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Friday, December 21, 2007

Migration

This blog has moved. Drop me an email.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hiatus and Clarifications


I’m back from my working holiday and about to take another hiatus. Since recent events have suddenly made my statements/opinions/even me myself controversial, I feel I need to clarify some things first.

With regards to the use of the word apartheid: to me, any race based political system that significantly disenfranchises and divides is apartheid. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is analogous to South African apartheid. I have chosen to use this word in a few circumstances, and as a journalist friend says, most of the controversy boils down to semantics. That others may disagree on its definition (this is similar to the lawyer P Uthayakumar’s use of the term “ethnic cleansing”, as said friend also pointed out) is a given. To me, however, it seems an appropriate word, with a margin for writerly hyperbole.

Which brings me to the next point: never have I claimed to represent anyone but myself and my own observations. I am not an activist for race issues in Malaysia. Neither am I an expert on politics, race theory or law. I am not affiliated to any group. I am a writer with a blog, and that is all. I happen to blog about whatever strikes my fancy. I may be serious on some days, irreverent on others. I do not even regard the writing on my blog as journalism, unless I happen to post articles I have written for publications (I don't post most of these). I have written about race throughout the time I’ve been blogging (even back when I had a blog that was only known to friends), because it is something that I feel strongly about, and that this caught the eye of certain members of the press, giving rise to certain coverage in the press, is a matter of chance. I could just as easily have been interviewed because of some new development in feminism, poetry, fashion, India or Sri Lanka. And believe me, if I had a choice, I would have rather been. On that point, please note that I have not given any direct interviews to the Tamil press, although it has come to my attention that there have been articles quoting or mentioning me in them.

My blog is my space, not a forum. It is my prerogative to moderate comments through, or not. I have switched off anonymous comments because here’s the difference between you (you know who you are) and me: I put myself out there, and you hide behind namelessness and shifting IP addresses. If you can’t be bothered to read a post properly before leaving a comment which accuses me of the exact opposite of a statement I’ve made, are hateful or make inappropriate personal attacks I may choose to not spend my energy on responding to your comment. Oh, and just because you read my blog doesn’t mean you know me. Just because you went to college or kindergarten with me doesn’t mean you know me. Just because I’m friends with your ex doesn’t mean you know me. Just because you’ve sat next to me on a plane or a train doesn’t mean you know me. Just because you’re related to me doesn’t mean you know me.

I have still not looked at the actual reports or what other blogs are saying, read the comments on the blogs I do frequent, or even looked at the many comments left here. But I am aware, from what I’ve been told, that a great deal of viciousness toward me seems to be out there at the moment. If I bother you so much, ignore me. It’s only if you keep attacking or talking about me that other people will hear about me.

Someone well-meaning asked me last week if it had been worth it, being open about my thoughts and opinions. Well, it has caused me stress and garnered me insult. It has even made me cry. Perhaps it was naïve of me to think that I could speak up about something which disturbed me and not get attacked, get turned into a spokesperson, or otherwise have lost focus, my own and others’, on what this blog is actually about. Or who and what I am (and I mean it, you probably don't know me). Perhaps it was naïve of me to think I was doing the right thing, when it came at this personal cost.

I am reminded of how from my mid-teens till less than two years ago, I was heavily involved with activism of various sorts, working for, volunteering with, or organizing events to raise funds for NGOs. All of that commitment to making a difference died away with the slow, painful realization that even those who seemed to share a vision could have their own agendas. And that ideologies do not make people, and maybe the value of any ideology goes only so far as the people who champion it. It was at this point that I decided to stick to writing as a means of affecting change..

I am taking some time off to think about this sudden notoriety. I guess I have to accept that my blog and I have come to the point where every word could be dissected, which changes how I feel about blogging completely. I started blogging because it was fun and empowering and because, well, I couldn’t afford a website.

Will I blog about Malaysia again? No. Will I go look at the reports and the slander and the actual debates that are lost somewhere in them? No. I have heard enough to know that I should not respond further than this at this point. I have also heard enough to know that silence may be the best self-defense in some cases.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Not In My Own Words

I am only slightly aware of the fact that I am suddenly in the midst of an international ruckus. I have not looked up the reports, but friends' phone calls told me of what is going on.

I don't have much to say and am not going to respond for the time being. However, please note this: the article that, from my understanding, has caused problems was not in my own words. The actual interview that took place is here. Yes, DNA India did sensationalize things and extrapolate from what was said in my interview based on other blog posts or general assumption. Anyone who has read my actual writing should know that my style is not in accord with what DNA India published. An article that I wrote on the issue for The New Indian Express is here.

I have not looked at the many comments left yet, and will not as such be moderating them through for a few days.

Updated (Dec 10): To be fair, I would like to clarify that I approved via email the article that Venkatesan Vembu wrote based on the interview he conducted with me. This was my mistake, and done in what was probably a naive moment, as I was concerned for Vembu's deadline and word limit -- that was the journalist in me forgetting the interviewee in me. I stand by my words in the transcript, but have had to disassociate myself from the article in the form it was published in light of recent events.