The Pineapple Express and Rally to End Discrimination Against International Students

Internet connection back to normal after almost one and half weeks of having dial-up speed. All I can say is fuck you Allegro. I didn’t pay $69.00 a month to have this shit.

Talking about shit, I realized that I really need to clean up my room. Dust and moth balls piling up everywhere. The last time I cleaned my room was a month and half ago? So its spring-cleaning time on Saturday. I’m not really looking forward to that.

I’ve just finished watching “The Pineapple Express”. I still can’t believe the hostel management decided to screen the show.I mean, they have a strict policy on “the forbidden use and/or being under the influence of drugs/illegal substance in the building” (paraphrased) and they screened a show that is based on weed usage. Hmm, maybe they do have a sense of humour after all. A really weird sense of humour.

The verdict for the movie? Well…. I wished I was high when I was watching the movie because it seriously used up all my powers of suspension of belief.

I mean, the ending of the movie, what a big blow-bang. Spoiler ahead: almost everyone dies. Furthermore, the concept was a bit hard to believe. And it seemed improbable that three guys can get away with the death of 100 people blown sky-high. Oh, wait, its a stoner movie. While its not one of Seth Rogan best movie and some parts did make me laugh and were really funny,  I still wished I was high when I was watching it. Then, I’ll probably laugh for the next 2 hours straight. Really.

One question though, is that real weed in the movie? Do Seth Rogan and the others really smoke up in the movie? Cause if they do, then its really, really, really… wow.

Now to the highlight of the post.

I went for a mass demonstration yesterday.

I kid you not. My first mass demonstration. My virginal one.

I spoke in one of my earlier post (“English Grammar” post) that I have to pay $13,000 per semester fees for my university education. Given that my degree is 3 years and I’m planning to take on an extra one year to do an honours course, my total education fee will come up to about $104,000. This does not includes housing, transport and miscellaneous fees. So I’m looking at a $200,000 plus debt that I’ll be owning my dad.

So yesterday, I joined a mass demonstration to ensure fair education rights for international students and end discrimination against us. Just to let you know what we’re (I’m) fighting for, I’ll give you a bit of background history.

In 1988 (or 89), the NSW government ended transportation concession fees for international students, on the basis that we don’t pay taxes or provide to the economy. Which, is a really what the fuck logic.

First off, international students still have to pay taxes when we work. So that means our income are still tax-deductible. So it means that we still contribute to the economy. Although international students are allowed to claim back their taxes before they return to their home countries, I am told that the procedures are so complicated and convoluted that most can’t even get back their tax refunds. Talk about outright stealing. 

Secondly, on what basis are we not contributing to the economy? Is $26,000 per academic year not enough? 20% of Sydney University comes from international students like me while the rest comes from government funding, donations and the university investment portfolios. 20% is a lot, if you take account the proportion of international students against local students. 

Yet, despite these, the NSW and Victoria state governments still do not want to grant international students concessions cards and provide safe, affordable housings. So international students effectively pay the full transport fares while local students only pay half the price.

As for housing, none is provided for first year students. In the UK, first year students are automatically provided a room on the university campus or somewhere near the university campus. I can’t say this applies to ALL UK universities but the Scottish universities I applied to (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee) provided housing for me. However, in Australia, although Sydney University does have a Housing Accommodation Office to help students with their accommodation, first year students are generally left on their own to find their own accommodation, which usually leads them to be cheated by unscrupulous landlords as international students are unaware of the housing rules, regulations and their rights. 

When the NSW government passed the 1988 ruling to end transport concession for international students, it meant the start of a 20 year discrimination against international students. In 2006, a lawyer (or human rights activist, can’t really remember) pointed out that what the NSW government was doing is effectively illegal discrimination against international students for 2o years. Shortly, the NSW government changed the laws so that it can continue the discrimination ‘legally’. What this means is that I, or any other international student, will be unable to bring this discrimination up to the law courts because, after all, its legal and it IS the LAW.

So on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009, student unions/ representative councils from the NSW universities like Sydney University, UNSW, UTS, Newcastle University, Macquarie University and others from private colleges joined forces with the National Union of Students marched to the NSW state parliament house to protest against the discrimination.

International and local students including some people from the general public took part in the National Day of Action for Fair Education.

 

At Sydney U, outside Fisher Library

At Sydney U, outside Fisher Library

 

 

Outside Fisher Library

Outside Fisher Library

 

 

 

A silent man gathering his strength.

A silent man gathering his strength.

 

 

 

The banner

The banner

 

 

 

Marching off

Marching off

 

 

Leaving Sydney Uni

Leaving Sydney Uni

 

 

 

Riot Police in Sydney Uni

Riot Police in Sydney Uni

Is that riot police on the right smiling at my camera?

 

There were a lot of police around. First of all, this was a legal demonstration, so the police were informed, I think. I don’t think you’ll get this in Singapore where a one person demonstration is already considered illegal. But I couldn’t help thinking about this, was the police there to keep us from the public, or the public from us? That is something I’ll think about for a long while. 

 

 

Outside UTS

Outside UTS

 

 

 

Outside UTS

Outside UTS

 

 

 

Outside NSW State Parliament House

Outside NSW State Parliament House

 

 

 

Outside the NSW State Parliament House

Outside the NSW State Parliament House

 

 

We marched from Sydney Uni to the UTS and then proceeded for about an hour through Sydney’s CBD to the NSW State Parliament House. Throughout the march, we were on the roads, so the police had to make the traffic give way to us. The whole demonstration took about more than two hours.

We made our voices heard, our intentions known but we will have to wait for the NSW government response.

But like one of the rally organizers said, we will not stop the fight until we end the discrimination.

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One thought on “The Pineapple Express and Rally to End Discrimination Against International Students

  1. Pingback: New Year 2010. « Zareth Writes At: Blog

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