Poetry, photography in the new Malaysia

Azalia Suhaimi is one of the young and upcoming poets in the city. She exemplifies the new generation of observant Muslims – she is a hijabi, well-educated and creative. Yuna (the singer) changed the landscape for many young Muslim women in Malaysia. You can cover your aurat, but you can do it in a colourful and trendy way.

Azalia’s Facebook statuses and Instagram account are odes to poetry, books and her life. They are a photographic library of a creative life, enhanced by social media. She is also a wife and soon to be mother. Anything else?

“I am a poet.”

In an email interview, she also describes herself as an occasional photographer.

“I craft stationery too sometimes. I have a thing for love - of any kind and to anyone at all. I wear rose-tinted glasses and prefer to see the lovely aspects of things and talk about them in a nice way. I tend to notice little everyday things as really beautiful things we're blessed with. All of these inspire me to spread just exactly that -love, kindness and nice things - to the public that often seems angry at the things and news we're surrounded with each day. So I spread that through art - be it poetry, creative photography or crafts.”

And there is so much to love about Malaysia, she says. The sunshine. The way Malaysians can enjoy a beach-loving holiday at anytime of the year. The country has amazing beaches around the country, gorgeous diving spots, beautiful greens, mountains, rocks, lakes, waterfalls, to name a few. There is a whole lot of beauty if we could just notice a little more.

Chilli sauce.  “I remember when I was studying abroad, the food outlets did not have chili sauce. They only offered tomato and mayonnaise and sometimes, BBQ. So we didn't have to go as far as missing our nasi lemak - we even missed the simple bottle of Sos Cili Life or Maggi or Aminah Hassan or what-have-you that are so easily accessible at any possible gerai or restaurants.”

The multiple dialects Malaysians use to communicate. The variety creates a diversity not often found elsewhere in the world. She enthuses even about the humble mamak restaurants. The familiarity of phrases like "Boss! Kira!" when ordering food.

“The rakyat. The way we never stop trying. The passion a lot of us have in trying to make a change. Despite differing points of view that may go to the extremes or sometimes cause a little chaos, the essence of it is that each of us have some level of passion in trying to make our country a better place. And that passion in itself is admirable. And yes. The PETRONAS Twin Towers. This might be a cliched answer, but the Twin Towers really is among some of Malaysia's amazing developments that's hard not tAzalia says she writes poetry to spread love and happiness. The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, September 16, 2013.o be proud of.”

Is Azalia a walking Hallmark greeting card?

While she is certainly proud of the developing local arts scene (“We're starting to have movies that dare to break the norm but with amazing messages, creativity and cinematography by some of our brilliant local filmmakers. And there's also certainly a rise in local art events promoting our music, films, painting, sculptures, poetry, dance, theatre, graphic design, photography and so much more,”) she is no Pollyanna.

Malaysians don’t have the right priorities, she says. Look at our newspapers: Headlines that don't seem like "headlines".

Malaysians argue back and forth over a word; now everyone wants to protect their territories. All that time and energy could have been used either improve the state of education, or improve the state of “our roads, solve traffic jams, and consecutively bring the rakyat together instead.”

That’s what Malaysians are good at. Arguing over trivial matters.

She is hoping that education will be reformed. There can only be change and development when there is stellar education. Teachers and educators need to be recognised for their hard work too. Teachers who are where they are because of their passion in teaching and not simply because teaching is the only profession left when they're out of choices.

“I hope for our children to not be afraid to think, ask or speak up their minds, albeit with respect. For them to learn that there are no right or wrong questions. For them to understand that learning really is that - to understand. And to discover new things, to think and to ask questions. And never to memorize. I hope for our children to be given a chance to actually learn, and not just memorize or follow the pack, in classes. I hope for this opportunity to be given fairly to all of our children, in the city or the rural areas, wherever. I hope for us to understand that education is far beyond the number of As we get in exams. I hope for parents to understand that.”

In the meantime, she will continue writing poetry to spread love and happiness. Look for her at her website. Her Instagram account name is azaliasuhaimi. - September 16, 2013.


