A Story of Faith, Sexuality, Art and Activism

A Story of Faith, Sexuality, Art and Activism

Extracted from MALAYSIANS KINI, a series on Malaysians you should know.

I just happened to become a Christian

while I was in Singapore at the age of 14, but I eventually found that it conflicted with my parallel discovery and awakening of my sexuality.

My last year in Singapore, I found a Christian ministry who, in their words, wanted to heal their sexual brokenness, so I joined them.

But when I came out to my father as a Christian, he didn’t like the fact that I’m a Christian, so he brought me back (to Malaysia) so he could monitor me closely.

I was so miserable NOT going to church

that it reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore, so I had to come out to my father. So I told him, I’m gay and the reason I’m going to church is because I want to be straight. So you choose, gay or Christian.

I didn’t envy my father’s position at that time.

I found a church which had been trained by the ministry in Singapore,

so I joined them and became very active. It was a kind of catharsis, for the anxiety I felt struggling against my sexuality.

I poured myself into the theatre of the church, but it turned out that even after I’ve done a lot of research on the scripts, poured myself into it, in the end, they would change my scripts quite drastically.

After three years of that, I got quite bored of it, I was being quite diva, you know. I started to think that maybe the church, in a sense, doesn’t really want my individuality. In fact, it probably wants conformity.

I kept in touch with some of the people

who were in the ministry in Singapore, and one guy called Clarence went on to start a positive and affirming fellowship group for gay Christians, after he left the ministry.

One day, I went down to Singapore and talked to him. I was starting to doubt my faith so I told him about a thought experiment I did.
I told him that I had this thought: what if I’m truly alone in the universe, what if we’re all truly, truly alone. I had a sensation of freefalling through the universe, through the dark, through a black hole.

He said, maybe God is not an entity that you imagine him to be. Maybe, as you’re falling through the universe, the universe is God for you.

That really freed me up to reimagine my relationship with everything around me. It also freed me from thinking of God as an entity that I used to imagine him as.

I'm not terribly upset that I became a Christain.

I needed that (at that time). It kept me sane.

Many years later, I decided it (struggling against my sexuality) wasn’t working. If it’s true that by becoming gay, I was going to be miserable and hate myself, it’s also equally true if I continue battling my sexuality.

I had these two equally miserable prognoses for my life. I didn’t take the Harry Potter advice, I took the easier path.

I said to myself, I have not tried living as a gay man. And now, I’m not miserable anymore.

Eventually, I had to come out to my parents

(as gay and not trying to be straight). My father said, this does not make him happy. Then I said, you know what, I can, of course, continue pretending to be straight, pretend to like a woman, get married to her, but for the rest of my life, I will have to shut up this part of my heart and lock it in chains, and I will not be happy.

Then I said, you know what, I can, of course, continue pretending to be straight, pretend to like a woman, get married to her, but for the rest of my life, I will have to shut up this part of my heart and lock it in chains, and I will not be happy.I will not be able to truly love her, and she will not be happy because I cannot give her what she wants. If we have children, they will also be unhappy.

I will not be able to truly love her, and she will not be happy because I cannot give her what she wants. If we have children, they will also be unhappy.

How much unhappiness will it take for you to be happy, I asked my father.

My mother said, if you get married and you have children, there will be someone to take care of you and you won’t be so lonely.

“So I looked at her and said, you’re married, you have children. Do you dare tell me you’re not lonely?”

We’re all lonely, but we can still be here for each other. I have learned to be independent and through my independence, I have learned that the best way to deal with my loneliness is to learn to be alone.

Because loneliness is actually not isolation from others, it’s isolation from yourself. It’s when you’re alone and you’re confronted with who you truly are, and you hate who you are and you cannot stand yourself, that’s when you feel loneliness.

When Seksualiti Merdeka was banned in 2011

and my picture was splashed all over (the media), the next day my cousin helpfully called my parents and said, ‘Aunty, you know your son is wanted by the police’.

That was when I was outed as an activist.

Their (My parents) reason for being very upset that I’m an activist were very different. What my father said (after that) revealed to me that he doesn’t understand yet. He said, ‘What am I going to tell my friends?’

