Friday, April 19, 2013

The 5 Foibles Committed at the Bersih-Organised Political Debate between Najib vs Anwar. A body and mind observation.

The Teacher in me

UPDATED 23 April.

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There are times to be brilliant, but there are also times to dim the lights and let others shine. Whenever I attend a political rally, be it for Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional, my entry into these type of events would usually be very low-key for I try to blend in with the crowd wearing very normal clothing - it camouflages my appearance. I feel like a chameleon-like undercover double agent for the benefit of my readers here. Soon, the bustling atmosphere of the event slowly gets to me and I find myself systematically splitting into 3 parts.  BEST ACTOR like myself relish the enjoyment of noticing the tiny little foibles or grand gestures concocted by political leaders to illicit a response from the crowd. As a ACTING COACH cum TEACHER, I could be extremely compassionate to these political leaders and understood how they could arrive where they are right now - some in disarray or some in extreme pride. But as a TRAGIC and CYNICAL rakyat , I could turn out to be mercilessly critical of the way our political leaders conduct themselves in the public. So which should I pick? The Artiste in me who enjoys studying politicians, the Teacher who wished the mistakes made by them could be avoided or the rowdy Cynic who keeps on harping on their negativities in the public eye? The wonderful and unique aspect of being an Artiste like me is I enjoyed embodying all these 3 types while witnessing a political rally at the same time! It enflames that part of my brain circuits that borders on pleasure and ecstasy. Let us begin examining the little foibles committed by our Malaysian politicians, not with a judgement stance but an open mind.

The Best Actor in me
Shake Hands and Mean It
The only parts of the body you could easily touch a politician without seemingly sexual is the hands. I shook Mahathir's hands before. Now also Anwar's. Referring back to the political debate organised by Bersih 2.0, I managed to very quickly shook Anwar's hands. My first impression of his hands are - it's surprisingly bony, partially devoid of the flesh of a strong handshake. The teacher in me understood that the speaking engagements must be punishing to him, dealing with all the slanders against him and age must have an impact on him, being in his late 60s now and looked thinner compares to Najib's more rotund shape. But the Cynic in me noticed that while he was shaking the crowds' hands, he was looking the other way waving. The rounds of handshakes were totally impersonal, meaningless and just a way to get through the boisterous crowd. The venue of the Bersih organised debate was held at the Selangor KL Chinese Association Hall, the same place where I, too, received such an attention and limelight before Anwar (but abeit a different profession. We both also shared the same hometown too - Penang). As a supporter, I demanded my handshakes well, and firm. But it's understandable that he could be tired from his hectic schedule and unaware of his handshakes.

The Tragic in me
Better Control of Expressions
As an Actor, often times I am commended by how well I could hold onto a particular set of expressions long enough when the Director needs to cut or change his film on set location. It's not a lie, it's not an "act" per se, it's real for it to be in order to last that long. So I put this experience of mine as a lense to see through how our local political leaders fare. When I first entered the hall, I noticed Ambiga (the founder of Bersih) scurrying around at the front rows, holding onto a look of worry and frustration (where the centre of her face is all scrunched inside). The Teacher in me understood that she must be worrying whether caretaker PM Najib would appear for the debate or not, and a thousand other minute details in organising a rally such  as this debate. It's really hard work and stressful being in her shoes, but herein lies her "biggest mistake". Her expressions of worry were displayed right at the front rows of a growing crowd! Some people would sympathise with her, but I'm sure many would wonder why. If you're a Cynic, you would take it as a sign of weakness.

Unaware of Body Language
So I sat my quiet tight ass down onto the front rows of the seat (unknowingly right opposite Anwar, even before he arrives with his bodyguards), so I could really see all these politicians' "flaws". Then came in Rafizi Ramli, the guy who publicly reveals all the alleged corruption of Raja Ropiaah's billion ringgit scandal? One big expose in Malaysia, and? I supposed fame do get into the head of actors and politicians alike, and Rafizi's chub-ish body language at that time were too vulnerable to the point of carelessly bordering into "cockiness" due to him being more horizontal? In comparison with Najib's more vertical shape due to his tall height, many would be tricked into thinking he is the more authoritative and trust-worthy one. Self-confidence is fine, but over confidence might mislead the public into thinking otherwise. The Cynic in me would be dumbfounded by display of celebrity-like persona for it appears as if these politicians have already accomplished something already, where else the polling day is still weeks away and the results are still anyone's guess. The Teacher in me understood that naturally the public wants to "thank" Rafizi for his bravery in revealing all the corruptions happening in Malaysia, it's fine to be adulated. But the Actor in me understands too well the human nature of politicians and human selfishness. My caution to Rafizi as a fellow peer - do not get too caught up with the public attention.

