Followers

Sunday, August 31, 2008

He's the Man!

"In whatever the situation, civil servants shall act fairly and impartially, with integrity and always in the interest of the public."


Tan Sri Mohd. Sidek b. Hj. Hassan
Chief Secretary To The Government
email:sidek@pmo.gov.my


Raperas totally agree with you, Tan Sri.

Let's help him make it a reality. From what I know, He is a good man.

http://www.pmo.gov.my/ksnwebsite_eng/ksn_eng.shtml

KSU: Berapa Gaji? Apa Kerja?

Do you not get tired when you have to put on a plastic face of respect when you meet some people whom you wonder why God put them in your path?

Consider this hypothetical scenario:

Let us say you have to attend a meeting at the Ministry. There is the Chief secretary (KSU) chairing the meeting, next the ministry’s legal adviser, then you have a few high ranking officials sitting in as well, looking sleepy and clueless. (do you notice these high ranking officials have a certain similar voice and demeanor as if they all went to the same drama classes?)

The KSU starts off with his usual ‘bismillah thingy” because all those present happens to be Muslims. I have always found it weird why this very same people do not mention “in the name of God” when non-Muslims are present. Is it because God is averse to non-Muslims? Also, it is equally weird that he does not say “in the name of God” for every single step he takes since he is so mindful of God! Maybe he does. And why must he say it aloud….concerned that God cannot hear him? Maybe, it is all a show for the audience, …….. had he really taken all his decisions in the name of God, this very meeting would have been irrelevant! Unless he plainly suffers oxygen deficiency syndrome to his brains in which case you wonder why he is sitting where he is sitting. And the Rakyat would have saved some money too.

But I have always found this behavior fascinating. Malay politicians and civil servants love to rattle praises about God in public before they start off their verbal diarrhea or unwanted advice. Some of them are so long, your patience is tested. It is almost a must-do-ritual. Even though the Quran that they are supposed to read says “call and praise your Lord in silence and humility”, they insist on doing it publicly and loudly.

Back to the meeting room. You wonder whether they have read the 12 page report you have sent them some 2 months back. They are asking the very questions you have already written down so plainly even a primary school kid will understand. And Lord…..you have to keep referring to this man as Datuk and the way his subordinates call him “Datuk” really can empty your stomach through your mouth. You keep excusing yourself to the toilet.

While the “meeting” is going on, you wonder what the names of the officials are because none of them have been introduced to you. Mahathir’s name tag policy seems to be long gone. This is the message that they are the “Gomen” and need not come down to the Rakyat’s level by introducing themselves. Ethics and common sense need not necessarily follow those who utter God’s name.

Anyway, after going through the motion of what should have been a productive meeting, the meeting ends with a “Kita tunggu lah, keputusan mesyuarat ini”. In the meantime, he does not care in the slightest that many of your worker’s families are suffering. He has his family to go back to. And you wait and wait.

Many times I wonder what religion these people belong to. Surely people of God must be compassionate, caring, emphatic and diligent?

I promise in name of Allah, God willing of course, with the strength and guidance which I hope He provides, these people will be brought to justice for taking God’s Way in vain. God’s Way, as I understand is, among other things, the way of Justice, fair play, honesty and dedication to your work.

Retirement and resignation is no escape from culpability

BULKY CIVIL SERVICE?

THIS COMMENT IS WORTH THINKING ABOUT, FOLKS,

jahaberdeen,


every establishment may it be civil or private instill direction and leadership from top down.

if our level of prime ministers, ministers and director generals are already corrupt and inefficient, what hope is there for the citizen?

it again boils down to ethnic groups. you know when a chinese takes money illegally, they are definately not a function of ineffecientcy but truly corrupt.

but when a malay takes money, are they corrupt or inefficient or due to years of practising the corruption, to them it feels that it has become their birth right. and to them it does not seem wrong?

many many years ago in our boleh land, if you were to get pull over lets say for not putting on your sit belt by the police. there will be a long long negotiation between you and the policemen and you will be begging the policeman not to issue you with a summons. and they will be very reluctant to take any money if at all.

now if you get pull over by the policeman, they will give a menu of prices for payment;
1. not wearing sit belt 100
2. using handphone 50
3. illegal u turn 80
4. speeding 30 km zone 50
5. speeding 50 km zone 100
6. speeding on highway 150
7. breathing in the car 10?

you get the drift?

when the leadership is practising the same morals standard who are the people to look up to?

our abdullah always forms committees for anti rasuah, integrity, transparency, efficiency... all full of bull. at the end nobody is monitoring these functions and then he sets up new committees to overlook the existing committees??? what the fuck is going on, you ask yourself.

MRR2, talk and talk and talk. no headway. etc etc.

why will the civil service respect and adhere to any government policy when the leader is screwed up? and the man from cambridge or so it seems is no better. and that is suppose to be our political future in boleh land?

Bulan for puteras for PM and I will turn the country around, politically, economically and functionally.

You know the population in the US is some 250 million people, the population in malaysia is 25 million. the civil service size in the US is 700,000 and is considered high, in this country our civil size is 1,300,000 and we are still inefficient??? what the F?

these are symptoms of problems.
the question to ask to get to the real problem is:

1. does race play a part in efficiency?
2. is corruption prevailing due to the inefficiency or greed?
3. is corruption necessary due to income levels?

when you get the answer to the above, Mr Jabar, you can start eradicating the problems the real problems. hope this is helpful

Bulan of Puteras

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tiffany for the Weekend

I simply love Tiffany. And since in this country a few very righteous people have decided that it is sinful for the majority to attend any kind of music concert, I leave you with this video.

Incidentally, I met a charming, serene Tiffanie today. Possibly we could learn from her how to be calm.

WARNING: This video contains a girl without head cover singing and prancing about. If by viewing this video, you fear you may land in hell, you are strongly advised to either blindfold yourself or just skip this video. May God bless you always..:)

The Sign - 1609 - September 16?

I believe in signs.

Number 1609 has intrigued me in my life. 16, 9. Many things that happened in my life has that number present. And now, something else that is claimed will happen in my life is also 1609 – September 16, 2008. Will what is predicted to happen , happen? Lets take a look at 1609:


September 16, 1994 Fire Department puts out smokey electrical fire in White House
September 16, 1992 900 die in flood in Pakistan
September 16, 1991 U.S. trial of Panamanian leader Noriega begins
September 16, 1982 Massacre of 1000+ Palestinian refugees at Chatila and Sabra begins
September 16, 1979 Coup in Afghanistan under Hafizullah Amin
September 16, 1978 25,000 die in 7.7 earthquake in Tabar Iran
September 16, 1978 Filming on Monty Python's Life of Brian, begins – seen the film?
September 16, 1976 Egypt president Sadat re-elected
September 16, 1976 Episcopal Church approves ordination of women as priests and bishop
September 16, 1974 Bob Dylan records Blood on the Tracks
September 16, 1971 6 Klansmen arrested in connection with bombing of 10 school buses
September 16, 1970 Jordan king Hussein forms military government
September 16, 1963 Malaysia formed from Malaya, Singapore, Br No Borneo and Sarawak
September 16, 1962 U.S.S.R. performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya U.S.S.R.
September 16, 1941 Hitler orders for every dead German, 100 Yugoslavian be killed
September 16, 1920 Bomb explosion in Wall Street, kills 30
September 16, 1812 Fire of Moscow
September 16, 1702 Emperor Leopold I declares war on France, Cologne and Bavaria

And lets look at the Quran where “169” appears. Just for fun..:)

“O you people! Eat of what is on earth, Lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the evil one, for he is to you an avowed enemy”. (002.168)
For he commands you what is evil and shameful, and that ye should say of God that of which you have no knowledge”. (002.169)


“Except the way of Hell, to dwell therein for ever. And this to God is easy” (004.169).

“After them succeeded an (evil) generation: They inherited the Book, but they chose (for themselves) the vanities of this world, saying (for excuse): "(Everything) will be forgiven us." (Even so), if similar vanities came their way, they would (again) seize them. Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them, that they would not ascribe to God anything but the truth? and they study what is in the Book. But best for the righteous is the home in the Hereafter. Will ye not understand? 007.169

026.169 "O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!"


“And there were those who said, "If only we had had before us a Message from those of old, [037.167 to 168”]

"We should certainly have been Servants of God, sincere (and devoted)!" 037.169


“Think not of those who are slain in God's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord”; [003.169]

I could of course be wrong, I read the signs as………the Truth will be revealed.

