Monday 30 November 2009

Why Religion Means Very Little To Me

For this post I am borrowing the following warning from one of J.J.'s blog posts.

"Warning! Explicit content. View videos at own risk. The blogger of this post is not responsible for any damage inflicted (emotionally or otherwise) to any individual who reads this post. Those who may find this post offensive upon partial viewing would be advised to leave IMMEDIATELY!"
I discovered the works of Dr Michael Newton almost two and a half years ago, after Jeannie's passing. I was looking to make sense of my life after Jeannie and looking for closure perhaps...I needed to reconcile myself to myself. Scouring the internet only trawled up too much data that made things more confusing so I decided to go "brick and mortar" and visited Kinokuniya Bookstore.

Of the hundreds of books at the Philosophy, Religion and New Age sections, I was somehow drawn to this one:

...and so began my own personal journey of discovery and reconciliation. Watch these videos if you choose to:

After reading Journey of Souls the obvious next step was to read Michael Newton's second book entitled, "Destiny of Souls":

Destiny of Souls by Dr Michael Newton

Sunday 29 November 2009

Happy 23rd Birthday Dear Krystyn

Krystyn turned 23 on the 27th of November and as she graduates in the next few months, this ushers in another phase in her life.

This birthday, Mummy chose not to leave any sure sign of her presence unlike the previous two (here and here). Krystyn told me Mummy said three years would be long enough; this is Krystyn's third birthday after Mummy's demise.

But as I look at the photos...she is everywhere. She is in Krystyn and JJ.

UPDATE: The Last Straw? TRH Making His Move?

Here they come! Hold the line! Stay the course!

Almost immediately after TRH posted "Honouring Our Agreements" in his blog, the barbarians gather at the gate. The writing on the wall must have been so obvious that this birdy from Negeri has predictably reacted the way he always does. I suppose barking birds can get rabies too.

Anyway, just read to know:

Ku Li explains the BMF scandal to us before you want to be a hero!

"Founding Petronas chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has insisted the federal government should not interfere with the national oil firm's duty to give 5 per cent oil royalty to oil-producing states.The Umno veteran said the Najib administration's refusal to pay the fee to Kelantan has cast serious doubt on the Putrajaya's "respect for the sanctity of contracts and the rule of law" and has implications beyond just that state." Malaysian Insider

The question I want to know is, was there a cover up by Tengku Razaleigh (Ku Li), as a Finance Minister then, in the BMF scandal in which a bank officer Jalil Ibrahim was found murdered in the then-British colony of Hongkong.

I, as a citizen, did not get any satisfactory ending to the episode! So Ku Li before you attack Najib administration you must explain to the rakyat about this before they can accept you as their new hero.

As for me you do not have that personality to be a leader, you abandoned Umno to form another Malay party thus splitting the Malays, now you appear to be sleeping with the enemy by the name of BABI, so what gives man! Why can't you enjoy your princely life and let a real politician runs this country.

BTW have you done enough for your Orang Asli supporters in Gua Musang like providing them with real education so they can become smart enough to not vote you again? I doubt it!

Posted by Pasquale

The Last Straw? TRH Making His Move?

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (TRH) is perhaps the most qualified politician amongst the current crop to be prime minister. He is definitely more qualified than Najib and Muhyiddin...and for that matter, he would make a better PM than even Anwar Ibrahim.

In this latest blog post, TRH has for the first time since Bodohwi made a statement so strongly against government policy. To be exact...Najib policy. It would be interesting to see when the issue eventually goes to court for that forgone conclusion. Will TRH move before or after? After may be too late but it is never too early for TRH to move!

Stay tuned...

The Government has now responded to Kelantan’s claim to a portion of the profits derived from petroleum resources extracted offshore by PETRONAS.

Its response violates the letter and the intent of a solemn agreement signed between each State Government and PETRONAS under the Petroleum Development Act.

That agreement is made out in language simple enough for a schoolboy to understand, in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.

The Constitutional rights of the people of Kelantan are denied. However this has implications far beyond Kelantan:

1) It negates an agreement signed between the Kelantan Government and PETRONAS. By implication, it negates identical agreements signed by PETRONAS with every other state and deprives the people of their constitutional rights.

2) The Government’s refusal to recognize a straightforward contractual obligation on PETRONAS’s part puts a question mark over the status of oil payments due to the other oil-producing states. The States’ rights to 5% of profit derived from the extraction of any petroleum resources is based on a quid pro quo according to which the States vested entirely and in perpetuity all their rights and claims to petroleum resources to PETRONAS. In return for this PETRONAS is legally bound to pay the states the 5% directly

3) If PETRONAS no longer recognises its legal obligation to pay the States what is due to them under the Petroleum Development Act, the States, and in particular Sabah and Sarawak, will now wonder if the corresponding Vesting Deed by which they vested all their rights in their petroleum resources to PETRONAS remains in force.

4) The Government’s response substitutes for PETRONAS’s legal obligations under the Petroleum Development Act an arbitrary “compassionate payment” from the Federal Government. This casts serious doubt on the Malaysian Government’s respect for the sanctity of contracts and the rule of law. Let’s not talk about spurring investment to take our economy to a higher level if we fail to understand the importance of abiding by contractual obligations.

I helped craft and negotiate the Petroleum Development Act. As Chairman of Petronas, I signed separate and identical agreements in respect of these payments with each of the Mentris Besar of the States. I must insist that PETRONAS is bound by them and that the Federal government should not interfere in their fulfillment.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah
Member of Parliament, Gua Musang

I will discuss my response to the proposed parliamentary caucus on this issue in my next posting.

I last wrote on the issue of Kelantan’s right to oil payments in my letter to the Mentri Besar of Kelantan in July this year. PETRONAS was formed to unite the country under a single and simple formula for sharing the bounty of our petroleum resources. Any unraveling of this formula could have serious consequences for our Federation.

Saturday 28 November 2009

UPDATE: Of Robber Barons And Bottomless Pits?

My friend the famed communist fighter, Dato' Seri Yuen Yuet Leng still holds strongly to his opinion that Najib will deliver on his 1Malaysia. Having loyally served the nation and for a period under Najib's father during the difficult "communist" years, I cannot fault him for his steadfast belief in the son of the father.

Indeed the modus operandi of the BTN was always going to be a sore thumb; threatening to stick it up any genuine efforts to promote 1Malaysia.

There has always been whispers floating around about the controversial content of BTN courses that has only now been openly debated by the Opposition. Non-Malays who have been exposed to the unsavoury content of BTN over the last two decades had somehow been so cowed and fearful of speaking out.

They accept the fait accompli for fear of repercussions while on the other hand, Malays who have undergone the same BTN courses are probably too embarassed to speak out.

So, if the courses have been allowed to continue for more than 2 decades, then does that justify the BTN methods? Obviously not, but the non-Malays never dared to speak out in the past for fear of inciting violent reactions (contrived or otherwise). It always had to be that the Malays should be the ones who speak out against the BTN methods and now they have done so in droves. There is still a chance for Bangsa Malaysia yet!

Obviously, seige mentality and 1Malaysia ideals are mutually exclusive. I hope Dato' Seri Yuen is right and if this interesting piece in The Malaysian Insider today is anything to go by then, perhaps there is still hope for Najib. However, Najib should also look into the BTN-like indoctrination that goes on in the PLKN (National Service) that our youth have to swallow.

Please read:

Najib’s BTN dilemma
By Leslie Lau
Consultant Editor

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin next to him, and a number of ministers were thoroughly briefed several weeks ago on the divisive nature of the controversial Biro Tata Negara (BTN) courses compulsory for civil servants and university undergraduates.

What will Najib (centre) do about the BTN?

At the end of the briefing, the PM spoke of the fear and siege mentality the BTN courses had created, particularly among Malay participants.

“This must end,” he told those present, including Muhyiddin, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

The Malaysian Insider understands that all of the Cabinet members who were present at the briefing, arranged by Datuk Seri Idris Jala, nodded in agreement.