It meant he didn’t respect me at all. I didn’t feel very sorry for his predicament at that time. But it turns out a few of my father’s friends were quite supportive. I suspect a few of them talked to my father about it.

My mother said, if you’re taken in by the police, I don’t know what they’re going to do to you, and I don’t know how to protect you.

I became angry that this country has frightened my mother into feeling so helpless.

Ultimately, that’s what all mothers want; to be able to protect their children, but this country has taken that away from our mothers.

I told my mother, is it reasonable to be living in fear in your own home, in your own country? It’s not right, and that’s what I’m doing about it.

A lot of people do come to me

when they need someone to talk about LGBT issues, and I’m happy to talk when there’s no one else who can do it. I do also try to tell people, can I connect you with someone else who would have a different perspective?
It’s a bad, bad situation but I also understand why some people cannot really come out. The cost of social alienation is very high and I think society teaches conformity through the threat of alienation.

I'm happy to also say

I know a lot of young LGBTs today who are actively doing what they can, where they can, (and) providing space for each other.

This is where I think it’s really radical: when a person who is considered an imperfect citizen, extends his hand and creates a space for someone else, automatically then the two of them, what they’ve done is that they’ve carved a citizenship of themselves in that space. (They are) offering (each other) a space to be themselves.

It doesn't have to just be a space for LGBT.

Your activism can be about LGBT but it doesn’t have to be limited to that. You can do something for refugees, women, etc. Just be involved at every level, because what they want you to do is to run and hide in your private space so you leave the public sphere. But the public sphere is where you are able to decide what you can do in your private space.

This is why I’m excited that even as a gay man, I have skills to create space for other people, and also why Art for Grabs is very important to me.

I'm aware of my privileged status today

as someone who is living relatively middle-class. I have different circumstances from Muslim gays, the LGBT poor, women and trans people. They all have different issues, because of different circumstances. Wealth and connection (also) have something to do with it.

I also get annoyed with wealthier LGBT people who say you just need to work hard and prove yourself and then no one can touch you. It’s this illusion that the capitalist market allows us to buy into, and it leaves those without the connection out there to fend for themselves.

We tell them, you just need to work harder, but some of these people have three jobs. You cannot tell them to work any harder.

Trans people are very well-connected around the country.

Unfortunately, with the other issues, it’s harder. Urban LGBT are so much luckier than those in the rural areas. I constantly get stories of rural places, where they’ll lock their lesbian daughter in the house and things like that.

Seksualiti Merdeka came about

because at that point, we ran an art gallery and we had space. That time we were planning Art for Grabs on Aug 31, 2008, which is how it got its name Seksualiti Merdeka.

Well, I mean at least the government is using the word LGBT now (after Seksualiti Merdeka). I admit this acronym does not completely capture the diversity of sexuality and gender expressions and identity, but it’s better than songsang, pondan or bapok.

I'm very happy for (people) when they want to get married,

but I also feel that marriage is not the ultimate goal for LGBT rights.

The problem of the US promotion of same-sex marriage is that very much of it is banked on the idea that marriage allows us to marry into equality, instead of the fact that you can get married because you are already equal.

The issue is this: people think of marriage as an expression of love, but is it? Can’t you express love without marriage?

The discourse of marriage ends up marginalising unmarried gays. No other kinds of narratives are allowed. The inequality here is between unmarried and married people.

I'm not naive enough to think that we need to get rid of marriage.

I just think that with marriage, a lot of gradiation of possible relationships we can have with one another becomes impossible.

Love is anarchic.

Love breaks rules and it makes us break rules, but we’re so afraid because society keeps telling us that only these form of relationship is acceptable, then they create a whole system to reward this type of relationship.

The discussion around marriage is partly because of the stupid policy of hospitals only allowing next of kin (visitation and legal rights), but why can’t this document be ascertained between two best friends?

(For example), at the end of the life of a person who doesn’t want to have anything to do with his family, the hospital will still invite their family to decide on his life. How cruel is that?

I said in my post (%22A ‘party’ at Sentul police station%22) that being in Malaysia sometimes felt like being in the wrong place and wrong time.

But I thought about it, and that’s what they want you to feel.

We just have to keep doing what we can, until this country becomes the right place and the right time for us, whenever that may be.

