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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Zero-Nine Rewind

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Wow… we’re actually on the verge of welcoming another new year.

Goodbye 2009, image hosting by Photobucket 2009 seems to have whizzed by in a long flash. It seems like only 360-some yesterdays ago that Walski wrote his post to usher in the year. Time flies, as they say – although the passengers on the Air Asia flight to Gold Coast a few days ago might disagree.

And now, it’s almost another new year, in less than 6 hours time.

It’s been a rather slow blogging year for Walski, comparatively, including a few near-miss attempts to quit altogether. No point getting into the specifics of why – rest assured that he will definitely continue with myAsylum for a while yet.

But there were a few blog projects that Walski had kinda planned, but didn’t manage to pull off this year, due to time constraints, the key one being a new blog dedicated to the Hell on Earth News Network (HENN) . Same with the stalled comic series Kaca’s Eyes – of which Walski’s only managed to churn out two strips in ‘09 – the plan was a spin-off blog for Kaca and Dewilicious. It’s something Walski’s been thinking of doing for quite a while. Maybe next year.

So, how did 2009 pan out, all told? Well, to put it mildly, it’s been an interesting year. But a lot of it for all the wrong reasons… 
(a brief 2009 retrospective, and more, in the full post)

Walski won’t be so ambitious as to try to recap the entire last decade. Many others have already done that, and there really is no point reinventing the wheel – unless you’re a die-hard Islamist who wants to reinvent the Islamic this and Islamic that

But 2009 has been a busy year for the conservative Muslim demographic in our country. In February, an attempt to quell the voices of our more progressive sisters in Musawah (see also here) was in high gear. For the more conservative Malaysian muslims, the established status quo must be upheld, even if its defense is the flimsiest of threads. Particularly when it comes to women’s issues, as evidenced by the many attempts at trying to silence Sisters In Islam this past year, including the call by PAS to ban the NGO.

And then there’s all those activities to ban anything resembling music and fun for the masses. Even something as mundane as Michael Learns To Rock came under attack. And you wonder why so many music acts opt for Singapore, Bangkok, or even Jakarta?

Perhaps all of Malaysia’s conservatives should take a leaf from what’s currently happening in Iran (which started the June elections, and has never really stopped since), or the continued tyranny that ordinary Saudis face – a theocracy, as good as it sounds in theory, does not work. Let’s not even mention the utter chaotic mess that is Somalia.

Will this realization sink into some people’s heads? Walski certainly hopes so – but only time will tell. It’s useful to see how others have failed, if for nothing else, to not make the same blunders.

The growing conservatism aside, one thing that underlined 2009 for Walski was tragedy – both on a personal basis, and also the demise of a number of well-known personalities, both locally and abroad. Like Yasmin Ahmad, for instance – a gigantic loss to the Malaysian film industry. Or Farrah-Fawcett, and more recently Brittany Murphy. The world this year, however, mourned on a global scale when one Michael Joseph Jackson breathed his last.

But the most tragic, needless, shocking, and incomprehensible demise in 2009 will undoubtedly be the death of Teoh Beng Hock, who was found dead under very mysterious circumstances, on the rooftop of the podium block, below the Shah Alam MACC office. A big media circus, and two autopsies later, we are no closer to knowing whether his death was accidental, a suicide or whether he was murdered. Teoh’s death created all kinds of reactions from civil society, the press, and the government, so much so that Malaysiakini named him their Newsmaker of 2009.

Original image from Malaysiakini, hosting by Photobucket

Teoh's death has been linked to the attempted coup to overthrow the rightfully elected Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor, alleged in a mystery letter that emerged a couple of months following his death.

Which brings us to something we simply had too damned much of in 2009 – politics. It seems like the politicking running up to the March 8, 2008 elections simply refused to stop running a whole year and 10 months later. So bad did the politics get in 2009, Walski literally became quite fed up. There was, of course, the infamous Perak Power Tussle, in which BN maneuvered a take-over of the state government. This pretty much became the shit icing on an equally crappy political cake, whose foul taste was left in many peoples’ mouths throughout much of 2009.

Whether or not well see a reduction of extreme politicking in 2010 is left to be seen, but Walski certainly hopes so.