Najib is now facing increasing pressure to close down the BTN while the hawkish forces in his administration continue to defend what has been called racist brainwashing courses by participants and the Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

PR is now on a campaign to expose what its leaders say are political indoctrination programmes to ensure civil servants and students back Barisan Nasional (BN) and Umno.

An earlier proposal by the Najib administration to overhaul the BTN, or National Civics Bureau, may not be good enough, with more Malaysians speaking up against the courses.

If the government does not shut down the programme, Najib will face the prospect of more talk that his 1Malaysia talk is empty.

In recent week, a number of former participants which include PR politicians and journalists have spoken of their experiences at BTN camps.

They have pointed to how facilitators would stoke racial superiority, including portraying the Chinese as the most significant threat to the Malays.

PR parties such as the DAP have been portrayed as communist enemies of the country.

A constant theme of the BTN courses, especially for Malay participants, is the emphasis on racial ideology which is strikingly similar to Umno’s Ketuanan Melayu rallying cry, according to the accounts of some former participants.

Government ministers at Jala’s briefing several weeks ago had all privately acknowledged the need for BTN to be revamped.

Jala had spoken on the need to overhaul BTN, to make it more inclusive.

Jala has been charged with the responsibility of promoting Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept.

His team has been incubating ideas which touch on race, religion and other stumbling blocks to better race relations which have deteriorated.

The BTN courses have already been identified as one of those stumbling blocks.

But this week, as the flap grew over BTN, Muhyiddin defended the programme and denied that it was racist.

Instead the Selangor PR government has been the subject of attacks, particularly in the Bahasa Malaysia press, for attempting to ban its civil servants and students at state-owned institutions from attending the courses.

Umno leaders including Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, a close ally of Najib, have spearheaded a stout defence of BTN as an organization which promoted national unity and was being subjected to unsubstantiated attacks from PR.

While Najib remains overseas attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), his ministers and party-owned newspapers have promoted the idea that BTN is a flawless organisation.

They are also criticising PR parties for being unpatriotic or being against national unity.

Such a stand is likely to put the Prime Minister in a difficult position.

The Malaysian Insider understands that there are moves within the administration to dilute the syllabus of BTN courses, as a compromise.

But such half-measures are not likely to be enough if Najib is serious about reversing what many Malaysians see as institutionalised racism.

The question now is whether Najib will stick to what was articulated in private.

Friday 27 November 2009

Of Robber Barons And Bottomless Pits?

Two articles caught my attention today. One entitled, "BTN -- Between true education and indoctrination" by Azly Rahman is about the Biro Tata Negara being a tool for Malaysia's robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal. The other, in the Asia Sentinel entitled, "Grand Theft Malaysia", which coincidentally relates to the point Azly Rahman alludes to. Both are must reads together.

The last paragraph of the Asia Sentinel article is as follows:

"In the 1960s, federal prosecutors in the United States who were attempting to jail the late labor boss Jimmy Hoffa for looting the Teamsters Pension Fund of millions of dollars with his cronies were puzzled by the fact that their revelations appeared to have little effect on the union's rank and file. It was because no matter how much money Hoffa and his cronies stole, there was always money left because the fund was so rich. That appears to be the case with Malaysia."

"That appears to be the case with Malaysia." Yeah, for how long and for how much more!?!

The two articles:


BTN -- Between true education and indoctrination

These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal.

by Azly Rahman

I agree we must give credit to those working hard to "improve the psychological well-being of the Malays" and for that matter for any race to improve its mental wellness. This is important. This is a noble act. The question is: in doing so, do we want to plant the seeds of cooperation and trust-- or racial discrimination and deep hatred? Herein lies the difference between indoctrination and education. Herein lies what the work of Malaysia's Biro Tata Negara is about.

These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal. In the case of the BTN it is the work of controlling the minds of the youth. The work of BTN should be stopped and should not be allowed anymore in our educational institutions. It is time our universities especially are spared of counter-educational activities, especially when they yearned to be free from the shackles of domination. Look at what has happened and what is still happening to our institutions with the University and University Colleges Act and the Akujanji Pledge.

Over decades, many millions of Malays and non-Malays have not been getting the right information on our nation's history, political-economy, and race relations. History that is being shoved to us or filter-funneled down the labyrinth of our consciousness is one that is already packaged, biased, and propagandized by our historians that became text-books writers. History need not be "Malay-centric". Special rights for all Malaysians should be the goal of distributive and regulative justice of this nation, not the "special rights of a few Malays". History must be presented as the history of the marginalized, the oppressed, and the dispossessed -- of all races. We toil for this nation, as the humanist Paramoedya Ananta Toer would say, by virtue of our existence as "anak semua bangsa ... di bumi manusia".
Malaysia is a land of immigrants.

In this regard we can learn from the former British colony called America. Whatever the shortcomings may be, America is a land of immigrants and still evolving. Even a Black man or a woman can become president. This is what America conceives itself to be and this is what Malaysian can learn from. Can a non-Malay become a Prime Minster is he/she is the most ethical of all politicians in the country?

No one particular race should stake claim to Malaysia. That is an idea from the old school of thought, fast being abandoned. Each citizen is born, bred, and brought to school to become a good law-abiding and productive Malaysian citizen is accorded the fullest rights and privileges and will carry his/her responsibility as a good citizen. That is what "surrendering one's natural rights to the State" means. One must read Rousseau, Locke, Voltaire, and Jefferson to understand this philosophy. A bad government will not honor this -- and will fall, or will sink like the bahtera merdeka.

The history of civilizations provides enough examples of devastation and genocide as a consequence of violent claims to the right of this or that land based upon some idea of "imagined communities." We must teach our children to make history -- a history of peace amongst nations. This must be made into a new school of thought: of "new Bumiputeraism" that encompasses all and do not alienate any -- because life is too brief for each generation to fight over greed.

The eleventh hour of human existence and our emergence in this world has brought about destruction as a consequence of our inability to mediate differences based on race, color, creed, class, and national origin. Each ethnic group thinks that it is more socially-dominant than the other. Each does not know the basis of its "self". Each failed to realize its own DNA-make up or gene map.

Life is an existential state of beingness, so must history be conceived as such. Nationalism can evolve into a dangerous concept-- that was what happened to Europe at the brink of the two World Wars. It happened in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Indonesia when Suharto fell. I argue that we must live evolvingly in the "historical presence of historical constructions". The past and the future is in the present.

Back to BTN.

Courses devoid of critical treatment and sensibility and ones that retard student thinking -- such as "Kenegaraan" -- in our universities are designed to tell our mind to live in an imagined past. BTN is playing this dangerous game of blind nationalism still passing down packaged information that do not take into consideration the complexities of globalization and the promise of multiculturalism. We need to offer courses such as Multiethnic Malaysia that will have students aspire to think like multiculturalists and help this nation evolve better.

The ministry of education higher education combined has hundreds of experts -- many overseas trained and have tasted the "spirit of multiculturalism” and the "beauty of intellectual freedom" in their classrooms abroad -- who ought to have engineered a paradigm shift to help dismantle indoctrination agencies such as Biro Tata Negara.

But where are the voices in the wilderness of our public universities -- those who should be speaking up against 'Ketuanan Melayu or Ketuanan this or that race'? Why are many of these experts, instead of fighting for radical changes to affect radical-peaceful structural changes, are making big decisions to further advance the cause of racism? One-dimensional thinking prevails -- the thinking that does not allow diversity of ideas and failed to develop cross-cultural perspectives. Ideas move nations but indoctrinations remove intelligence. Political masters-- however corrupt to the core they are -- dictates the work of our academicians.

Whoever writes history and turn that into say, BTN propaganda, controls the future (or at least they think they do). We must question what is taught during the sessions or during any history lesson; fundamentally:

-- Whose history are we studying?
-- Is it meaningful to me?
-- Who wrote this history? Why? Who benefits?
-- Who gets included and excluded in this history textbooks?
-- Who's the hero -- who's the villain?