And what do I like about September? Well, it’s the song by Earth, Wind and Fire.

“Do you remember the 21st night of september?
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away”.

Merdeka Countdown9: Education Policy – Another Brick in the Wall?

Every Malaysian child should have FREE education up to university level. After 50 years of merdeka, we are still far away from this objective.

Education cannot be politicized. You cannot, under any circumstances play politics with the children’s future. NO. That is a major sin.

We say we care for our children. Does the state of our primary schools reflect that? What kind of syllabus? What kind of teachers? What are they taught? How is the environment?

We hear of education policies changing when Ministers change. What is the problem? Do we not have a 20 year plan or something?

We hear of some championing Sekolah kebangsaaan, some sekolah agama, some sekolah Tamil, some sekolah Cina and so on. That is all right, probably. But it is about time the RAPERA did some check on these champions – where do their own children study?

Those champions of these schools should send their own children to the very schools they champion.

I am sure the education policy for the Rakyat is a cabinet decision. The cabinet must feel that the schools and the education system is good enough for the Rakyat. We would like to see the day when ALL the children of the cabinet members are sent to the Sekolah Kebangsaan or any of the local schools (Tamil, Cina, Agama, etc).

This should be a compulsory pre-requisite for EVERY cabinet member. Otherwise, do not serve.

If it is good enough for our children, should it not be good enough for them too? The Quran says this:

“Grievously odious is it in the sight of God that you say that which you do not do”. [061.003]

God says, walk your talk.

Many must have been bored to death hearing speeches that education is important, plays an important role in nation building etc. We know that. Some of the speeches sounds so puerile; we become embarrassed for the speaker! What we want to know is:

has our current system succeeded or failed to make us into human beings with good values. Has it succeeded or failed into making us Malaysians?

Or is it just another brick in the wall?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Well said Transport Minister!

THE STAR, 29TH AUGUST 2008, FRIDAY

While you are at it ACA, how about looking at the Marine Department, the licensing department, etc? And don't forget those officials housed at the Ministry itself.

Kudos Ong Tee Keat! Kudos ACA!

People's Safety First

We were just saying yesterday about the transportation sector and read below what appeared in the letters column of The Sun paper on 28th August 2008:

isn't somebody getting of their comfy chairs and doing some work for a change?

Amazing, this happens on the route between Mersing and Tioman Island! Remember the fire???

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Merdeka Countdown8: Transportation Policy – Who is in control? Who is in charge?

You drive out from your house to work. You are faced with a huge volume of traffic. Same thing when you are returning home. As long as the traffic is moving and there are no exceptional circumstances to stall the traffic, you understand. But what if there is a traffic jam almost all the time on the same road. Certainly someone should ask why and address the problem.

I am from Penang and it hurts me whenever I go back to the eternally traffic hassled city. I think not much thought has been given to the planning of traffic flow in Penang. It appears to be an island with ad hoc, haphazard development.

Building roads alone will not solve traffic problems. Even the office boy in the Ministry of Transport (MOT) can tell you that. The problem seems to be that even when roads are build, it seems to be done in isolation to all other developments around the roads for the next 10 years. Roads are built for current traffic and a year later another government body approves 100 construction projects of 100 storey flats each! How is it possible for the roads built just a year earlier to service it? So, the problem seems to be the unthinking or incompetent civil servants who cannot seem to project a holistic master plan, etc.

There are many public transportation issues in the country that has escaped the citizen’s eyes. The MOT is in charge of land, air and marine transportation. Of course interlocking with them are other ministries and government departments. Hence, the recent one-stop suggestion for a transportation commission.

Let us look at land. Buses, taxis, LRTs, commuters, trains. Recently, the PM, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi took LRT rides. Good start. Continue with the bus rides and see if the people continue to suffer under inefficient transport system. Then, follow-up with action.

Let us look at marine. The Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal bridge collapse occurred on July 31,1988 at the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal on Butterwoth, Penang, Malaysia. The collapse caused the deaths of 32 people and injured 1,674 people. It was blamed on overcrowding and the jetty being made out of steel bars that led to the collapse。Looking back, was whoever in charge of the terminal incompetent to project potential maximum people traffic?

Remember the ferry to Tioman which was burning in mid-sea on 13th October 2007? 4 passengers died and 99 had to be fished out from sea. The ferry did not have a valid ship and passenger licence for a year! Who is responsible for giving out the licences and are they responsible? Was anyone held accountable and remedial action taken in the system? How is the decision-making process in the entire industry?


When you think transport, a whole host of sectors come to mind – JPJ, enforcers, implementers, decision-makers, etc. If you open your eyes, you will see there is tremendous room for corruption. Is it happening? Is it weakening the system?

This article should not cast any negative aspersions on the current Minister of Transport, Datuk Ong Tee Keat. I have brought transportation problems to him and he has been very swift in action thus far. The honourable Minister is intelligent, hardworking and very approachable. An admirable and humble man. I am more concerned about the civil servant officials. Do they understand the Ministry’s vision and do they assist in the implementation, enforcement and research?

Are they competent? Are they making the right decisions? How does a bona fide, efficient transport operator challenge the decision of the incompetent bureaucrat who makes a decision which destroys his business?

Remember this word: CIVIL SERVANTS. They do greater damage than politicians in many instances. Do they get off their comfy chairs in their air conditioned government offices paid by the Rakyat and solve problems efficiently and judiciously? Are they approachable easily and do they listen? My personal experience with SOME of the higher ranking officials casts doubts in my mind. One high ranking official actually told me this when I questioned his decision in a matter which is clearly economically unsound : “ Ini hak kerajaan untuk buat keputusan”. As a result, almost 26 families continue to suffer! May God forgive him and guide him.


Damn, this traffic jam!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Islamisation on this blog?

A good friend of mine sent me the following sms in relation to this Rapera blog:

“RAPERA harus teraskan kpd gerakan yang jangkaui sifat dan kepentingan agama atau bangsa, teras utama mungkin nilai universal yg diterima oleh manusia sejagat”.

I replied: “ Sekarang ni bukan teraskan nilai-nilai universal?”

He replied:

“Berselindung dibawah percaturan dan fahaman Islam walaupun tidak blh dinafikan kebenarannya. Not all tat visit n read ur articles r muslim.”

Then I replied:

“I thought u may say that. Ok. Point taken. It might be misunderstood like that”.

No, this friend is not Malay and as far as I know he reads the Quran. Why would he think I would be “berselindung disebalik percaturan dan fahaman Islam”? He knows that that there has not been a time when we meet all these years where I can stop myself from either mentioning God or the Quran. To me, it is clear that he was concerned it could be misunderstood by readers of this blog.

Just a few days before the above sms, a Malay friend of mine has cautioned me to slow down the quotations from the Quran. He says that this is not a blog about Islam or religion.

I admit, my views may be influenced by my understanding of the Quran. My views may also be influenced by all the scriptural and non-scriptural materials I have read, my experiences, etc. I think that is unavoidable. Our thoughts are influenced by what is in our mind. Our world view is influenced by what we think, how deep we think or whether we think at all. Our views are also influenced by how our mind interprets the events that we experience. Unavoidable.

But I must state this categorically:- while I accept the Quran totally, I do not consciously expect anyone to likewise do the same. I hold on to the principle that faith is a matter of the heart, conscience and mind. I adhere to what the Quran says in chapter 10 verse 99 as follows:

“If it had been the Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe?”

In this sense therefore, I do not have any “ hidden Islamic agenda” or any wish to propagate my understanding of Islam to anyone. I only discuss Islam with those who want to discuss. I do give my views on Islam but it is not done to convince anyone, only to state my understanding.

Most importantly, Rapera blog is not about religion per se though a discussion on religion may be unavoidable since it is a component of the society in which we live. “Religions” have had great impact in human history, both positively and negatively. It continues to influence human lives. Like everything else, religions too have not been spared from being abused, misused, manipulated and misrepresented. Therefore avoiding sincere discussions on religions with the purpose to seek and understand may be detrimental.

While I quote the Quran, and I will continue to do so where relevant, I would welcome anyone to quote from any other scriptures, books of wisdom or any other sources. The Truth is not the monopoly of any one person or groups of persons. Wisdom is not the birthright of any individual, culture or society. The main thing is that it should assist us to make better sense of our lives and help us get our humanity back.