Articulation of Speech
I love listening to a good speaker. I don't like talking much, for I learned more when I listened. Upwards onto the stage were Anwar Ibrahim. When he reached the platform, he stood up straight and gave a quick bow to the audience. Now the Actor in me complimented his momentary stance of honoring the audience in a "gentlemanly manner". But the Cynic in me cautioned me of his gestures for it gave him the illusion of an Actor disguised as a Politician - wolves in sheeps' clothing? The Teacher in me awakens to judge him on the content of his speech instead of his outward gestures. It started off with him disregarding the media's accusations of his manifesto being "populist" for he rationalises that it is not wrong to be populist to think for the rakyat's well-being. His articulation throughout was English, and some words were hard for me to comprehend whenever he refers to some foreign authors and their literature - this gave him an air of intellect but unfortunately lacking in clarity and conciseness. An intellect are often an easy target for the bullying public and thugs. Often times intellects are mistaken as gays by the uneducated and unthinking fools in Malaysia, even though most who are rationale enough finds the sexuality aspect as redundant.

Gutter politics invading my mailbox! Help!
A person's sexuality has nothing to do with that person's work abilities. This point I also sympathised with Anwar. His flow of speech surprises me when he switched from English into the BM language, during at this point out came the clarion call for the rakyat - first by complimenting us for being not dumb to fall for Barisan Nasional's manifesto and lies. At times, I could feel his tone rising, trying to get a cheer or expecting  the crowd's uproar, but it weren't so due to perhaps the audience profile which comprises mostly Chinese educated and were there just to support him mainly for NOT being Barisan Nasional, the giant evil that soon to be brought down. The Teacher in me truly sympathises with this man Anwar until the Cynic in me lessens due to his fight against the injustices, but the Actor in me cautions that could this all be only a strategy to fulfill his ambition to become the PM? The public still respects him, largely due to their own emotional state of anger towards BN's totalitarian control of the country that makes living, especially for the lower-income Chinese extremely difficult.

Lack of Genuinity
To be genuine is very hard. To be true and genuine comes from a deep place of past experience - bitter and sweet. I remembered when I try to be genuine to someone and often times ended with a broken heart. It truly left me devastated and scarred for life. The point being it's risky, so one would resort to covering up. In order for any message to come across, both sides  - the politician/actor and the audience must find a point of connection. For Pakatan Rakyat - they want to fight against corruption and monopolisation of the select individuals. For Barisan Nasional, they want to continue to develop using the rakyat's money. Of course, I am over-simplifying here, but you have to read both their manifestos to see how one uses money to solve problems while the other uses the brain instead. The Teacher in me is somewhat uncomfortable with the crowd that night, for most were very emotional and some spoke out quite senselessly. This is largely due to the poor education system, lies that were told and the regime-like control of the country that makes a lot of people unhappy and fell victim including myself. It also have to do with how well a person perceives a receptor in all forms. Like me, when I was in my 20s, I really have no clue when a girl goes all her way to make me like or fall for her.

War of the minds with Najib in absentia
 It's a matter of age, maturity and perception. It also falls on the part of the politicians to make the effort be genuine, despite how the crowd may seem like. I could vouch that some of the audience that night really do listens and want to know more about the arguments between Anwar and Najib, besides some more emotional types. I'm sure Anwar, Ambiga and Rafizi are all smart fellows, but how far would it convince a voter like me to trust them? They would have been smart enough to hire a coach or teacher to help them avoid these foibles in the first place. This goes also to Barisan Nasional. Personally for me, the odds are favouring PR due to how they place the importance of human rights, justice and fairness above economic policies. But you never know until the election results. It's always the little things that would determine the political party either a victory or a loss at the very last minute.

War of the flags
Important disclaimer: What I'm listing here are merely the outward cosmetics of the politicians, and does not mean I endorse either political parties. It also does not mean the examples I've listed should portray that politician in any negative way, but merely as an observer cum impartial supporter to instil a more conscious effort on the part of politicians to be aware of their physical interactions with the public.

So at the end of the political debate with caretaker PM Najib in absentia, I slowly gathered the 3 pieces of me - the Actor, the Teacher and the Cynic back into myself - so I could make an informed decision to vote. You can consider those 3 types as my pinch of salt against all the political ceramahs and brouhaha. They served as filters for me to judge which political party is the "lesser evil". BN have plenty of money but is it enough to promise a better future when racism, cronyism, corruption, enslaving employment market, escalating prices and stagnant salaries are left for the rakyat? PKR stresses on human rights, demolishing of monopolies, abolishing corruption and democratisation of all sectors, but would it truly delivers? Hopefully, this article would help you too in the upcoming elections. Brilliant people like me are impatient for the real results to come for I could foresee the future already, despite these foibles committed.

