Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Being Muslim in Malaysia is so wonderful!

Someone told me I was wrong in thinking that it is difficult being a Muslim in Malaysia.  So, I thought about it. He is right. It is wonderful being Muslim in Malaysia.

I realized that we are the only country in the world where we have 13 Muftis! Other countries have only ONE Mufti per country but we have 13 which mean we Muslims are lucky. We are lucky because more heads are better than one right? We can get more Islamic knowledge and input. Is that not wonderful?

Furthermore, with more heads, we do not have to use our head to think about all the ‘difficult and complex’ shariah laws, rules, exegesis, etc. We can just leave it to the experts and we are left with more time for our lives. Is that not wonderful?

Is it not wonderful that we also have 13 Religious Departments in every state to constantly remind us of what is Islamic and what is not? This shows how seriously we take our religion compared to other countries that do not have this many religious departments. Can you imagine the number of labour force we come up with when we total up all the officers and staff in the various religious departments? All this is a worthwhile investment on earth to save our souls in the hereafter.

Thanks to all these religious officers who spend their life to make sure we do not go astray. Is that not wonderful that we have officers that make sure we behave the Muslim way? This will even free our parents! My faith is forever protected by these officers.

Let us not forget – we also have many other Islamic religious institutions at the federal Government. This is important. We must give meaning to the Constitution that guarantees Islam as the official religion. It is OFFICIAL ok? Is that not wonderful to be officially recognized? This will go a long way in strengthening our faith and reminding us that we are Muslims.

Being a Malay is almost like being saved from the hellfire in the hereafter. The drafters of our constitution have the foresight to make sure Malays are Muslims. Article 160 defines that a Malay, among other things, is a person who practices and professes the religion of Islam ie a Muslim. I am so proud to say that no other country in the world has the vision to define a race in terms of its religion. They did not have the “religious vision” but we did! Isnt this wonderful, my Muslim friend?

In Malaysia we have a political party whose objective is to set up an Islamic State. We also have another major political party that does all it can to “protect Islam”. Recently we have a group of religious scholars entering politics. Isnt that wonderful? I think we should encourage more and more our young Muslims to forget all other secular courses and take up Islamic studies. That is so important. Hopefully, we can become a nation of ulamas! Would that not be wonderful? We will all be sound and knowledgeable Muslims then.  If we achieve this, we can be the main exporter of religious teachings in the world. Wow, we can save many souls!

I love that fact that being a Muslim allows any other stranger in a skull cap or a goatee to advise me unasked. That’s the generosity you enjoy being a Muslim. No where else can you find such generosity and abundance of advise except in the Muslim world in this country. Is that not so selflessly wonderful?

Malaysian Muslims are sensitive people. That is because they care about their religion and respect the religious scholars. Whenever we have a doubt or need an answer, we check with the scholars. When we want to say or write something on Islam, we check with the scholars. We have so many of them in our country. Is it not wonderful to be able to check with experts before you say something?

Lastly, it is wonderful being a Muslim in Malaysia because my identification card says that I am one. So, no one, let me repeat, no one can dispute that!

Peace !

40 Ulamas into UMNO

1. With the entry of 40 religious scholars into UMNO, how does this impact on the pattern of politics which is evolving in this country?

2. More to home would be the question: how it will affect the evolvement of UMNO itself – will it gradually metamorphose into a theologically inclined party like PAS?

3. How will it impact on practice and understanding of Islam in this country?

4. Will these kind of moves lead to the “theocratization” of politics in the future?

5. How will the perception of the general public towards religious scholars be affected when they enter into politics?

6. Are we going to witness religion, in particular Islam being further institutionalized?

God willing, will write on these soon if time permits!

Peace !

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Najib Tun Razak’s brave decision: No sports betting licence !!!

The Prime Minister Mohd Najib Tun Razak pleasantly surprised the majority of the Rakyat with his decision on the sports betting licence. There was rife speculation that he would ‘crumble’ to the many “powerful pressures” exerted upon him to approve the sports betting licence. This proves that the Prime Minster listens to the Rakyat. Contrary to some speculations too, this is also proves this PM can make up his own mind. Congratulations PM Sir!