Saya setuju bahawa ““RAPERA harus teraskan kepada gerakan yang jangkaui sifat dan kepentingan agama atau bangsa, teras utama mungkin nilai universal yg diterima oleh manusia sejagat”

So let this blog develop into our blog for RAPERAS.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What a Nightmare!

Ten years ago, I had a nightmare that this is how the political system works.

If you want to contribute to the country at the decision-making level, you must first join a political party. You must be loyal to the party and you must adhere to ONLY its goals.

You then must learn to compromise all your personal principles to climb up the ladder in the party. It is critical that you focus only on pleasing your few thousand party member’s wishes or their “created wishes” s as opposed to the rest of the population’s needs. At party level, the people do not count. Only party members and more importantly the party leadership’s wishes (which leadership you are ultimately hoping to displace to be replaced by you). Until you displace the party leadership, you must project yourself as its uno numero supporter.

You must not work with or acknowledge the contributions, if any, of other political parties. This is called party disloyalty. If your party is in power, it is called “treachery to the people”. You must exaggerate its faults and if you have to, then trivialize its achievements. This is called political pragmatism and expediency.

You must never, especially publicly, disagree with your party leadership. This called party discipline or party whip.

Then you must learn how to sensationalize, give speeches at the top of your voice, project yourself as an ultra of some sort (approved by your party of course). Topics? Does not matter but it will help if it is something “sensitive”. Being in politics, you will have immunity compared to the ordinary folks. There is honour among thieves, sorry I mean politicians.

Hopefully, by then your party members and especially the leadership at the moment takes notice of you. It is a question of either you are instrumental to their political survival or you are such a pain that it is considered best to have you on their side. This is of course the risky road that the more ambitious ones take.

The less ambitious ones can just tag along and chorus the leadership while bringing along loads of tissue paper to wipe off all the licking. The chorus is always the most exciting one in a choir even if they not the main singer.

You must at all costs have more than sufficient funds to climb the party ladder because the party members will not come to listen to you speak unless you provide them food in a comfortable hotel. Well, even in the outdoors, you will incur lots of expenses. So, middle income and lower income folks, better forget about helping to shape the nation though politics. No, sorry, your capability and fervor without finance is not going to assist you. No! Just stick to your dream of paying off part of your housing loan before you kick the bucket.

Now this part is the most important. Propaganda. Image building. You must learn to create public occasions where you can be seen and heard. You must get people to talk about you, write about you, photograph you. Give awards, receive awards. Whatever.
Keep repeating what you have to say even if it does not make sense to you. Sooner or later, people will believe it especially if some academic discusses it over television or in a seminar. You have to keep spinning. If you ever think you cannot spin anymore, then spin the spin. You will be surprised what sense they make of your nonsense. Then you can pretend that’s what you meant in the first place.

Remember always that there are many innocent, sincere people out there for you to dupe. These ordinary folks are so busy struggling to make ends meet, they have no time to think about what you are saying or doing. Being a leader, they will readily assume you must be right. If they think you are wrong, then they must either be a subversive or a traitor to the nation or they must be from the other party with vested interests. Either way, you as a politician is always right.

It will help if you can organize someone to criticize you but make sure great rebuttals are in store. Get someone from the middle income or lower income or someone facing a middle age crisis but going nowhere to help you on this. They will oblige, They need the money and/or the recognition.

If you can do all this, then you have changed so radically from the first time you entered politics that you will not be able to recognize yourself anymore. This is the stage where you will be anointed as the uno numero by your party. You have succeeded politically.

Then your party will have to outdo all the other parties in the general Election. Have convenient electoral pacts with whoever can help you win. Smear the other side all you can. Praise your side. Yes, including the members of your electoral pact even if you have never seen eye to eye for the past 100 years. Forget truth and honour. This is politics. People love dreams and hopes. Give it to them. Why do you think Hollywood and Bollywood movies are doing so well? Your party must win for your sake, I mean the people’s sake.

If your party wins, you now become uno numero in the country. Now, all you have to be concerned with is how you would like your legacy to be remembered. Yes. You can orchestrate that too. And later, how to dismount the tiger. Anyway, after you are long gone, they will sing songs about you in the interest of the party struggle’s continuity. Believe it or not, they will even have seminars after seminars in your name and speak about your thoughts which you never thought about while you were alive.

THEN I WOKE UP.

Thank God it was just a nightmare. Thank God! That’s not how our political system is. How different our country is. We have self sacrificing politicians. Our leaders are committed to the people. Look at them. By serving the people, they only live on the meager salary they receive. We have informed and responsible citizens. We do not expect our party leadership to provide anything for us. We only want them to govern the nation for the people’s general good. And that’s exactly what they do.

We do not have Opposition parties. We do not have Government-in-waiting Parties. We have Complementary Parties.

Look at our Parliament and you can well see how they debate graciously and passionately in the people’s interest. They stay up late nights to study bills. That is why every time there is a parliamentary sitting, you see all the MPs with bags under their eyes – not enough sleep.

In fact we all bring our own food and drinks when we attend party gatherings. In fact we do that even when we go to other party gatherings in which we are not even members. We even contribute from our salaries towards party activities. We never forget that each of us in our own way want to serve the nation. It does not matter to us who is in power for we are such caring, sharing, religious and loving Malaysians. We put national interest above party interests. We have Asian values. We detest western values.

Our leaders are capable of multi-dimensional thinking. Upright, firm, compassionate, intelligent, totally clean, selfless, transparent, accountable, approachable by anyone, efficient.

We have a great political system that needs no reform. It has worked well for the past 50 years. We did not inherit it from anyone. It is a Malaysian created system. That’s why we have total faith in all politicians.

That is why politicking is our major preoccupation. Thank God we are Malaysians.

And being all these, would God not be on our side? Surely we will be free from God’s wrath?

Thank God….I am a country boy. Well, that’s a song from John Denver who wears Gandhi-like glasses.

Merdeka Countdown7: Are we merdeka from "nearness"?

Selfish means to care only about your own self, you own needs, your own, your own, your own…..

Your own self only – family problems
Your own family only – social problems
Your own tribe only – race, caste, language
Your own kind only –, wealth, social circle, education
Your own religious group only – religiosity, extremism, exclusion, fanaticism
Your own country only – nationalism, fascism, hegemony
Your own political party only – political parochialism and partisan outlook
Your own species only – environmental problems, extinction of flora and fauna

Leaders, thinkers, social activists, people still bonded to selfishness of all types cannot be truly merdeka. Is our system merdeka from this nearness? Do you see any bold, honest leader who can merdeka our society from this nearness? Have we learned to “see from a distance”?

Our greatest, common value is pragmatism, but we will not admit. Pragmatism is a symptom of selfishness. Admitting will mean we are an outcast in the system. Think about it…I could be very wrong.

God made us in harmony. Harmony means a complementary existence between ALL that which exists. Selfishness is destructive of harmony, no matter by what name it shows up.

Don’t we want to be merdeka from all this selfishness, ‘nearness’ and see things from a distance???

May we learn something from Bette Milder. Please read the lyrics below the video kindly provided by brother Irwan.



From a Distance
From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They're the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves,
it's the heart of every man.

It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance

Friday, August 22, 2008

Merdeka Countdown6: Do you like the Man_in_The_Mirror?

so cute isn’t she? It is difficult not to adore and love any baby. They are so pure and innocent and equally deserving of love and affection. It is amazing that despite our difficult experiences in life, yet we continue to produce babies. Despite knowing all the cruelties that adults can conjure up and do in the world – famine, wars, religious and racial discrimination, poverty, deliberate deprivation of basic needs like housing, health, education and a happy life on all sorts of “clever” grounds, etc.

Every baby has the potential to become a fantastic human being. You and I were babies before. We had that potential before. What have we turned out to be? Do we like who we see in the mirror? If not, how did we become this way?

Today, Malaysians seem unhappy. Politicians are faulted. Fingers are pointed in every direction. Racism. Religious bigotry. Misinformation. Economic disparity between the haves and have-nots. Everyone and everything is faulted except the Man in the Mirror. And he wants change!