It's sad that Barisan Nasional committed these mistakes:
1) Raising prices by imposing taxes on goods, services and even my house! My house monthly maintenance fees increased 30%!
2) Caretaker PM Najib refuses to debate - shows he has much to fear?
3) Media is so controlled by BN, that acting jobs are scarce for non-Malays who spoke and read the national language well. This is racism.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In praise of games because they really show you the real world. A first-time voter's self guide.


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A lot of people asked me how I would describe the experience in my Artiste Training coaching is like. Simply put, it's like a game app in your smartphone and tablet. Fun. Addictive. And very, very much like in real life. Fun because our brains are wired for pleasure, and fun is one of it, besides food, music and sex. Addictive because my coaching empowers the individual. My coaching enables you
1) to become the artiste you want just enough, without disabling you to become complacent. 2) This coaching is to nurture the individual in you first, untainted by the media, political influences or traditional pullback, so you are able to distinguish what's good or bad and take responsibility in building your artistic career. 3) Among the more interesting subjects covered are: Atituding, The Science of Popularity, SAE Control, Soft Skills and Artiste Skills.

My students age 8 and 11
Finally, the Parliament is dissolved, and elections shall be called in the next 60 days. Imagine all of us having dignity and self-pride of being our true selves without hiding. Imagine all policies and laws are directed to uplift our individuality and freedom of choice. Imagine all our choices in the voting ballot have real impact on the administration of our country. Imagine you and I are able to walk together hand-in-hand without being judged by your race, sexuality and background. Imagine that you are rewarded for your hard work, skills and patience and not by your race, qualifications and whom you're connected to. Unfortunately, this is all still imagination. Since I'm being branded as Chinese in my country (though in truth, I don't see myself defined by such low form of denominator, and see myself as first-class citizen of my country), I began to have the insight of how specifically the regular Chinese male's mentality make-up by taking a step back to reflect on my brothers.

The Chinese male in general suffers an extreme low self-esteem. A majority of them succumbs to submission to authority and fear. Personally for me, I experienced first hand how the individuality value is reduced since teenager in the public school system right up to the employment when the teacher divides us into groups and when I'm applying for loans - have to check the box of bumiputra or non-bumiputra. The worst part is even my family members does nothing to uphold the value of the individual and succumb to their own perceived enslavement and victimhood mentality. Blame it on the government and it's policies for enabling the few? Or is it that our Asian culture is inherent with its master and slavery framework which perpetuates itself subconsciously in our everyday life, and makes us compromise to substandard recognition accorded to the Chinese minority by this country? Place a Chinese and Indian together, and you'll see the stereotype attitude began to manifest. It's how the simple is made complicated and look opaque. This complication, thus, created a generation of "psychotic" Chinese young men who chase or pretends to be successful by keeping up with the Joneses and belittling others. As I delved deeper into the roots of this inferiority complex, soon I see it affects everyone including the Malays and Indians too. This complexity stems from everyone's fears and the need to hide.

My students from every colour
of the rainbow.
Malaysians have so much they wanted to hide. I believe it is due to our country's regime-like administration. Regime means control. Regime defines, divides and punishes its people. Regime divides its people so they become weak. Regime defines its people so they become stuck in their limitations. Regime punishes to keep its people in fear and in order to conform to a set of enslaving social order. Regime is an order and follow process, akin to "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours". No wonder Malaysians hide. Corruption is not confined only within the corridors of the government in power, but is at work even in the perceived comfort of the family home. Relatives who come to pretend to offer help, but is actually hiding their malice of getting something in return. Promises are made for the future, yet the present is often hidden from attention until one fine day when you awake to discover you're already in your 30s or 40s and things remain the same as it was a decade or two ago. Our country is made ever more opaque when corporations and companies are created using public funds to hide the incompetence to self-generate wealth but instead to self-enrich the few degenerate individual not based on their effort but more on their corrupted practices. People often say why the law does not punish the rich and powerful, when they themselves are the very lawmakers whom are elected by the people.