What I want to see is a stop to the systematic and ongoing stupefication of the Malays and the non-Malays and to let them be free from being run-down emotionally by boot camp facilitators who make a living humiliating people. We have a new generation of best and brightest Malaysians to educate. As an educator I have worked with thousands of them. These are extremely creative individuals who enjoy being challenged at the most respectable and intellectual levels -- not through indoctrination methods such as those used in BTN camps. They want to be fed with more questions and not be shoved with BTN-type of answers. We cannot afford to turn term them into docile beings while at the same time we holler the slogan "human capital" or modal insan the world over. It will be a "modularly insane" human condition if we continue to capitalize on human docility.

The Biro Tata Negara as an indoctrinating institution was conceived by "intellectuals" who themselves are trapped in their own cocoon or glass coconut shell of "wrongly-defined" Malay-ness and in a paradigm that teaches a poor understanding of Malaysian history. These intellectuals are running around in our public universities promoting a more sophisticated and pseudo-intellectual version of racism. Inciting racial sentiments in classroom and boot camps is big business nowadays -- profits made in the name of patriotism. But who's monitoring the trainers?

Education is not about insulting one's intelligence and instilling fear in our children. This is what the creators of BTN need to learn. In short, the indoctrinators need a good education on how not to indoctrinate. "Melayu 'kan hilang di nusantara ... " if we allow the dumbing down of Malaysians to continue.

Progressive parliamentarians must discuss this serious matter concerning the organization's deliberate attempt to promote disunity and to further fertilize the seeds of racism, at a time when we need to come together as Malaysians in order to face humanity's greater problem such as the food, oil, and water crisis that will plague us as human beings -- at a time when we must focus on constructing a new republic of virtue that will be founded on transcultural ethics, responsive and reflective politics, and a social-democratic-based economic system that do not tempt and feed human greed of the things they do not need. Our Asian despotic brand of capitalism continues to destroy the very foundation of our existence and our moral fibre. It is greed -- big time -- that brought down the National Front.

Through the work of the Rakyat, Divine intervention helped speed up the process of removal of Greed disguised as political parties in power. That's the metaphysical interpretation of March 8, 2008.

We are not running Hitler Youth camps in Malaysia. We must not even come close to setting up one.


While the opinion in the article is mine, the comments are yours; present them rationally and ethically. AND -- ABOLISH THE ISA -- NOW!


Grand Theft Malaysia
Written by Our Correspondent

Many snouts in the public trough

The Port Klang Free Zone scandal may be big, but it is only the latest in a long line of Malaysian scandals going back to the early 1980s. Time Magazine quoted Daniel Lian, a Southeast Asia economist at Morgan Stanley in Singapore, saying that the country might have lost as much as U$100 billion since the early 1980s to corruption."

The scandals listed below are only a small sample of the looting of the country's coffers:

In July of 1983, what was then the biggest banking scandal in world history erupted in Hong Kong, when it was discovered that Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF), a unit of Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd, had lost as much as US$1 billion which had been siphoned off by prominent public figures into private bank accounts. The story involved murder, suicide and the involvement of officials at the very top of the Malaysian government. Ultimately it involved a bailout by the Malaysian government amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mak Foon Tan, the murderer of Jalil Ibraim, a Bank Bumi assistant manager who was sent to Hong Kong to investigate the disappearance of the money, was given a death sentence, and Malaysian businessman George Tan who had participated in looting most of the funds, was jailed after his Carrian Group collapsed in what was then Hong Kong's biggest bankruptcy, and a handful of others were charged. No major politician was ever punished in Malaysia despite a white paper prepared by an independent commission that cited cabinet minutes of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad giving an okay to a request to throw more money into the scandal in an effort to contain it.

That was just the first Bank Bumi scandal. The government-owned bank had to be rescued twice more with additional losses of nearly US$600 million in today's dollars. Ultimately government officials gave up and the bank was absorbed into CIMB Group, currently headed by Nazir Razak, the prime minister's brother. That scandal, which stretched over several years before its denouement in 1985, set the tone for 24 years of similar scandals related to top Malaysian officials and was the first to prove that in Malaysia, you can not only get away with murder, you can get away with looting the treasury as well.

Perwaja Steel, for instance, lost US$800 million and its boss, Eric Chia, a crony of Mahathir's, was charged with looting the company. He stood trial, but was acquitted without having to put on a defense.

In the mid 1980s, the Co-operative Central Bank, a bank set up to aid the Indian smallholder community, had to be rescued by Bank Negara, the country's central bank, after hundreds of millions of ringgit in loans granted to a flock of United Malays National Organisation and Malaysian Indian Congress politicians became non-performing. Some had never been serviced at all. Although the chief executive and general manager were charged with criminal breach of trust, none of the politicians were ever charged.

Before that, the Malaysian government was believed to have lost US$500 million in an attempt at Mahathir's urging to corner the London tin market through a company called Maminco, driving the world price of tin from US$4.50 per tonne to US$7.50. It then sought to cover up the loss by establishing a US$2 company called Mukawasa from which allocations of new share issues to the government's Employees Provident Funds' were diverted. Mukawasa expected to sell the shares at a windfall profit to hide the tin speculation.

Mahathir also was behind an attempt by the then governor of Bank Negara, the central bank, to aggressively speculate in the global foreign exchange market. Bank Negara ended up losing an estimated RM20 billion. The governor, Jaffar Hussein, and the head of forex trading, Nor Mohamed Yakcop were forced to resign.

There have been many other political and financial scandals since. In 2005, Bank Islam Malaysia, the country's flagship Islamic bank, reported losses of RM457 million mainly due to provisioning totaling RM774 million as a result of bad loans and investments incurred by its Labuan branch. Cumulatively, Bank Islam ran up nonperforming loans of RM2.2 billion, partly from mismanagement and poor internal controls but also "years of regulatory indifference fueled by the misconceived notion of an untouchable Bank Islam because it was a favorite child of the Malaysian government, being the first and model Islamic bank in the country and region," according to a December 19, 2005 article in Arab News. "

Bank Islam had a reputation in the market for being the spoilt child of the Malaysian Ministry of Finance; and the perception of the bank was more of a Muslim financial fraternity or government development financial institution," the report said.

In 2007, in what was called Malaysia's Enron scandal, the publicly traded Transmile Group Bhd, whose chairman was former MCA President and Cabinet Minister Ling Liong Sik, was caught having overstated its revenue by RM530 million. A pretax profit from Rm207 million in 2006 was actually a loss of RM126 million, and a pretax profit of 120 million in 2005 was a loss of RM77 million, causing the government postal company Pos Malaysia & Services Holdings Bhd to warn that its earnings for the 2006 financial year might be affected by the reported overstatement, as the postal group owned 15.3 percent of Transmile.

Over the years 2001 to 2006, the government had to spend billions to rescue seven privatized projects including Kuala Lumpur's two public transport systems, the perennially ailing Malaysia Airlines, the national sewage system and a variety of others that, in the words of one study, "had been privatized prematurely." The government also repeatedly bailed out highway construction concessionaires, all of them closely connected to Umno, to the tune of another RM38.5 billion.

In 2008, it was revealed that Rafidah Aziz, who had served as trade and industry minister for 18 years, had been peddling approved permits for duty-free car sales and allegedly lining her pockets. Two companies which didn't even have showrooms – one of which belonged to the husband of Rafidah's niece – received scores of permits. Although Rafidah came in for heavy criticism from within Umno, she remained in office until she was defeated in party elections.

In the 1960s, federal prosecutors in the United States who were attempting to jail the late labor boss Jimmy Hoffa for looting the Teamsters Pension Fund of millions of dollars with his cronies were puzzled by the fact that their revelations appeared to have little effect on the union's rank and file. It was because no matter how much money Hoffa and his cronies stole, there was always money left because the fund was so rich.
That appears to be the case with Malaysia.

