Sunday, July 26, 2009

Death of Another Genius

Yasmin Ahmad, may she rest in peace, has passed away at 11.25 pm on June 26 2009. Yasmin, 51, collapsed while presenting a working paper at Sri Pentas, the headquarters of the television station TV3 on Thursday and was rushed to the Damansara Specialists Hospital. It is reported that she suffered from a stroke and brain hemorrhage.

I was utterly shocked when hearing the news. She was at the prime of her life, heck, the prime of her career. I loved her works - Sepet, Gubra and Muallaf, just to name a few. Her advertisements were nothing to sneeze at either. They are some of the most creative Malaysian ads I have ever seen, and good Malaysian ads are very hard to come across. She orchestrated the adorable and endearing "Percintaan Tan Hong Ming".

I admire her, I truly do. Goodbye, Yasmin Ahmad, may you rest in peace.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I saw the cages, not the chains: Exposed

It was an innocent Moral project, which we felt so wonderful after.

"Taman Sinar Harapan" it was called, when translated it means "Ray Of Hope Garden" or something to that extent. It's ironic, considering the disturbing secrets it held. Now I am wondering, how much did they lie to us all to hide their sinister intentions?

Back in 2006, my friends and I went there to do volunteer work as part of our Moral Project requirement. Before we got started, the people in charge lay down the ground rules: No taking pictures of the residents, and no going to the block that was furthest from the hall, as the residents there were very violent and could pose harm to us. We were also told that most of the residents were not around due to some Paralympic Games event going on somewhere. Now I am wondering if those residents really went for Paralympics at all.

We were given a tour around the place, everywhere except the "forbidden" block. They later delegated our tasks to us. My heart broke when I saw all the residents, abandoned with no home except this one. Most of them were seen in cots. One of the volunteers told us that some had to be tied up with cloths to prevent them from hurting themselves or climbing out. We saw cloth, not chains. So our work began. We tidied up the place together, while the residents watched us curiously. Pn. Low, our Moral Studies teacher at the time, told me to bring my violin along to play songs for the residents. I was the only one from the whole of 4A and 4B to be allowed to go deeper in the buildings, a peek of the so-called "horror house". As I played I saw how these people reacted. There was one point where they led me to a section of the buildings that was locked with a strong grill door.

"These are one of those who have severe mental disabilities." I was told. And I saw how severe it was. They shook the bars of their cots, and screamed, quite unlike the docile ones who were not placed behind grill doors. The stench of urine was unbearable. These residents, if my memory served correctly, were all chained to their cots. But I suspected nothing, thinking they were somewhat well taken care of. I did not, however, see naked males who were tortured on the floor, as quoted by The Star.

We left the place with happy feelings in our hearts thinking that we had done something truly fulfilling that day. None of us were aware of the horrors they hid.

So when I saw the article on how horribly the residents were treated, how "tidak apa" the volunteers were, I was shocked. I didn't know what to think. And yet there I was feeling so thankful that day about having a good mind, body, spirit, etc. when clearly there was so much more going on there. I feel horrible for not noticing it all, especially when I was the only one allowed to go in deeper. How did it slip by?

For those of you who have not read the article, you may do so HERE. My heart goes out to the residents of Taman Sinar Harapan, I pray it will all turn out well for you. I'm so sorry I didn't notice anything amiss when I went there.


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