Friday, September 21, 2007

Human Rights Focus: Spotlight on Women and Gay Rights

This is my new post series on human rights issues and abuses around the world.

This post starts with a look at child sexual slavery in Cambodia before proceeding to the status of gay lives in the Islamic Republic of Iran and finally to the Women's Rights Movement in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I hope it will prove just as thought-provoking for my readers as it has for me.

Sex Slavery in Cambodia:

This is so sad, heartbreaking:(

Gay Lives in Iran:

This really shocked as a gay person in Iran is like living in Nazi Germany or Wartime have to live in fear all the time of being arrested or being executed for merely being yourself is really a very stifling and sad existence...:(

Women's Rights in Iran:

I pity Iranian can conservative Muslims continue to insist on the existence of equality for women in their concept of Islam when Muslim women themselves don't feel equal??

A reminder for those of us whom live in relatively freer and wealthier societies what life is like for other fellow human beings and that we should cherish our 'priviledges', as indeed some of us are indeed living a life of 'priviledge' without even realising or appreciating this fact.

One Year in Sydney....

Its been a year since moving to Sydney and time has really flown by....sigh.....I am now thoroughly used to Sydney life and have already fit into the routine of daily life here....

Well, about how i rate Sydney as compared to Melbourne....i guess they are different...
I expected Sydney to be pretty much the same as Melbourne but there are actually quite alot of differences. Its much more cosmopolitan in Sydney i feel... i see more different races.....the Thai population is definitely more visible here and there are tons of Thai students and people in the CBD whereas you don't really see that many Thais in Melbourne...there is even a 'Thai Town' in the CBD where alot of Thai people congregate as there are alot of Thai groceries there and Thai video entertainment rentals which is not found in Melbourne. In fact, I hardly saw any Thai groceries in my entire 6 plus years there and hardly saw any Thai rental stores in the CBD....or maybe they are in the suburbs....on the other hand, the Vietnamese community is smaller in Sydney than Melbourne...i mean Melbourne has alot of Vietnamese suburbs such as Victoria St or Richmond but i think Sydney only has one in Cabramatta.....

There are also more Koreans in Sydney as opposed to Melbourne....there is like 'Koreatown' here both in the city (the city area is teeming with Koreans!!) and in Strathfield which seriously looks like a suburb of South Korea...and the Indonesians have 'Indo Town' as well in Kingsford....all these are not present in Melbourne (to my knowledge)...i don't think there is any particular suburb with a strong enough presence of the above two nationalities to constitute a 'town'...although there are alot of Indonesians and Koreans in Melbourne as well!!! There just doesn't seem to be a particular area where they have congregated to form a 'Indo' or 'Korean' Town. I however haven't found a nice Indonesian restaurant yet ( i am going to Kingsford so maybe i will find one there perhaps!!) unlike my fav one in Melbourne on Swanston sad...haha...

Sydney weather is also hotter which is something I miss about Melbourne cos i love the cold....Melbourne also has a much cosier and warmer feeling compared to Sydney and so I miss that too...I miss Collins Street and its Parisian feeling especially on cold winter nights where the entire street just simply looks stunning....I also miss places like Southbank which is quiet and has this nice feel to it, a nice place to live in....

However, what I love about Sydney is the Asian food as there is much more variety and better in choice than Melbourne Asian food....i had authentic Japanese ramen here which is available at Ramenkan which isn't found anywhere in Melbourne....the ramen in Melbourne is not authentic and many of the Sydney ones aren't also like Ichiban Boshi or Wagamama (the ramen there SUCKS...i have like NO idea why its so popular with the Australians...its an international chain too!!) ..however many people like the unauthentic ones so i guess its a difference in taste preferences but the one at Ramenkan is like the ONLY place which serves ramen like it is in Japan...oh yeah and Menya serves authentic ramen too...but i prefer ramenkan much more as the soup stock is superior...
Also, i just discovered that Sydney has the nice suburb of Potts Point which is a nice place to live at just like Southbank....and it has Westfield Bondi Junction which is like the nicest shopping mall in Sydney and the equivalent of Chadstone in Melbourne....the view across the Bridge and Sydney cityscape from the foodcourt is amazing and a must-see for all people visiting Sydney...i mean you pay foodcourt prize for a high-end view....the foodcourt's interior is modernly designed in the style of the 'Foodloft' chain of foodcourts in Asia....

There is also Kings Cross and Oxford Street in Sydney which is absent in Melbourne catering for people whom swing either way.....there are much more visibly gay people in Sydney....i noticed alot of gay men on the streets, much more than in Melbourne, which prob explains why Sydney is named one of the gay capitals in the world....and there are so many Thai gay men that it isn't out of 10 thai men i meet or see, i think 9 are gay!! Almost all the Thai restaurants have like 9 out of 10 waiters whom are gay....i asked my Thai housemate and she also said there are like so many Thai gay men around and she doesn't know why...she also confirmed that most of the Thai restaurants from the chef to the waiters are predominantly gay....gosh we were both lamenting how hard it must be for Thai girls to find a 'real man' (now, this is the way Thai people call straight men, i find it funny and interesting though i don't condone such misguided terms for sexuality)...she even asked her boyfriend (whom lives together with her) whether he was gay or not when they first met!! Cos she seems to have like over a dozen thai gay male friends, some of whom she never suspected of being gay and even had girl frens...whatever is a thai girl to do these days??

All in all, I think I made the right decision to move here....people have to move on and not always stay in the same place...i like change, i like excitement and i like exploring a whole exciting new i guess the move was the right thing to do....I hope the next year in Sydney brings more excitement and more importantly, more new things to discover....:):):)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Alittle Bit About Me....関于自己....自己紹介...