Monday 23 November 2009

The Anarchist Named Namewee

This You Tube video by the infamous Namewee is shitty. The fat piece of shit does not even know the difference between an outage due to scheduled shutdown and an unexpected breakdown. In any case the prick needs to be taught a lesson for his crude and rude behaviour.

He blames TNB for interrupting his songwriting and his brother's preparation for an exam the following day. It appears the shithead thinks he is a celebrity.

Kudos to the TNB staff in the video for their politeness and for resisting the temptation of throwing the sack of shit out the window.

See for yourself his thuggish behaviour. His own video should be evidence enough to take him in for disturbing the peace.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Nice Touch Asri!

Today, former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin was charged in the Gombak Syariah Court here with teaching without a permit. He was charged under Section 119 of Selangor Islamic Administration Enactment and expectedly he pleaded not guilty. However, if convicted he can be fined up to RM3,000 or imprisoned up to two years.

But there is more than meets the eye. Who or what is actually on trial here?

This is a case between the country's powerful traditionalist ulamas and Muslim Malaysia's more progressive preachers. It will be watched closely by Muslims in the country many of whom feel (albeit mostly privately) that the government's policy of "penerapan nilai-nilai Islam" over the last three decades has given rise to many religious bodies wielding unjustifiably huge powers over their daily lives. The chastising of Muslims for practising yoga and girls for adopting tomboyish looks, comes to mind.

Could this case be signalling a watershed?

This was in today's Malaysian Insider.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said he will continue preaching and campaign for the abolishing of the law that requires preachers to get certification from the state.

“Times have changed, if I cannot teach the usual way, I can go to the Internet or I can go to the newspapers,” said Asri, who was charged this morning in a syariah court for preaching without a permit.

“Whenever I have the chance to speak on Islam I will do so, if they stop me then maybe I won't mention the word Islam,” he said.

Earlier, he pleaded not guilty to the charge. He was charged under Section 119 of the Islamic Administration of Selangor which carries a fine of up to RM3,000 and imprisonment of up to two years.

“This will not stop me from delivering the message... they think this is a small matter, they think they can just stop people from teaching, but for me this case is very significant,” Asri told reporters outside the court.

The controversial scholar was arrested by the Selangor Islamic authority (Jais) some two weeks ago while giving a private lecture at a friend’s residence in Ukay Heights.

Asri, who was a university lecturer until his appointment as Perlis mufti in 2006, is noted for his unconventional interpretation of Islamic principles which often contradict government-endorsed doctrines.

He continued to be an influential Islamic scholar after ending his service as the Perlis mufti late last year.

Various leaders from both sides of the political divide, including former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a known supporter of Asri's, have condemned the arrest.

Several Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers also attempted to condemn Asri's arrest at the state legislative assembly but the Selangor executive councillor in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Dr Hasan Ali defended the action taken by Jais.

This morning, dozens of people accompanied Asri to the courtroom. Former Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim was also present.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Dei! Thambi!!!

When PI P. Balasubramaniam made his 1st SD I felt its contents were mere heresy since there was no hard evidence to back up what he said. I wondered about his real motive apart from those he declared in his 1st SD:

"54. The purpose of this Statutory declaration is to :-

54.1 State my disappointment at the standard of investigations conducted by the authorities into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Altantuya Shaaribuu.

54.2 Bring to the notice of the relevant authorities the strong possibility that there are individuals other than the 3 accused who must have played a role in the murder of Altantuya Shaaribuu.

54.3 Persuade the relevant authorities to reopen their investigations into this case immediately so that any fresh evidence may be presented to the Court prior to submissions at the end of the prosecutions case.

54.4 Emphasize the fact that having been a member of the Royal Malaysian Police Force for 17 years I am absolutely certain no police officer would shoot someone in the head and blow up their body without receiving specific instructions from their superiors first.

54.5. Express my concern that should the defence not be called in the said murder trial, the accused, Azilah and Sirul will not have to swear on oath and testify as to the instructions they received and from whom they were given."

What was P. Balasubramaniam's real agenda or was there one? My view then was that he was probably being paid to come up with the 1st SD.

After his 2nd SD the next day, he disappeared and he did look shaken during the press conference.

Our obvious conclusion was that he was forced to retract and threatened with nothing less than death to him and his loved ones. My opinion was that he was probably induced by a combination of fear and money; didn't blame him one bit!

Now, 15 months later he re-appears to update us about his ongoing saga. Is it because he no longer thinks there is danger; perceived or otherwise? I think he is probably telling the truth about the people who forced him into hiding but the RM5 million question is the RM5 million question: Would he have crawled out of the woodwork if he had indeed received the promised RM5 million? I wouldn't think so.

In the first place, if I were Najib's people I would not pay him RM5 million to retract heresy no matter how graphic.

Dei! Thambi!!! Go back to India lah!

Thursday 12 November 2009

Friday Night Fervor; Rais Yatim's "Arabization Of The Malays"

I nicked this off Syed Akbar Ali's blog "OutSyed The Box". It is a must read for ALL Malaysians.

The Saudi-isation Of Pakistan

The following is an article written by Pervez Hoodbhoy – an eminent nuclear physicist in Pakistan.

My comments are in italic blue. The similarities are quite frightening.

The Saudi-isation Of Pakistan
By Pervez Hoodbhoy

The common belief in Pakistan is that Islamic radicalism is a problem only in FATA (Federally Administered Territories), and that madrassas are the only institutions serving as jihad factories. This is a serious misconception. Extremism is breeding at a ferocious rate in public and private schools within Pakistan's towns and cities. Left unchallenged, this education will produce a generation incapable of co-existing with anyone except strictly their own kind. The mindset it creates may eventually lead toPakistan's demise as a nation state.

I think this is happening in Malaysia too. We do have our versions of the Taliban in Anwar Ibrahim and his Beemers (still around), the PAS, Zulkifli Noordin of Kulim, Hassan Ali of Selangor and also some of the ketua agama at the State level.

But they are not the real threat. The real threat is the extremism that is breeding in our Government school systems, our Government departments (the hijacking of the penerapan nilai-nilai Islam concept), in our public universities and just about anywhere else where the Government is involved. We even have a wannabe pseudo ustaz in the form of our DPM.

For 20 years or more, a few of us have been desperately sending out SOS messages, warning of terrible times to come. In fact, I am surprised at how rapidly these dire predictions have come true.

Its happening here too. The sentencing of Kartika, the jailing of Abdul Kahar to 10 years jail, the almost arrest and almost charging of Dr Asri are all symptoms too.

A full-scale war is being fought in FATA, Swat and other "wild" areas of Pakistan, resulting in thousands of deaths. It is only a matter of time before this fighting shifts toPeshawar and Islamabad (which has already been a witness to the Lal Masjid episode) and engulfs Lahore andKarachi as well. The suicide bomber and the masked abductor have crippled Pakistan's urban life and shattered its national economy.

Well we exported the best of our fruitcakes. Azahari, Noordin Mat Top and a few others swam across the water to Indonesia and became infamous. If we are not careful, some of these crows may come home to roost. Mas Selamat could be an example. When he was arrested, a few others were also taken in. Sudah ada support group.

Soldiers, policemen, factory and hospital workers, mourners at funerals and ordinary people praying in mosques have all been reduced to globs of flesh and fragments of bones. But, perhaps paradoxically, in spite of the fact that the dead bodies and shattered lives are almost all Muslim ones, few Pakistanis speak out against these atrocities. Nor do they approve of the army operation against the cruel perpetrators of these acts because they believe that they are Islamic warriors fighting for Islam and against American occupation. Political leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan have no words of solace for those who have suffered at the hands of Islamic extremists. Their tears are reserved exclusively for the victims of Predator drones, even if they are those who committed grave crimes against their own people. Terrorism, by definition, is an act only the Americans can commit.

