Loyal Followers

Monday, December 28, 2009

An open reply to Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah

Dear Doctor,

I refer to your article "Accused as criminals better than being evil."

Before I join issue with you on several matters in your article, allow me to state some disclaimers. This is to prevent me from being labeled anti this and that or pro this and that.

First and foremost I am just an ordinary citizen of this country of ours who is just concerned with the well being of our country. Although I have my own political views, I am not affiliated to nor am I associated with any political party at all. I am a Malay and a Muslim. I am not anti-Malay or anti-Islam. Nor am I pro non-Malays or non-Muslims.

Now that I have made that clear, I shall address some of the issues raised.

Firstly, the "social contract". These two words have become a cliche in Malaysia. Whenever somebody or some parties raise some sensitive issues which the Government does not wish to address, they will be referred to the "social contract". Soon, I suppose when a thief snatches a handbag from a poor woman, he will shout to the woman, "social contract"!

What is the "social contract"? I will not repeat what it is as I have written about it here. The first thing to note about it is that any social contract is not cast in stone. It may change as the society and state change and the need of the two parties to the contract evolve with time. What was deemed good 52 years ago may not be good anymore now, and vice versa.

If we take our Federal Constitution as an example, there have been hundreds of amendments made to it. That is the nature of it. It is a breathing  and living contract which changes or ought to change according to the time.

Being so, questioning the provisions of the social contact is not a blasphemous act. Nor is it an act of treason. It is in fact a necessity for our society and our state to evolve into a progressive one. With all due respect, for you to label a certain party as "ultra kiasu" just because it apparently questions - if at all they did that - the "social contract" is unbefitting of your stature as a respectable ulamak and a well known senior lecturer. It is like labeling your own students "kiasu" for asking too many questions.

Why can't we be positive about things? Are we so used to be told what to do, what to hear and what to say all these while that we have forgotten to engage with each other properly without any ill feeling? If an ulamak and academician like yourself can't engage properly and without emotion, I shudder to think of the prospect of this nation of ours. Have we all closed our heart and soul to any opposite views?

The second thing to note about the social contract is the fact that this contract, like any other contract, has two parties to it. The first party is the people. The second party is the State (or the government). It runs two ways. The people say "I give you, the government, some of my rights in exchange of you giving me certain benefits". So, the obligations exist on both side of the fence. Not only one.

That means both side must conform to the social contract. Both sides have their own respective obligations to perform. Nowadays, we talk as if only the people are supposed to perform the social contract. We talk as if the government does not have any obligation to perform under the social contract. That is an obvious misconception.

The thing is this. The government is powerful because it holds the power. If the people do not perform the social contract, the government would come with all its might and prosecute him or her. I ask you, what can the people do if the government does not perform its side of the bargain? Do you expect the people to keep quiet?

Thirdly, it is to be noted that as a living document, the terms of the social contract may be renegotiated from time to time. Among others, John Locke posits as such. Locke even posits the rights of rebellion in the event the social contracts lead to tyranny.

Of course I am not advocating a rebellion here. I am stating that the people have every right to question about the social contract and to scrutinise the performance of its terms by the government. And the people have every right - in fact it is arguable that it is the people's duty -  to prevent a tyranny or an act of tyranny.

Being so, I am sure it is not such a sin as made out by you for any party to question the social contract. That is within his or her right as a party to the social contract.

The next issue which I wish to address is the misstatement of the real issues in contemporary Malaysia. I have to state this because when the issues are misstated, the arguments in support would also go wrong. Emotions can seep in and everything will turn ugly.

The issues at hand, in my opinion, are not the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation or the special positions enjoyed by the Malays and the natives of Borneo. Those are entrenched in the Federal Constitution.

I have chosen the  words in the preceding paragraph  deliberately. Nowadays, when the arguments for "equality" are raised, the other side quickly jump and say "you are questioning the status of Islam" or "you are questioning the special rights of the Malays" or worse still, "you are questioning the position of the Malay rulers".

Notice how the issues have been misstated to suit their purpose. What are in existence are not "special rights" but "special positions" and the parties which enjoy these positions are not only the Malays but also the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Please read this article for further explanation on this issue.

On the position of Islam, I don't think anybody in their right mind would question the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation. But dear Doctor, you must be wise enough to discern between official religion and the law of the country. These are two different things. Similarly, you must also be unemotional enough to discern the difference between Bahasa Malaysia as the official language and the rights of the people to speak whatever language they wish.

What have been raised in contemporary Malaysia is not the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation. Many events have taken place so far in relation to inter-faith integration that would call for a closer look at the freedom of religion as enshrined in our Constitution in order to find solutions. These events were perhaps not within the foresight of the fathers of our nation when the Constitution was being drafted.

It is then left to us, the children of today, to take the bull  by the proverbial horn and try to find  acceptable solutions to everybody in accordance with the common standard of fairness and civility.

Among others, these problems are:

  • the controversy surrounding inter-faith marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims where a non-Muslim would convert to Islam to marry a Muslim but later re-convert to his or her original faith;
  • the controversy surrounding the forced indoctrination of a certain faith - whether Islam or other faith - on children who are below the age of majority;
  • the controversy surrounding the issue of apostasy in Islam;
  • the controversy surrounding the unfair allocation of budget for the erection of temples or churches as compared to the mosques and suraus;
  • the controversy surrounding the right to practise Islam by Muslims in accordance with their sectarian beliefs;
  • the controversy surrounding some fatwas issued by some body of ulamaks;
  • the controversy surrounding the usage of the word "Allah" to signify God;
  • the controversy surrounding the publication of Bible in Bahasa Malaysia;
  • the controversy surrounding moral policing.

These are issues which are being raised. They have nothing to do with the status of Islam under the Constitution or the status of the Malay rulers. Like it or not, these issues exist and will persist so long as we huddle ourselves in our dark caves, secure in our belief that those people who raise these issues are ultra kiasu and they have treasonous tendency.

This nation is built, from day one, by one strength and that strength is the unity of her people, regardless of race or religion. There is no such thing as this is "our" nation and not "theirs". In fact, may I  respectfully point  out that you, as a Chinese Muslim, are contradicting yourself when you refer to this land as "our own land" if what you meant by "our own land" is that this land is the land of the Malays. Please dear Doctor. Be more sensitive to the feelings of all Malaysians. You are after all an influential ustaz or teacher whose views are respected by many.

Now, as this nation of ours go into adulthood, it must confronts issues which naturally arise in the course of nation building. It must confront these issues unemotionally and with great respect to everybody involved. Lest the very basis of this nation, namely, the unity of her people, would just fade away and we can bet our last dime that destruction would be on its way. I fear for my children. I fear for this nation if we continue to count "our rights" as opposed to "theirs". There is no "opposite parties" mind you. We are in this together.

Now you have come up with a rather ingenious formula. It is based on the entitlement to more rights for the majority. It is numerical power, which many argue is the direct result of democracy. Jeremy Bentham postulates the utilitarian principle under which it is said that whatever brings the most happiness to the greatest number of people would be good. It would appear that you have managed to reduce the utilitarian principle into a science by reducing the yardstick of happiness and greatest number of people into a mathematical formula.

But with respect, you are threading on a dangerous path. Stretched to its logical conclusion, you are validating the might of the majority over the helplessness of the minority. In the end, finally, what matters in your equation is the numbers involved. What if, in the future, the non-Muslims become the majority in this country, may I ask you? Would you accept their lording over you as a minority then?

What about the ban of the Islamic minarets in Switzerland? Do you, as a Muslim, accept that because after all Christians are the majority in Switzerland? What about the ban of the hijab and head scarf in France? Do you accept that on the same basis, ie, that Christians are the majority in France? What about the killing of Muslims Bosnians by the Serbs and Croats? You accept that too? After all Christians are the majority in that region. What if the Israelis manage to forcefully fill Gaza with Israelis leaving the Palestinians to be the minority, would you accept the desecration of everything that is Islam in Gaza?

What you are preaching, in my humble opinion, is political expediency suited for the current moment and nothing else. You are not seeing the bigger picture. With respect, you fail  to look into ourselves as Muslims and spot our weaknesses as an Ummah against the backdrop of globalisation and openness. You pay scant regard to spirituality and our ability as Muslims, to face this new aged world on any ground other than the strength in numbers and loudness of our voice.

You mentioned Ibn Khaldun in your article. Can you point out the existence of what Ibn Khaldun termed in his "Muqadimmah" as the spirit of "assabiya" in our contemporary Muslim society? Do we have "assabiya" nowadays? Or is it a matter of whatever is mine is mine and yours is yours? In your mathematical formula, you are in fact preaching against Ibn Khaldun's "assabiya." The communal spirit, comradeship and camaraderie are obviously not important in your formula. 

