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Desktop Confessional

Retro essay-writing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Writing an essay in BM is so filled with propaganda that it isn't even funny. Back in the days of SPM and PMR, we all consulted the little textbooks that showed us the format to write "surat rasmi" (official letters) and "surat tak rasmi". Where to put the dates, where to draw the line, this and that. How we must always start a surat tak rasmi with "Menemui kekanda yang disayangi, diharap surat ini menemui anda dalam keadaan yang sihat" or something to that degree.

It was all so uniformed and .. predictable. Those textbooks even had sample essays of popular topics. And it was always the same sort of recycled questions- whether the internet was good or bad, whether tv was good or bad, whether "budaya kuning" was going to turn thousands of Malaysian teens into hopeless, no-future bums. Simplistic, much?!!

We have BM classes this semester. Writing in BM after 3 years of having not practicing was a long, tedious process. The most common phrase in class was, "How do you say ...?" Many minutes were spent staring off into space, trying to figure out what "well-being" was in Malay ('kebaikan').

Back to the issue of essays in BM being simplistic and repetitive, guess what we had to write about!

Clue: it was the most written about topic in schools during the 1990s.

Come on.

It's about us youths jeopardizing our lives with our reckless behaviour.

I guessed what it was even when the lecturer started saying, "Nyatakan punca-punca dan langkah-langkah untuk mengatasi..."

Today we wrote about "budaya lepak".

Budaya lepak, wei. Talk about a throwback to my secondary school days. It amuses me to think that even until TODAY, essays are still written about the dangers of hanging around in shopping malls and how if you lepak, you are bound to be doomed forever and of questionable moral fibre. If you, dear reader, are in secondary school in Malaysia, tell me- is the budaya lepak theme still a popular essay question?

And to further demonstrate how simplistic, regurgitative, and as Meesh says, SKEMA the whole business is, here are my punca2 (the kuasa dua is partial to BM):

1) Budaya kuning!!! Beware the West!! They are evil and vile!!
2) Damn you parents for working so much.
3) Teachers and schools are not dedicated enough to take care of kids.
4) Bad influence from peers.

SNORE. I wrote the exact same content when I was 16, and here I am doing it again. Time is so freaking cyclical.

Now that I am exposed to alternative ideas of how power and control works, I can't help but roll my eyes when I remember the things I would used to read out of sample essays in textbooks. They are the most inane, illogical things ever. No wonder so many young people who leave school for college are so indifferent and unexposed to current world issues, if this is what they read in their books.

I was once like that, but what can I say? 2 years of studying communication, the power and influence of the media, analyzing and questioning existing institutions have made me into a bitchy little girl. Thank the Lord.

  1. Blogger little kernel said:

    Wow, you really kind of summed up the struggles and conflicts of youth. You've also brought a unique perspective, and one that I won't forget anytime soon.

  1. Blogger Joo Khai said:

    HAHAHA! good going girl. this is one thing common to All who've encountered spm, just that no one's bothered to write about it. it's always about gejala sosial.

    but i'm not a cynic. u're forced to be a cynic for spm, but no longer... it's possible to enjoy writing bm too. i blogged an entry in bm once... about a year ago.

    might do it again. =p

  1. Anonymous osaya said:

    sad isn't it? how the same bullsh*t gets churned over and over again.

    i've really pondered over the issue before and i wonder if it's merely the language, or the perpetuating propaganda that the authorities would like us to believe?

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