May 28, 2007

Want changes? Do something!

Oh, enough already! Sexist MPs, public fund wastages, environmentally unsustainable policies, and no press freedom to perpetuate the whole madness. Despite all that, fear not for we can always take matters in our own hands. Here are some mini projects that we can start off with.

Green gyms

"It's going to be the end of the world! We've got to do something! But what can we do?"

Green gym was inspired by desperate cries of people realising the seriousness of climate change. We need energy but the all-powerful energy/oil companies aren't going to embark on sustainable ways to provide them yet; at least not until we run out of oil and boil our earth to bits in the process (or freeze, depending on how the climate changes, or where you are apparently).

Now, there are many ways to harness clean energy besides burning cheap CO2-emitting coal or gas, such as harnessing them from the growing number of urbanites pointlessly running on thread-mills and riding stationary bicycles in gyms. What a waste. Sure they're exercising but why not make them useful too. Think of the gym as one big and complex dynamo battery.

We can take this further and implement this system in our homes! That way everyone has to exercise regularly.

"If you want lights tonight you better run on your thread-mill first!" We can then have a "green" and healthy society! How wonderful.

Ok, so green gyms won't provide us with all the energy we need and I honestly don't know how feasible that is, but the point is that there are so much energy wastages around and also alternatives to the way we're destroying or using up our limited resources.Ê

Bodyguards for women

"Damn, I wish I had bodyguards!" my friend Mariam lamented in frustration. Well, why not?

Lobbying for legislation that protects women's rights can be an arduous affair. What more when we have sexist MPs. In the meantime, we will just have to deal with our day-to-day problems ourselves.

Aggression is a way which some men use to intimidate or bully women. Mariam had the worse experience simply having to hire a lorry when "moving house". She was "persuaded" to pay an exorbitant sum for services she didn't need. It was complete extortion and bullying. When patronising her didn't work, the male mover's demeanour became aggressive with the aim to intimidate and threaten.

There is nothing in our law that women can use against intimidation, unless words like "I will beat/kill you" were actually said. Mariam's visit to the police was met with the following response, "Lain kali biar dia pukul sajalah, baru ada kes!" (Next time let him hit you so you can have a case!)". It doesn't look like Mariam has many options.

Well, Mariam has had enough of being bullied and intimidated. She wants gender-sensitised "bodyguards" on-call for women when encountering "at risk" situations. Had there been "bodyguards" with her that day, chances were that she would not be intimidated. Anyone who wants to help her kick start this project, please email Why wait for changes to happen from the top when we can do something about it now? A community in Bario, Sarawak, is doing just that.

Community-based micro-hydro project

In 1999, the former Rural Development Minister officially opened a mini-hydroelectric project in Bario, Sarawak. The project which cost the federal government RM12 million failed and was abandoned after only one day in operation because the river was too small to generate power for the dam's power station. Now, their community has been organising themselves and raising their own funds to install a smaller micro-hydro system instead. This will provide the village with a constant supply of clean and renewable energy at the fraction of the cost of diesel power. (Volunteers can contact them at

Such initiative for community-based renewable energy has already been successfully implemented elsewhere in Belaga, Sarawak. Built at a cost of RM180,000, a 10 kilowatt-capacity micro-hydro dam has been providing constant and sustainable source of energy to light their bulbs at night and develop their cottage industries, without affecting much of the environment.

Simply being pessimistic and ranting about our problems alone is a bad reflection of our own community. We can be proactive to make positive changes in many ways.

Published in The Sun Mon, 28 May 2007