Other Malaysia Day package stories:

When we finally become Malaysians

Life lessons for Malaysia at 50

What Malaysia Day means to me now – after the shame of not knowing

Malaysia yesterday and where to, tomorrow?

This hurts, what say you Mr Landlord?

While wishing Malaysia “Happy Birthday”...

What’s there not to be optimistic about Malaysia at 50?

In Malaysia, Sarawakians look for a fairer deal

Why my father, an ordinary man, took to the streets during the elections

After 50 years, time to think as Malaysians first, says Nazri

Imagining a Malaysian Malaysia

Sabah and Sarawak at 50, ignoring history at your own peril

“I was apolitical before… May 5, 2013, changed it all”

In Sabah, a haunted voice on what was and what could have been

Why celebrate Malaysia Day?

Whither the curiosity for a better Malaysia

In Malaysia, the Orang Asal feel far away from home

A DAP man tells how Malaysia’s future “is tied to the BN”

Neighbours in spirit

Sabahans say time to clear haze of fuzzy history

A Merdeka baby asks a new generation of Malaysians to be patient with change

For this Malaysian, “puisi is a lost art”

After all these years, Malaysia still held hostage

In an older Malaysia, a Chinese healer says Malaysians must mix more

As Malaysia turns 50, Nurul Izzah fights for inclusive politics

Can Malaysia’s third generation reinvent this country?

Malaysia at 50, my story and yours

  • 2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America 11 hours ago
    2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America

    For the past two years, car shoppers from Acapulco to Winnipeg could wander into their Chevy dealers and kick the tires on a city-sized sport utility vehicle named the Trax — and about 90,000 have done so. Today, Chevy revealed the version of the Trax it will bring to the United States, for those less well-heeled buyers who want the shape of an SUV without the window sticker they usually carry.

  • Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van 14 hours ago
    Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van

    “Once you do stand-up, you don’t want to go back.” No, we’re not talking about comedy, but rather an emerging trend in luxury transport that’s bringing us ever taller, more capacious, more pimpdillyicious limousines. The quote came from a Ford designer, Tim Stoehr, predicting an increase in interest in limos based on big vans like the new Transit. Of course, these are nothing new; up-fitters have taken quite kindly to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and apparently Ford is chomping at the bit to get in on the action, too. So Ford enlisted the help of the largest Ford dealer in the world, Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, Calif., to help design and build its first super-lux Transit concept, dubbed the Skyliner.

  • Driving the 2016 BMW X5 eDrive, the plugged-in SUV 19 hours ago
    Driving the 2016 BMW X5 eDrive, the plugged-in SUV

    Automakers worldwide have gradually (some would say grudgingly) attempted to make their high-profit and highly popular SUVs as efficient and clean-running as their lower weight passenger cars — namely through the grafting of a plug-in hybrid system.

  • Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report
    Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report

    Amazon is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of 2014, thrusting itself into a market already crowded with Apple and Samsung models, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company aims to announce its new product by the end of June and ship to customers by the end of September in time for the holidays, the Journal said in a Friday report, citing unnamed people briefed on the matter. Amazon, it said, hopes to differentiate its phone from other models with a screen that displays hologram-like three-dimensional images, which can be viewed without special glasses. Earlier this month the retailer unveiled a new media streaming device, Amazon Fire TV, which it touted as simplifying the experience of watching video online.

  • Supermodel Qi Qi is afraid of flying
    Supermodel Qi Qi is afraid of flying

    The supermodel said that she will take her daughter in a vacation but will try to avoid boarding a plane

  • One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks
    One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks

    South Korea's coastguard said Wednesday one person had been killed as it struggled to rescue 476 people -- mostly high school students -- aboard a ferry that ran aground and sank off the southern coast. "The ferry is almost completely submerged," Lee said, adding that a detachment of South Korean Navy SEALS were taking part in the rescue. Of the 450 passengers on board the ferry bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, 325 were students from a high school in Ansan, south of Seoul. The 6,825-tonne ferry, which had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening, ran into trouble some 20 kilometres (13 miles) off the island of Byungpoong.