He looks solely towards politics for change – one big mistake. This leadership cult syndrome. This worship of another saviour disease. But he never looks at how the Man in the Mirror is living his life. SO will delegating “change” to politicians work? Nay. The Quran says this:

"Because God will never change the grace which He has bestowed on a
people until they change what is in their (own) souls: and verily God is He Who
hears and knows (all things)." [008.053]

We hear complains of racism, etc. What about you? Do you really love all? If you are Chinese, do you make it a point to first speak out and help the non-Chinese? If you are a Muslim, do you take the effort to defend the others the right to their own religious belief though in your heart you may cry to God for them to be guided?

Even when you are deprived of your right, do you make sure he gets his? Real love is unconditional.

Will you allow your children to marry out of your own racial circle? Do you protest to the streets when you see injustice perpetrated on those not from your own kind? Do you cry when not your own kind is poor and hungry or deprived? Do you give?

Are you willing to take the blow from all, including your own kind just to spread love and care for all? What are you? Maybe you are part of what is. Maybe you are part of what could be. But what IS you now? As the wise saying goes, we become what we are.

What have you become from the innocent baby that you were once?


I can do better than to share with you the sermon from Ustad Micheal Jackson where he says:

“I am starting with the man in the mirror,
I am asking him to change his ways,
And no message could be any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself,
And then make a change”


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Merdeka_Countdown5: Is the Justice System fair and be seen as fair?

The Malaysian Constitution is an important document. ALL Malaysians should have a copy. Be familiar.

Laws are important. But laws are nothing until it is enforced. But the enforcers may abuse the law. The people suffer. They go to the Judges, the interpreters of the law.

The lawyers are the medium through which the people speak to the Judge in the court of Law. If the lawyers are cowed into fear, the people will lose their voice. Lawyers should not be cowed. Cowards should not be lawyers. It is not a business. It is a profession.

The lawyers will give their views. The Judge has the final call. He decides what the law is. But he has to listen to the lawyers first. And do his thinking based on what is before him. He has to be patient, kind, firm and most important of all humble. For cleverness is no substitute for arrogance. Only humility will allow the Judge to learn and make the right decision.

The Judge has to decide without fear or favour. Hence, a Judge must be protected from any threat or fear.

The Judge must learn the art of balancing many things. Don’t talk too little. Don’t talk too much. Otherwise, she will lose respect and the administration of law suffers. Hence, those who feel they cannot adapt to the position should voluntarily resign. It is a difficult position. Judgeship is an honorable responsibility. I have tremendous love and respect for some of the Judges that I have appeared before.

It is not about winning or losing. It is about getting a just and fair hearing.

As an aside, why are judges called “Yang Arif” which means “The Wise One” rather than “Yang Adil” which means “The Just One”? The former may be construed as presumptuous while the latter is at least a reminder to the Judge. Does anyone know the history?

To me, Raperas must forever be wary. They must safeguard the rule of law.

A retired judge introduced the song “Justice for all” by Dale Watson to me and said that if the justice system fails the people, the people will find their own justice. The anarchist then will abuse the breakdown in the system. Hence, a civilized society must put in place a just justice system. And it must be seen to be just. Enjoy the video.

The Ethic of Reciprocity

By Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera



Datuk Zaid Ibrahim as an outspoken backbencher a year ago, in commenting on the Court of Appeal decision in the case of Subashini v. Saravanan was reported in the media as saying:
“To Muslims, I say it is unfair to expect non-Muslims like Subashini to go the syariah court even if there is perfect justice in the syariah system because the law gives her the right to pursue her remedy in the civil courts and nowhere else. Muslims can do away with the civil courts if they so wish. They can seek changes to the law to incorporate criminal, contract, property laws, etc. as part of syariah law. What Muslims cannot do is to expect non-Muslims to submit to the syariah court.
How would we feel if it was the other way round? How would the Muslims feel if they have to submit to a Hindu court or to any other religious court? We should not do unto others what we do not want others to do unto us. That is the ultimate test of reasonableness. That is the test of a just legal system.”
I couldn’t agree more with the Zaid and am sure that most right thinking members of society would likewise agree with Zaid. It was with the aim promoting a just legal system that the Bar Council organised the now infamous forum which has become the focal point of debate both nationally and internationally. Many have commented on the impropriety of the protesters who stormed the forum resulting in its premature closure. It was indeed a sad occasion. The action of these fringe elements has further tarnished the good name of a religion that espouses peace and submission. I do not intend to delve into this aspect of the controversy. I would rather focus on a different aspect.

The golden rule of reciprocity is a fundamental moral principle that is common to all major world religion, faith and believe systems; flowing from ancient writings to the modern. Simply put, it extols us to treat others just as we would expect to be treated. Among its earliest appearance in English is Earl Rivers’ translation of a saying of Socrates (Dictes and Sayenges of the Philosophirs, 1477): “Do to others as thou wouldst they should do to thee, and do to none other but as thou would be done to.”

In many ancient cultures, traditions, and value systems, this golden rule has been a cornerstone of its teachings. I had occasion to browse the internet to see how far and wide this rule is applied and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is indeed a universally extolled principle of human behaviour. The website at http://www.religioustolerance.org/var_rel.htm. is a treasure trove of information and reproduced below is the application of the principle in some of the major faith and believe systems:

Baha'i World Faith:

"Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not." "Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." Baha'u'llah

"And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." Epistle to the Son of the Wolf


Buddhism:

"...a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?" Samyutta NIkaya v. 353

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5:18


Christianity:

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12, King James Version.

"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." Luke 6:31, King James Version.

"...and don't do what you hate...", Gospel of Thomas 6. The Gospel of Thomas is one of about 40 gospels that were widely accepted among early Christians, but which never made it into the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).


Confucianism:

"Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" Analects 15:23

"Tse-kung asked, 'Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?' Confucius replied, 'It is the word 'shu' -- reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" Doctrine of the Mean 13.3

"Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence." Mencius VII.A.4


Ancient Egyptian:

"Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do." The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109 - 110 Translated by R.B. Parkinson. The original dates to 1970 to 1640 BCE and may be the earliest version ever written.


Hinduism:

“This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517


Humanism:

"(5) Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity."

"(11) Humanists affirm that individual and social problems can only be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for all living beings. " 4

"Don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you, British Humanist Society. 3


Islam:

"None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad - "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths."

"Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you." — The Farewell Sermon of Prophet Muhammad


Jainism:

"Therefore, neither does he [a sage] cause violence to others nor does he make others do so." Acarangasutra 5.101-2.

"In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self." Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara

"A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. "Sutrakritanga 1.11.33


Judaism:

"...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.", Leviticus 19:18

"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31a.

"And what you hate, do not do to any one." Tobit 4:15 6


Native American Spirituality:

"Respect for all life is the foundation." The Great Law of Peace.

"All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One." Black Elk

"Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself." Pima proverb.


Roman Pagan Religion:

"The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves."

Shinto:

"The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form"

"Be charitable to all beings, love is the representative of God." Ko-ji-ki Hachiman Kasuga


Sikhism:

Compassion-mercy and religion are the support of the entire world". Japji Sahib

"Don't create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone." Guru Arjan Devji

"No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend." Guru Arjan Devji


Sufism:

"The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If you haven't the will to gladden someone's heart, then at least beware lest you hurt someone's heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this." Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.

Taoism:

"Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien.

"The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful." Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 49


Unitarian:

"We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent of all existence of which we are a part." Unitarian principles.

Wicca:

"And it harm no one, do what thou wilt" (i.e. do what ever you will, as long as it harms nobody, including yourself). One's will is to be carefully thought out in advance of action. This is called the Wiccan Rede.

Yoruba:

"One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts."

Zoroastrianism:

"That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself". Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5

"Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29

The above are some examples of the ethic of reciprocity found in the major religious and ethic systems of the world. If we use this ethic as the starting point in finding solutions to inter-faith issues, such as those challenging us in present times, I am sure we would be able to arrive at a just solution within a just legal system. If only we let reason to prevail, we can achieve much more than the divisiveness that is engulfing us.

Reading Zaid’s comments brought to mind the 1961 Norman Rockwell masterpiece called “The Golden Rule”. I first saw this painting in the Readers’ Digest some thirty years ago. Rockwell masterfully illustrates the ethic of reciprocity as a common theme of all the major religions of the world by depicting people of every race, creed and colour with dignity and respect; with the words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” running across the canvas. This one of a kind painting is now portrayed in a mosaic mural reproduction in the United Nations Secretariat at New York presented by Mrs. Nancy Reagan, the then First Lady of the United States, on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the United Nations in 1985. It is generally regarded as one of the finest works of art, with a theme of universal brotherhood. This aptly illustrates the universal application of the rule.