I know I haven't really said much about myself in my blog in all the years I've been blogging cos i am not the kind of person to reveal too much personal stuff about myself on the blog to strangers on the wide net out there. However, I think I should let my readers know alittle bit more about myself, at least some basic background about me.

About Me:

Name: hcpen

Age: 23 this yr

Nationality: Malaysian/Taiwanese

Ethnicity: Chinese

Ancestral origin: Hunan Province, China/Biological Ancestry: 3/4 Hokkien 1/4 Hunan

Hometown: Penang, Malaysia

Family members: father, mother, younger brother

Languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Malay, Japanese, Korean

Education: International School of Penang (Penang), Taylors College (Melbourne), University of Melbourne (Melbourne), East China University of Politics and Law {Chinese Law Winter Program/1 month}(Shanghai), Keio University{Student Language Exchange 1 sem} (Tokyo), College of Law (Sydney)

Interests: Asian studies, Modern Chinese History and Culture, 50-60s Hong Kong society and films, the Chinese Dress (Cheongsam), WW2 and Asia issues, Women's Rights and Interests, Gay Rights and Interests, Thai and Filipino popular culture, Korean history and society, Korean movies and dramas, Law and human rights, swimming, reading, Visiting Museums and Galleries, Eating at streetside stalls as well as high-end classy restaurants, etc

I think it would take many people by surprise that I have no educational background in Chinese given the impression i give people of being highly oriental and Chinese-oriented in my interests, language, and thinking. I have never had a single year of Chinese education since entering primary school and my fluency in Chinese is purely through my perseverance and sheer determination in picking up the language. I was always immensely proud of my Chinese heritage since young (for reasons unknown even to this day!) and i really worked hard on learning how to write Chinese. Many overseas Chinese either cannot speak Chinese at all or fluently or even if they can speak it, are unable to read or write Chinese. I was determined to learn Chinese and it has paid off. My Chinese level is up to standard as proven by my passing the difficult national translation exam in Australia and becoming a qualified translator and also now that China is bent on becoming the next world superpower and with its economy booming, Chinese has become an asset. When i was growing up, China and the Chinese language was not thought of as that important and people in Malaysia generally didn't think of making their children learn it, resulting in many Malaysian Chinese nowadays being unable to speak Chinese or even dialects or being able to speak but not read nor write. You see so many Koreans, Japanese, Westerners learning Mandarin nowadays and I feel truly blessed that I don't need to 'learn' it now as learning a language once you reach your late teens or in adulthood can be extremely difficult.
My brother on the other hand being more westernised, can only speak Mandarin and not Cantonese nor Hokkien and he can't write or read Chinese. Its sad, he also went to International School and is now in the UK and never bothered to really learn Chinese despite going to Chinese weekend tuition like me during our primary and secondary days. Sigh.....

I still try to maintain my Chinese level nowadays through making sure I read Chinese gossip magazines (learning a language can be fun too!), Taiwanese entertainment shows, HK dramas, and I purposely buy the chinese versions of many things just so i need to read it in Chinese even if i am most comfortable with English.

As for Japanese, i started in Form 1/Yr 7 but i should be making more progress than i have. Granted i can now read Japanese novels, newspapers, magazines and understand most of it but i really can't speak well at all....Korean i understand very basic korean which surprises even me given that i have never studied any korean before nor lived in South Korea but given that 80% of all movies and dramas i watch are korean (the other 20% being American, Chinese, Japanese, etc) and i've watched them since 16, I have managed to pick up enough korean to get by with daily usual conversations. Its been fun listening in on korean student's conversations sometimes when i happen to be beside them!!

As for personality wise, I think I am quite a traditional person although I would classify myself as a conservative liberal. This means I am still a liberal by category though on the conservative end of the spectrum. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being radically liberal and 10 being radically conservative i would say i am a 4.
I am liberal on most moral issues but conservative when it comes to values and politics:
Eg.: I am pro-choice meaning abortion is a woman's choice, pro-euthanasia, pro-gay, believe that sex before marriage is fine although my conservative streak shines through in that i believe you should only have sex with someone whom you not only love but also believe you will spend the rest of your life with (even if u eventually don't, the intention is more important) meaning no one nighters, sex with strangers, flings,etc.
My conservatism in politics is that i am quite supportive of the invasion of Iraq and hope America topples the evil North Korean regime as well, more Liberal Party than Labour Party cos i think Liberals have managed the economy very well which should take top priority (altho the fact that Kevin Rudd vis-vis John Howard is better looking, lived in Beijing and Taipei before, and knowledgeable of China as well as is a fluent Mandarin speaker does make me swing in favour of him as well:))

However, my liberalism has its limits as i hear of more wild things happening in society today like gay sauna group orgies, heterosexual wife-swapping parties, prostitution and all the 'acrobatic stunts' they do in brothels which makes me more and more conservative as i shudder at 'too much' liberalism. On the other hand, i am extremely tolerant of other people's behaviour and lives. Basically as i put it, i am 'conservative towards myself but liberal towards others'. Although i would never even dream of having sex with strangers, having sex with someone i only know for like 1 month or even shorter, etc i wouldn't discriminate against those whom do. I still like being friends with people who do sleep with strangers, sleep with boyfriends and girlfriends within the first couple of months of dating cos i think its their personal right and everyone is interesting and nice irrespective of their values. I don't think less of a person just because they don't adhere to my moral standards. In fact, the personality and character of a person is almost wholly separate from their sexual practices, meaning a person whom believes in abstinence may well be a lousy friend whilst a person whom visits saunas and has sex with strangers regularly may well turn out to be the most caring friend you could meet!!

Anyways, i hope readers have gained a better understanding of me:)