We are filled with idealism at this point. Right now, we think we can make a difference so we try.

Maybe one day, I'll give up,

and I hope people don’t judge me too harshly when that happens.

Pang Khee Teik

Pang Khee Teik

Pang, who is gay, is prominent for being outspoken and vocal about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) issues in Malaysia.

The Wonders of Indoor Plants

The Wonders of Indoor Plants

How to rent properties without deposits or agents?

How to rent properties without deposits or agents?

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Rent property without deposits or agents. Use Speedrent.

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Think travel, stock trading and dating. Before the age of Internet, agents play a crucial role in matchmaking. Today, you can book a flight, hotel, trade your stocks and even find your lifetime partner online from the convenience of your PC and mobile, anytime ­-anywhere.

This is all possible because Internet is the communication enabler ­ be it human to human or machine, instantly and effectively. So why not renting a property?

Property platforms existed today were mainly focused in connecting owner or renter with the agents. Agent is still the glue for the relationship by communicating with both parties; hence the perceived importance of agents in today’s world.

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For Property Owners, please read on

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Benefits:
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Wow, Sounds Easy, What Else Should I Know?

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DIY leasing your house is a reality now with Speedrent!

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For Renters, please read on

OK, Should I Rent Direct?

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Go Through an Agent

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Happiness is our ultimate aim in life

Happiness is our ultimate aim in life

I am aware that this forum (koonyewyin.com) is to help people to make money. But after you have made more money than you require, you have to learn how to acquire happiness which should be your ultimate aim in life.There are many forms of pleasure and the ultimate aim is happiness. Human behavior being motivated by pleasure alone is evidenced from infancy to adulthood. In modern philosophy, human behavior is governed by a need to increase pleasure and decrease pain. All humans live to maximize pleasure.

There are many forms of pleasure and the ultimate aim is happiness. Human behavior being motivated by pleasure alone is evidenced from infancy to adulthood. In modern philosophy, human behavior is governed by a need to increase pleasure and decrease pain. All humans live to maximize pleasure.From an evolutionary perspective, humans and animals primarily seek to survive and protect their lineage. Essentially, the need for the individual and for the individual’s immediate family is to live better and happier. That is why we all have to work to make money to live better and happier every day.

From an evolutionary perspective, humans and animals primarily seek to survive and protect their lineage. Essentially, the need for the individual and for the individual’s immediate family is to live better and happier. That is why we all have to work to make money to live better and happier every day.A few years ago, the Perak Academy invited me to give a talk on HAPPINESS. In my research I read the book called The Conquest of Happiness by Lord Bertrand Russell who was one of the greatest British philosophers in the twentieth century. He was a Nobel Winner for literature. It is a very difficult book to read because there are too many big words in every page.

A few years ago, the Perak Academy invited me to give a talk on HAPPINESS. In my research I read the book called The Conquest of Happiness by Lord Bertrand Russell who was one of the greatest British philosophers in the twentieth century. He was a Nobel Winner for literature. It is a very difficult book to read because there are too many big words in every page.
It is a road map for everyone to achieve happiness. It is easier to achieve happiness if you know what causes unhappiness and what makes people happy. It is easier to achieve happiness if you know how to get it. I strongly recommend you to read it.

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Let me give you a summary of the book. As I said it is a very difficult book to read and it is even more difficult to make a summary.

The book falls neatly into two halves: the causes of unhappiness and the causes of happiness. The first chapter “What Makes People Unhappy?” can be viewed as an introduction to the book, and the final chapter “The Happy Man” as a conclusion.

Preface: People who are unhappy could become happy if they are well-directed. They only need common sense and not some profound philosophy.

The Causes of Unhappiness

1. What Makes People Unhappy?

Russell’s purpose is to suggest a cure for the ordinary day-to-day unhappiness from which most people in civilized countries suffer, and which is all the more unbearable because, having no obvious external cause, it appears inescapable. He believed the unhappiness to be largely due to mistaken views of the world, mistaken ethics, mistaken habits of life, leading to the destruction of that natural zest and appetite for possible things upon which all happiness ultimately depends.