What about the numerical superiority of the non-Muslims in education for instance? Non-Muslims do get 9As or 10As in the examinations. Based on your numerical formula, wouldn't they have the right to be in our public university? If so, why don't they get what they are entitled to?

What about the numerical superiority in the non-Muslims' contribution to our national coffers through the payment of taxes, duties and investments made? If your numerical superiority formula is applied, wouldn't the non-Muslims then have more rights to build churches and temples compared to Muslims?

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying they are so entitled. But I am just applying your formula to real situations.

Non-Muslims' festivities should be limited to the percentage of their numbers. Sorry Doctor, I am laughing at the suggestion. Is that what matters? Festivities? Public holidays? They should have less number of temples and churches and we should have more mosques and suraus? (You seem to suggest that there are far too many churches and temples in Malaysia but have you seen the state of these churches and temples? Some are by the side of the road and in shop lots. Some are just housed in a small doggie house.) How much space we occupy on our way to our graves? And how big our graves are? Good God, who is kiasu? What have we, the good people of Malaysia, become? And why have we descended into this deep pit of triviality? Oh my goodness.

Sometime I find your reasoning inconsistent Doctor. While you preach goodness and high morality and you make such huge outcry against the evil of living immorally  as practised by some politicians and the likes, at the same time you don't really mind a newspaper which sometime write obvious lies and spread hatred. This is because, according to you, this newspaper is being frank. Well, is it okay to be bad as long as we are frank about it? You view with contempt the act of living together outside marriage by some non-Muslims but you can accept the act of lying and spreading hatred  because the perpetrator is being frank? The last time I checked Doctor, even Hitler was being frank in wanting to kill all the Jews that ever walked the Earth. Was that okay?

The only way out of this racial and religious time bomb which is ticking fast in contemporary Malaysia to my mind is for all of us to confront all the issues in an unemotional manner. We should list them all out in the open. We should accept that those issues constitute problems and acknowledge that fact. We cannot deny their existence. We should stop assigning guilt. We should avoid pointing fingers. We should not adopt the my-religion-is-more-righteous-than-yours attitude.

After we manage to do that, we should then sit down and find the solutions as best as we can.

And we better do it fast. Because the longer we delay it, the more insidious and deep they will become. Soon more people will misuse those issues for whatever personal purpose which they may have. The situation may then become irreversible.

May God give all of us the wisdom.

Salam.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Candle For Antares



I don't really know Antares as a person. My first encounter with him was when he was performing in the KL Art Festival sometime in the late 80s, if I am not mistaken. After that I know him as a cartoonist. Later in life, I know him as a fighter for freedom through his blog, Magick River. When I was appearing in the Federal Court with Malik Imtiaz to argue RPK's case, Antares was in Court. Only then did I "meet" him properly.

He loves his country too much. He loves this Earth too much. He loves his family too much. He loves the spiritual too much.

Now he is fighting a debilitating Malaria infection in the hospital.

I know he has got too much fighting spirit then to just fade away to a Malaria infection. He will get through this, that man.

In the meantime, my thoughts are with you dear Antares, protector of the Magick River.

You shall soon come back and walk among us again.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season Greetings

christmas-tree

Here's to wishing all Malaysians Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as well as Happy Holidays. May the next year bring all of us everything that is good. May it also bring us, Malaysians, some intelligent, honest to goodness, hard working and dedicated leaders to steer our country to greatness. And yes, may the Lotus F1 Team perform respectably next F1 season. And may we have a really good World Cup final next year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ladies and gentlemen, and the award goes to.....

The theft of not one, but TWO F5-E fighter jet engines from the Royal Malaysian Air Farce, eh sorry, Air Force,  perhaps aptly defines the year 2009 as far as Malaysia (1 or otherwise) is concerned.

The absurdity of it all. And not to mention the audacity of it all. And as if to further add sodium chloride to the wide gaping wounds that all of us, Malaysians, suffer every time our so called leaders forget to take their medications, we are told that so and so have been sacked or told to leave their job, some even earning pensions and whatever.

First it was some plastic explosives being taken out from the storage to blow to smithereens some poor woman from far away lands, whose entry into Malaysia was erased from record. Just like that. As if C4 explosives from the people who are supposed to protect our country are just some cheap chewing gum which could be taken by anybody, at any time, for whatever reason. As if Immigration records are notations made on some scrap book which could be altered, amended or erased by anybody, at any time and for whatever reason.

And nobody even shake their butt to do anything. No report. No investigation. No blinking nothing. Just like that.

At the same time, the public has to endure living in fear of crimes. We have to keep even our rubbish bins in locks and chains. Our drainage cover has to be welded lest it will be stolen in bright day light. Our roads and lanes have instant holes as the sewage covers are stolen. The women can't even walk on the side of our roads for fear of being dragged to their death by handbag snatchers.

Nowhere is safe. Not even in the police lock-ups, as Kugan found out the hard way. Not at the MACC office either, if reports of torture and even death are to be believed.

Meanwhile, those upon whom are entrusted the duty to protect us are busy tracing individuals like Raja Petra Kamarudin, who apparently had so insulted Islam that he was, and still is, deemed to be a threat to national security. Even then, with all the might and powers of the State behind them, they are not able to trace him!

If RPK had insulted Islam, what about those who had walked after Friday prayers with bloodied and severed cow head with the policemen standing by the side doing nothing for fear of "making the situation worse"? Haven't they insulted Islam? What about those who said non-Malays are second class citizens? And those who wrote that the Kelings are so lucky to be in Malaysia that they should just shut up and count their blessings? Oh well, they are given a pat on their shoulder because the newspaper they wrote for is the "voice of the people".

And at the same time, billions are squandered, pillaged and stolen. PKFZ have become really dirty alphabets. And what do we all get? Yes. We get engineers, architects and some minions charged for falsifying claims and the likes. Now, the questions are, were all those false claims paid? If so, why? And who are the beneficiaries of those payments? Who authorised those payments? Aren't they guilty of something too?

Elsewhere we are the masters of sloganeering and self-glorification. We shout and scream 1 Malaysia at every possible instant and opportunity. Why? Even our mandatory "salam" has been reviewed to "Salam Satu Malaysia".

We have become, or been reduced to, a society which is shallow. Which is no deeper than our skin and the colour of it. We are obsessed with some drama actress becoming the second wife of  a Member of Parliament who ironically declared that women "leaked" once a month. Never mind the FDIs. Never mind the proposed GST. Never mind the Copenhagen Conference failing to reach any kind of tangible consensus on climate control.

Never mind. Because we are a society who love celebrities and their weddings. And divorce too.

An old Professor of mine remarked something profound to me over tea some months ago. After leaving Malaysia for Japan for so many years, he observed that Japan had gone through a period of extreme physical and material transformations. Coming back to Malaysia briefly after some years, he also noted that Malaysia had achieved so much physical and material transformations, just like Japan.

But there is one marked difference. Japan and her people have not seen their values and honour change. Their values and old aged honour are still part of their society. They  still know their responsibilities. Their duty to account. They still possess a deep sense of honour. And all that despite their physical and material achievements.

Malaysia and her people, according to him, have lost their sense of honour. We have changed our values. We are now measured not by our honesty, honour and sense of responsibility. We are now measured by the location of our house and mansions; by the Cayennes, X6 and whatever road going behemoth  that we drive; by how much  power we could wield to bend the rules and laws in our favour;  by how much favour we could call our friends in high places to do us. And of course by the trophy wives and girl friends (and vice versa) who are seen beside us with the obligatory gold and diamond crusted watch, LV handbag and Blahnik shoes.

Because that is what we are now. How we acquire those material possessions is not important. The question is what we do possess.

We are a society which is almost bereft of any spiritual and moral guidance. As if whatever is fair is foul and foul is fair. As if the very fabric of our existent has changed. And for worse, that is.

It is little wonder that two whole jet engines could be stolen from our royal air force. It is a right royal embarrassment, by any count. But what do we care? They are old engines. We could buy thousands more. We have the money. We have oils and gas which we plunder from some states without compensation. And the persons whom we think are responsible for this shameful, dastardly and treasonous act have left.

Never mind any criminal offence which have quite obviously been committed by these people. They have after all been punished by being told to quietly leave. That was what we did to Ahmad Ismail, remember? And Isa Samad, remember? We dealt with them internally. They have served their sentence. And they, as everybody else, deserve a second, or even a third, chance. Why? Even Anwar Ibrahim, a convicted criminal, is now a Member of Parliament.

And so we are told that we do have a full-proof system which would ensure these kind of things do not happen. But is this system fool-proof? Because if it is not, then there will always be some fools who can't even operate within a  full-proof system. That is quite obvious.

