Saturday, August 23, 2008

Carrots for Permatang Pauh Folks (Update)

We're counting RM 3,150,000.00 so far but Aliran says more than RM6 million of allocation was made during the campaign period of the Permatang Pauh by-election

Carrots from Barisan Nasional so far;

For the Chinese

  • RM 1.2 million for 6 chinese schools in the Permatang Pauh constituency.
  • RM 500,000 allocation to build an indoor basketball court.

For the Indians

  • A meagre RM50,000 each for two Tamil schools.

  • Government has agreed to approve scrap metal collector's licence for them, says DPM Najib. Possibly depends on outcome of election so Indians shouldn't really hold their breath. Blogger G.Krishnan says 'Scrap Metal? Show Me the Real Stuff, Honey!'

For the Malays

For the General Public

  • Petrol price reduced by 15 cents. According to Pak Lah though this had nothing to do with the by-election.

More is to come says BN candidate Arif Shah. Saying if he wins he'll be able to pour more money into Permatang Pauh because of his cordial relationship with Abdullah Badawi. He also says that he can keep on doing it like the mythical Sun Wukong.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Religious ignorance: The great divider - Steve Oh

Source : Steve Oh - Malaysiakini

The Malaysiakini report on Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan's swearing on the Quran elicited a response from PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang that it was an act of kebodohan (stupidity). Few would disagree because it is naive to think that the mere act of swearing absolves one's guilt. It is only the gullible who are fooled.But I was disappointed to read the PAS leader's comments that “We don't have this practice in Islam. It is the Christians who swear on the Bible.”
Anyone who knows the Bible will tell you that this is not true if the implication is that swearing on the Bible is part and parcel of Christianity,In fact the opposite is true.
There are several Biblical injunctions for Christians to refrain from all types of swearing best summarised in this verse: "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."Another verse: "Above all, my brothers, do not swear — not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned."Therefore, no one should accuse Christians of swearing on the Bible.
That some Western countries still adopt this practice is more of a quirk of history than a true Christian practice and I reiterate, swearing on the Bible is not an acceptable Christian practice. Thus, non-Christians who accept public office often take their oaths upon their preferred religious text or none depending on their choice. It is not unknown for elected Muslim politicians to use the Quran for this purpose in the West.
Sadly, there is much ignorance about Christianity and false perceptions have been passed down and along in Malaysia in a climate of religious chauvinism and fear. I often meet people who are ignorant of other people's religions and often I have had to correct their false understanding, for example of Islam, though I am not a Muslim. It is because I believe in talking to learned Muslims and reading up on the subject. There is nothing more tragic than those who believe in truth to believe in lies or fallacies about others.
The religious leaders in Malaysia have much to answer for the lack of trust among the different religions and should not take it upon themselves to play God. Often it is those who have the least understanding of their own religion who resort to angry outbursts in false perceptions of offence from others. Their volatile responses betray a lack of security in their own faith, thus their resort to intimidation and even violence.
Political parties such as PAS that want to play a pivotal role in mainstream national politics must prove it is able to govern for all and have a vision that is broad and progressive. Those who have strong religious convictions must learn to respect the beliefs of others, and not be arrogant and presumptuous that their faith gives them the divine right to suppress others.
If God does not do that, why should those who claim to follow Him do the opposite? Let us hope Pakatan Rakyat politicians will help cut a swathe through the jungle of religious ignorance and persecution in the country and that we will all know more accurately about our religion and that of others so that we don't make false and presumptuous statements. I hope ths elucidation on the Christian position on swearing whether on the Bible or some other thing will dispel the fallacy and remedy the inaccuracy in Hadi Awang's statement.

Carrots for Permatang Pauh folks

Carrots from Barisan Nasional so far;

For the Chinese

  • RM 1.2 million for 6 chinese schools in the Permatang Pauh constituency. Why the BN Govt only provides aid during election shall forever remain a mystery.

