Friday, January 29, 2010

malaysiakini and the YOUTH Joint Statement on the ALLAH Problem

It is good that channels of communication still exist between the BN and PR youth wings as described in this malaysiakini article Youth joint statement - 'Better late than never' but as you see the response from most readers is still rather critical.
I suggest this could be the beginning to transform Malaysia for the better. Let's face it...the present leadership in all the parties have too much baggage to forge a national unity government even with all the campaigns about 1Malaysia. Just see how Kelantan has been deprived of the oil royalty dues. I suggest the Kelantan government should sue the federal authorities for the money. How can funds due to a state government be controlled by a federal agency?
The youth of all the political parties can forge more meaningful ties and maybe even unite as a political entity to provide Malaysia an alternative. After all more younger Malaysians may then register to vote in a new style of government.
Let us make a change for Malaysia.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Paying Respect to late Johor Sultan ... why BAR Non-Muslims?

Following the rumours about the enforcement by corrupt officials who allegedly collected RM300 from unsuspecting victims, it is good that the Star has published a detailed guideline for those who want to visit the royal mausoleum in the article
Mourning for Sultan Iskandar to end on Saturday.
Going by the number of people who are still wearing arm-bands, many people still feel the sorrow at the demise of the ruler who reigned for more than 30 years.
However, I wonder why there are different sets of rules for those who want to pay their respects.
According to the article,
"Muslims would be allowed to enter the mausoleum while non-Muslims could extend their prayers and condolences from the entrance".
I would have thought that if people are appopriately attired and behave properly, everyone should have equal access to pray.
In life, the late Sultan did not limit non-Muslims from seeing him. So it is strange that in death, rules are being made to prevent the people he loved to bid him a last farewell.
May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mourning the Sultan of Johor ... A PR ERROR of the Mentri Besar

It is good that the Johor palace has come up with an official statement on the dress code for the citizens during the mourning period as the Johor MB did not handle the matter in a clear and professional manner; thereby contributing to the confusion and possible abuse of authority by a few enforcement officers.

This was my own experience of the matter :
I attended a Speechcraft program for IRDA trainees from about 9:00am to 5:00pm and two trainers had their arm-bands prepared.
As I had not heard the news report about the dress code nor read about it, I was a little upset that the "authorities" were imposing of fine of RM300 to RM350 for those who did not wear the proper attire.
In fact the only information I found in the Star was this entitled New Sultan to be named today in which the MB "Abdul Ghani declared today a public holiday and said a seven-day mourning period from today had been declared.
He said Muslim males should wear songkok with white bands while non-Muslim men should wear a black armband on their left and black tie.
Muslim women must wear white headscarves while non-Muslims must wear a black armband on their left."

The article did not mention any penalties for non-compliance or under what authority or legislation he made the declaration.
Does the MB have the authority to impose such a dress code on anyone?
I double-checked with my brother and he also advised me to get an arm-band and he even told me it had to be 3inches wide.
My first reaction when I heard the news or rumour in the morning was that enforcing such a dress code would result in more a negative emotion rather than feelings like love, homage and respect. I mean if you had to fork out RM300 to some corrupt official who was "enforcing" such a rule you would not think so affectionately of the deceased.
I remember during the funerals of my two parents and my in-laws, we did not wear any black arm-bands and no one used any specially made clothes. We simply picked an appropriate set of clothes that were not too colourful but of subdued design.
So I was a little worried when I returned to Singapore late Sunday night and I had prepared an armband for my return trip on Monday.
I figured that a Singapore-registered car would probably not be pulled up for spot-checks on the arm-band. However we noticed there was a police road-block on the north-bound PLUS highway just near the beginning.
When the MB makes such an ambiguous announcement, some unscrupulous people will try to exploit the situation like the corrupt police officers and those selling the arm-band materials.
So how did I solve my armband problem? I cut up a black plastic bag to make the armband and used 2 staples. When I came back on the public transport all the way to Taman Adda Heights, there was no enforcement. But on the bus I heard a few guys talking about the fine and maybe 10% of the passengers sported an armband.
The other problem with the clarification is that some people who do not read the papers will not know about it and will continue to wear the armband under protest.
So even now we really cannot tell if people are wearing the mourning attire out of love and respect or simply based on fear.
The state authorities should have clarified with the Palace better on the handling of the matter even though it is a difficult period.
The newspapers too could have played a more effective role in educating the public about such matters.
If I had been the MB, I would have issued a statement more like the latest official statement from the palace.
For the paying of respect, I would have also provided the materials free for the armband and the songkok for those who wanted it before they entered the palace area and no one should be turned away.
For the general public, I would have announced that some 7-eleven stores in Johor had been appointed to distribute the materials free for those who wanted to mourn the passing of their ruler.
Of course the matter would be discussed with the family first.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