And so we are told that there will not be a cover up. Yes, we, the people expect that there will be no cover up. But of course what constitute a "cover-up" is subject to interpretation, isn't it? Like "we will not discuss it ever ever because the matter concerns national security". Is that a cover up? Or "we cannot charge them because matters concerning national security should not be discussed in open Courts". Is that a cover-up? Or "we can only charge them behind closed doors because the matter concerns national security". Is that a cover-up?

And we are left to wonder how it all happen. And why did it take a full year before the whole magical act was discovered by our ever vigilant military who is supposed to protect our nation from rogues countries, evil terrorists, Islam-insulting individuals scum of the Earth and hell and Ketuanan Melayu evil objectors who really should just go back to wherever they came from (never mind the fact that these people were born in this country). And quite why it takes another full year before this event is made known to all of us, the stupid, gullible and irrelevant stakeholders of the military? Well, never mind. We will tell you what we think is relevant. And at the most opportune moment as deemed by us.

Would it be a severe case of paranoia if we, the people, start to wonder what else has been stolen from our military? Like our defence strategy? Or tactical blueprint? After all, these are sensitive and highly protected secrets (or supposed to be). Remember what they said in Parliament when questions were raised as to why there was no open tender for the submarines that we bought? It was said that open tenders should not be called because that will expose our national security matters unnecessarily.

Oh well, why must we worry. We still have our submarines.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My "BTN" experience

On the night of 31st December 1979, about 20 of us were put together in a coach on a KL-bound train from Butterworth. Destination, Kuala Kubu Baru.

We were school children from Perlis and Kedah, hand-picked by our respective school to attend a one week "vocational guidance course" at Pusat Latihan Belia Negara at Pertak, KKB. Truthfully, I did not know - and still do not know - the criteria for my selection. The kids together with me were apparently selected for their MCE trial exam results, their extra-curricular activities and the likes.

I was 17. A scrawny boy who loved doing nothing else other than playing football, trying to play guitar properly and perhaps to sing a few songs. I had one direction in life. I had wanted to play football. If that failed, I had a back-up plan. I would be a musician.

Back home, I was under tremendous pressure from my grandma to pass my MCE. The fact that I had long curly hair and would be seen carrying my guitar around the village at night did not endear me much with her. To top it up, I had begun experimenting with cigarettes and other smoky material at such an "early" age. I was doomed.

Nevertheless, I was selected to represent my school and my state to this "vocational guidance course" together with a classmate of mine. We could not be any more different from each other. He was a prefect. And a top student. But we were - and still are - the best of friends.

On the train I met some boys and girls from other top schools in Perlis and Kedah. And I still keep in touch with one or two of them till now. As far as academic achievements were concerned, I was nowhere near these kids.

We arrived at KKB train station around 5 am. The moon was full and I remember walking around the station waiting for our transport. At about 6 am, a small mini-bus arrived to pick us up. I still remember how the pakcik drove the bus, merrily negotiating the tight corners of the small road uphill to Pertak at a speed which would make Ayrton Senna reach for his asthma inhaler.

We were all screaming our head off every time he clipped the apex of a turn at such high speed. After some time, we arrived at the Pusat Latihan Belia Pertak.

We were ushered into dormitories. After a bath and a really early breakfast, we sat in a hall waiting to know our fate. What the hell was going to happen to all of us?

The place was beautiful. Being at the foot of the Frazier's Hill, it was like a paradise. Luscious greens, old trees, sprawling football pitch, a nice swimming pool and a brook somewhere at the fringe of a jungle with water so clear that you could see your own pimple in it! I will never ever forget that place.

At about 10 am, several buses arrived. More school kids arrived. Later, I learned that they were from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Melaka and Johor. In all, there were 86 of us, if I am not mistaken. Most of us were Malays but I would say about 30% of us were non-Malays.

After registration was over, we had a short briefing by the officials. We were introduced to one Surinder Singh, who was to take care of us during that one week. I still remember going ga-ga over his sweet assistant. I was hoping that she would adopt me!

During that one week, I had the best time of my life. I learned that the course was organised and jointly run by the Malaysian Vocational Guide Association (MAVOGA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The facilitators were from the Ministry (the majority of whom were Malays) and some universities.

We were subjected to intensive brain washing programs  which would start from 6 am till late at night. We were given tasks and goals to achieve. We were given the opportunity to talk, to mix around and even to party together! We were told not to smoke but Surinder had still managed to spare us smokers one or two sticks from his packet.

We had a bonfire by the side of the brook with various performances from all of us who were divided into groups. I even belted two songs that night and I believed at least 5 girls fell in love with me that night! Hahah....

I mentioned we were brain washed. But it was in a good way. We were in fact being prepared to face the real world. A whole new world after our MCE result was announced. A new world which most of us, especially me, had never even thought about before.

The highlight of the course was this talk given by Professor Yunus Md Nor from the University of Malaya. He was the best speaker of all. In his talk, he was persuading us not to go to the university. He said there are other means to make a good living. He challenged us not to go to the university.

Fast forward to 1982. I was admitted to the law faculty, University of Malaya. After one week of "orientation week" (it was ragging week actually), I realised that Professor Yunus was the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Affairs) of the University of Malaya.

I would knock on his door one day. I introduced myself and I told him I was in Pertak in 1980. AS he was smiling, I told him "Professor, despite what you said, I am here now. I am seeing you to tell you that you failed!" He laughed and said he in fact succeeded. It was reverse psychology, you fool! I finally realised.

I regarded Professor Yunus as a mentor. We became very close and we kept in touch even after I left the university. Sadly, he passed away some years ago. A great man. A great motivator. A great leader. Anas Zubedy (of the unity advert fame) and myself, together with some others actually took out a one page advertisement to show how we missed him when he died.

During the week in Pertak, there was not a trace of racism among us as well as the facilitators. We were all one. We learned together. We sat next to each other on the floor. We ate together. We danced and sang together.

That week actually changed my whole life. From an aimless scrawny school kid, I passed my MCE and did my Form 6 with a definite and very specific aim. I would say I become what I am today because of that week in Pertak. That week shaped and moulded me.

Today I am told that those days, such courses were run by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The modules were established by that Ministry.

Many of the people responsible for those kind of courses were absorbed by BTN when it was under the Prime Minister Department. Somehow or other, the modules became adulterated with racism and self interest.

Among others, a famous and controversial Selangor state exco was the Deputy Director General of the BTN some time ago. The BTN was changing from side to side depending on the agenda of those in charge. There were times when it was racist. There were times when there were efforts to make it more "Islam". And there were times when the BTN was used to smear personalities like Anwar Ibrahim, Tengku Razaleigh et al.

I spoke with a former facilitator who was also responsible for establishing the BTN modules. He said it was definitely racist at one time. There were efforts to, in his own words, "bogeynise the non-Malays". These are his words. Not mine.

He told me that the course that I had gone through in Pertak was one of the module which was done by the Ministry and not BTN.

Personally, I have not attended any of the BTN courses. I had never been invited to one. But the stream of complaints emanating now, coupled with a series of counteracts by the government camp by releasing the videos recently would at the very least make a review mandatory.

I think many parties have missed the point. This is not about assigning guilt. It really does not matter what DSAI, DrM or anyone had said or done. It is about our future. It is about our kids. Because the BTN targets our kids.

It is about finding out whether something wrong has been done. If so what are they and what are the solutions? Are we going to continue with the wrongs, if indeed there are wrongs. Or are we going to revamp it?

It is about correcting the wrongs, if any, and improving the things which are right.

I hope that is not too difficult for some of us to comprehend.

 

 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blogger's ethics

The PM has spoken about it. Minister Hishamuddin has now weighed in. 

Yes. I fully agree with the PM and MInister Hishamuddin. All writers must follow ethics. They must be responsible. The must report the truth. They should not plagiarise. Plagiarism is a theft. They should follow the law. They must be responsible. If they make a mistake, they should make corrections as soon as the mistakes are discovered. If they quote from somewhere else, they should acknowledge the original work and writer from whom they quote.

This should apply to every writer, be it journalist, bloggers or whatever. I fully support and agree with the calls made by the PM and Minister Hishamuddin.

I hereby give my word and promise that I will adhere to those ethical standard.

In short, I will not do this:

Utusan_thumb[1]

Especially when the original is this:

Harian Metro_thumb[1]

Let's all of us be ethical.

ALL OF US.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Step on it if you dare!

Unsuspecting tourists in Malaysia these past few weeks should not be blamed if they thought that Malaysians are culturally predisposed to the act of stomping on flags, pictures, dolls and the likes  as a general display or demonstration  of displeasure, hatred, objection or anything hateful against the person(s) who are represented by the object(s) being stomped on.