There is much sympathy among our people in the border areas for the Thai Muslims in Southern Thailand. I have much sympathy for the Southern Thais too. But there is the danger that this sympathy will become increasingly fired by religious fervour. That will be disastrous. If that happens it will causes religious blindness which will not bring about any solution to this problem. The solution for Southern Thailand is in large doses of modern, scientific, practical education, economic opportunities and jobs for the Malays in southern Thailand. Religious education and a religious agenda will not solve anything. Just like in Pakistan, some of our folks here are already confused over this.

What explains Pakistan's collective masochism? To understand this, one needs to study the drastic social and cultural transformations that have rendered this country so completely different from what it was in earlier times.

For three decades, deep tectonic forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away from the Indian subcontinent and driving it towards the Arabian peninsula. This continental drift is not physical but cultural, driven by a belief thatPakistan must exchange its South Asian identity for an Arab-Muslim one. Grain by grain, the desert sands of Saudi Arabia are replacing the rich soil that had nurtured a magnificent Muslim culture in India for a thousand years. This culture produced Mughul architecture, the Taj Mahal, the poetry of Asadullah Khan Ghalib, and much more. Now a stern, unyielding version of Islam (Wahhabism) is replacing the kinder, gentler Islam of the Sufis and saints who had walked on this land for hundreds of years.

Its happening here too. People are being taught to deny their own Malay culture and become wannabe Arabs. Rais Yatim has called it the Arabisation of the Malays. It started about 30 years ago also. The nasyid groups, the arabic headgear, the tudung, the jubah, ana, anta and other arabisms crept into the local culture.

Here is some psycho-analysis. Pakistani Muslims also cannot compete in the real world. They know this.They also have to contend with India - which is moving ahead. Here we have to contend with Singapore, Japan etc.

Without realising the real cause of their failure (overdose of religion) they start to deny / hate their own culture and history – as though that was the main cause of their backwardness. And they think even more concentrated doses of their versions of religion (which again is different from ours) is the solution to their ills. They end up in arabisation and are no nearer to becoming more competitive. The same is happening here. The religious people are blaming our own culture as the cause of our backwardness. No makyong, no dikir barat, no wayang kulit, no music. no nothing. They feel that more doses of their variety of religion will cure us. Hence slogans like ‘neither east nor west, Islam is the best’.

This change is by design. Twenty-five years ago, the Pakistani state used Islam as an instrument of state policy. Prayers in government departments were deemed compulsory, floggings were carried out publicly, punishments were meted out to those who did not fast in Ramadan, selection for academic posts in universities required that the candidate demonstrate a knowledge of Islamic teachings and jihad was declared essential for every Muslim. Today, government intervention is no longer needed because of a spontaneous groundswell of Islamic zeal. The notion of an Islamic state - still in an amorphous and diffused form - is more popular now than ever before as people look desperately for miracles to rescue a failing state.

Prayers in government departments ? Sounds too familiar. Folks lets do an instant survey : siapa di antara orang Islam tidak setuju ‘prayers in Government departments’ sila angkat tangan. No one? Told you so.

Villages have changed drastically; this transformation has been driven, in part, by Pakistani workers returning from Arab countries. Many village mosques are now giant madrassas that propagate hard-line Salafi and Deobandi beliefs through oversized loudspeakers. They are bitterly opposed to Barelvis, Shias and other sects, who they do not regard as Muslims. The Punjabis, who were far more liberal towards women than the Pukhtuns, are now beginning to take a line resembling that of the Taliban. Hanafi law has begun to prevail over tradition and civil law, as is evident from the recent decisions of the Lahore High Court.

“giant madrassas, oversized loudspeakers, bitterly opposed to . . . other sects, who they do not regard as Muslims, Hanafi law has begun to prevail..”

Oh oh ! This is too creepily familiar. I just wrote about oversized loudspeakers (and temple bells too) the other day.

In Pakistan's lower-middle and middle classes lurks a grim and humourless Saudi-inspired revivalist movement that frowns on any and every expression of joy and pleasure. Lacking any positive connection to culture and knowledge, it seeks to eliminate "corruption" by regulating cultural life and seizing control of the education system.

"Classical music is on its last legs in Pakistan; the sarangi and vichitraveena are completely dead," laments Mohammad Shehzad, a music aficionado. Indeed, teaching music in public universities is violently opposed by students of the Islami Jamaat-e-Talaba at Punjab University. So the university has been forced to hold its music classes elsewhere. Religious fundamentalists consider music haram or un-Islamic. Kathak dancing, once popular with the Muslim elite of India, has few teachers left. Pakistan produces no feature films of any consequence. Nevertheless, the Pakistani elite, disconnected from the rest of the population, live their lives in comfort through their vicarious proximity to the West. Alcoholism is a chronic problem of the super rich of Lahore - a curious irony for this deeply religious country.

Violin kristian, Beyonce memang tak boleh, Michael Jackson cannot (unfortunately Mika-il has passed away), concert cannot, Saving Private Ryan banned (?) Semua tak boleh. Pakistan Zindabad ! Malaysia also Zindabad !

Islamisation of the state and the polity was supposed to have been in the interest of the ruling class - a classic strategy for preserving it from the wrath of the working class.

This is the best statement in Hoodbhoy’s whole article. “Religious fervour” has become a control mechanism. If the natives want to dance barefoot around the fire, let them. Ban fire extinguishers and shoe shops. Dont spoil their party. So long as they keep supporting us.

But the amazing success of the state is turning out to be its own undoing. Today, it is under attack from religious militants, and rival Islamic groups battle each other with heavy weapons. Ironically, the same army - whose men were recruited under the banner of jihad, and which saw itself as the fighting arm of Islam - today stands accused of betrayal and is almost daily targeted by Islamist suicide bombers.

Pakistan's self-inflicted suffering comes from an education system that, like Saudi Arabia's system, provides an ideological foundation for violence and future jihadists. It demands that Islam be understood as a complete code of life, and creates in the mind of a school-going child a sense of siege and embattlement by stressing that Islam is under threat everywhere.

Are the products of our school system spared from this threat? Our universities certainly are not.

On the previous page, the reader can view the government-approved curriculum. This is the basic road map for transmitting values and knowledge to the young. By an act of parliament passed in 1976, all government and private schools (except for O-level schools) are required to follow this curriculum. It was prepared by the curriculum wing of the federal ministry of education, government of Pakistan. It sounds like a blueprint for a religious fascist state.

The promotion of militarism in Pakistan's so-called "secular" public schools, colleges and universities had a profound effect upon young minds. Militant jihad became part of the culture on college and university campuses. Armed groups flourished, they invited students for jihad in Kashmir andAfghanistan, set up offices throughout the country, collected funds at Friday prayers and declared a war which knew no borders. Pre-9/11, my university was ablaze with posters inviting students to participate in the Kashmir jihad. Post-2001, this ceased to be done openly.

Does anyone still recall Kumpulan Militan Malaysia? They really existed.

Still, the primary vehicle for Saudi-ising Pakistan's education has been the madrassa. In earlier times, these had turned out the occasional Islamic scholar, using a curriculum that essentially dates back to the 11th century, with only minor subsequent revisions. But their principal function had been to produce imams and muezzins for mosques, and those who eked out an existence as ‘maulvi sahibs' teaching children to read the Quran.

The Afghan jihad changed everything. During the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, madrassas provided the US-Saudi-Pakistani alliance the cannon fodder they needed to fight a holy war. The Americans and Saudis, helped by a more-than-willing General Zia, funded new madrassas across the length and breadth of Pakistan. A detailed picture of the current situation is not available. But according to the national education census, which the ministry of education released in 2006, Punjab has 5,459 madrassas followed by the NWFP with 2,843; Sindh has 1,935; the Federally Administrated Northern Areas (FANA), 1,193; Balochistan, 769; Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 586; the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), 135; and the Islamabad capital territory, 77. The ministry estimates that 1.5 million students are acquiring religious education in the 13,000 madrassas.