If you know the “powerful” links and the “political temptations” of the gaming industry in this country, you will also realize that this is a courageous decision made by the Prime Minister. In a sense he has made a “Rakyat decision” and probably has upset some powerful elitists. I don’t think such a decision has ever been made by any PM since Merdeka in the gaming industry.

You will also note that there have never been any discussions on the effects of the gaming industry on the regular patrons. It is almost as if even the mainstream media is under “hush –hush” understanding with relevant parties on the issue. I am just speculating here!

You will also note that this country totally lacks “clinics” or avenues for addictive gamblers to seek counseling or cure. Ashamedly, even the legal gaming operators do not even sponsor any such clinics. Compulsive gamblers are sick people and they need help. They are not bad people who deserve only punishment.

I do hope however that this courageous decision by the PM will be followed by another courageous act – to re-evaluate the massive gaming industry in the country.

Kudos to you Honourable PM Sir! You have saved many families.

Peace !

Friday, June 25, 2010

Khairy Jamaludin: Umno Youth Against Sports Betting Licence !

The sports gambling betting licence issue has indeed brought forth much debate and diverse views.

UMNO Youth seems clearly against the issuance of the licence as is evident from the UMNO Youth Chief’s website. YB Khairy Jamaludin essentially cites three concerns of UMNO Youth and in brief, they are as follows (as I understand):

1. That the issuance of the betting licence is not well received by the majority of Malaysians, irrespective of race. The Muslims too are not convinced that there exists guarantees that some Muslims will not be involved in this form of gambling. Further, many Non-Muslims too are against it especially since there are some quarters who claim that gambling is part of the Non-Muslim culture.

2. The argument that since there is already illegal gambling, therefore, it is better to legalise it does not hold water. The more reasonable and practical approach will be to strengthen the enforcement against illegal gaming in the country. That such enforcement against illegal gaming should be consistent through the year and not seasonal.

3. Questions arise as to why Ascot should prematurely announce that they have been given the license when the Government has yet to make a decision.

You may read the entire statement here.

UMNO Supreme Council member and Deputy Minister of Education, YB Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi is also against sports betting. He feels that the culture of gambling in the country should be reversed. You may read further here. His post in his facebook inviting comments and feedback on the sports betting issue had attracted many feedbacks – almost all against the sports betting and other forms of gambling.

The StarOnline reports that “Former Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz has backed legal sports betting saying that it will help regulate gambling among non-Muslims”.

Sun2Surf reports as follows: “Legalised sports betting is "not a problem" in Malaysian society, Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim said today”. It further reports: “Rais urged everyone, including politicians and public to view the issue in the perspective of respecting the rights of non-Muslims”.

What is your view?

Peace !

Thursday, June 24, 2010


By Osman Hj. Kamaluddin
Simple Learning

There are two main types of learning. The first type is simple learning and in this type of learning, there is a gap between what you know and what you want to know. The learning process would be the actions you take to close the gap and the results are feedback leading to increased knowledge or skills. The feedback lets you know whether you are approaching your goal. If the actions you take bring you nearer to your goal, that is, closing the gap, then you do more of them i.e. the actions you take. But if it is the other way round i.e. the actions you take, increases the gap, then you do less of them. Solving the problem is closing the gap.

Simple learning and problem solving take place within a boundary of assumptions and beliefs about what is possible and necessary. For example, a person may get frequent headaches and because of this, goes to see a doctor. The doctor then prescribes some painkillers to be taken. The person goes home, feeling happy and the next time, he/she has a headache, he/she takes the painkillers. Simple problem, simple solution! An example from business would be a company that wants to invest in a more modern and faster manufacturing machine/plant. They try a number of possibilities and settle on the most cost-effective one. Later, the plant is built and running to full capacity. Another simple problem, simple solution!

Generative Learning

The other type of learning is generative learning. Generative learning brings our beliefs and assumptions about the issues into the feedbacks we received. Feedbacks from our actions lead us to question our beliefs and assumptions! As in the previous examples, the person might question why he/she is getting frequent headaches. That person might find out later that he/she needs to change his/her lifestyle or diet. That person may also be curious about taking charge of his/her own health, rather than looking to the medical doctor to fix all his/her health problems.

In the business example, the company might want to question whether it is worth investing in the new equipment for a product that might be out of date at a later stage. They might question further, whether they are in the right market and think about other/new products rather than assume, they can continue to do what they have been always doing!