This, of course, is in addition to the acts of severing the head of a certain animal and carrying the same after Friday prayer on a public road while screaming some mantra of sorts.

When I read about the burning of Lim Guan Eng's posters - and the subsequent obligatory stomping on the same - by some neo-extreme-right-wingers-BTN Nazis, I initially thought that it was some kind of a street performance by the Actor's Studio of their new play, "The Nasi Beratur Blues". But I realised I was wrong when I did not see Jit Murad, Joe Kukathas or Patrick Teoh in the pictures.

Then the same act was repeated in Perak. Some neo-extreme-left-wingers-BTN haters started stomping on the pictures of the now famous "frogs", whose act of jumping from one pond to another, is now the stuffs of legend. And I thought, wow, it is contagious, this stomping business.

Richard Branson, who had recently unveiled the world's first commercial passenger space shuttle, might just soon unveil the world's first speciality shoes or boots with the tag line, "these boots are made for stomping".

Just as I was busy preparing my short speech to whack the Chief Justice and his Usain Bolt-inspired-but-half-baked potato of a plan to dispose of as many cases as possible in the shortest time possible during the Bar EGM this weekend, I was struck by yet another stomping orgy.

This time it was nearer to Kuala Lumpur. And it was such a flawless act of bigotry worthy of some kind of a national award, like the now famous (infamous?) "Penyapu Award", invented and refined to perfection by the neo-BaliJavanese-tempe-eating-mansionist. And so, it was the picture of some DAP fellows which were stomped on. The event was further enhanced by the shouts of "non-Malays are second class citizens".

And as if to lend some kind of a contemporary-ness to their act, they proclaimed that they accept the concept of 1Malaysia. Well, I drowned in the loco-ness of it all, I must confess.

Over the night I was thinking whether Malaysians have watched too much news. I mean those news showing various demonstrations of hatred, displeasure and what ever by the acts of burning an object and/or stomping on an object as popularised by the Pakistanis, Indonesians, Indians, Shiites, Palestinians, heck, the damn whole world, really.

If so, then I must say I am beginning to warm up to the  theory which postulates  that we are, not only what we eat but also what we watch. I mean just look at all of us nowadays. The clothes, shoes, hair cuts, cars, iPhone, iPod, Blackberry right down to the wife and girl friends (and husband and boy friends too, I must hasten to add, lest I would be accused of being a chauvinistic pig). The power of visual projection. Oh wow...

Then I thought, woohoo, hold on a minute. This act of stomping on objects representing something which, or someone whom, we dislike is nothing new to our culture.

When I was in primary school those days - and I really mean THOSE days - I had witnessed many duels between two kids.  The reason for such duels ranged from Ahmad calling Ah Boy "you are a fat pig" to Ah Boy loosening the cover of the botol kicap before Ahmad used the same at the canteen. Any of those "rascalities" would constitute enough reason for the aggrieved party to challenge the perpetrator of the injustice to a duel, OK Coral style, after school.

At the appointed time after school, the two protagonists would be waiting for each other at the appointed place, accompanied by the normal hanger-ons, which almost invariably, would include yours truly.

Ahmad and Ah Boy would be standing face to face, about 2 feet apart. No one moved. Ahmad was waiting for Ah Boy to make the first move and vice versa. The crowd, which of course would include me, would wait and wait. When are you two brave guys gonna go at each other la dey...I want to go home and have my lunch la. I would say to myself.

But hell, no one moved. Shit!

And so, finally, some smart spark would take two small stones. One would be placed at Ah Boy's feet and one at Ahmad's feet. The smart spark would then say, "Ah Boy, this is Ahmad's father", while pointing to the stone at his feet. Then he would say to Ahmad, "Mat, this is Ah Boy's father," while pointing to the stone at Ahmad's feet.

"Now, if you dare, step on it......."

Soon one of them would. And the duel began. Until Cikgu Kassim passed by and hauled everyone to the head master's room for a nice whacking.

It is in our culture, folks. This stomping act.

Imagine how fast and swift justice could be dispensed if we all follow our culture. I am now imagining Minister Nazri squaring it of with Dr Mahathir over the BTN issue at Dataran Merdeka. "Step la, step la, kalau berani...," Minister Nazri would say.

Then Ong Tee Kiat would do the same with Chua Soi Lek. Or Murugaiah against Kayveas. Anwar Ibrahim against Saiful. PI Bala against Datuk Nazim. Zul Noordin against Sivarasa ( apparently their hugging each other was not real, as there was no tongue, as pointed out by a dear friend of mine). Karpal Singh against, erm..everybody.

We could even spice things up by innovating a bit. Like bringing the picture of the missus. "Ha...if you dare, point your dick at her picture...point la...point la...kalau berani...."

I tell you, the Chief Justice would not have to worry about disposing cases anymore.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Muslamism May Spell The Death Of The West*

But it's not too late to fight back

First they told us that not all Muslims were evil. We didn't resist. 
Then they told us that not all Muslims were Islamo-fascists. We stayed silent.
Then they told us that not all Muslims were Islamists. We conceded the point.
Now there are no labels with which to stereotype and generalize all Muslims.
I have seen this state of affairs come to pass and I feel bad for my fellow man, who is deprived of access to a word that might allow him to reduce 1.2 billion people to one essential characteristic.
Given that I am already considered by Muslims to be part of the Crusader-Neo-Con-Zionist alliance to undermine, subvert, and sabotage Islam – not to mention seduce-all-Muslim-women-without-marrying-them-four-at-a-time – I thought I would go ahead and offer non-Muslims a little bit of information that will assist them in stereotyping my people.
Here it goes: my friends, most Muslims are Muslamists. It is a fact of which I am only now becoming aware.
Napoleon Bonaparte: MuslimNapoleon Bonaparte: Muslim

Due to my delay in identifying this malaise, I, humble House Muslim, avid fantasizer about white girls, rabid luster after Jewish approval, secret puppet of the American Enterprise Institute, perennial supporter of Paleo-cons, Neo-cons, Deceptacons, and A-Kon, ask for an apology from all my real and imagined masters: I should have told you about this sooner. If you would be so kind as to re-stamp my "moderate Muslim" card, I will promise to never let myself be so lax in my service.
Having said that, let me blare the alarm loud and forthright. Let us become vigilant. Let us pay attention. Only the fate of a Western civilization (that has been intact for three thousand years) is at stake!
I have found, looking back at my life, that Muslamists are everywhere. They are always slithering around with their slithery little tongues, slithering with slither. Muslims have been Muslamist at parties; Muslamist in thoughts; Muslamist in class-room arguments; and yes, Muslamist during sex.
The Muslamist phenomenon is a difficult one to define but perhaps it can be illustrated through my first open experience with it.
I was a wee child at a desi auntie's party – in Muslamist code you call all marriedGöthe: Muslim

Goethe: Muslim

women "aunties" and all married men "uncles" – eating a helping of biryani and gosht. A college aged Muslim brother, a dapper pseudo-intellectual (defined as a Muslim who quotes leftist theory in order to support Islamic revolution but hates actual lefties such as feminists, queers and transgendered), was discussing European history with the uncles.

All the uncles were doctors – due to the MD next to their name they were considered by all the fawning riff-raff as the apex of Muslim success – and presumed to have an IQ six to seven hundred points higher than us mortals.
"I believe it was after Napoleon's imperialist and colonialist entry into Egypt in 1798," said the Pseudo-Intellectual, "that the meta-narrative of Western Hegemony truly brought itself to bear against the Placid Palaces of the Islamic Empires of Yesterday!"
With the characteristic nonchalance – as well as characteristic ability to miss the point – of the Muslim doctor-god, one of the uncles with a heavy Arab accent leaned forward and grasped the Pseudo-Intellectual by the collar.
"You aaaaare, ze, tokking abou ze Napoleon?"
The Pseudo-Intellectual replied: "Yes, Napoleon…"
"Bona Party?" yelled out another of the doctor-gods, this one a Bangladeshi Ob-GYNShakespeare: Muslim womanShakespeare: Muslim woman

(though I repeat myself). "You arrrre the thaaking about that the Napoleon?" The glee in his eyes far exceeded the glee that shone in them on his wedding night, when he lost his virginity at forty seven years of age after seven fellowships and three residencies.
"Yes uncle!" said the flustered Pseudo-Intellectual. "Napoleon's incursion into Dar-al-Islam! The natural hegemonic culmination of the Enlightenment dialectic! That Napoleon!"
The doctor-gods looked at one another. Silence filled the room. In the living room, the aunties stopped doing their dance of seven veils (which is what all Muslim women do when alone). I stopped chewing and shifted my eyes side to side.
All at once, the doctor-gods of the community leaned forward and like the Athenian chorus, sang out together:
"Did you know Napoleon was a Muslim?!"
That, my friends, is Muslamism in a nutshell. It is the belief, dogmatic and secure, unimpeachable and ideological, that all famous people are all covertly Muslim, that all inventions ever made are due to Muslim ingenuity and that all events in the world somehow connect back to Islam – though most of the time we just don't know how. Like all ideologies, there are moderates and extremists. Moderates tend to only believe in the possibility of a connection to Islam if there is some minuscule amount of evidence offered by the historical figure.
Extremists need no evidence. Their mere assertion – "He was Muslim!" followed by a pronounced nod of the head (up and down for Arabs, side to side for Pakistanis) – is sufficient.