We also have madrassas mushrooming around. There are many around Kuala Lumpur. There are also thousands of suraus. The reason I point out suraus is because they are small and frequently slip under the radar. Hence it is easier for some local nut to hijack the local surau to suit his own zeal, fervour and flavour.We need to keep an eye so that no hijackers run away with our suraus that are built with taxpayers money.

These figures appear to be way off the mark. Commonly quoted figures range between 18,000 and 22,000 madrassas. The number of students could be correspondingly larger. The free boarding and lodging plus provision of books to the students, is a key part of their appeal. Additionally, parents across the country desire that their children be "disciplined" and given a thorough Islamic education. The madrassas serve this purpose, too, exceedingly well.

Madrassas have deeply impacted the urban environment. Until a few years ago, Islamabad was a quiet, orderly, modern city different from the rest of Pakistan. Also, it had largely been the abode of Pakistan's elite and foreign diplomats. But the rapid transformation of its demography brought with it hundreds of mosques with multi-barrelled audio-cannons mounted on minarets, as well as scores of madrassas illegally constructed in what used to be public parks and green areas. Now, tens of thousands of their students, sporting little prayer caps, dutifully chant the Quran all day. In the evenings they swarm the city, making women minus the hijab increasingly nervous.

The following is from today’s newspaper:

“PAS moral squad to go undercover in red-light areas

PETALING JAYA: PAS Youth members will discard their turbans and robes for casual attire when they enter “sleazy joints” to advise Muslim and non-Muslim youths who patronise such places.

Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi said they were embarking on an aggressive anti-free sex campaign to save the “lost souls” and were prepared to go to such places and red-light areas to reach out to youths living in a world of sin.

“We will advise the Muslims on the premise of religion and moral conduct,” he said.

He added that the non-Muslims would be advised on the premise of morality, culture and Eastern values.”

So PAS wants to create the Malaysian version of religious vigilantes. They will not respect our Police or the law enforcers in the country. The question is can we keep them from taking the law into their own hands? Club of Doom.

Total segregation of the sexes is a central goal of the Islamists, the consequences of which have been catastrophic. For example, on April 9, 2006, 21 women and eight children were crushed to death and scores injured in a stampede inside a three-storey madrassa in Karachi, where a large number of women were attending a weekly congregation. Male rescuers, who arrived in ambulances, were prevented from moving the injured women to hospitals.

One cannot dismiss this incident as being just one of a kind. In fact, soon after the October 2005 earthquake, as I walked through the destroyed city of Balakot, a student of theFrontier Medical College described to me how he and his male colleagues were stopped by religious elders from digging out injured girl students from under the rubble of their school building.

This action was similar to that of Saudi Arabia's ubiquitous religious ‘mutaween' (police) who, in March 2002, had stopped school girls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing their abayas - a long robe worn in Saudi Arabia. In a rare departure from the norm, Saudi newspapers had blamed and criticised the mutaween for letting 15 girls burn to death.

The Saudi-isation of a once-vibrant Pakistani culture continues at a relentless pace. The drive to segregate is now also being found among educated women. Vigorous proselytisers carrying this message, such as Mrs Farhat Hashmi, have been catapulted to the heights of fame and fortune. Their success is evident. Two decades back, the fully veiled student was a rarity on Pakistani university and college campuses. The abaya was an unknown word in Urdu. Today, some shops across the country specialise in abayas. At colleges and universities across Pakistan, the female student is seeking the anonymity of the burqa. And in some parts of the country she seems to outnumber her sisters who still "dare" to show their faces.

I have observed the veil profoundly affect habits and attitudes. Many of my veiled female students have largely become silent note-takers, are increasingly timid and seem less inclined to ask questions or take part in discussions. They lack the confidence of a young university student.

While social conservatism does not necessarily lead to violent extremism, it does shorten the distance. The socially conservative are more easily convinced that Muslims are being demonised by the rest of the world. The real problem, they say, is the plight of the Palestinians, the decadent and discriminatory West, the Jews, the Christians, the Hindus, the Kashmir issue, the Bush doctrine - the list runs on. They vehemently deny that those committing terrorist acts are Muslims, and if presented with incontrovertible evidence, say it is a mere reaction to oppression.

The immediate future does not appear hopeful: increasing numbers of mullahs are creating cults around themselves and seizing control of the minds of worshippers. In the tribal areas, a string of new Islamist leaders have suddenly emerged: Baitullah Mehsud, Maulana Fazlullah and Mangal Bagh.

Poverty, deprivation, lack of justice and extreme differences of wealth provide the perfect environment for these demagogues to recruit people to their cause.Their gruesome acts of terror are still being perceived by large numbers of Pakistanis merely as a war against imperialist America. This could not be further from the truth.

In the long term, we will have to see how the larger political battle works out between those Pakistanis who want an Islamic theocratic state and those who want a modern Islamic republic. It may yet be possible to roll back those Islamist laws and institutions that have corroded Pakistani society for over 30 years and to defeat its hate-driven holy warriors. There is no chance of instant success; perhaps things may have to get worse before they get better. But, in the long term, I am convinced that the forces of irrationality will cancel themselves out because they act at random whereas reason pulls only in one direction. History leads us to believe that reason will triumph over unreason, and the evolution of the humans into a higher and better species will continue. Using ways that we cannot currently anticipate, they will somehow overcome their primal impulses of territoriality, tribalism, religiosity and nationalism. But, for now, this must be just a matter of faith.

Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics at Quaid-e-AzamUniversity, Islamabad.

I am sure this article will attract some comment. Do keep it civil. Religious freaks, keep it in your pants ok?

Monday 9 November 2009

Religious Persecution? Man Proposes, Man Disposes?

Religion, I reiterate holds very little meaning to me but this does not prevent me from respecting another person's right of worship. What irks me are some believers who in all their hubris and fervor, attempt to marginalize and label people who do not share their faith.

I encourage my two kids to seek their own path when it comes to spiritual development and to explore various belief systems, including mainstream religion. They are cautioned not to judge although sometimes this is easier said than done. Nevertheless, JJ goes for Christian cell meetings (I think more for social rather than redemption reasons) some Fridays and according to him, is still looking. Krystyn is in her own New Age world.

Both of them attended government schools their entire primary and secondary school years in the 90s till this decade and were exposed to the full force of government sponsored racial polarization; it was a Malay (therefore, Muslim) versus a non-Malay situation.

They both have close friends of various faiths including Malay Muslims and growing up in the Malaysia of these two decades, it suffices to say, my kids do not comment on Islam. Their years in government schools have conditioned them to just "zip it" in the face of over-zealous Muslim teachers and fellow students. I suspect it is not so much because of Islam per se but more about them being non-Muslim which compounds the differentiation imposed under the NEP between bumiputra and non-bumiputra.

It is also not because they know very much about Islam but it suffices to say the impression they have precludes any possibility of them ever choosing to convert. They probably feel they would only be Muslim if born into the faith and I dare say they would even avoid marrying a Muslim to avoid conversion or having their kids being born in a Muslim family.

That is sad because I think my kids do not have totally the right impression and as a parent, I am party to the blame. Having been born in 1959 and though still young then, I know Malaysia in the breezy 60s was a far cry from the religiosity of the succeeding decades. I know of many successful inter-marriages and have many good Malay friends. Yet I have seen my Muslim Malay friends change over the years just as I have seen the Malay Muslim change during that time.

But if Islam has been around for more than 1300 years and the Malays perhaps even longer, then what is it that really changed? Perhaps it is the Malays' impression of Islam that has changed. This is evident in the siege mentality that creates the proclivity to "defend" Islam at the slightest turn. This paranoia-induced defensiveness in turn resulted in the insularity that shuts out all others to the point that many Muslim Malays feel that non-Muslims have no right to even talk about Islam.