Yes, I am afraid. Fearful of my life, my future to be reduced to begging. It was in the darkness, that I was approached by this old man asking me for money on the street and I have to quicken my steps to walk faster to avoid his approach. It's not that I don't want to help him, but I couldn't. What scares me most is how gentle and good his English was when he whispered to me through his soft-spoken voice. This old man serves as a reminder of whom I might become in the future - begging for strangers for money in the street. If you had not realised already, the Chinese minority are actually in limbo - neither here or there. If you're an actor being branded as Chinese like I do, you are made not to feel like you belong. It's extremely clever how the government centralised all their major projects onto themelves so all other companies and corporations have to stop hiring when the government stop awarding projects. For the folk on the street, you are bombarded by the media and movie posters that feature talents that looks just like you and me but are given the attention only due to the race and religion. Yes, we are conditioned to become beggars and be submissive. Only fear will motivate us, not true talent. Lies and slander becomes our belief and motivation due to our own inherent weakness to extremities. In the upcoming elections as a first-time voter, I feel it is time for me for I have become wiser. Wiser in terms of
1) Separate myself from emotion triggers like race, religion and money.
2) Get both views and not believe in just one
3) Be aware of lies and slander ( happens to artistes and politicians alike)
4) Accentuate my Individuality first
5) Use my Head, not my Heart
6) Trust no one

It's like the games I play on my tablet. This day and age, I don't watch the local television, read the local newspapers, Facebook or listen to radio. Partly because I do not want to waste my limited resources and the other part is because my attention is precious. What you give your attention to becomes your reality. So what do I do with my free time? Play games on my 7.7 inch Samsung tablet, of course! Do you know Samsung stores no longer carry that tablet anymore and deemed obsolete? I'm proud that I owned the world's largest Super Amoled screen, and was the first user to purchase it when it first arrived in Malaysia. Playing games on a 7.7inch device is still best, because imagine using your wrist on a light device it's such ease compared to a 10 inch screen. Of course, I also used it to make calls (I don't care what those fools think about using a large device as phone) Games app are simply easier and better played on a 7.7 inch device. It's also amazing what games like Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride can show us what it's like in real life.

Your Enemies Are Real
I remembered when I first started dreaming of becoming an Actor, and all sorts of people would come and belittle my dream, even when I was a kid. When I grow older and become a teacher, I realised all those people who belittled me before now can kick themselves since I'm being acknowledged as Best Actor. Enemies are real in this world of ours. They can be seen and also invisible. When I coached my student, often times they are their own worst enemies because of their self-defeatist attitude. A lot of Malaysians especially those in the city, are an arrogant bunch. They thought they have "made it" after starring in one silly movie or a commercial, and made themselves feel the whole world owed them their ingratiation. I remembered when I first started out as an actor, my enemies are indeed everywhere. The racial divide. The stereotype I have to endure, and personify on screen. The crooks and sub-quality writers, producers and directors. These are all real "enemies" an artiste have to face. Much like a game of Jetpack Joyride, where you're riding on your jetpack, and constantly try to maneuver those unexpected obstacles.

My team chilling
Life is Short
This can serve as a comfort to some or a wake-up call to many! Whenever I play Jetpack Joyride (which is my current favourite game), I know sometime along the way, I would get electrocuted or sliced in half by those laser beams. It certainly made me realise to simply enjoy the ride and not take things too seriously. People can say whatever they want, but it's up to you how to respond. Which leaves us to my next point:

Your Focus is Now
A lot of our media forced us to think about how great and glorious were the past. I have encountered arrogant bosses who balked about their past victories and glories, as if we owed it to them to worship their "greatness" (or more like their stupidity). The greatest trap for us is to fall into the mindset about the past, and forget about your present. Here's what games best taught us is that we have to always remain focus at the moment to play, like in Temple Run, you need to anticipate what twists and turns to encounter so you won't fall or get burnt to a crisp. Games are really fascinating in that way it helps us to focus on the now.

It's not always about the rewards
If you were to follow the coin trails of Jetpack Joyride, often times it would lead you to the laser beams or in the target of some missles. Here's a lesson we can all learn - it's not always about the rewards. Some people revered in the joy of just being alive and able to breathe. Some artistes don't care about fame or constantly to be in the media spotlight, but just want to act in quality roles. It's not always about the money. Some people learn because they want to open their minds to new frontiers when they join my coaching. And most importantly, for me, it's all about the Journey. And how you travel. Read about my past students' TOP TEN success stories here:
1) Coaching You to Success
2) Full Attendance
3) Fashion Students Showcase
4) Bigger Class
5) Taking Students on Roadshows
6) International Students
7) Student on Magazine Cover
8) Student Casting Session for Real Jobs
9) Students Photo Shoot
10) Students Performing for Event