According to Muslamist theory, the great German poet Goethe, despite being a devout Christian, was a Muslim because he appreciated Sufi poets such as Hafiz and Omar Khayyam.
Shakespeare, despite promoting all sorts of vices, was a Muslim – a Sufi woman at that (and no, not a Jewish woman).
Henry VIII, despite being the first Anglican, was Muslim because he had multiple wives.

Dante, despite his hatred of Muhammad, stole his story from Muslim sources.Nietzsche: Muslim atheistNietzsche: Muslim atheist

Thomas Aquinas, a Christian saint, was secretly a Muslim because he relied on Averroes' books.
Columbus probably wasn't a Muslim, concede the Muslamists, but he relied on Muslim navigators and captains to find the new world. In Muslamist parlance reliance is a form of constructive belief.
Nietzsche, despite his atheism and hatred of organized religion, was more or less a Muslim too, because he said that Spain's Islamic baths were beautiful and that there was something commendable in the Wahhabi antipathy to alcohol. Muslamism towards Nietzsche is particularly strong, with Allama Muhammad Iqbal, India's foremost Muslim philosopher once declaring that had he been alive before Nietzsche suffered dementia he would have been able to convert Nietzsche to Islam.
Obviously, as already discussed, Napoleon was a Muslim – based on the mere fact that he owned a Quran and that later it was discovered that he had read it.
The Muslamist list of other individuals in history, who no sane person could conclude were Muslim, is long – and sometimes even extends to individuals who preceded Islam.
However, historical Muslamism pales in comparison to its contemporary version, of which Michael Jackson has been the pre-eminent ambassador. Living in Pakistan in the 1980's, I met Extremist Muslamists who were thoroughly convinced that Jackson was a Muslim. Their reasoning was simple:
"All popular American blacks are Muslim! Elijah Muhammad, and Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X! Michael Jackson is black and he is popular, therefore…!"
When recently, Jackson purchased a palace in Bahrain, these same Muslamists cameMichael Jackson: Muslim until he bleached his skinMichael Jackson: Muslim until he bleached his skin

rushing forward with a knowing smile on their face. "The King of Men!" they sang, referring to the Prophet Muhammad. "And now The King of Pop! Islam is truly a perfect religion!" When I pressed these uncles about The King, Elvis, I was summarily dismissed. "He would have been too but he just didn't get a chance to encounter Islam. Our evangelism was weak in the 50's." As of yet, there are no Muslamist theories about King James (but wait till he gets traded to the Brooklyn Nets).
Muslamists aren't completely irrational though. Sometimes they will confer Islam upon an unwitting person only to later strip the individual. Oscar winning actor Denzel Washington falls in this category. When he starred in Spike Lee's film "X", Denzel became a household name among Muslims. To this day, graying Muslim aunties overcome their latent fear of their children's black friends by saying, "well that Denzel is good black man so your friend might be safe to play with too." When as a youth my Sunday school teacher played Spike Lee's film for us in class, one of the Muslamist children next to me leaned in and told me "that the actor converted to Islam after playing a Muslim!"
However, Denzel's adoption by the Muslamists was short-lived. In the late 90's, Denzel starred in the film "The Siege" which most Muslims thought was akin to a cinematic hate-crime.
"He cannot be Muslim!" said Muslamists at the Islamic Center I attended. "No one involved in that film can be Muslim, even that Arab, Shalhoub, cannot be Muslim!" Another Muslamist chimed in. "Did you know that Allah punished the director of that film? He was driving and he hit a stop sign and the pole speared his brain?"
Most recently, Princess Diana and Britney Spears have been the favored Muslims among Muslamists given the former's relationship with Dodi al-Fayed and the latter's tryst with a British-Pakistani paparazzo.
Still, perhaps nothing better reveals the potency of Muslamism than the fact that it has infiltrated the sex life of average Muslim couples. Even Islamo-fascism couldn't pull that off.
I was once at a banquet sitting with some young Muslim males. We were discussingWill Smith: Muslim ScientologistWill Smith: Muslim Scientologist

how one distinguishes a Muslim female who just appears engaged – many single Muslim girls tend to wear a ring on their ring finger – from one who is truly engaged. Conversation shifted to "post-marital action." Intoxicated on leechi flavored lassi, the brothers revealed their inner most yearnings. "Is it Islamically permissible to drink your wife's breast milk during the sexual act?" asked one, in preparation for his wife's pregnancy. "No!" came the reply. "If you drink her milk then under Islamic law you are equivalent to her child. Then you will not be able to have sex with your wife because she will be your mother."
"What is the Islamic view on role-playing?" asked another. Immediately the attention shifted to him. However, because role-playing somehow seemed to most of us more taboo than drinking your wife's breast-milk, no one followed up on his inquiry. Later when we were alone, the brother revealed his quandary. He and his wife liked to role-play as various celebrities.
"Don't worry," he assured. "Before we get it on, we role-play my wedding to the celebrity. You know I keep it Islamic! Anyway, all was good when my wife pretending to be other women and I was just myself."
"So what's the problem?" I asked.
"Well, now she wants me to pretend to be other men! In theory I'm cool with that, but you know Muslim women can't be married to non-Muslim men! How can I give this to my wife? Its not allowed under Islam!"
The answer, of course, lay with Muslamism.
"Why don't you role-play her marrying some celebrity who everyone thinks is a Muslim?"
"Who?"
"You could try Will Smith!" I said. "He played Muhammad Ali in the film Ali. He probably converted at some point. I heard rumors…I mean, his kid is freaking named Jabari…"
The beleaguered husband shook his head for a while. "No, me and Will are not the same body type, you know? My wife likes my body type."
"Tall, dark and skinny?"
"That's it!" he said with a yelp. "I know a celebrity that everyone thinks is a Muslim, which must mean he is a Muslim!"
"Who?" I asked.
"Barack Obama!" said the Muslamist. "You know that brother is a Muslim! I don't know why he fronts with this 'I am a Christian' business!"
It should be apparent to everyone that Muslamism threatens the future of WesternBarack Hussein Obama: Well, duhBarack Hussein Obama: Well, duh

civilization. If Muslamists can think that real people are Muslim, then what will happen once they start thinking cartoons are Muslim? Unless in an act of collective fiat we become Enlightenment Fundamentalists and declare war on Muslamism we will never be able to rid ourselves of this scourge.
After diagnosing the problem, it bears asking how Muslamism can be defeated. Obviously, the first step is for some illiberal Guardian of the West – with a menacing beard reminiscent of Leonidas to give him gravitas – must launch a website.
MuslamistWatch.org, should be set up immediately; on it, the latent traces of Muslamism in society must be identified and collected. Once it establishes a regular readership of five to six thousand people we will be ready for the next step.
Then the intellectual attack will commence. The most feasible counter-Muslamism strategy is to reveal it to emanate from non-Muslim sources. That would attack the Islamocentrism that lies at the heart of Muslamism.
Thankfully, there are many examples of religious self-obsession that precede Islam, the most potent of which is Hinduism. Indian uncles are notorious for claiming that Islam's Ka'ba is really a Hindu shrine, that Muhammad is a character from the Gita, that the West got sexual positions from the Kama Sutra, that Hegel stole his philosophy from the Vedas and that Hindus invented math because they were the first to come up with numbers.
If Muslims can be shown that Muslamism is just a re-creation of Hindu egoism, then over time Muslamism may lose its draw.
Then, happy, shining, liberated Muslim youth can usher in the Islamic Reformation cum Enlightenment cum Counter Reformation cum Sexual Revolution cum Chevy Revolution that will save the world.

Somewhat based on partly true events.

* By Ali Eteraz . This article originally appeared at Jewcy .

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Anwar vs Mahathir - Malaysians are weird!

Baru-baru ini kes saman malu Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim terhadap Tun Dr Mahathir telah sampai ke Mahkamah Rayuan. DSAI telah merayu ke Mahkamah Rayuan terhadap keputusan Mahkamah Tinggi yang membatalkan kes tersebut tanpa bicara.