This was perfect for the divide-and-rule concept of race-based politics and the BN encouraged it by allowing our children to be drawn apart by race and religion; their unity message lip-service against the reality of blatant racists actions is sickening. Everything done by the government in the name of Islam was deemed positive and this eventually allowed opportunities for certain Islamic fundamentalists and zealots in government Islamic affairs departments (e.g. JAIS, JAKIM, etc.) to "hijack" moderate Islam and impose their brand on the masses.

Now it appears the Islamists are testing the strength of Najib on matters of religion by their recent treatment of the moderate former Mufti of Perlis, Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. But the fact that there are now open differing opinions amongst the Islamic intelligentsia about the ongoing tussle is refreshing and hopeful. Will moderation triumph over extremism?

How the government reacts will decide whether the country needs to merely pose or becomes a true model "moderate" Muslim country. Will moderate politicians continue to cower in silence for fear of being labelled as anti-God, anti-Islam and anti-syariah, or will the masses be blinded by opportunistic ones who shamelessly and dangerously fly the flag of Islam to advance their short-term political agenda? Will it ultimately be Malaysian civil society that has to show courageous civic leadership where political leadership has failed us?

Divide and rule race-based politics has turned on itself and evolved into creeping class-based politics that ultimately divided even the Malays! The excesses of the elitist coterie; the UMNOputras and their multi-racial BN cronies have alienated the urban Malay voters. How else to explain that after GE12 there was an increase in the total number of Malay Parliamentarians but many were in the Opposition. There was no erosion of Malay representation in Parliament! Malay politics now faces a political war for the Malay rural heartland which is the traditional UMNO stronghold.

However, on the Islamic front there is a war raging for the Malay hearts. With PAS trying to curb extremism and stand by its PR partners, it is not too late for Najib to win bouquets by coming out with a bold declaration what moderate Islam he envisages his 1Malaysia to advocate.

I hope my Malay (Muslim) brethren will decide well for ALL Malaysians in this epic moment of this nation's history. It is no longer just about political wars but a war for the nation's soul.

This article by Zainah Anwar in yesterday's The Star is a must read.

Whither moderation?

The arrest of a progressive ulama has plunged many Malay sians into further despair that this country is hurtling towards an implosion but it may prove a blessing in disguise.

What else needs to happen before our political leaders on both sides of the divide find the will and courage to walk the talk of seeing a plural, diverse Malaysia as a source of strength and not a threat?

That a former mufti who holds progressive views and challenges the conservative religious authorities could be arrested and treated as if he was Noordin Mat Top just shows how far those pushing for an Islamic state and syariah supremacy are willing to go to ensure that their rigid and intolerant understanding of Islam prevails.

That this arrest and attacks on Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin led by the Malaysian Asso ciation of Syariah Lawyers (PGSM) and its Islamist allies, including Muslim Youth Move ment of Malaysia (Abim) and Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM), should take place now is clearly a concerted effort to test the strength of the new Prime Minister on matters of religion.

Similarly, these Islamists have also relaunched another round of attacks against Sisters in Islam by reportedly lodging over 50 police reports against the group and holding public forums, this time led by the extremist Hizbur Tahrir, a global Islamist group intent on reviving the Islamic Caliphate.

Speaking his mind: Dr Asri, a former mufti, was accused of illegally delivering a religious talk in Selangor.

Little known in Malaysia, but banned or investigated in other countries, the Malaysian branch of Hizbur Tahrir has become more public in its activities, with banners in various neighbourhoods and announcements of events in mosques after Friday prayers.

For years now, the Islamic state ideologues have been pushing the boundaries of the forbidden in Malaysia. They have been relentless in their attacks on those working on women’s rights and fundamental liberties as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and in pushing for the expansion of syariah jurisdiction in Malaysia.

They include areas such as freedom of religion, the right of the non-converting wife and children when a husband converts to Islam, moral policing, book banning, seizure of Bibles written in Bahasa Malaysia, fatwa on kongsi raya, yoga, pluralism, liberalism, to the sprouting of Islamist NGOs under all manner of names signing all kinds of petitions against fundamental liberties.
From matters such as making police reports against progressive groups and individuals, to holding rallies and seminars with inflammatory titles such as “Islam Di Hina”, “Umat Islam diCabar”, “Bahaya Murtad”, “Bahaya Islam Liberal”, the Govern ment and the opposition have largely failed to support the moderate social forces of Malay sian society.

While moderate politicians cower in silence in fear of being labelled as anti-God, anti-Islam and anti-syariah, or opportunistic ones shamelessly and dangerously fly the flag of Islam to advance their short-term political agenda, it is Malaysian civil society that has shown courageous civic leadership where political leadership has failed us.

Now that a religious leader from within the establishment has become the target of these intolerant Islamist forces inside and outside government, will the political leadership finally show the courage needed to act?

What kind of Islam does the Prime Minister envi sage in his 1Malaysia? Certainly not the Islam of the Selangor State Religious Depart ment (JAIS) and the PGSM who accused Dr Asri of all manner of dastardly insults to Islam as they perceive it.

While the arrest of Dr Asri plunged many Malaysians into further despair that this country is hurtling towards an implosion, I think it is actually a blessing in disguise.

It is obvious that both the JAIS and the PGSM and their Islamist allies have made a tactical error, underestimating the popular support that Dr Asri and his ideas enjoy in this country.
It is time for the silent majority of moderate Muslims in Malaysia to speak out. Certain ly Dr Asri’s supporters at the Mahkamah Syariah Gombak on Monday stood up to be counted.

While Dr Asri talked of “hidden hands” behind his arrest, neither the federal government nor the Selangor state government claims responsibility for this display of state power against a former mufti.
What could be the motive when a state religious authority combined with federal law and order forces display heavy-handed powers to arrest an Islamic scholar for his progressive ideas that challenge the authoritaria­nism of Islam in Malaysia? Who called the shots? Who really is in control?
For me, this debacle is once again evidence of the unenforceability of the invasive powers of the Syariah Criminal Offence laws of this country. In this instance, the provision that makes it an offence for anyone to teach Islam without certification (tauliah) from the state religious authorities.

When is someone teaching Islam and when is he not? Who has the authority to decide on that? What are the criteria that constitute teaching of Islam? On what basis are some certified to teach Islam, some are not, some are prosecuted while many more others can freely preach hatred, racial ill-will, and miso gyny in the name of Islam?

Just listen to the ceramahs amplified over loudspeakers for all in the neighbourhood to hear, even when you don’t want to.

Then there is the larger issue of whether this specific provision restricting freedom of speech is against Islamic principles that uphold diversity and differences in Islam and against constitutional guarantees of fundamental liberties.

Yet again, the enforcement of this ill-advised, badly drafted syariah law with its wide range of “sins” turned into crimes against the state and restrictions over the exercise of fundamental freedoms has led to public outrage.
There is an obvious disconnect between public opinion and societal values on what constitutes fair and just in Islam, and the intolerant, punitive, misogynistic Islam of those who conveniently use God’s authority to justify despotism in the name of Islam.
As more foreign scholars and journalists come to Malaysia to study this supposedly model “moderate” Muslim country, they go away surprised at the range of laws, mechanisms and structures in the name of Islam that control and restrict Muslim rights and freedoms.
They are shocked that a modern country like Malaysia could have unprecedented laws that make it a crime if one disobeys a fatwa, that turn moral obligations before God into legal obligations before the state, that turn sins into crimes, that confuse what is haram (forbidden), wajib (obligatory), sunat (recommended), harus (permissible) and makruh(discouraged) in its laws.

That Dr Asri could be accused of being a Wahhabi, at the same time a liberal, a progressive, a radical, is just one measure of that confusion and ignorance in Malaysia.

It is not possible to be liberal or progressive and Wahhabi at the same time. If at all, those who signed the memorandum written by the PGSM are the Wahhabi followers.
The puritanical Wahhabi movement which spread throughout the Muslim world over the past few decades, fuelled by Saudi petro-dollars, negates the diversity and complexity of the Muslim juristic heritage.

