Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Underage Sex Trade


The United States’ annual Trafficking of Persons report in June this year had downgraded Malaysia to Tier 3 for its lack of progress in fighting human trafficking. It seems that there were grounds that forced labor and sex trafficking thrive in Malaysia. 

And now, there is another damning piece of evidence against Malaysia in a video documentary on the underage sex trade in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. 

The video, now on YouTube and titled "Trapped – The underage sex trade in Malaysia", is the result of two years of research by journalists Mahi Ramakrishnan and Rian Maelzer.

"It took me a long time to develop friendships with brothel owners and get them to allow me to speak to their people. Finding these children who worked as sex workers was one of the biggest challenges I had to face," Mahi explained. 

"I would go every day and spend time at these places, talking to them from about 11 PM to the wee hours of the morning." 

Another challenge Mahi had to deal with while researching the subject was to face her own fears. "I was scared, really scared. I wasn't sure how deeply embedded the child sex trade was in Malaysia with all the syndicates and triads," she admitted. 

"I have two daughters myself. And it was difficult for me to come to terms that I was doing this story, as I could not help but imagine what if it had been my daughter in that position." 

The 22-minute video was released on YouTube on September 12, 2014 and it has so far received 261,318 views. The video features interviews with the police, child activists and psychologists and three sex workers who are underaged but seasoned in their trade. Two of them tell Mahi that they do it for the money while the other revealed that she had been tricked into prostitution after reaching Malaysia. 

Some Malaysians may be shocked but I am not too surprised. Just walk along Bukit Bintang and Chow Kit and if you look closely, you will see a parallel world of smut, sleaze and sinfulness. Welcome to Kuala Lumpur!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hong Kong Flares Up

Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Picture: AFP/Getty

Picture: AP

Picture: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Picture: Bloomberg

Picture: AFP/Getty

Picture: Reuters

Picture: AFP/Getty

Protests flared on September 26, 2014 and they have mushroomed into the biggest demonstrations to take place in Hong Kong under Chinese rule.
All because of an argument: How the next Chief Executive election is going to unfold in 2017. China may have conceded that there will be one person, one vote – but Beijing put out a plan under which it would effectively control which candidates would be allowed to stand.

And Hong Kong citizens became all riled up.

Toyota’s Wakudoki Dance

Japan is a prolific producer of creative or more correctly, quirky ads. Toyota’s ad campaign is no different.
The automotive behemoth is promoting its “Wakudoki” dance contest with two wacky yet absolutely fun video clips which could possibly spark a new dance craze.
In the first clip of Toyota’s first digitally-led campaign, you see businessmen in the middle of a tropical jungle doing a synchronised dance with tribesmen and a gorilla. TIME deemed the clip ‘The Most Delightful Two Minutes of Your Day’, and it’s not hard to see why.

It definitely got viewers hitting the replay and share buttons – uploaded on July 13, 2014 – the clip has garnered more than 1.5 million views to date.
The second instalment that followed is a beach-themed clip, which features the same businessmen – with swim caps this time – and, you guessed it, lots of girls in bikinis

This was uploaded on August 24, and so far, it’s got over 600,000 views.
The two clips are in line with Toyota’s “wakudoki” theme, which boasts sleeker, sexier and more exciting styling as the carmaker sets its sights on younger buyers.
Just what is wakudoki? Well, apparently it’s a portmanteau of “waku-waku” – Japanese for that rush you get you’re feeling excited – and “doki-doki” which is a Japanese onomatopoeic word for heartbeat. Basically, it’s an exciting adrenaline rush, which we’d say translated pretty well into the two offbeat clips it has produced.
So here’s the deal: Toyota is offering a host of prizes including a flight for two to Tokyo!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala

As a lover of Indian cuisine, I am delighted that chicken tikka masala (left) has topped the chart of UK’s favorite dish for over a decade. Now it seems that the reign of this particular dish – popular in Indian restaurants – is over. It dropped to fourteenth place in the latest YouGov survey marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of BBC’s ‘Good Food’ show.

The Sunday roast, a traditional British lunch time treat, came out as No. 1 after being voted by 43 percent of Brits as their ultimate comfort food followed by the classic steak and chips at 35 percent. 

Another English tea-time favorite, scones with jam and cream, and apple crumble came in at third and fourth place in the poll. 

Pizza, classic lasagne and spaghetti bolognese were also more popular. And chocolate brownie, strawberry cheesecake and Victoria sponge completed the top 10 list. 

I don’t care if chicken tikka masala is no longer that popular. As far as I am concerned, I shall always be in love with Indian curries! 

Yesterday, I was at Level 6 in Uptown 1 in Damansara Utama to attend the Phoenix Toastmasters meeting which also served as a demo meeting for staffers of Persistent Systems Malaysia Sdn Bhd. 

I was an Evaluator for a Phoenix Toastmaster who delivered her CC speech #4 and I was among a triumvirate of talented DTMs (Distinguished Toastmasters). Toastmasters will surely know that Johnson Yik and Robert Ram are formidable evaluators. And it gave me a measure of some satisfaction that I was voted Best Evaluator. A good meeting overall and my only complaint is the poor time management. 

Movie Posters

I grew up on super-heroes and other comic book characters and I thought it would be a good idea to feature some of my favorite posters – I picked these twelve:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Catalonia Wants To Follow Scotland

Spain's government have asked the country's constitutional court to declare Catalonia's planned independence referendum illegal. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the proposed vote was not "compatible with the Spanish constitution". 

The president of the Spanish region of Catalonia, Artur Mas signed a decree on Saturday calling for a Scottish-style vote on November 09, 2014, but does not have the backing of the central government in Madrid. 

On September 19, Catalonian lawmakers voted by a margin of 106 to 28 in favor of authorizing the referendum, known locally as a "consultation". 

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans held demonstrations in Barcelona demanding their right to vote. Unhappy at Spain's repeated refusal to give Catalans more powers, protesters have been energized by Scotland's independence referendum, and many also waved the Scottish flag. 

The question now will be on how far the Spanish government are prepared to go in order to stop the referendum. 

D'Utama's Hoo Sze Ling took a selfie before she went on stage to deliver her winning speech at the Area D4 Humorous Speech contest. Her speech title was ‘Selfies’.

And she inspired the audience including me to take selfies and these four were my "best" shots on Saturday: 

We were at Menara Gamuda in Jalan PJU 8/8A, Damansara Perdana in Petaling Jaya for the Joint Area D2 & D4 Humorous Speech & Evaluation Contests. 

Like her, I also took part in the Humorous Speech Contest only. I was representing Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club and my task was to be the Champion for Area D2. And I presented a different speech from the one that I had delivered at the club contest. Thankfully, I won.