Malangnya bagi DSAI, Mahkamah Rayuan telah menolak rayuan DSAI juga tanpa bicara. Ini adalah kerana peguam DSAI, Encik Karpal Singh (dan anak-anak beliau) telah memfailkan memorandum rayuan di dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan bukannya di dalam Bahasa Malaysia (Bahasa Melayu/Bahasa Kebangsaan).

Untuk saudara-saudari yang tidak berapa arif tentang aturcara Mahkamah Rayuan, saya ingin terangkan di sini bahawa di dalam setiap rayuan ke Mahkamah Rayuan, pihak yang merayu perlu memfailkan memorandum rayuan di dalam masa yang ditetapkan. Di dalam memorandum itu, pihak yang merayu akan menyatakan perkara-perkara yang hendak dibangkitkan di dalam rayuan tersebut.

Mahakamh Rayuan mendapati bahawa memorandum rayuan yang di dalam Bahasa Inggeris itu tidak menepati peruntukan-peruntukan undang-undang khususnya Perlembagaan Persekutuan, Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan dan sebagainya. Undang-undang berkenaan memerlukan semua dokumen Mahkamah difailkan di dalam Bahasa Melayu (Bahasa Malaysia/Bahasa Kebangsaan).

Oleh sebab itu, memorandum yang difailkan oleh Encik Karpal Singh adalah tidak sah. Rayuan DSAI pun ditolak tanpa bicara.

Saya ingin memetik sebahagian daripada apa yang dikatakan oleh Mahkamah Rayuan di dalam keputusan bertulisnya mengenai perkara tersebut di dalam kes DSAI melawan Tun DrM. Petikan di dalam bahasa asal keputusan Mahkamah Rayuan adalah seperti berikut:

"We have seen the memorandum of appeal and it is obvious that it is not drafted in Bahasa Malaysia. The supremacy of Bahasa Malaysia or the Malay Language in our courts cannot be denied. Pursuant to Article 152 of the Federal Constitution read together with section 8 of the National Language Acts 1963/1967 (Act 32) as well as section 3 of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 (Act 388), all proceedings (other than the giving of evidence by a witness) in the Federal Court, Court of Appeal, the High Court or any subordinate court shall be in the National Language. And according to Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution, the National Language shall be the Malay Language....

And Rule 18(1) of the Rules of the Court of Appeal 1994 clearly states that it is the appellant who shall prepare a memorandum of appeal. Factually speaking, the absence of the memorandum of appeal in the National Language renders the record of appeal filed by the appellant incurably defective and, consequently, the appellants appeal herein should be dismissed with costs for the simple reason that there is no proper record of appeal before this court. It is as simple as that....

We categorically say that the mandatory provisions of Article 152 of the Federal Constitution read together with section 8 of the National Language Acts 1963/1967 (Act 32) and section 3 of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 (Act 388) must be adhered to. It requires the appellant to file the memorandum of appeal in the National Language. No other language will be entertained. And the failure of the appellant to do so amounts to a blatant breach which would compel us to conclude that no memorandum of appeal has been filed at all. The purported memorandum of appeal in the English language must accordingly be rejected outright without further ado. What is mandatory, must be strictly adhered to."

Diharapkan ini menjadi pengajaran kepada Encik Karpal Singh dan anak-anaknya. Juga kepada semua pengamal undang-undang. Semua prosiding di dalam Mahkamah Tinggi,  Mahkamah Rayuan dan Mahkamah Persekutuan hendaklah di dalam Bahasa Kebangsaan (Bahasa Melayu/Bahasa Malaysia).

Sepertimana yang dikatakan oleh Timbalan Menteri Pelajaran baru-baru ini, kita akan menjadi "pelik" (di dalam bahasa Inggerisnya, "weird") jikalau kita berbahasa Inggeris di tempat kerja dan sebagainya. Itu adalah satu pencemaran budaya kita.

Ingat Encik Karpal, semua (dan saya maksudkan, SEMUA) dokumen Mahkamah perlu di dalam Bahasa Malaysia (Bahasa Melayu/Bahasa Kebangsaan). Kalau tidak, dokumen itu ataupun prosiding itu akan menjadi TIDAK SAH.

Faham?



Nota: Saya telah difahamkan bahawa peguamcara yang berkenaan bukannya Encik Karpal Singh. Sebenarnya peguamcara berkenaal ialah Tetuan S N Nair. Maaf di atas kesilapan saya.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Justice is an illusion

It's really tough being a Judge. Really, I think it's a thankless job. A Judge can never do any right.

I think it was in 1996 that a soon-to-be-really-famous High Court Judge politely asked me and my opponent whether we would mind to remain in his chambers for some small talk after we had finished our hearing before him. As I had no other case to do, I obliged the Judge. So did my opponent.

He asked both of us how long we had been practising. I told him I had practised for about 10 years. He smiled and said that I could be a Judge soon (as the Federal Constitution states that a person who has been a lawyer for 10 years or more could be a Judge).

I was wondering what was in the Judge's mind. He looked tired. Something was bothering him. He looked and behaved almost like he was resigned to the hopelessness of it all. He was looking at both me and my opponent intently. There was something that he wanted to say but couldn't.

Finally he asked, "what do you think of justice?" My opponent was senior to me and so he answered first. I can't really remember what my opponent said. After he had finished saying his piece, the Judge looked at me. "What do you think?" he asked me.

I looked at him and without hesitation I said, "Judge, I don't believe in justice!" He was petrified! I know he was going to ask why the hell I was practising law then. Before he did so, I continued, "Judge, human beings are incapable of dispensing justice. Only God can do so. Justice is subjective. The winning party will say they have got justice. The losing party will never say so."

The Judge was unimpressed. He looked deep in thought. He was clearly ruffled by what I had just said. Finally, he said, "could you then tell me what me and all my brother Judges have been doing all these while. And what you and your learned friends have been doing appearing before us?"

"Judge, I am a law practitioner, not a justice practitioner. You and your brother Judges have been dispensing the law all these while. You have been applying the law. In modern societies like ours, adherence with and applying the law brings the connotation that justice is being done. That's it. Justice is a connotation. It is not real. It is a corollary of the application of the law by the Court or Judge. The real justice will only be seen when we all die."

"The law is not always just. Take the land acquisition law for example. How just is a law which permits the Government to force a landowner to surrender his land to the Government? But if the law is applied and the Court imposes a suitable compensation to be paid to the landowner, the perception is that justice is done, but is it really done?" I postulated.

"My God", the Judge said. My opponent was cringing in his seat. "I have never thought about it that way,thank you for telling me," the Judge said, his eyes brightened up a bit.

We continued to chat for a bit after that. I was telling him that jurisprudentially, I belonged to the positivist school of jurisprudence. I believe that the law and morality should be separated. After about 20 minutes, we excused ourselves. As we were going out from his chambers, the Judge said, "have a good life both of you."

We thanked him. That was the last time I appeared before that particular Judge. Two or three months later, he rocked the Judiciary with his resignation. The reason for his resignation rocked the whole Malaysia and even the world. But life goes on in this country of ours. Nothing ever changed. People like this Judge just disappear from the map and from our memory.

I last met him in an event in Subang Jaya some months ago. He was still his jovial friendly self. And he looked much happier. May God bless him with a long and healthy life as well as peace of mind.

Fast forward to the present time.

When Justice Ariff Yusof (then he was a Judicial Commissioner) dismissed Gobind Singh Deo's suit against the speaker of the Parliament for suspending him (Gobind), many articles were written and posted on the net about it. Justice Ariff was questioned why he did not follow the Federal Court's decision in one of the Perak Menteri Besar constitutional circus. The Federal Court had in one of those cases held that the Court could review the decision of a Speaker.

Under the law, a decision of a higher court is binding on a lower court. Thus the decision of the Federal Court (which is the highest court in the land) would be binding on the High Court (where Justice Ariff sits).

In dismissing Gobind's suit against the Speaker of Parliament, Justice Ariff applied the clear wording of the law as stated in the Federal Constitution, which says:

"The validity of any proceedings in either House of Parliament or any committee thereof shall not be questioned in any court."

Justice Ariff opined that while the Federal Court recognised the power of the Court to question whether an act of the Legislative Assembly has any legal basis or otherwise, any act of the Assembly which is supported by any legal basis would be immuned from such scrutiny.

In all the articles written about his decision on the net, Justice Ariff was vilified by all and sundry, especially by the supporters of DAP or the Pakatan Rakyat. Some even called him stupid. Some others even questioned his impartiality.

Last week, in yet another high profile case, Justice Ariff held that MACC did not have the power to interrogate witnesses or potential witnesses after office hours. He then ruled that MACC's action in interrogating a potential witness at night was illegal and ordered compensation to be assessed and paid to the victim.