And because the Internet was credited as one of the key factors in getting Barrack Obama elected last year, everybody wanted in on the new media bandwagon, including a very unnecessary website for Rosmah Mansor, the PM’s other ¾’s (she’s large and needs more than ‘half’). Well, a quick check at the site moments ago has revealed that it still defaults to the lovely fuchsia, and is no different (or better) than when Walski first blogged about it in August. Oh, and still with the unlinked buttons and the ‘Others Link’ pull down.

But the Internet was perhaps one of the few pluses about 2009, in particular, this application called Twitter, which really became big this year. Walski will admit that he only got on the bandwagon this year, too, but since hopping on board, he hasn’t looked back. And he blames Twitter in part for the dearth of blogging this year.

The nice thing about Twitter is that it’s compact, easy to take along with you anywhere (literally), and you don’t have to think beyond 140 characters whenever you have something on your mind.

In any case, Twitter became the new source of instantaneous information, putting another dent into the viability of traditional media in the new millennium. So much so that today, even the traditional print and online press organizations have their compulsory presence on Twitter. It is through Twitter that the world kept up with the aftermath of the Iran Elections – the insurgency that keeps on giving, until even today. And it’s also through Twitter that the shocking news regarding the collapse, and later, untimely death of Yasmin Ahmad spread through cyberspace like wildfire.

2009 marks the year that Twitter really exploded onto the scene, big time, not just in Malaysia, but across the world. Makes blogging seem so 20th century. But putting one’s thoughts across 140 characters at a time does have its limitations, and so blogging is not about to die off any time soon. Which is more than Walski can say about the traditional media.

But 2009 wasn’t entirely about doom, gloom and politics – we had some really fantabulous films that were released this year. No thanks to the fear that that Walski may blow hard earned cash to watch a butchered film on the big screen (assuming it makes it to our shores in the first place), he didn’t get to watch a number of films release this year. And so, courtesy of YouTube, and the creative genius of one Kees van Dijkhuizen, here’s a mashup of the years films.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the debut album, “Pretty Hate Machine” by Nine Inch Nails, one of Walski’s all-time favorite music acts. And finally Walski got to see them live in concert in August. Not here in Malaysia, of course, but in neighboring Singapore, during the Asian leg of Trent Reznor’s (supposedly) last tour. Walski has to thank The Lord Panda for making the encounter possible.

Now, he’d wanted to do a proper post on the concert, but one thing led to another, and so Walski never got to doing anything else but the one that was supposed to only be an interim post.

2009 was also a strange year in many respects. Walski won’t elaborate much, but friend and fellow-blogger Pah Nur, in her year close out, has brilliantly put together some of the strangest news items published this year, from around the globe. And that, inevitably, includes a couple from Malaysia, as well.

Truth, as they say, is sometimes stranger than fiction… and the truth is that this post is starting to get really, really long.

And so, as we anxiously count the hours, and later, the minutes and second, towards a brand new year, there are a few Thank You’s that Walski feels he has to make.

First and foremost, to the blogging community, particularly the Malaysia sector of the bloggerhood, for making 2009 an interesting year. And that means ALL of you bloggers out there, even the unscrupulous hyper-political ones, and the fervent & foaming at the mouth Islamist ones. 2009 wouldn’t have been the same without you. So thanks. Really.

Special mention, and thanks, however, need to go out to a couple of bloggers – Art Harun, in particular, for being the voice of reason in a sometimes unreasonable Malaysia. Marina M., is another blogger Walski wishes to thank, for her support for, and occasional linkage, to myAsylum – especially for her being so kind as to host the current ISA poll on her blog.

But most of all, 2009 would not have been the same if it were not for one very important person in Walski’s life – Mrs. Walski. Thanks, my dear, for being there, and for keeping Walski on an even keel. It would have been the real asylum for him, if it weren’t for the truly unconditional love of this one truly special person. It takes a lot to put up with Walski – he knows that, and for being there, thank you.

And so, as 2009 draws to a close, Walski wishes one and all a very Happy New Year. Don’t forget tonight’s partial eclipse of the Moon, 2010’s first wonderful gift to us all. Walski hopes that it’s not so partial that we don’t get to see squat.

Happy 2010 people…. see ya’ll next year!

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