malaysiakini and the CREDIBILITY of GOVERNMENTS

Our former PM is in the news for the wrong reasons.
In this malaysiakini article Dr M: If they can make Avatar, they can make 9/11 TDM claims that it is not impossible that the US government caused the September11 events in order to launch the war against terrorism or maybe even against Islam as the hijackers were all Muslims.
Of course most readers will find such a story far-fetched but I watched a documentary on the history channel a few days ago about the Second World War. It seems the Americans knew about the Japanese fleet but the US leaders at the time wanted the sacrifice of Pearl Harbour in order that they could enter the war against Hitler.
I think most governments do not disclose the real reasons for major decisions and that even applies to the Malaysian government.
Thus far we have seen so many scandals being swept under a humungous carpet that is having to be extended each year with the Auditor-General's Annual Report.
In other nations, offical records are released after something like 50 years so that the people can study past decisions and errors.
In Malaysia, we have official files being destroyed and even people disappearing.
BTW I don't agree with the AVATAR notion of TDM.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

malaysiakini and the WAR Between TWITS!

A little light reading for today.
It seems the Information Communication and Culture Minister is having headaches as he does know how to control the information flow in Malaysia caused by the social networks.
It seems that MSM is now considered the side stream if one goes by circulation numbers and readership. Even I have reduced the number of newspapers I buy by at least 70%.
There is a minor spat between two UMNO leaders as detailed in this malaysiakini article Khairy delivers Twitter smackdown on Rais.
Now when the ICC Minister complains about the influence of the new media, it can be perceived they have lost the media battle.
So I too joined Facebook recently and you will note the Blog Post Toolbox on my blog.

Have a good day!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

malaysiakini and the ALLAH Problem - ALL Leaders and Followers Should Watch the Movie INVICTUS

Maybe the phrase "Allah problem" is misleading as some people will misconstrue it to mean that there is a problem with Allah when it is really a problem with his followers, both of the Muslim or Christian faiths.
Or it could even be caused by third parties who want to create religious tensions in Malaysia.

Of course any politician worth any salt will deny that the issue has anything to do with politics as one can see from this malaysiakini article Muhyiddin: Gov't to abide to court decision on 'Allah'.
Already many mistakes have been made especially by the authorities and each new edict seems to compound the problem.

I suggest that the PM calls for a meeting with the opposition leaders and agree to a temporary ceasefire untill they all attend a special screening of the movie "INVICTUS" about how Nelson Mandela used the game of rugby to help build unity in South Africa.
It is interesting to see how the African leader was brave enough to overcome obstacles and win popular support.
In a way this movie seems to run in the opposite direction to the sorry ALLAH story in Malaysia. It is quite easy to see how the issue has been worsened with inept political leadership.
I suggest such a screening can also be used to raise some funds to donate to Haiti as Mercy Malaysia is facing funding difficulties to help them.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

malaysiakini and MOCKING ALLAH by the Malaysian Government

It seems that it is the Malaysian government that is trying to confuse Christians now with the 1Malaysia two BiBles scenario now as so aptly described by malaysiakini readers.
It seems to be a case of contradictions compounding confusion as different leaders put their own version of the final solution to the problem.
I am sure ALLAH is not amused at the way in which his Name has been used to create such disharmony.
I would suggest the following persons would be responsible for most of the problems related to the ALLAH issue:

1.The former Home Minister for imposing such restrictions on the Herald - maybe 40%
2.The present Home Minister for continuing with the ban and encouraging the mosque protests - 30%
3.The Prime Minister for not reining in the Home Minister after he blundered in allowing protests - 20%
4.The IGP for announcing in public that the PDRM could not protect the places of worship - 5%
5.The Muslims who are so easily "confused" about the ALLAH problem - 5%

So Nazri now provides this damage control which is a strange decision as the matter is still under appeal. Is he also tring to tell the Court of Appeal how to decide?
My view is that the Islamic teachers in Malaysia should start faith programs so that more Muslims can stay committed to their religion.
It is a fact that humans of all religions do go through search and questioning episodes at different times of their lives. And the state can do very little to control such discovery of self.

Friday, January 15, 2010

malaysiakini Reports A Good Move by the Government

It is not all bad news from Malaysia with the ALLAH controversy still unresolved.
Certainly this article from malaysaikini is a step in the right direction PM wants 30% non-Malay quota in Royal Military College but I feel there are already too many sceptics of the government's good intentions or otherwise - just read the comments.
For many, it is a question of "Too little, too late" as UMNO's chances of survival in the next elections may have reached the tipping point.
So what more can be done for damage control?