 Osman Hj. Kamaluddin is a marine surveyor who has for the past many years researched and observed on accelerated learning techniques. He is also a Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) & NLP Coaching.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


By Ramlan Kamal

Malaysia is a Muslim country, where already most forms of betting/ gambling are allowed. In non-Muslim countries like Thailand, Vietnam, India and even China, a much stricter and restrictive approach is taken in legitimising gambling, in any form.

A quick and pertinent snapshot to what gambling are already given licence in Malaysia:-

Predominant Players/ Patrons
(Income Group)
1.     Casino
Upper Middle & Middle
2.     Jackpots
3.     Horse Racing
4.     Numbers & Lotto betting
Middle-Low & Low

5.     Sports betting (if allowed)
All, including Youths

For the numbers and lotto betting (i.e. magnum 4-D, 1+3D, Toto), it is estimated that, at least 50% - 60% are patronized by the non-Chinese. So, the argument by an ex-PM, that it is OK to legitimise sports betting (for the Chinese, as claimed), does not hold water. And it is precarious, if one extends the argument that, since sports gambling is happening anyway (i.e. illegally) we might as well legitimise it, to other misdeeds in society (like snatch thefts, robbery, rape, etc.).

It does appear (over the last two weeks) that concerted and ‘orchestrated’ efforts were made (by Police, political leaders and parties) to bring to the fore on activities of illegal sports (especially football) bookies. But we all know these activities have been going on for years. Suddenly now (in the midst of a company attempting to get a licence to operate sports betting), there is a frenzy to show the dark side of illegal gambling. Off course, suspicions are abound that monetary considerations must have taken place to spur and shift public opinion to support the move to legitimise sports gambling.

It is perhaps alright for Singapore to legitimise sports betting, as it is, by and large, a middle class nation. One can argue that their populace can afford it. Already our country’s financial and competitive position does not appear strong and in need of dire turnaround. Now, the Government is making an initiative that will further impoverish our populace (mostly the middle-low and low income group), and enriching only a set of already highly-privileged tycoons. Not that the Government is contemplating to increase its taxes on gambling, so that a more sizeable chunk can be channelled back to the citizenry (assuming there is genuineness to do this).

Seriously, Government should make efforts to check and verify, on who patronizes all the various gambling outfits and joints in Malaysia, and see whether it is actually predominantly the Chinese who are gambling or the entire spectrum of Malaysians.

One also wonders, how come the Malaysian ‘ulamaks’ are very tight-lipped over this whole issue of legitimising sports gambling.

It is high-time that the ruling parties running this beloved country of ours, start pondering about new models/ paradigms of getting political funding. If we want to achieve a First Nation status (as envisioned in the NEM), lets start legitimising political funding first. The Westerners and other developed countries have done this. This would be a crucial step in turning-around Malaysia, in particular to avoid and stop repeating our wastages of the past.

As a Muslim country, Malaysia should not be overzealously legitimising gambling. Those existing are already superfluous and bad enough. We all know gambling is one of the root causes of social ills. Government cannot be seen to be supporting this kind of eventual outcome. There are other ways for countries to earn more. For us, address the leakages out of unnecessary expenditures, mismanagement of income sources from GLCs, Inland Revenue and Customs.   These ought to be the focus and priority.

Encik Ramlan Bin Kamal is essentially involved in the logistics industry in the country, among other things.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bankrupt by 2019???? And hence, we all suffer?

This is absolutely frightening news. Is it for real?

TheStarOnline reported:

“Malaysia will be bankrupt by 2019 if it does not cut subsidies and rein in borrowings, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala on Thursday”.

It appears that at target to prevent the “bankruptcy of the Nation” would be to rationalize the subsidies. It is basic that subsidies are costs to the Nation and like every cost, it has to be evaluated and brought down where possible to reduce the deficit and debts faced by our country.

However, there are a few points that the Government experts should look into and bear in mind:

a)      Subsidies cannot be looked upon as costs in the same manner as we do in the private sector.

Sure, it is equally basic that subsidies distort market mechanisms. In fact, it is precisely due to the fact that market mechanisms do not allow the goods and services to be allocated to target groups that subsidies are introduced in the first place. Hence, free market arguments or so-called efficient allocations of resources cannot be the sole argument for or against subsidies.

