Friday, July 28, 2006

History Lessons

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has come under public scrutiny due to a "controversial guidebook" which was used to teach a course on Ethnic Relations. The guidebook allegedly blames certain factions for inciting the infamous May 13 racial riots.

On Sunday, I got upset after watching a video of an ugly spat between two student groups at the same university. You can read Wong Chun Wai's analysis on the event here. On Tuesday, ex-PM Tun Dr Mahathir officiated the launch of The Chinese Malaysian Contribution. According to The Star, the book records contributions made by the Chinese migrant community. On Wednesday, The Sun published an editorial suggesting biasness in some history books used in schools.

I've just finished reading a book called Understanding Iraq which details the nation's history from medieval times through Saddam Hussein's regime to the American invasion. The author William Polk emphasises that America is repeating the same mistakes Britain made back in the 1950s when it was occupying the region. Polk suggests that Americans (specifically those in power) have been poor history students.

It is absolutely crucial for good history students to exist to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated. It is important that a repeat of May 13th does not occur.

On top of that, excellent historical literature is necessary as well. The role of every community throughout the history of Malaysia needs to be emphasised equally. Less stories are told about some communities as no one bothers to write them. Less stories are known because no one values them.

It's a downward spiral. Poor historical literature gives rise to poor history scholars who then produce poor(er) historical literature.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Iraq on YouTube

American soldiers in Iraq have uploaded videos of their experiences on YouTube. I can't seem to find the cheesecake one so if you do please send me the link.

From Guardian Unlimited:

Iraq uploaded

There are more than 5,000 video clips with footage from Iraq on YouTube, and a significant proportion feature US troops speaking candidly about their experiences.

Some of their comments and views would make a military press officer weep; some might even make US secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, wince.

"Why the fuck am I sitting out here guarding a truck full of cheesecake?" one "off-message" US soldier complains in one clip, Time magazine reports in its feature entitled the YouTube wars.

Another soldier, after hearing an on-message justification of the need to spread democracy in the Middle East, says: "After that happens, maybe we can buy everybody in the world a puppy."

MTV is broadcasting a documentary today on the phenomenon, entitled Iraq Uploaded: The War Network TV Won't Show You. Time says that never before has there been such an uncensored "visual document" of life during wartime.

Every soldier seems to have some form of video camera device; some affix them to their helmets to film firefights. This is a generation raised on games consoles; many of the clips are set to music.

Journalists from MTV have interviewed returning US troops, some of who have shot hours of footage. Some of the troops say making clips has been cathartic and, when they are back home, helps them feel a connection to friends still in Iraq. Some also admit to becoming obsessed by watching videos from Iraq on YouTube and sites such, known for its more gristly footage of explosions and kidnappings.

What is clear is that the candid online footage provides a counterpoint to the Bush administration's tight coverage of the Iraq war, such as restricting the media from showing caskets of dead troops.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm Back!

I'm back in KL and suffering from MAJOR jet-lag. Anyway, I've put up some graduation photos so scroll down and click on the flikr thingy.

Also, I'm proud to announce that Wen Tao has started a blog. Check it out here at

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More Work Experience

Here's something I've written about Malaysia. Click here.

And, if you ever need to know about economic growth, click here.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Work Experience

It's been a really good week for me as I've been enjoying my work experience stint with Guardian Unlimited. A friend of mine got married on Wednesday as well. (He's a little shy so I won't mention names)

The work experience program is pretty flexible -meaning that I can do anything I want as long as my boss Mark approves. This week I've had to research crude oil prices, write the daily news quiz and visit an oxygen bar at Harrods 102 with Mark among other things.

Most of the Explainers on the Business Section were written two or three years ago so they were badly in need of an update. This was totally up my street since I've been writing similar material for Mobile World. So if you ever do want to know about broadband, 3G or Enron then click away.

At 10 a.m. everyday the newspaper holds a conference in which anyone from the paper can attend. Basically the editors leaf through the paper's main section and give comments. When they're done, everyone discusses the day's lead stories.

The Guardian is apparently the only newspaper which does this sort of democratic discussion thing. Everyone seems to be really laid-back at the office. I'm told that the stereotype Guardian hack is a "muesli-eating, sandal-wearing, tree-hugger cyclist".

Today I got to check out how they recorded The Guardian podcast in their in-house studio. Apparently around 20 to 30 thousand people download their podcast daily.

The weekend is here and I hope I'll get to run a bit as the weather's quite nice. My work experience was supposed to end this week but in a fortunate turn of events my services have been extended. I get to go back to the office on Monday so I'm quite happy about that.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Punting in Oxford

Tao and Henry working hard.
Henry helping Tao out because we got stuck in the bushes.
It's so relaxing!
Caught in the bushes again!
OK, it's not so nice when you actually have to do the work.
A BIG Thank You to Henry for showing us around Oxford. I owe you a tour round LSE....shouldn't take more than an hour so we can go to Chinatown after that.