I suggest the PSC and all bodies that control major appointments should be revamped and 30% of such posts in vital decision-making bodies be reserved for prominent Malaysians who are not linked to BN parties. That would be a big step to achieve 1Malaysia.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Malaysia Can GROW Stronger from the ALLAH Controversy...

It has been a rude education of sorts for many Malaysians but if you read the comments from malaysiakini and the Malaysian Insider, we can hope that Malaysians will become stronger after this issue has been settled.
Not in the manner as suggested in this malaysiakini article Minister asks Christians to drop 'Allah' claim when a minister has the gall to claim that the problem will be solved by clamping down on the religious practices of non-Muslims.
I just wonder how such people can rise to such an important post and yet display such insensitiveness and lack of vision. Does he not understand that forcing the issue in this manner is as good as condoning the arson attacks?
I also heard on TV3 that Selangor religious groups will petition the Sultan to declare the word ALLAH banned for non-Muslims.
That will surely complicate the matter for the Malay ruler leads the state as far as Islam is concerned but he also has no authority to interfere in the practice of other religions. Such an ill-advised decision will bring about a conflict between the state and federal constitutions.
The most heartening development from this sad episode is the heroic stance taken by some Muslim NGOs who are freely protecting the churches. In fact they appear to be more concerned about the safety of the churches than the police who claimed a lack of manpower.
To me, if the PDRM lacked resources, the advice should have been made in private and not broadcast so that those with evil intentions will know your weakness.
If you are part of the silent majority, if this latest development does not move you to do something for your nation - maybe sign a petition or join the inter-faith dialogue, by the time you decide to do something, it may be too late.
Do something NOW to change the course of Malaysia or forever remain silent.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Could this be a NEW WAY to SUBSIDISE SUGAR Too?

malaysiakini and other MSM are full of articles on the ALLAH issue and so perhaps no one is aware of the other issues affecting Malaysia.
Recently the suthorities introduced the 20-litre ruling on foreign vehicles and well done to the authorities for having the intelligence to waive the rules for Singapore-registered vehicles as they already enter with the 3/4 tank rule.
I guess one of the unstated reasons is that Malaysians who work in Singapore also have to drive such vehicles.
As part of the government's plan to reduce expenditure and that includes subsidies, the price of sugar has been increased by 20sen a kilo and the claim is that the government still subsidises our sugar by some 80sen.
After the success with the 20-litre restriction for petrol, the authorities have become bolder and are now proposing further restrictions. According to the Star report Fuel price by car size
the plan is the larger the car the more you have to pay for fuel.
Since when did car size become a determinant for wealth? For example many people buy bigger and older cars because they are much cheaper and they need to accommodate more passengers. Or older folks do not change cars so often as they cannot afford to buy new flashy cars.
It is really too much when the government tries to micro-manage such details. It is also inefficient and requires more admin work and costs.
So we apply the same logic of fuel control measures to sugar consumption, we should be rationing subsidised sugar to citizens. How about using Mykad to buy cheap sugar limited to 3kg per month? Or maybe sell sugar at different prices based on stomach capacity? This will require people to show their weight card and the value of the subsidy will depend on your weight.
The more you weigh, the less subsidy you will receive.
Absurd! That's what you are thinking? But that is the same principle they are going to apply to the proposed fuel restrictions.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

malaysiakini and ACTIVELY ENCOURAGING Protests ....A NO-BRAIN Decision of the Home Minister

Instead of trying to quell the public unrest over the ALLAH issue or non-issue according to this letter to malaysiakini from a mature Muslim Protests over 'Allah' ruling embarrassing, it seems the Home Minister is hell bent on allowing the religious issue to smoulder.
Otherwise why has it granted the protesters to stage demonstrations at their mosques on this coming Friday. The court itself has granted the stay that both parties agreed untill the matter comes before the Court of Appeal.
Is it an ominous threat to non-Muslims that they are being subject to "ketuanan" principles?
When the jet engines go missing we can understand that the top brass are incompetent in administering a fool-proof stores system but when a Minister simply allows an unwelcome demo with some vague assurances on public security, that is the height of irresponsibility.
Remember how the cops stood by during the bloody cow head incident? Those guys did not have a police permit and yet the cops just stood about. Now with the approval to demonstrate, how many cars need to be burned or passers-by injured before it is deemed a threat to national security?
Will the Minister too be leading the protesters with his kris-wielding skills?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

malaysiakini and GOVERNMENT Meddling in RELIGION...