The Malaysian nation will be celebrating 51 years of independence in ten days time. It would be an opportune time to reflect on the past and to chart our common future. How best than to adopt this message of universal brotherhood and striving to minimise our differences and amplify our commonality.

About the author:

Haji Vazeer was formerly the Chairman of the Kedah/Perlis Bar Committee and former treasurer of the Malaysian Bar Council and a highly respected member of the legal profession.

Merdeka Countdown4: We want to be on the world map. Why? To make the world a better place?



Malaysia boleh?

Quran :

107.001 Do you see the one who denies the Judgment (to come)?
107.002 Then such is the (person) who repulses the orphan,
107.003 And encourages not the feeding of the indigent.
107.004 So woe to the worshippers
107.005 Who are neglectful of their solaa’,
107.006 Those who (want but) to be seen (of men),
107.07 But refuse (to supply) (even) neighbourly needs.

Tan Sri, renovation rumah ok ke? Halo Datuk, wah you really very keng one...another expensive car? Good la, good....how can your 17 year old daughter not have the latest handpohe? Dinner tonight? Where? Aiyo cannot lah ...eat too much whole day.

Is it really possible to be happy when for no reason known to us, we were just born in Malaysia and not in Ethiopia? And yet…………(. May God forgive me.

Barisan Nasional: Amar maaruf Nahi Munkar

For almost 50 years, BN has been governing the country. People should be in support of it. People should praise it. But BN lost 6 states (if you include Wilayah). And Negeri Sembilan almost went the other PR way. That’s seven states. Majority everywhere was reduced. What does it say? Common sense tells us that people are fed up with BN.

What went wrong? In politics, my view is that you ask this question to others, not to yourself. Rare is the human who can be objectively critical of himself. What more political animals? SO BN must ask. ASK. Get the answers and admit it. Do something about it. Do not be like the addict who is in self denial who only wakes up when all is gone. Regret and shame…for what? But when the cataract is so thick, blurred vision may be falsely considered 2020. Remove the cataract. For the people. You won majority. This means the majority still have hope in you. The majority thinks and hopes you will change. Will you take heed BN? Or will you go down in shame?

YAB Lim Guan Eng. I have always been impressed with him even though I am not a DAP member. He has gone to jail, he was the underdog and even when he is the CM, he is still the underdog. Underdog as compared to the Rakyat. I am uncomfortable with YBs on both sides of the fence who feel they have the power of Firaun when even the movement of their own bowels is not within their control. I heard him at the debate on 20th August 2008. Good debate. Both sides. I think Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon did well too. This debate was better than the last. Something muslim debaters can learn. Isi more important than kulit.

What caught me was….Lim Guan Eng said at the closing:

“Buktikanlah dimana Rakyat Malaysia boleh percaya kepada sistem kerajaan dimana pemimpinnya menunjukkan kemimpinan melalui teladan, mengamalkan prinsip CAT dan juga mengamalkan nilai-nilai murni yang disebut didalam pengajian Al-Quran iaitu amal maaruf nahi mungkar”.

Is this allowed? A Non-muslim upholding Quranic principles? In my humble view, the Quran is for ALL. I do not flatter myself that God intended it for me alone. If they can uphold so can they comment. I feel ashamed for recent protests against the Bar Council’s muzakarah.

Anyway, what is this "amar maaruf nahi munkar" that Guan Eng mentioned? I can share with you one of the verses where this is mentioned in the Quran:

They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid
what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the
ranks of the righteous.[ 003.114]

1. يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ


Amar maaruf nahi munkar is enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. This is a duty of those who believe in God.

But wait. Life is about pairs. Night and day. Male and female. Good and bad. So, there are those who do the exact opposite – they enjoin what is evil and forbid what is just!!! These are the pretenders, the hypocrites. The mischief makers of all shapes and colours.

The Hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other:
They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close with their hands. They have
forgotten God; so He hath forgotten them. Verily the Hypocrites are rebellious and
perverse. [ 009.067]

1. الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتُ بَعْضُهُم مِّن بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمُنكَرِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَقْبِضُونَ أَيْدِيَهُمْ نَسُواْ اللّهَ فَنَسِيَهُمْ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

Brother Irwan sent me this video and if I do not share it with you, I will accuse myself of being biased and a failed ‘muslim’.

The only thing I wished was after mentioning UMNO and MCA, Guan Eng had also mentioned DAP, PKR and PAS. That would have made the message a fairer message and less political. But that's only my wish and he is in politics.



Barsian Nasional, please! The majority that voted for you want you to stand up and fight for the people. Watch your language. Watch your deeds. Do what is right. Ou can if you want to because you are still the Federal Government.

Or if you think 51 years of merdeka is retirement age, then do so gracefully.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Merdeka Countdown3: What is Our Children’s future?



What do we teach our children? To love? To hate? To share? To be selfish?

Do we bring them together or do we push them further apart?

Are they safe?

What signals do our political leaders send out to the young generation - narcissism, hedonism, greed, truth, arrogance or self sacrificing servitude to God and humankind?

What kind of role models are we? Bigots? Emphatic?
What children see and hear, children copy.

Have we freed ourselves from our own shackles? Have we cleaned our own backyard?

If you are not happy with your answers to the above, Raperas are urgently needed.

Forget politicians. They cannot see further than the next election.

We do not need to walk in their shadows…unless they too become a Rapera, they can then walk with other Raperas.

(Thank you Akbar Hussain for sharing this video with me.)

Merdeka Countdown 2 : Reciprocity



Norman Rockwell, an American artist's famous painting with the caption:

" DO UNTO OTHERS
AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO TO YOU"

[Thank you Hj Vazeer for this wonderful message]

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Confession and Soul searching

I need to confess. Something is troubling me. If I did not believe in God, the option is easy – “survival of the fittest”. But believing in God seems to put a burden on me to think hard on what is the best course of action. It is like this.

A certain blogger, whose blog I used to visit many times before made some serious defamatory allegations about someone I know very well. I know this blogger too. Though I know that many things that this blogger has published are lies or suspect, I resisted the temptation to confront him on this “Rapera” blog. This blog is not about him. So, I decided to leave him alone here.

More important than this blogger is a friend I know, respect and love. He too has a blog and I like his blog very much. It is by far and large in sync with Quranic principles, though it does meander here and there at rare times – particularly it appears in view of the Permatang Pauh elections which has now come to be like the “red sea opening for Moses to be saved”. Or is it? Whoever wins, is our society suddenly going to be enlightened? I am not casting any aspersions on any of the candidates. Wish them all the best in this system.

But then again, I constantly remind myself that there can be no one more sinful than me, in my eyes. Everyday I seek forgiveness from God for my failings and yet I still fail however hard I try. I can only count on “He who forgives again and again” (Quran 39:5). In any case, it is for God to judge such ‘minor’ meanderings. I went to his blog today and saw that the defamer was part of the Barisan Rakyat. So I texted him:

“Just saw your blog….Mr X is also barisan rakyat? Hmmm…..Being quranic, what should I do?”

His reply was:

“Guess if you can endure the holy muslims in umno, guess I will hv to try 2……….”

And I replied:

“Fair reply. But total fitnah about someone you know? Putting all that aside, lets strive to be God’s agent wherever we are. Salam”.

I meant my reply. But I was also wondering….why the words “holy muslims in umno”. Was this sarcasm? Was this sincerely meant holy and not “holy”? But knowing this friend for years and his mode of expression, I baik sangka, or give him the benefit of the doubt that he actually meant the holy ones in umno. But I never mentioned umno in my earliest sms! I was not talking about umno or barisan rakyat. I was talking about this Mr X in barisan rakyat pictured in his blog. But the following verse was disturbing me:

“O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It
may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to
each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: ll-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong”. (049.011)

Can I not be a part of this barisan rakyat and yet recognise the defamer a defamer? And therefore disassociate myself from him? Or is it a package deal like how this system works? This friend knows very well that I have lots of friends in PAS, DAP, UMNO, PKR, etc, etc whom I love and respect. Does it mean therefore since these are friends I love and respect and therefore I must also love everything about PAS, etc? ON the other hand, there are things about UMNO and DAP that I dislike and therefore I MUST hate all members in these parties? Politics must make enemies of us? Then what good is politics for mankind????