Russell’s purpose is to suggest a cure for the ordinary day-to-day unhappiness from which most people in civilized countries suffer, and which is all the more unbearable because, having no obvious external cause, it appears inescapable. He believed the unhappiness to be largely due to mistaken views of the world, mistaken ethics, mistaken habits of life, leading to the destruction of that natural zest and appetite for possible things upon which all happiness ultimately depends.2. Unhappiness

2. Unhappiness

It is common in our day, as it has been in so many other periods of the world’s history, for people who are wise enough, to have seen through all the enthusiasms of earlier times and have become aware that there is nothing left to live for. The wise man will be as happy as circumstances permit, and if he finds the contemplation of the universe painful beyond a point, he will contemplate something else instead.

It is common in our day, as it has been in so many other periods of the world’s history, for people who are wise enough, to have seen through all the enthusiasms of earlier times and have become aware that there is nothing left to live for. The wise man will be as happy as circumstances permit, and if he finds the contemplation of the universe painful beyond a point, he will contemplate something else instead.

3. Competition

Russell paints a bleak picture of the businessman so obsessed by competing with other businessmen for success that the rest of life passes him by. “Success can only be one ingredient in happiness, and is too dearly purchased if all other ingredients have been sacrificed to obtain it.

4. Boredom and Excitement

We have come to associate boredom with unhappiness and excitement with happiness, but Russell argues that boredom and excitement form a separate axis entirely, having little relationship with happiness. “Running away from enemies who are trying to take one’s life is, I imagine, unpleasant, but certainly not boring. … The opposite of boredom, in a word, is not pleasure, but excitement.” The confusion of excitement and happiness, and the flight from boredom that it entails, is a chief cause of unhappiness. The cure is to teach oneself to endure boredom without running from it.

5. Fatigue

This chapter is actually about worry. Russell believes that such physical fatigue as people feel in the industrialized world is mostly healthy, and that only “nervous fatigue”, caused largely by worry, is really destructive to happiness. Russell believes most worry could be avoided by learning good thinking habits, by refusing to over-estimate the significance of possible failures, by taking a larger perspective, and by facing fears squarely.

6. Envy

If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon. But Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I dare say, envied Hercules, who never existed. You cannot therefore get away from envy by means of success alone. … You can get away from envy by enjoying the pleasures that come your way, by doing the work that you have to do, and by avoiding comparisons with those whom you imagine, perhaps quite falsely, to be more fortunate than yourself.

7. The Sense of Sin

Traditional religion, in Russell’s view, has saddled us with an ascetic moral code that will make us unhappy if we keep it (by denying us joy in life) and also if we break it (by causing us guilt). The only solution is to root this moral code out of our unconscious, and replace it with a code less inimical to human happiness.

8. Persecution Mania

This is probably the most amusing chapter of the book, as Russell uses his droll wit to puncture human self-importance. “My purpose in this chapter is to suggest some general reflections by means of which each individual can detect in himself the elements of persecution mania (from which almost everybody suffers in a greater or less degree), and having detected them, can eliminate them. This is an important part of the conquest of happiness, since it is quite impossible to be happy if we feel that everybody ill-treats us.

9. Fear of Public Opinion

Very few people can be happy unless on the whole their way of life and their outlook on the world is approved by those with whom they have social relations, and more especially by those with whom they live.

Very few people can be happy unless on the whole their way of life and their outlook on the world is approved by those with whom they have social relations, and more especially by those with whom they live. Fortunately the modern world gives us some choice about where we live and who our friends will be.

The Causes of Happiness

In general, the second half of Conquest is not as impressive as the first. After you know the causes of unhappiness, it is easier to acquire happiness. Once the obstacles to happiness are removed, happiness just happens — somehow.

10. Is Happiness Still Possible?

Fundamental happiness depends on your friendly interest in persons and things. … The kind of interest in persons that makes for happiness is the kind that likes to observe people and finds pleasure in their individual behavior and trait, but without wanting to control over them or to secure their enthusiastic admiration. The person whose attitude towards others is genuinely of this kind will be a source of happiness and a recipient of reciprocal kindness. To be able to like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.