In doing so, Justice Ariff was of course interpreting the law as it is stated in the MACC Act. That Act says any person served with an order shall attend for examination and shall continue to do so "from day to day until the examination is completed" (section 30 (3) (a) of the MACC Act.

As the words "day to day" was not defined by the Act, Justice Ariff applied the literal meaning to the word and came to the conclusion that MACC does not have the right to force any person to give statement at night. Justice Ariff applied the law as he understands it. He applied the law as it is worded.

Many articles were also written about this decision, whether in the mainstream mass media or the net. The IGP made some statement which effectively ridiculed Justice Ariff's decision. The chief of MACC, while saying that MACC would abide by the ruling, was also sulking and whining like some small girls whose lollipop has been taken away.

This time the Pakatan Rakyat supporters hailed Justice Ariff as a hero of sorts. He was seen as a learned Judge who protects fundamental liberties. All the vilifications he received just after Gobind's case were quickly forgotten.

But, as I have said at the start of this article, there is no justice in this world. There is always one side which would say justice has not been served. My fellow blogger Rocky posted an article on his blog about Justice Ariff's decision. He somewhat said that Justice Ariff's decision is weird. Exactly, this is how he puts it:

"Well, I agree with blogger Syed Akbar Ali that in this case, the Court has acted really weird."

Apparently, the Scotland Yard, ICAC and Interpol could take statements at night. So, why not MACC? I must confess I do not know whether that is right. And I do not know what the law governing those bodies provide in terms of taking witness statements. I would also refrain from analysing whether MACC is comparable to all those bodies in terms of performance and ethics.

Whatever it is, Justice Ariff's decision will be appealed by the Attorney General. So, let's not go into the merit of it for the time being.

The point is the comments made under Rocky's article. This time, Justice Ariff is again vilified, especially by commentators who are obviously pro-government. One of the commentators noted that Justice Ariff is a former PAS legal advisor. He then concluded that "something is not right." Basically he was insinuating that Justice Ariff was being dishonest.

Another commentator asked whether Justice Ariff had any problem with the MACC. Perhaps the most unfair comment was this:

"Param Tak Suara said...

So how much did Karpal pay the judge?"

A Judge's good work will only last and be appreciated until his next decision which is unfavourable to the relevant party. That is obvious. Many of us have somewhat forgotten how Justice Ariff had conducted himself in accordance with the best tradition of the Judiciary. When the Nizar v Zambry case was fixed for hearing before Justice Ariff, he quickly made it known to all parties that he was a PAS legal advisor. He then invited arguments on whether he should disqualify himself. He later disqualified himself from hearing that case after listening to all parties interested.

That was how conscientious Justice Ariff was.

In Gobind's case he ruled against Gobind. What did that say about Justice Ariff's impartiality, considering that he was a PAS advisor? And now in the MACC case, he applied the law as he understands it. In doing that, he held against the MACC, and consequently the government.

To half of the world, he dispensed justice in all those cases. To the other half, he was a dishonest and partial Judge.

I think I have made my point.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil-adha

I am taking this opportunity to wish all Malaysians a Selamat Hari Raya Aidil-adha. To those who will be driving home, please do be careful and drive safely.

The Eid-il-adha (aidil-adha) is also known in Malaysia as Hari Raya Korban. This is to commemorate the day Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was asked by God to sacrifice his son, Ismail (Ishmael. There is however a divergent here as the Christians and Jews believe it was Isaac and not Ishmael. Some say God asked Abraham to sacrifice "his only son").

Prophet Ibrahim, without asking any question and after telling his son of the command, proceeded to "fling him down to his face" (Quran: 37:101-103). God then proclaimed that Prophet Ibrahim had fulfilled the vision and declared that it was a test.

The practice of slaughtering cows or goats on this day is derived its origin from these verses.

Sometimes I wonder whether these verses are a metaphorical call for selflessness and submission to God rather than a literal call for offering sacrifices of animals in order to please God.

I stand guided.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Freedom lifts us up to where we belong

I must say I was surprised at how much attention my article Enemies of the State (I owe this title to the Malaysian Insider as my original title was lame in comparison ) attracted.

There were many comments at my blog as well as the Malaysian Insider, where my article appeared. Zaidel Baharuddin, a fellow writer with the Malaysian Insider posted a comment and also ran a reply on his blog, Catatan Seekor Lipas. The famous Rocky of Rocky's Bru also ran a post on the topic which basically pitted my stand against that of Zaidel's aka the "Lipas Man".

I must say I am impressed with the passion shown by most of the commentators on either side of the fence. However the debate at Rocky's Bru had somewhat degenerated into a lawyer bashing event and the issue at hand transformed into:

  • a question of whether lawyers are of any use to the society.
  • and whether a doctor makes a better Prime Minister than a lawyer.

I will of course refrain from wading through such murky water because quite honestly I have a fear of vast, dark and vacuous space.

The article which I wrote was not at all intended to be a polemic on whether a particular system, be it democracy, socialism, communism or anything in between, could ensure more development and progress to the exclusion of other systems. Rather, that article was aimed at taking issue with Dr Mahathir's apparent stand that "too much democracy" is a hindrance to development and progress.

DrM's position is obvious from the comparison which he made, that is between India and China. The former, according to him, was too engrossed in democracy, unlike the latter. And the latter has more progress. I therefore concluded that it is DrM's position that a dictatorial system or a less democratic system would be better for development and progress.

DrM was at pain to show that freedom and liberty as enjoyed by the people, - or at least as demanded by the people - especially in the West are not good for development and progress. With that, I took issue.

What I wish to address here is the argument that human being would prefer to have food on their table or economic progress than freedom, liberty or even democracy in itself. Zaidel encapsulates this position when he commented:

"I'm pretty sure,  those starving hard working farmers in India who has to fight drought and fertilizer prices don't give a damn about freedom of speech or expression. It is those comfortably well paid lawyers with some extra time on their hands who are more concerned about these things and write about it."

The problem with that statement is the fact that it is rested on pure assumption.

Human beings are born free. The moment he comes out from the womb, he is freed from the constraints of the womb and thrust into this world a free human being. The first thing which he tastes, apart from the air which he inhales, is freedom and not food or drink.

Freedom of expression is tasted early in his life outside the womb. The first cry which a human being give is an expression, which he is then free to demonstrate. And he moves, his eyes opening up, his limbs moving in no particular pattern and without any specific control. Freedom and liberty are not only what which dignify us as human beings but they are our divine rights.

Zaidel talks of the poor and impoverished farmers in India. What if all the hardworking and starving farmers in India, or elsewhere, were locked up in a cage and fed food and drink to their heart's content but they were not allowed to speak nor go anywhere at all? Then they are given the choice of leaving the cage, live freely and find their own food and drink. Wouldn't they leave the cage? I think they would. But of course, like Zaidel, I would be making an assumption.

However, in this day and age, when freedom and liberty are regarded as universal rights of human beings and when they are regarded as  part of natural and divine rights, it is a measure of the sorry  state that we are in that we are still arguing which is the more basic and primordial need, food and drink or freedom and liberty!

My question is, why can't we have them all? Especially in a democracy, where we elect our so called leaders to look after our well being as members of a State?

I think in this day and age, it is downright insulting - and not to mention, pathetic - for any leader to say to the people that I will give you food on your table in abundance but you would have to shut up, toe the line and do as I say, all the time and under all circumstances.

For a leader to lay the blame on the people which he or she ruled - for not understanding the limits of democracy - as a reason for his or her failure to achieve development and progress does not speak much of his or her leadership.

A comparison was made with Singapore in one of the comments. It was pointed out Singapore did not have much of a democracy and they progress well. But that does not prove that Singapore progressed well because it was less democratic. Hasn't  it occurred to any of us that Singapore progressed because of the mentality and work ethics of its leaders?

By the way, Malaysia, during the 22 year reign of DrM had identical benevolent absolutist regime with Singapore. Both DrM and LKY were the staunchest apologists for what they termed as "Asian values", which to me was nothing more than a self serving excuse for totalitarianism. 

Malaysia had everything which Singapore had in terms of repressive legislation as well as actions. In fact history would show that Malaysia imposed more limits to democracy than Singapore did in the 22 years of DrM's rule.

So I am going to ask the obvious question. Why is it that Malaysia had failed to match Singapore's progress and development during that 22 years? Both had untold limits on democracy. What happened? What were the differences between the two countries?

The thing is this. If we stripped all the deliberate cost overruns (I am being overly generous with my description here); all consultation, introduction and service fees; all middle men; all other "value-not-added services" from all of our projects all those years, I am sure this country would have enough finances and resources to do much more. The money being churned by Petronas alone would be more than enough.

And if only we had put in the right people - instead of some silver-spoon fed children, brothers in law, nephews and what-have-you of the people in power -where they were needed, I am sure this country would have equaled Singapore, if not overtaken it.