Does it mean that when it comes to politics and social activism, we lose sight of:

“It may be that God will grant love (and friendship) between you and those
whom you (now) hold as enemies. For God has power (over all things); And God is
Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (060.007)

…..and many other injunctions in the Quran?


I do not even hate the defamer, Mr X. He has done some good things. But he must stop defaming innocent persons. That is cruel. That is not justified on any account. He must also stop giving racial nicknames. Of course he can choose otherwise. There is no compulsion in Ad-Deen ("Way of life"?).

Frankly do you think all the angels are gathered in Barisan Nasional and all the devils in Pakatan Rakyat and vice versa? Can’t you be in PAS, I in UMNO, another one in DAP, another completely non-party member, etc and work together or doing what you can? Can’t we be good people anywhere we are?

Most importantly, must we condone the devil in our party simply because it is “party solidarity”? I am not talking about others. Only about you and me. If we are not in any political party, must we then say that all those in all political parties are devils?

Is it a case of “good people” and “bad people” are defined by the political party they adhere to? By the clubs they join or do not join?

This has always bothered me – sacrificing humanity, ethics and values for political or “solidarity” sake. Merdeka is coming but I am still struggling to free my soul. You have succeeded? Tell me how.

I am such a weak mortal that while the nation is gripped with the “Permatang Pauh election, I am only deeply concerned whether my friend that I love understood me. I know. I am taken to trivialities like love, trust and truth. No wonder I am where I am! Again, if I am wrong in my views, please correct me.

Pursuit of Results - An Overdrive?

By: Shahrim Abdul Latif

The pursuit of results in our country has gone to overdrive. Activist of all denominations are riding the high wave to shore inviting people to join and support them. In a country that has been harbouring issues below the radar, these activist are having a field day with the kind of support their getting. Never have we seen these kinds of discussion taking place, suddenly the pent up emotions of the people in Malaysia is being discussed even in the main stream media. What a sight to behold. I can still remember the SOQIU and the keris in Umno assembly issue not to mention the Hindraf, article 15 and the inter religious council high drama. But these events had log gap between them, so enough media time can be allotted to them. Post march 8 these types of events are closing up on one another. Activist, journalist, bloggers must be having a tough time in organising which issues to highlight first.

I think it would gain more momentum. The race to the shore will get more supporters and the waves would be bigger. The thing to see is the state of our people when they realised that the issues they are so in support of is at the opposite corner of another issue also with large support in direct collision with them. Would they be ready to continue it or would they abandon it. What if their radar is off and a head on collision happens, what would the casualties be? Would there then be a revolution? Who would be the victors? These are the kind of scenarios we only read in our history books and foreign section in our media whether mainstream or not. Kudos Malaysians, we can finally raise our head high up and say we are finally a member of the global community, fighting for democracy and the rule of law.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Look at Yourself

I think the biggest problem is that people do not look at themselves. I mean their real self.

I am not talking about the family or the background they are born into. I am not talking about the social, cultural, political circumstances This is how we have been defining our self for so long. We see ourselves as Chinese, Indian, Malay, etc because we are born into that background and that family. We see ourselves as Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, secularists, democrats etc because we are born into that circle too.. From birth, we are taught to “believe and honour our tradition”. So, we start from a defensive position, we are right. Ours is pure. The rest is false and the rest are impure. And the Quran says this:

When they do that which is shameful, they say: "We found our fathers doing
so"; and "God commanded us thus": Say: "Nay, God never commands what is
shameful: do you say of God what you know not?" [007.028]

In the name of family, racial solidarity, religious brotherhood, etc we each addictively cling on to our ways of indoctrinated thinking and live a life deluding ourselves that we have chosen OUR own path. Because we each cling on to our ways and could never accept the difference and diversity of humans, we therefore only tolerate the differences UNTIL it “becomes intolerable”.

This intolerability will always and I repeat will always manifest itself in its ugliest shape because tolerance is not in sync with the spirit, the Self. The Self can only be in sync with what it accepts, not what it tolerates. So we have look into our real selves and see if we can see the human. And after that see if we can see the spirit. And we will maybe realize that the spirit is not bound by any of the worldly definitions.

If we never got to know the inner Self, we go through never ending confusion. Is it any wonder then that the external is full of confusion, contradictions and ironies?

When there is a calamity or a natural disaster people reach out to help each other, almost instinctively. They only see distressed people, not distressed Malays, Chinese or Indians or Indonesians (recall Java?). Why is then do we forget our Self when God puts us in a circumstance of plenty and joy? Is it fear? I see racists and bigots as very frightened people. They shut off everyone else who “is not like them” including their real Self.

Maybe they have no real faith in God because they have never understood their Self. Maybe, like some children, they are scared that their toys will be taken away, as it will when the time arrives anyway. Futility. Do you not see how adults define themselves by the toys they possess and how “society” further bestows honours on them on account of these very toys?

This is why I am not completely excited with the so-called “civil society movement” that’s apparently going on in our country today. I am not saying we must remain passive. No. We have to move. We have do the “right thing” but let it not get us carried away until we forget its objective while ignoring to reach out to our Self. Politics is not all of life, though politicians will want the sheep to think so.

Do you really think we have in this country a philosopher-thinker-benevolent person who is capable of the task of “leading the people of Malaysia”????? All I see are candidates in boxes and labels heavily marketed from specific companies with their distinct sales pitch…and their loyal consumers. As the Quran says, “the people get the leaders they deserve” [Quran 38:64].

Since it’s the weekend, for those with a strong heart for rock’ lets chill it and hear a ceramah from Ustad Uriah Heep.

Look at yourself –Uriah Heep

I see you running
Don’t know what
You’re running from
Nobody’s coming
What’d you do that was so wrong

Look back and turn back
Look at yourself
Don’t be afraid, just
Look at yourself

If you need assistance
Or if all you need is love
There’s no point in hiding
Tell me what you’re frightened of

You’ve got a friend, just
Look at yourself
Don’t be afraid, just
Look at yourself


Friday, August 15, 2008

Woooo!

No, this 'Babi' will Not 'Balik Cina'
Written by Farish A. Noor
Sunday, 10 August 2008

I have just read the reports on the internet about the goings-on that led to the disruption and early closure of the public forum organised by the Bar Council on Conversion in Malaysia over the weekend. Apart from the other rather offensive remarks that were featured in the various reports that I read, I also chanced upon a rather curious revelation: Apparently during the commotion caused when some of the so-called 'defenders of the faith' had entered the room where the forum was being held, there were calls for a certain 'Babi' to 'Balik Cina'.

Now I have checked and double-checked all the photos that are available on the internet and have seen no image that corresponds to the 'Babi' in question. Therefore for the sake of academic consistency and objectivity, I am compelled to ask the Bar Council this: Was there a pig in the auditorium where the forum was held? And if so, how could the Bar Cou! ncil invite a pig to attend a forum that was open primarily for Malaysian citizens (who are overwhelmingly human, as identity papers and passports have not been issued to pigs or any other non-human species as far as I know.)

Furthermore I need to ask how the demonstrators knew that the pig (if one was present) was of Chinese origin? Did it carry a Chinese passport, and if so, why was it in KL when the Olympic games were being held in Beijing and the world's attention was focused there?

source: http://www.othermalaysia.org/

RACIAL SLURS AND HUMAN DIGNITY

Can anyone who really believes in a Creator negatively discriminate against His creations?

The following article is used with permission.

RACIAL SLURS AND HUMAN DIGNITY

by Chandra Muzaffar

Letter to the Editor

The Selangor Education Department is taking some action against a secondary school teacher who had used racial slurs and verbally abused some students from a particular ethnic community. She is being transferred to another school in the same district and would undergo counseling.

This is not a solution. If the intention is to reform and to reeducate her, she should not be allowed to teach for a period of time. She might continue to hurl racial invectives at some of her students since she would not have been rehabilitated yet. Besides, some of her students in her new school may regard her with suspicion and may even be antagonistic towards her. It would be better if she is given a desk job --- as an NGO, the Coalition of Indian Non-Governmental Organisations, has suggested --- while she is undergoing counseling. It there is no marked improvement in her attitude towards the community in question and towards other communities, she should be dismissed from the teaching profession. A person who is capable of uttering such derogatory terms --- as reported in an online newspaper --- is not fit to be a teacher.