Subsidies are costs but unlike the private sector it is not a cost incurred in the process of profit maximization. Private sectors primary motive is to maximize profits and hence they will be geared towards keeping costs at its minimum – even to the extent of retrenching workers (destroying homes) or ‘maximising productivity” of its existing workers (capitalistic oppression).

The purpose of Government is not the maximization of profits but the maximization of the citizen’s general welfare. This is something I pray that the clever advisers of the Government with their corporate background keep uppermost in their minds. It is not a mere question of statistics and economic theories. Corporate thinking and Government thinking should in many instances be different. Let us not get carried away with this new slogan of “corporate values” in the Government while we acknowledge it has its relevance!

While in the private sector, we try to minimize “unproductive costs”, the same costs may actually be social costs that are necessary for the maximization of the citizens’ general welfare.  For example, if Government schools are left to market mechanism, the majority of the people will be priced out of education.  We will become a Nation of illiterates. Hence, we recognize that subsidization of education is something we have to bear and we have to find the funds needed. This is one sector I think any responsible government should not compromise.

While subsidies increase Government expenditure, it also increases the standard of living of the people. Therefore, any reduction is subsidy will have an impact on the living standard. This is a tradeoff which we must carefully consider before getting carried away with numbers and statistics.

b)      Which subsidies to reduce or do away?

I am actually ashamed that despite the blessings that God has given this Nation, we are still unable to provide completely free education to all Malaysians, irrespective of race or religion. Obviously this is so because of the leakages (corrupt monies hoarded by…) and misallocation of resources towards projects that do not directly affect the people’s general standard of living.

It is critically important that the Government does not cut on subsidies that will further burden the general populace in order to free the resources towards other grand but wasteful projects. This is my real fear having seen the way we have developed Malaysia since Merdeka. I am not denying we have not developed. Yes, we have. But we could have developed in better ways and at less inflated costs. I have never been for the module of giving the people RM10 and the project owner making RM100. Such things are, in my Muslim mind, riba or usury. Government projects, due to its guaranteed payments should be costing much less, actually.

Briefly, it is important to carefully determine which subsidies that will be the target of ratinalisation.

c)      Existence of subsidies may actually encourage economic activity

The existence of subsidies actually keeps the general costs of doing business low in the sense that it keeps the costs of living low. On the contrary, the removal of subsidies will raise costs of production and will make Malaysia unattractive towards investments. This is primarily because, the removal of subsidies will eventually cause a rise in the general price levels, even causing inflationary tendencies in the economy. Imagine if petrol prices are raised, it will certain cause almost all other prices to increase. This in turn will increase the cost of living leading to people seeking higher wages.

Hence, the existence of subsidies actually keep the costs of production low, making investments attractive and thereby providing the opportunity for higher increase in the national income.

Therefore it is misplaced to view subsidies in isolation as if there is no increase in GDP and then conclude that it will bankrupt the Nation.

d)      Have we explored other ways to reduce costs and/or raise funds?

Basically, the idea of removing subsidies is to free resources/funds to other sectors. I believe a lot of resources can be positively channeled and funds “saved” if the Government was to seriously focus on the following:

(a)                Reduce the size of the civil service by 50%. There is too much duplication and wastage of tax payer’s monies in this sector. After the reduction, it may even be worthwhile to increase the remuneration of some of the civil servants.

(b)               Wage an all out war against leakages (corruption, etc)

(c)                The Government should seriously consider passing a law that enables the Government to recoup ill-gotten money by the culprits over the past 30 years or so. This will not be difficult to ascertain. I believe by this exercise alone, we should be able to recoup billions. Maybe a Recovery of People’s Assets Act is in order. However, this will require political will as it will largely involve politicians and their cronies.

(d)               Focus on economic activities that will uplift the living standards of the middle class and raise incomes all around. For the lower middle income, loosen up on licensing requirements to encourage the growth of small businesses or cottage industries.

(e)                I am absolutely certain that the Rakyat is fully aware of certain “sectors” that unnecessarily and unproductively taxing on the Government funds, whether at the Federal or State level.  The Government must have the courage to address these sectors and pull away the funds.
Peace !