Thursday, February 21, 2008


As part of the process of arranging my weekend trip to Singapore, I had to collect my bus tickets from the First Coach bus company in Bangsar. After 4 tickets and 230 Ringgit changed hands, I noticed the Malaysiakini office right above the ticketing office.

Li Tsin of works at Malaysiakini.


In many years of knowing Li Tsin, I believe I have only seen her twice- once when she had dinner with our extended family, and once when we went on a trip to Penang with May and D in 2002/ 2003. Returning from trip, we purchased at least 20 servings of asam laksa home (from that famous stall at the Ait Itam market). The car smelled strongly of fish for a while after that.

After that, I fluttered off to Melbourne and she flitted away to Bristol. We kept in touch by email, MSN and influenced by her, as well postcards and snail mail.

When she was writing her essays for her master’s degree in political science, I volunteered to proofread her papers. Her writing was immaculate- the occasional corrections were mostly minor. The papers made fascinating reading, and I continued to ‘proofread’ despite the remarkably low error rates. I still have those essays.


I decided to give her a call to try my luck. Her contact details stored in my phone was probably entered a long time ago. Scrolled through the names in my contact list, stopped at Li Tsin and hit the green ‘call’ button. A voice not belonging to Li Tsin said I did not have enough credit to make the call.

At 7 Eleven, 30 Ringgit and a voucher redeemable for 30 Ringgit worth of calling credit changed hands.

I called again- she was there!

When she appeared from the stairwell, she was immediately recognisable- glasses, hair and lively eyes- she was not much different from when I saw her half a decade ago.

With a 6pm meeting looming and me unable to stay past the meeting due to other appointments, we talked briefly. The mainstream media is a puppet show. Her Swatch watch has been in use since 1997. Recent infrastructure upgrades around town is for the elections. May is going to Florida. Some people don’t realise that the papers are full of propaganda, “BN is good wat.”

Time’s up. A quick goodbye, and she fled upstairs, her hair trailing in the vortices behind her.