Racial and ethnic prejudices, stereotypes and misconceptions out of which emerge racial slurs abound in Malaysian society. Each and every Malaysian community is both a perpetrator and a victim of ethnic prejudices and stereotypes. These stereotypes condition inter-ethnic relations, often without its perpetuators being aware of their impact. When a community lacks political or economic clout, it becomes even more vulnerable to ethnic stereotyping.

Among the prejudices and stereotypes that are seldom highlighted in our society are those related to 'colour'. (The teacher in the incident had allegedly made disparaging remarks about the skin 'colour' of the community concerned) Almost all Malaysian communities harbour a negative perception of 'dark' skin pigmentation and a positive view of 'light' skin colour. The fact that such prejudiced notions of colour are openly expressed --- and seldom challenged --- suggests that there is very little awareness within Malaysian society of the malignant character of racially rooted attitudes.

This is why there has to be a concerted effort at all levels of society to convince Malaysians that racial prejudices and ethnic stereotypes are vicious and insidious and have no place in a civilized nation. The family and the school, like the media and the community, have important roles to play in combating these destructive attitudes. Religion can also be a major resource in fighting racist thinking since all religions cherish the dignity of all human beings, regardless of colour or creed.

The Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) for instance once admonished one of his closest companions for uttering a racial slur against Bilal, the dark skinned Abyssinian slave whom the Prophet literally and figuratively raised above all others by bestowing upon him the honour of proclaiming the azan ( the call for prayer). In his farewell address, the Prophet warned against feelings of racial and ethnic superiority as he proclaimed the equality and dignity of all human beings.

It is this message of the equality and dignity of all one's students --- whatever their ethnic origin or religious affiliation --- that the Malaysian teacher should imbibe and absorb into her outlook.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,

President,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
Malaysia.

9 August 2008.

While we are busy with the luxury of politicking.....

What do these mean to the Rapera?

While the world is globalizing and the mainstream media in many developed nations point out that economies are booming (or, in periods of downturns, that the current forms of development and economic policies are the only ways for people to prosper), there is an increasing number of poor people who are missing out on this apparent boom, while increasingly fewer people are becoming far wealthier. Some of these facts and figures are an eye-opener, to say the least.

• Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.Source 1
• More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.Source 2
• The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.Source 3
• According to UNICEF, 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”Source 4
• Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
• Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.Source 7
• Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
World gross domestic product (world population approximately 6.5 billion) in 2006 was $48.2 trillion in 2006.
• The world’s wealthiest countries (approximately 1 billion people) accounted for $36.6 trillion dollars (76%).
• The world’s billionaires — just 497 people (approximately 0.000008% of the world’s population) — were worth $3.5 trillion (over 7% of world GDP).
• Low income countries (2.4 billion people) accounted for just $1.6 trillion of GDP (3.3%)
• Middle income countries (3 billion people) made up the rest of GDP at just over $10 trillion (20.7%).
The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money

Source: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

Posting Comments

Dear Friends/Visitors,

I have programmed this blog to allow for comments from anybody without any moderation. There are several reasons why I have done this. 1) I still believe that Malaysians can learn not to abuse such freedom and can comment responsibly. 2) to make it easy for those who are genuinely interested in the fate of our country to comment and participate so that we may learn from each other.

I know that many blogs have failed to secure responsibility from commentators, but I would like to give the benefit of doubt to Malaysians first. There is always a good side to the worse person. Hopefully, the good side may dominate.

Even though you may comment anonymously, it would be nice if you could leave you real name. What is there to be afraid of if you are convinced and really believe in what you have to say? Furthermore, if you leave your real identity, all of us could be friends. isnt that the best way to start a "nation'?

In ending, would like to share the following:

: "Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I even taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always go; and in secret have I said nothing".[Bible John:18:20]

"Know they not that God knows their secret (thoughts) and their secret
counsels, and that God knows well all things unseen?" [Quran 09.078]

"What! have they settled some plan (among themselves)? But it is We Who
settle things".[ Quran 043.079]

"Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private counsels?
Indeed (We do), and Our messengers are by them, to record (it)" [Quran .043.080]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

When did we lose this?

When did we lose our innocence, and charm? Did society corrupt us or is the corrupt society an outward manifestation of our inner selves? I wonder, what is the religion,race, wealth and status of a baby?

Will it make a difference to the baby's "fate" if it is adopted by a Chinese or a Malay or an Indian or a Kadazan or a German?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This blog for Muslims only?

A friend, having read this blog smsed me asking if this blog is for muslims only. During our communication. I gathered that this blog was interpreted by him as a "religious blog" because of the Quran verses that I had quoted. This interpretation, I suppose, is not surprising in that we have probably been indoctrinated since birth that if scriptures are quoted, it must be about religion. No one has ever described the legal fraternity of being latin when we frequently quote latin phrases in court.

There is nothing religious about this blog and I hope it does not become one. I probably quote the Quran frequently being a Muslim and I certainly would welcome any other quotes from any other sources that would help us understand issues better. I am among those who feel uncomfortable when someone claims to be the sole arbiter of any "Truths".

The sole idea of this blog is to share the thought that it is not politicians but Raperas who can save this Nation. In fact, Raperas have been working hard, silently, diligently and in their won way have contributed tremendously to the well being of this Nation and its people. We do not know them because unlike politicians they do not have the camera clicking when they visit the orphanage or help the poor.

This blog is for all who have loved and been loved. For all who want to pass through this life not making it worse than before. It does not matter what labels we are called or what language our tongue is comfortable with. Let us not blame God for the diversity He created. Let's celebrate and learn from it, so that we know ourselves better.

PAS support or Not? How about PKR?



This can be all confusing for Raperas. The papers reported that PAS Youth Chief Salahuddin Ayub, who is also Kubang Kerian member of parliament was part of the protest. So, what is happening?

Like wise, another YB from PKR was present with fiery speeches whose name, in my view is not worthy of mention. My personal experience with this man in a meeting was that he is either a 'god' or a lost soul. But lost souls make good politicians. When the content is low, the volume must be high. It is only conscience, knowledge and humility that impedes political prominence. Salam.

Saving Islam and Democracy - the interuppted Bar Council Forum

The whole day, I have been getting calls non-stop for my two cents worth of the “storming of the Bastille”…oops I mean the calling off of the Bar council forum on “Conversion to Islam: Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, Subashni and Sharmala revisited” due to Muslim protestors. The first thing I did was to get the view of one of the panel speakers. He said that he felt it was a win-win situation for both the Bar Council and the protestors. The forum did go on for an hour but did not go on for the planned full duration. Ambiga, the Bar Council President, was said to have exercised her judgement wisely to shorten the forum in view of the protestors.

Walao! A day of victory for democratic rights where protestors can successfully stop a forum organized and participated by “thinking people” in society? But what about the exercise of democratic rights by those who want the forum to go on? Difficult position?

But the organizers, it is said, were already warned that the issue is sensitive. Even one or two of the government officials pre warned that it was sensitive. It is “sensitive” to discuss the legal problems faced by those who converted into Islam? It is sensitive to allow the affected families to relate their experience so that they can be understood and remedies sought? Objective, indoor, peaceful discussion is sensitive?

We know what the forum was about. Anyone can read the flyers given by the bar Council. There was nothing to hide. The forum had distinguished speakers like Prof Dr Mehrun Siraj, prominent syariah lawyer Mr Hanif Khatri and others. There were many other muslims in the auditorium. They did not feel that the forum was an “affront” to Islam as the protestors obviously did.

There are muslims in the Bar council and if the forum went on, it must mean that the muslims in the Bar Council did not feel it was a “challenge to Islam”. So, there were two views then? The muslims in the bar council and in the forum felt it was okay but the muslims in the protest felt it was not. So when there are differing views what are we to do?

Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are
the ones whom God has guided, and those are the ones endued with understanding. 039.018


My questions to myself are these: 1) who really organized the protests? Of course the papers reported that there were 100-odd protestors from various “muslim NGOs”. Notable among those who attended were figures from political parties –UMNO, PAS, PKR, etc. But in Malaysia, we have a culture of wearing many hats. Can I presume that the “leaders” who organized the protests already had pre-discussions with the Bar council to determine the content and purpose of the forum? It is the mark of a believer to act based on knowledge reasonably obtainable rather than suspicion.