Dr Asri’s position on issues such as freedom of religion, differences of opinion in Islam, the imperative for reform, his criticisms of the delays and bias against women in the syariah courts, of khalwat laws and invasion of privacy, book banning and fatwa against yoga and kongsi raya have put him on the wrong side of the conservatives who dominate the religious bureaucracy and the Islamic state ideologues and their supremacist thinking.

Dr Asri is no Wahhabi. And it is obvious who the Wahhabis in the Malaysian political scene are.
The Egyptian legal scholar, Khaled Abou El-Fadl, wrote that while submission to God is at the core of the Islamic creed, this does not mean blind submission to those who claim to represent God’s law.

For too long in this country, those who claim to speak in God’s name have cowed too many into silent submission and perpetual ignorance. For too long, our political leaders have not shown the courage or the will to fully deal with the threat posed by these religious zealots within government and their own parties.

What is desperately needed now is leadership, courage, and vision to stand up for what is right for Malaysia – that there is no place in a country like ours for an Islam that is punitive, cruel, misogynistic, and intolerant.

More than any other country in the world, Malaysia with its historical embrace of all races and religions, its celebration of diversity and pluralism, its gentler and kinder Islam, plus its economic success story and its political stability should be better placed to lead the Muslim world into a modern and prosperous age in the midst of extremism, calamities and despair that beset the ummah.

It is a tragedy that this government has poured hundreds of millions into numerous religious institutions supposedly to enable Malaysia to take the lead as a model moderate Muslim country – only to find its Islamic agenda hijacked by the very ideology that has contributed to the decay of other Muslim countries, where Muslims killing other Muslims for their belief and political affiliation have become the norm.

God forbid that is the future of Malaysia.

As all the political leaders seem to agree that the country is at a turning point, that their party members must change and face difficult realities of a changing and diverse electorate, of a globalised competitive world that waits for no man, of the rise of China and India, can they also please embrace the reality that an Islam of kindness and compassion, of diversity and differences, of equality and justice constitute what it means to be Muslim in the 21st century?


Ex-mufti: Conspiracy not political, but religious

Former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has claimed that a 'conspiracy' authored by religious authorities might have led to his arrest on Sunday night.

In an interview with Malaysiakini today, the 38-year-old Islamic scholar dismissed the possibility that there were political elements involved.

Asri said that his vocal and critical views against some religious authorities could have ruffled feathers, resulting in him being targeted.

He was also mystified by the large number of police personnel and officials from the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) who were deployed to arrest him.

"It does not make any sense that there were more than 10 police personnel and 30 Jais officers during my arrest. It looks as if they were arresting a terrorist!" he lamented.

"And at the court the next morning, there was still nothing, no charges, or investigation," he added.

Asri was arrested after delivering a religious discourse at a bungalow in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, on the grounds that he had no authorisation to do so.

Among others who had attended the talk were Ampang PKR MP Zuraida Kamaruddin and Hulu Kelang state assemblyperson Saari Sungib.

His arrest drew flak from various quarters, including Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

It was speculated that his detention could have been related to his proposed appointment as the new president of the Islamic Da'wah Foundation of Malaysia.

His appointment was opposed by the Syarie Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PGSM) on the grounds that he had insulted certain Islamic scholars.

The association had also sent a memorandum, backed by the 13 Muslim non-governmental organisations, to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on this matter.

Blogger Rapera has this to add:

Can Islamic issues be discussed without the permission of the religious authorities?

Dr Mohd Asri’s recent debacle with Jais has raised very pertinent questions for the Nation as a whole. Initially reports seem to suggest that his dramatic arrest (there were almost 30 police personnel and Jais officers) concerns him delivering a lecture on Islam without a “tauliah”. For all practical purposes, a “tauliah” will denote permission from the relevant religious authorities to lecture on “matters Islamic”. This need for permission from religious authorities before someone can speak on Islamic matters raises serious issues.

1. Firstly, the impact on an ordinary Muslim’s right and duty to share and exchange views on Islam. It is every Muslim’s duty to call people towards the performance of good deeds and the avoidance of evil deeds. This duty will necessarily involve a Muslim speaking from his Muslim perspective and from his understanding of the Quran and Sunnah. It will appear from the arrest of a former Mufti for purportedly giving his views on Islamic issues that prior permission must be obtained from the religious authority before any Muslim wants to express his views on Islam. There is now this confusion and concern among the Muslims in the country.

The ordinary Muslim is not aware that there is a need to obtain prior permission from the religious authorities before they can share their views on Islam or engage in a discussion on Islamic issues. If indeed this permission is required under the State syariah laws, several other questions may arise. What are the criteria of approval or is it merely arbitrary? Who decides the criteria on behalf of the millions of Muslims in this country? Will this impinge on the Muslim’s duty to practice his Muslim obligations without fear or favour? If at all the Muslims in this country feel that there must be control over the Muslim’s right of expression, then surely there must clear and publicized set of guidelines/rules?

2. Secondly, it also raises concerns whether academics, bloggers, columnists and such will now be subjected to the requirement that they must first obtain prior approval from the religious authorities before they can express their views and thoughts. Again, one needs to consider whether such a requirement will in the long run stifle academic and intellectual development in Islamic thought since the ones who are going to determine whether permission should be granted or not are paid civil servants. There is also the issue of mazhab preference and issue-centric preference. What will happen if the “approval person” of the day is not inclined to the thoughts of a particular mazhab? This will result in the general public not benefiting from the knowledge.

3. As a result of point (2) above, we have to seriously consider the impact on the growth and development of Islamic thought in the country. It is a real possibility that control over the expression and discussion of diverse views on Islam will lead to the existence of only one mode of thinking and state of mind which need not necessarily be consonant with the principles of the Quran and the Sunnah. If laws and state apparatus are used to control the ordinary Muslim’s mind, then who is to question whether what is stated is indeed consistent with the Quran and the Sunnah? Under such a regime, any sincere effort to invite alternative thinking and to consider alternative interpretations will become a state offence.

4. Thirdly, one has to ask what is the role of the Federal Constitution in all these. Article 10 (1) of the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all the citizens subject only to such restrictions as Parliament may pass pursuant to Article 10(2). It is arguable that requiring a Muslim to seek permission from the State before he can speak or write on his own religion is an infringement of his constitutional rights so long as they do not offend the provisions under Article 10 (2).

5. Fourthly, Article 11 (1) guarantees that, subject to clause (4), every citizen has the right to practice and profess his religion. Surely this right must also extend to the Muslim citizen to profess and practice his religion. Surely the Muslim also has equal protection (Article 8) and rights under the law as the non-Muslims? However, while the non-Muslim does not have to seek prior approval to organize talks or seminars with regards to his religion, the Muslim citizen appears to have this added hurdle to cross in order to exercise his rights under Article 10 and Article 11 (1). Is this constitutional? Is this legal? I will not ask the question if this hurdle is consistent with the Quran since it is not (my humble view – stand to be corrected).

6. Fifthly, this Dr Asri episode also requires us to visit and understand article 11 (4) of the Federal Constitution. Art 11 (4) provides that state and federal laws may control or restrict the propagation of any religious beliefs or doctrines among persons professing the religion of Islam. All this while, many lawyers I have spoken to have usually interpreted this to refer to the propagation of other religions to Muslims. However, the word used in the constitution is “any” religion and in the “Islamic world” there are diverse views even though the basic belief is the same. Hence, on these two facts coupled with Dr Asri’s episode, will it not be correct to say that Article 11 (4) may be interpreted to mean that even a Muslim may be restricted to propagate Islamic doctrines and beliefs to another Muslim or group of Muslims? Possibly the “correct” interpretation is that only authorized persons can propagate “Islamic beliefs and doctrines” to Muslims citizens. In other words, “state determined Islam” which will therefore be largely dependant on “who (person/individuals) is the real ‘state’ at the particular time”. Mind boggling? Yes, this is what happens when you legislate faith!

I welcome comments on the above article as I think it has immense far reaching implications not only on the issues of law but also on the position of the Muslim as being a servant of Allah.