As for India, fellow blogger Wenger J Kahiry had answered well in his article India, China, Democracy, Communism and RM 50 billion on his blog. I don't want to add anything.

Whether we like it or not, we are a democratic country. Our leaders should stop asking for more and more powers and start delivering results with whatever powers they already have. Why can't development and progress be achieved without trampling on the people's freedom and liberty?

In this cyber age, the people are slowly being empowered. And they wish for emancipation. They wish for development and progress. And they do not wish to give more than they need to, particularly when it comes to their rights, freedom and liberty.

The people now have become an enlightened customers of the politicians. And they have become demanding customers. They want food and drink on their table. And they want their freedom and their liberties in the same breath. Their basic and fundamental rights as human beings. Those very things which give them human dignity and which differentiate them from other animals.

The times they are a-changin, says Bob Dylan, and you'd  better start swimming or you'd sink like a stone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Enemies of the State

India, apparently is a country which has made the "mistake of being too democratic". And, "democracy can be a hindrance to progress because you spend so much time politicking that you don’t have time to develop your country. In China, there’s not much politics. So, they can spend more time developing their country.”

Those are statements attributed to Tun Dr Mahathir in a IANS report as quoted by Malaysia Today on 17.11.2009.

I love it when DrM is being philosophical. Because he makes philosophy, especially political philosophy, interesting. Interesting in a comedic way, I mean.

First and foremost, to put China and India in the same political sphere is an act of questionable wisdom.

India is a parliamentary republic deeply entrenched within the Westminster typed democracy as practiced in the United Kingdom. Malaysia, which was governed by DrM practices the Westminster typed democracy as well, save for the fact that we are not a republic.

China, on the other hand is not a democratic country at all. It is a communist country. The people have no freedom of speech or at all. They kill their own people for having the guts to stand up and be counted. The so called leaders do things according to their own whims and fancies. The people just have to accept. There is no election. No voting. No nothing.

(The only good thing about China's administration  is the fact that they shoot their civil servants for corruption.)

DrM must have confused China with Malaysia during his days as the Prime Minister. Save for the fact that Malaysia is not a communist country and we do not shoot our civil servants for corruption, of course.

According to DrM, the people "do not understand the limits of democracy”. And that dear Doctor, includes the leaders too, if I may add. Which begs the question, what can the people do when they do not understand, or misunderstand, the limits of democracy? Create chaos? If so, isn't it the duty of a responsible Government to educate and to protect the people and the State in accordance with the law and the power entrusted by the people?

The real danger to the State  is not the people not understanding the limits of democracy. The real danger to the State is the leaders not understanding the limits of their powers. The real danger to the State is the leaders not understanding democracy in itself and its inner working. Because there lies the root of abuses. There lies the root of wrongdoings, corruption, nepotism, cronyism and totalitarian absolutism.

While a responsible Government could crush, with all its might and powers, a revolt by people who do not know the limits of democracy, what, on the other side of the fence, can the people do to stop Government- sponsored terrors, abuses, financial misdeeds, tortures, transgressions of universal human rights and even downright murders?

Remember Memali? What could the helpless people who, in the mid 80s, were still eating ubi keledek for dinner, do? Other than to bath the dead, pray for them and bury them 6 feet in the ground? And believe that the dead are going to heaven as "syuhada"? What? And what danger were those  people to the State?

In a democracy the people trade some of their freedom for the greater societal benefits that the State manifestly offer. The Government is the trustee of the people's freedom and the powers conferred by the people. Those trust properties are to be used only, and only for, the betterment of the society and the State. And the people choose those who are to govern. That is the crux of democracy. But does it end there? We vote and so it is democratic? That's it? And upon being elected, we are at your mercy?

What about the performance of the trust?

And so, apparently, if the people know their limits, the leaders can concentrate on developing the country. Like in China. Oh, how blessed is our developed Malaysia. During 22 years of DrM's rule, when all of us knew our limits, or made to know our limits, he so concentrated on the development of Malaysia. Let's see. We have:

  • spanking nice highways but we have to pay tolls and the toll rate keeps on going up like an elevator to nowhere.
  • an education system which serves as a fertile breeding ground for racial segregation and good for manufacturing humanoids.
  • health care services which are almost non existent.
  • a huge new administrative centre with no viable transportation system and parking space.
  • a transportation system which is high on technology but really low on delivery.
  • nice tallest twin towers in the world.
  • nice race track which hosts 3 international races per year.
  • broadband services which is anything but broad.
  • etc etc

If DrM was right, that being undemocratic or not so democratic  was productive in terms of development, why is Malaysia still not a developed nation after 22 years of benevolent absolutist rule? Why are we now mired in:

  • racism - the least said the better.
  • religious extremism and persecution - Dr Asri was just charged as I am writing this.
  • corruption - look at the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2009 published 2 days ago.
  • Governmental abuses - need I list them out?
  • human rights transgressions - read Operasi Lalang.
  • a societal beliefs in tahyul, bomoh and superstition.
  • a societal transfixion with celebrities weddings, house decor, body and physical decor and upliftment.
  • semi feudalistic idolatry of leaders and mini emperors.
  • stupidity, even in the House of Parliament.
  • a bunch of generation Z whose idea of progress is upgrading their iPhone3G to iPhone3GS.
  • fill in the blank

22 years after. And we have these. Do these exist because our people did not know the limits of democracy for 22 years? Or because our leaders did not know the limit of their powers for 22 years and beyond?

Yes. According to DrM, the Westerners are wrong for making democracy and freedom the cornerstone of progress. The British are so free they go on strike every other day. Well, who sent people to the moon in 1969? Which part of the world had an industrial revolution? Why have Russia, East Germany, Romania et al embraced democracy and freedom? From whom did we buy our Scorpene? Why Glasnost and Perestroika? So the people know the limits of freedom and how to behave themselves properly and in accordance with the Government's code of behavioural acceptance?

And finally, according to DrM, apart from China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan will lead the Asian charge.

Which made me thinking, were Japan, South Korea and Taiwan governed by a benevolent absolutist government? Do the people in these countries know the limits of democracy? If so, to what extent? And who impose and define these limits on them?

Because the last time I checked, the South Koreans will come out on the street in droves to protest even the misuse of an office eraser by a Minister. The Taiwanese on the other hand would fight tooth and nail for the right to hog the microphone in their House of Representative. As for the Japanese, they just booted out their long non-performing Government.

So, India is too democratic and therefore they won't succeed?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The demon in all of us

Minister Hishamuddin could not hide his disgust at some of us, Malaysians, who have, according to him, "demonised" the various institutions such as the police force. The crime rate, in his opinion, is due to the demonisation of the police force. Another possible reason is "the delay in the various trials and judging process".

Minister Hisham's statement came after Minister Koh's verbal answer in the Parliament on why the IGP had a high KPI score of 113.8% when the crime rate is going north. Minister Koh's reply was that the crime rate is now higher because when the police becomes more effective, there will be more crimes reported. Let me quote him in verbatim from the hansard so that we will all not be lost in translation. This is what Minister Koh said:

"Pengalaman dari negara-negara lain menunjukkan bahawa apabila pihak berkuasa, penguat kuasa menjadi lebih berkesan. Maka bilangan laporan akan meningkat, sebab dahulu sebelum sistem menjadi berkesan, maka orang awam enggan melaporkan.


Ada juga yang dikatakan anggota-anggota Polis yang tidak menggalakkan supaya sesuatu dilaporkan sebab... Kes ragut misalnya. Amat sukar untuk mangsa mengenal pasti siapa peragut itu, oleh itu mungkin banyak kes tidak dilaporkan. Akan tetapi apabila keyakinan orang awam terhadap pasukan penguat kuasa meningkat maka mereka akan tampil ke hadapan, itu satu. Yang keduanya, sistem untuk menerima laporan itu."

It is not for me to dispute what was said by Minister Hishamuddin or Minister Koh. After all, they are the Ministers and they know better. What does a mere "rakyat" like me know about all these things?

I however have a story to tell. Those who read my article about Utusan Malaysia's responsible journalism would notice that I had mee rebus for lunch on 12th November 2009. While walking back, I bought some jack fruits. When I finished eating them, I was looking for a rubbish bin to throw the empty plastic in.

I finally saw one nice blue rubbish bin. I walked toward it. I was quite disappointed when I tried opening the cover. I took a picture of it. Here it is:

tong sampah

Note: I have exercised my responsible blogger discretion by blanko-ing the address. Rest assured I did not blank out any emblems, political or otherwise. I swear.

Now, the question is, what kind of demon which possesses and drives the owner of this bin to actually put the bin in chain and lock?

Is crime so rampant much so that even rubbish bins are not secure anymore?