O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in
some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you
like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it...But fear God: For
God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful. 049.012

2) Do the protestors know what they are protesting against? The placards and the speeches had messages like “jangan cabar Islam”. “jangan hina Islam”, “Hidup Islam”, "hancur bar council" and so on. So am I to conclude that these protestors came to “protect Islam”? I really do not know. I keep insisting to myself that God is the protector of Truths and that if we are able we may recognize them.

3) Have the protestors investigated, verified what they are going to protest against? Since they were doing so in the name of Islam, surely it would be correct to ask if they were acting according to Islamic principles. This is what the Quran says:

And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of
hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of
Reckoning). 017.036




4) And I have asked this question to myself so many times before. Why do such protestors often loudly shout “Allahu Akbar” which is taken to mean “God is great” ? What is the purpose? To educate those who can hear? To remind themselves? To invoke God’s assistance? Why is that always done? I sincerely will like someone to enlighten me on this.

Call on your Lord with humility and in private: for God loveth not those
who trespass beyond bounds. 007.055

Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, but call on Him
with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of God is (always) near to those
who do good 007.056

If the protestors were right in the eyes of God, they did NOT save Islam as their placards proclaimed. Islam does not need to be saved by any mortal. If they were wrong, their actions did NOT shame Islam. It reflects on their understanding of their religion, by whatever name they call it.

And my two cents view? None. I only have questions about what happened. And I acknowledge that I could even be asking the wrong questions. In ending, I remind myself of the following two verses from the Quran:

Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite
revile God in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own
doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth
of all that they did. 006.108

Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching;
and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth
best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. 016.125

And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you
out: But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient. 016.126

Have a blessed day and may God not burden us with a burden greater than what we can bear. Salam.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Of Reformers, Politicians and Prophets

Malaysians love teh-tarik sessions. I had one earlier and what a teh-tarik session it was. As usual, a Malaysian teh-tarik sessions will always meander into exchanging notes about what is happening in the country or into some thoughtful discussion. This one meandered into discussing whether our system allows for real reforms and the birth of true leaders who can bring the people to true peace and happiness. Hmm….

I began to wonder too. Being a Muslim, I hold the Prophets as role models. Reading the Quran, one finds that each of the prophets mentioned therein had to deal with several issues confronting their society – idolatry of sorts, oppression, profiteering, injustice, ignorance, propaganda of lies, destruction of mother earth, etc. In all their endeavours, the Prophets had one thing in mind – serve ONLY God and associate not anyone or anything with God. That was their platform, their manifesto and their guide.

Take Prophet Moses, for example. He was raised in the palace. The Pharoah was his adopted brother. But he saw that his own people were being oppressed by the Pharoah. Did he stay on and hope to change the fate of his people from within the palace? He didn’t. He did not work within the system to change the system. He had to leave the palace and come back with the message to Pharoah – serve only God. Had Pharoah understood this, he would have stopped oppressing the people. It is important to note that Moses did not raise up a rebellious group of people like robin hood to violently fight Pharoah. No. He went to Pharoah’s palace with Aaron for a debate which Phaoaroh and his VIPs lost. Pharoah became a sore loser and decided to hound Moses and his people. Pharoah was the government of the day, He had might. He had the system behind him. It was God’s guidance, Moses’s steadfast faith in God and the persistence of the people that saved them. What would have happened if Moses had been pragmatic and “tried to change within the palace? But this "pragmatism" was not allowed by God for change to occur.

Prophet Shuaib was considered mad by his own people when he spoke up against profiteering in business and cheating.

To the Madyan people We sent Shu'aib, one of their own brethren: he said:
"O my people! worship God; Ye have no other god but Him. Now hath come unto
you a clear (Sign) from your Lord! Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from
the people the things that are their due; and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you, if ye have Faith. (007.085)

It appears that Shuaib was against threats against people’s choice of faith. Obviously, the majority then appears to believe differently then him and some others.

"And squat not on every road, breathing threats, hindering from the path of
God those who believe in Him, and seeking in it something crooked; But remember
how ye were little, and He gave you increase. And hold in your mind's eye what was
the end of those who did mischief. 007.086

Shuaib was risking being driven out of his city for trying to reform the business malpractices of his day. What were the leaders, the economists and businessmen of his day doing? They gave him an ultimatum which he could not accept.

The leaders, the arrogant party among his people, said: "O Shu'aib! we shall
certainly drive thee out of our city - (thee) and those who believe with thee; or else ye (thou and they) shall have to return to our ways and religion." He said: "What! even though we do detest (them)? 007.088

Again, the question pops in my mind – Shuaib obviously didn’t do the pragmatic thing did he? He did not say :” never mind, this is the world. We have to cari makan. Religion is religion and world is world”. Neither did he join the leaders of the day.

Prophet Abraham was no different. He was a compassionate man (see 11:75) and non-violent. He had foresight and enlightenment which his own father never had. He pleaded with his father to serve only ONE God. And his father threatened to stone him if Abraham does not go away. The Quran says that Abraham is a good model for Muslims to follow. Once again, Abraham did not follow the belief of his father, which appeared to be mainstream. He was not pragmatic and stay put where he was compromising his beliefs. Again, even this Prophet never resorted to aggression.

There is for you an excellent example (to follow) in Abraham and those with
him, when they said to their people: "We are clear of you and of whatever ye worship
besides God: we have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity
and hatred for ever,- unless ye believe in God and Him alone": But not when
Abraham said to his father: "I will pray for forgiveness for thee, though I have no
power (to get) aught on thy behalf from God." (They prayed): "Our Lord! in Thee do
we trust, and to Thee do we turn in repentance: to Thee is (our) Final Goal. 060.004

Abraham was indeed a model, devoutly obedient to God, (and) true in Faith,
and he joined not gods with God: 016.120

I can go on giving examples after examples of Prophets from the Quran and hope they reacted in their society. The prophet Lut was saddened and disliked the sexual practices of his hedonistic society then. He even offered his daughters to correct the anomaly. He did not resort to aggression and he never compromised his belief in ONE God.

The prophet Muhammad too had to pay a heavy price in terms of worldly struggle simply because of his one message of believing in ONE God. History tells us that he was offered positions and wealth to forsake his belief. But he refused to be pragmatic until he was compelled to leave the town of his birth. He too did not stay back to join any organization or political party in Mecca to change their ways.

What has prophets got to do with leadership, you may ask. Well, aren’t they models? Are we just supposed to relegate them to “religious figures” only?

And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent
them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish solaa’, and to practice zaka; and they constantly served Us (and Us only). 021.073


It seems to me, none of the prophets joined any political party to affect change. In fact, it seems to me they never forced anyone to accept what they were conveying. They were merely conveying and had complete trust in God that when the truth prevails, falsehood will perish. Those who followed, followed. Those who did not, did not. They had only one master – God.

In the light of the above, maybe I can now answer what my friends have been asking me for so long – why haven’t I aspired to affect change through politics? Why haven’t I aspired to rise up the political ladder? Right or wrong, I am not convinced that true change can ever be affected through politics under the current system prevailing. There is simply too much vested interest, too much arrogance, too much compromising, too much god-like attempts in vain. Sure, everyone will swarm around you like flies when you are in power and sing songs of glory, but when you are out, you will drown like Pharoah. I am only talking of myself and my concerns. My view may be wrong. Of course others may have their vision of the noble contributions they can make through politics or through current organizations.

And the following verses worry me too:

And we made them (but) leaders inviting to the Fire; and on the Day of
Judgment no help shall they find. 028.041

(The followers shall cry to the misleaders:) "Nay, ye (too)! No welcome for
you! It is ye who have brought this upon us! Now evil is (this) place to stay in!" 038.060

They will say: "Our Lord! whoever brought this upon us,- Add to him a
double Penalty in the Fire!" 038.061

And they will say: "What has happened to us that we see not men whom we
used to number among the bad ones? 038.062

"Did we treat them (as such) in ridicule, or have (our) eyes failed to perceive
them?" 038.063

And it seems the people get the leaders they deserve:

Truly that is just and fitting,- the mutual recriminations of the People of the
Fire! 038.064

Thus have We placed leaders in every town, its wicked men, to plot (and
burrow) therein: but they only plot against their own souls, and they perceive it not 006.123

For now, I think I shall, God willing, focus on being a Rapera, if God gives me the strength. Salam.