11. Zest

Zest is the x-factor that causes us to be interested in life. Russell has little to say about what zest is or how to obtain it. He does argue against those who would devalue zest by claiming that it is a mark of superior taste not to be interested in vulgar or lowbrow subjects. “All disenchantment is to me a malady which … is to be cured as soon as possible, not to be regarded as a higher form of wisdom. Suppose one man likes strawberries and another does not; in what respect is the latter superior? There is no abstract and impersonal proof that strawberries are good or that they are not good. To the man who likes them they are good, to the man who dislikes them they are not. But the man who likes them has a pleasure which the other does not have; to that extent his life is more enjoyable and he is better adapted to the world in which both must live.”12. Affection

12. Affection

One of the chief causes of lack of zest is the feeling that one is unloved, whereas conversely the feeling of being loved promotes zest more than anything else does. Unfortunately, considering the importance of affection to happiness, this chapter is almost completely descriptive rather than prescriptive. Russell describes the types of affection and evaluates their effects, but gives little advice about how to either give or get higher quality affection.

13. The Family

Of all the institutions that have come down to us from the past none is in the present day so disorganized and derailed as the family. Affection of parents for children and of children for parents is capable of being one of the greatest sources of happiness, but in fact at the present day the relations of parents and children are, in nine cases out of ten, a source of unhappiness to both parties, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred a source of unhappiness to at least one of the two parties. This failure of the family to provide the fundamental satisfactions which in principle it is capable of yielding is one of the most deep-seated causes of the discontent which is prevalent in our age.

14. Work

Whether work should be placed among the causes of happiness or the causes of unhappiness may perhaps be regarded as a doubtful question. Russell places it among the causes of happiness for a number of reasons:

  1. It passes time.
  2. It provides an opportunity for success.
  3. The work itself may be interesting.

15. Impersonal Interests

Certain interests are central to a person’s conception of his/her life: career, family, and so forth. In this chapter Russell asserts the value of having interests that are not central, that have no effect on the major issues of life. Such hobbies and pastimes serve two purposes: (1) They provide an escape from larger worries, and distract the conscious mind so that the unconscious can work productively toward a solution. (2) They provide a reserve pool of interest in life, so that if disaster or a series of disasters destroy the pillars that support our central interests, we will have the possibility of growing new central interests.
This chapter contains an important tangential discussion of “greatness of soul” which I discuss under the Transcending Personal Hopes and Interests theme.

16. Effort and Resignation

What Russell calls resignation is more popularly referred to these days as acceptance. The question discussed in this chapter is basically: Should we try to change the world or accept it the way it is? Russell takes a middle position, roughly equivalent to the Serenity Prayer.

17. The Happy Man

In the final chapter Russell comes back to his main point: attention should be focused outward, not inward. It is not the nature of most men to be happy in a prison, and the passions which shut us up in ourselves constitute one of the worst kinds of prisons. Among such passions some of the commonest are fear, envy, the sense of sin, self-pity and self-admiration. In all these our desires are centered upon ourselves: there is no genuine interest in the outer world, but only a concern lest it should in some way injure us or fail to feed our ego.

Conclusion:

In the book, Russell did not mention any thing about creating happiness by doing charity. After having made more money than you need and knowing that you cannot take any money along when you die, you must use some of my money to help poor people to make them happy. You will be happy to be able to create more happiness.I wish to elaborate item 7 The Sense of Sin as mentioned above. When I was a young boy I was giving private tuition to a very pretty fair Eurasian girl. We often went to cinemas and in the darkness I was tempted to touch her hands but I was told by my Catholic teachers that premarital sex was a sin. We were separated when I got a scholarship to study engineering. During the first holiday break, I visited my pretty girl friend and I was shocked to see her pregnant. My heart was broken- I lost my Marilyn Monroe.

I wish to elaborate item 7 The Sense of Sin as mentioned above. When I was a young boy I was giving private tuition to a very pretty fair Eurasian girl. We often went to cinemas and in the darkness I was tempted to touch her hands but I was told by my Catholic teachers that premarital sex was a sin. We were separated when I got a scholarship to study engineering. During the first holiday break, I visited my pretty girl friend and I was shocked to see her pregnant. My heart was broken- I lost my Marilyn Monroe.

I trust my effort in writing this article will make more people happy. Instead of giving you fish I am teaching you how to fish.