Thursday, July 5, 2012

Zaman tanpa ISA

Hey guys. It's been awhile. Sorry. Truth is,  I got myself a new PS3. So I got distracted from writing, work and many other admittedly more important responsibilities. But a request from a loyal reader got me back in the mood (although not immediately).

This post marks the seventh post I've written for my fledgling blog, and it's apt that this post, in a way, is related to this blog. Around a month ago (told you it's been awhile) I attended a meeting at the HQ of my employers in Bachok (~20km from KB). Everyone in the department was there. By the way, the distance from Jeli to Bachok is around 100km. My department holds a meeting at least once every month. I know it sounds kind of far, but you get used to it after awhile, yknow? Especially when the nearest town from Jeli is Tanah Merah; 40km away. And also the boss unofficially closes one eye on me arriving half an hour late to the meeting (I'm just a small fry, so they will start without me everytime I'm late. Fine by me)

So everytime there's a meeting that I have to attend at the HQ, the routine is I'll wake up half an hour later than I should, rush into the toilet, try to dress up all handsome-like as quickly as possible and drive like a madman for a 100km while muttering all shades of curses at whomever is blocking my way by not driving like a madman on the single-lane, single carriageway road from Jeli to Bachok.

So during this meeting, things were a lot weird. My department had always been rife with internal politicking and petty bickering, but hey, whose workplace isn't, right? But during this meeting, something was off. My boss, who up to that point, had always more or less tried to avoid badmouthing other employees publicly, was on full on verbal attack mode. Simply put, according to my colleagues, there was this one female former colleague who purportedly had attached herself to the top management and tried to use our department to do her job and to advance her career. I don't want to pay too much attention to this, because I only heard from one side, and she wasn't present in the meeting. So my boss was indirectly making insinuations of her, cracking inside jokes about her and pretty much everything short of mentioning the lady's name. And everyone else agreed with him, laughing at his indirect jokes. Awkward much? I incredulously signalled my friend F who was seated across the table from me with my eyes and we pretty much had this conversation without uttering even a single word.

"WTF is going on? He's insinuating about her right? During a MEETING?"
"Trust me, this IS happening"

It was quite uncharacteristic for him because I had not seen him do that in a meeting prior to that, and I think it was unprofessional, especially so for a head of department, regardless of how angry he was at her and if he was in the right.

But that wasn't to be the end of it. My boss moved on to the topic of Facebook rants on work-related topics, why we shouldn't do it and so on. Which I totally agree with. If you have a problem at work, or anywhere else for the matter, you should be confronting and facing it instead of facebook-ing about it (get it get it? Har-dee-har) It's unprofessional is what I'm and he was trying to get at. But what he mentioned next sent chills down my spine.

Without mentioning any names, he told everyone present at the meeting about a new employee of the organisation who supposedly went online to state how he is a starborn who has descended from the night sky to bring light to the darkness and desolation of this arid land (okay, it sounded better in Bahasa Melayu but I could't remember the exact words), which could be interpreted as how the person in question wants to be the supposed saviour of Kelantan, to lift it out of the dark ages. He then added that the new guy was in one of the more artistic departments. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

I have a blog (the one you're reading now) on my experiences of working and living in one of the territories of Kelantan, sometimes I write about how some aspects of life are markedly different in Jeli than in my hometown, things that can be misconstrued by people with poor reading skills as demeaning to Jeli and its residents, and I have an M.A. So imagine how bright red I must have looked all of a sudden in the meeting, wondering whether my boss was talking about me and this blog, and whether everyone else's subsequent laughter in the meeting was actually directed at me. Had I badmouthed Kelantan, or talked smack about the people, and someone from work had read it?

The meeting soon ended and after the post-meeting refreshments (that's what I like about the meetings; the free food), I approached F and pulled her aside, away from prying eyes and eavesdropping ears. No doubt she could see my paranoia and nervousness all over my face and I didn't even have to ask the question. "Hahah, I knew you were gonna get paranoid, but no, they were not talking about you. It was some of the upper management people who was roped in by the boss. Guy's not from around here, so what he had done apparently pissed off many of the local staff"

Phheeewwww what a relief it was to be exonerated. I mean I was pretty sure I have not demeaned Kelantan in this blog, but like I said, some people interpret everything they see and read into what they want to believe. And sometimes I think the more vocal section of the Kelantanese have the tendency to view themselves as victims of persecution by the majority of Malaysia in a "woe is me" fashion a little too much. Hence the indignity that my colleagues felt towards the new guy's online musing. Secondly, don't they realise that this guy is an artistic type? What he had written could have been for him a work of art, in the sense that it is fictitious and not real. When Mamat Khalid made 'Zombi Kampung Pisang', Perakians were not up in arms and they did not bring out the pitchforks because they think it was insulting to the state, didn't they? And let's not go into the literary concept of 'persona'. Come on, he didn't even mention the name of Kelantan at all. He was basically vaguebook-ing, like what 90% of people on Facebook are doing nowadays. And my colleagues were simply reading what they wanted to read and jumping into conclusions.

Well, I do realise that even though I had not criticised Kelantan and any of the locals in any of my earlier posts, now that I'm writing about my colleagues' over-reaction to someone else's online writing, I am starting to sound critical. So be it. I am only making an honest observation, without any intent of malice whatsoever.

But having said that, is anyone hiring back home?