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Is it cold in the Presidio?

Weather forecasts say it is. It's going to be an orange top and possibly black sweater day. I had hoped to put breakfast together this morning, but the most I could do was sit down with a cup of tea and read the overnight reports.

The government said they wouldn't shut down public transport services, but at least three LRT stations were temporarily frozen to keep people out of meeting points.

I'm reading names and places in downtown Kuala Lumpur where I spent most of my time in high school and college. I walked and breathed and ate there almost every day. Hearing about the 10,000 people in front of KLCC who got hit with tear gas and water cannons, and the few thousand more between Pudu and Central Market is painful.

My parents called that morning. They are okay. Mostly disgruntled at the social disorder stopping honest tourists, businesses and locals from their Saturday shopping.

Dad was frankly more excited about the large crowd assembled outside the Apple store downtown waiting for the monthly shipment of iPad 2s.

The most prevalent thing that I'm reading and taking heart in was that the crowd at this year's Bersih was more multiracial than the one in 2007. I think the opposition parties stepping away from the steering committee helped. We're not all Pakatan Rakyat supporters, and the co-opting is deeply repellent. Some of the earliest protesters to arrive and the latest to leave were also some of the most elderly citizens, people anywhere from my father's age to my grandfather's. These are people who were probably young when our country gained independence, who are part of our records of change in the last 50 years. And if A. Samad Said can walk barefoot for 8km in the rain like a very crumpled, dignified Gandalf, I can walk halfway up the Golden Gate Bridge.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
What can my company do to help? We have a large factory in Kulim, and smaller sites elsewhere. We could have our director complain to the government about interference with the free movement of our employees impacting production, although since we have no factories in KL itself they might not take it too seriously.
Jul. 9th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC)
I'm friends with the director of HR - would it help to send an e-mail to all Malyasian managers reminding that our company prohibits discrimination on the grounds of political opinion?
Jul. 13th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks for offering. I may have said this before, but the best thing any global corporation can do if it has a branch in Malaysia is to practice the same global standards of employee administration and values as it would at any other branch of its company.

Exposure to global (in this case corporate) values are one of the best ways that I think Malaysians become exposed to concepts of tolerance and free speech. So if your company prohibits discrimination on the grounds of political opinion, for example, that is good enough. There's no need for extra enforcement or memos or anything beyond your company's regular administrative practice.

It's kind of like, if you work in a place that has clear policies against gender discrimination (ones for which employees are informed and channels of communication are clear), then the chances are, you'll either adapt to the situation or leave -- giving someone else a chance to work in that freer environment.

Likewise, making an example of employees may well just put them in harm's way. Remember, the Malaysian government has actually detained people for fairly benign shows of opinion thus far.
Jul. 13th, 2011 11:55 pm (UTC)

On a related topic, I am working on a company-wide project to have clear, understandable, accessible manufacturing documentation that will help our workers perform at their full potential. This will replace the archaic, confusing, and frequently misused/abused mishmash of instructions that has traditionally infested our factories.

Would it be inappropriate if I code-named this documentation clean-up effort "Project Bersih"? Or would it give subtle support to our co-workers in Kulim?
Jul. 14th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
Actually, that would more likely cause your company to get into trouble with the authorities. People related to that project could very well be unnecessarily hurt, as Bersih itself is still an illegal organisation.

So, no, I wouldn't advise that!
Jul. 14th, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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