- no heavier than a contestant on America’s Next Top Model.

All of that boring math aside, the point I’m trying to make here is that it doesn’t take much to help. And with such little effort, we set a good example to our children, our fast food restaurants look clean to tourists, and some burden is lifted off that waiter doing the job while waiting for his SPM result at RM6/hour.

Granted, things might be a bit trickier if plates are involved; unlike when there are only paper cups and wrappers to deal with. So if taking the tray to the trash bin becomes troublesome, the least we could do is put everything on the tray after the meal and not leave bones lying around the table like a gruesome murder scene.

Please disregard any of the above if you are actually an ogre.

On Top Of The World, With His Feet On The Ground
January 08, 2013

Well, he’s done it again. Not Charlie Sheen. Lionel Messi. He’d just won the FIFA Ballon d'Or award, the World Player of the Year, for the fourth time in a row. More than any other player in the history of the game. Pele and Maradona can argue ‘til the cows come home.

I don’t think many would expect any other result given the staggering 91 goals he’d scored in 69 games, surpassing Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record. I can’t score that many goals playing FIFA '13 by myself in two-player mode. Also in 2012, Messi was the first player to score five goals in a Champions League game and became Barcelona’s all-time scoring record holder with 289 goals. (Bloody hell.)

All of these incredible achievements aside, one trait that puts him in a class of his own is his humility. At only 24, Messi had already won five La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies. But every time he’s on the mic, he can never stop mentioning his teammates.

I was just starting my first job at the age of 24, trying to impress everyone at the office. If you give me four Ballon d’Ors at the time, I’d have them remolded into miniature trophies so that I can bring them everywhere I go. I’d purposely leave them in my pocket as I go through the metal detector, let the thing beep, and apologize for the prized medals I have dangling in my pants.

So I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t win the World Player of the Year award four times in a row. Because I would’ve been so boastful I’d make Kanye West look like he hates himself.

On that note, well done Leo. May you continue inspire people to keep their feet on the ground by winning more awards and pissing Cristiano Ronaldo off.

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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