So the ALLAH controversy goes a step further with the government having succeeded in obtaining the stay order that is not unexpected.
Most Malaysians expect that the CoA will grant round 2 to the government but others wonder What's next in 'Allah' row?.
One basic problem in Malaysia is that the silent majority who make up the bulk of the populace are not active in politics or current issues but to me it is time for them to think carefully about the issues and at least write a letter to the press and malaysiakini and their MPs. Otherwise like PPSMI issue in education, the vocal minority will hijack your future and the future of your children.
I think I have written enough about the ALLAH issue but this article is about a very human dimension of religion in Malaysia.
This happened a few days before Christmas when I was shopping at Tebrau City Jusco in JB. The mall was playing Christmas carols and I think the carol being played was "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly".
I was looking at some items on a shelf and I heard a guy humming along. I looked at him and saw a Malay with his family - the wife was wearing a tudong and she kind of hushed him gently. As he was walking away, he turned back and gave me a sheepish grin and I smiled back at him.
He looked in his late 40s but I am not sure if he was Malaysian or Singaporean.
Then there was another Malay with his cute daughter who was enthralled by the presents on the Christmas tree - she brought a few ornaments to my wife who was waiting to pay at the cashier. My only concern was the chance of her getting an electric shock from the lights.
So do you think a ban on Christmas carols and decorations will be next on the agenda?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

malaysiakini and a MAJOR Headache for BN

The ALLAH issue can break up the BN for good as the Home Ministry has decided to appeal according to this malaysiskini report Home Ministry files appeal against 'Allah' decision.
Already Christian groups in Sabah and Sarawak are upset about the attitude of the government about their usage of "ALLAH" as they had been using that term even before Malaysia was formed.
Even Marina Mahathir was written a beautiful article about how Christians and Moslems can work for world peace by cooperating instead of quarreling.
So what happens at Malaysia's Court of Appeal?
Will the majority of the bench be Muslims?
Will those judges deliver their judgement based of the strict interpretation of the laws or will they be misguided by personal beliefs or the rabble rousing?
We should be asking questions in Parliament what is the annual budget for the promotion of Islam in Malaysia and how much is actually spent on training competent religious teachers.
It is no use spending 90% of the millions on awarding mosque-building contracts without tenders and little on producing religious scholars - maybe that is why some people claim they are going to be confused by the "ALLAH" ruling.
My prediction is that national unity will be affected by the court proceedings and the higher up the case proceeds, the more damage will be done to the fragile fabric that binds Malaysian society.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

malaysiakini on the ALLAH Conundrum.... We Can LEARN MUCH from Indonesia.....

I have written elsewhere that I believe that Indonesia is now forging ahead of Malaysia on many fronts after the voters there were courageous enough to vote in a change of government by kicking out the ruling Golkar that had dominated Indonesia for decades.
Of course Malaysia is still economically more advanced but we all worry that this will reverse once the oil dries up as even Tengku Razaleigh considers the oil bonanza a "curse".
There is one area where Indonesia has had a more enlightened policy and that is with respect to religion. Even though Muslims dominate the population with more than 95% belonging to the faith, Indonesia has an open policy towards most religions. I remember my second trip to Bali about 10 years ago and I wanted to go for Sunday service. We took a taxi to the church and the driver told us that the church, the mosque and the temple were all within walking distance of each other. You see, the government actually provides proper sites for the main religions to construct their place of worship; unlike the former Selangor government that actually ordered the demolition of a RC church that had already been granted approval.
The remarkable thing about Indonesia is that the state does not support any official religion and hence the police are not involved in enforcing Islamic laws.
If you meet most Indonesians you will find that there is a wide tolerance of religious practices and I observed this earlier this year when I was on a furniture shopping expedition in Java.
It was during the fasting month and during the time of the presidential elections. I asked my supplier if the police arrested anyone for eating during the fasting month. He replied that the police didn't bother about such cases. Even the shops were allowed to sell Muslims food and provided a screened off area so as not to disturb those who were fasting.
The TV satellite programs even had Gospel quotes and evangelical speakers with no one staging mass protests.
The photo above shows a church in Java with the prominent words "ALLAH ITU KASIH" or "GOD IS LOVE".
Hence the court ruling and the response by malaysiakini reading 'Allah use only in Herald's BM section' really shows how far backwards we have regressed as a nation. Of course we share part of the blame for we have put into power those who are prepared to use religion for their own evil intent.
Let us all be wary of those we elect to power and ever vigilant once they become national leaders.