For the Indians

  • A meagre RM50,000 each for two Tamil schools.

  • Government has agreed to approve scrap metal collector's licence for them, says DPM Najib. Possibly depends on outcome of election so Indians shouldn't really hold their breath. Blogger G.Krishnan says 'Scrap Metal? Show Me the Real Stuff, Honey!'

More is to come says BN candidate Arif Shah. Saying if he wins he'll be able to pour more money into Permatang Pauh because of his cordial relationship with Abdullah Badawi.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Whether Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan’s act of swearing on the Quran to substantiate his sodomy allegations is in accordance with Islam or not is not for me as a non-muslim to comment. That is the purview of the Islamic scholars.

However, I am peeved of when Pas President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Pas’s spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat claim that the act of placing the hand on the Quran while taking the oath to declare that one was telling the truth was imitating what the Christians did when they placed their hand on the Bible. That’s far from the truth and displays sheer ignorance.

Let me tell all ignorant what the Holy Bible says on swearing :-

“Do not make a promise in my name if you do not intend to keep it; that brings disgrace on my name. I am the Lord your God”.

MATHEW 5:34-37
“But now I tell you; do not use any vow when you make a promise. Do not swear by heavens, for it is God’s throne, nor by earth, for it is the resting place for his feet; nor by Jerusalem for it is the city of the great King. Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make single hair white or black. Just say yes or No-everything else comes from the Evil One”.

So, it is high time those ignorant of the Bible or the Christian teachings stop making comments or cast aspersions on the Holy Bible.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Despite the protests, democracy wins the day

Aniza Damis : NST

OVER the past week, many illustrious people and journalists have condemned the demonstrations against the Bar Council forum on Aug 9.

But I think it was a sterling example of how wonderfully democratic we have become.Nearly a year ago, I wrote about the Bar Council's Walk for Justice, when the Malaysian Bar walked from the Palace of Justice to the Prime Minister's Office. Seeing the peaceful protest, I commented that the public and Royal Malaysia Police seemed well on the way to learning how to be democratic.Last week's demonstration, this time against the Bar Council, showed that Malaysia has been on a sharp learning curve: we have advanced so far that even a less-than-peaceful protest is acceptable.

Consider this. The Bar Council forum was not declared illegal; the content of the forum was not declared illegal; the forum was held at the Bar Council building, which is private premises.

About 500 people stood outside the building, blocking the street, shouting, protesting, and condemning. They also threatened to storm the building. Not one was arrested.Even as little as a year ago, any demonstrating group without a police permit hurling abuses at a legally-convened meeting, would have been ordered to disperse, then water-cannoned, tear-gassed and, if they remained adamant, arrested and escorted to police vehicles.

Instead, what happened was that the police functioned only as a buffer between the demonstrators and the forum organisers and participants. In fact, as the riot police shuffled in to control the swelling crowd, it seemed as if they were reluctant to even be there.This, to me, is proof that the authorities have come to accept demonstrations -- peaceful or otherwise -- as a right in our democratic society.

Demonstrators have also become more sophisticated. While protesters of early days used to spray-paint slogans on old bedsheets, this time, one group, the Muslim Consumer Organisation, came with a dozen large, high-quality, professionally manufactured banners that must have cost about RM500 each.

Even though inflation is driving some poor Malay families to consuming just instant noodles and fried eggs several days a week, the Muslim Consumer Organisation obviously understood that, if you want to protest, you can't do it in half-measures.

Meanwhile, inside the Bar Council's auditorium, the forum to discuss the problems faced by non-Muslim families when a family member converts to Islam was under way.A young Chinese woman spoke about how her father had converted to Islam to marry an Iranian. A few years after this, he died. And the Muslim faraid inheritance system did not recognise the non-Muslim wife as his wife, nor the non-Muslim children as his children. "Can you imagine, the house you've been living in for 30 years is declared not your house," the young woman sobbed.

Listening to all this, I thought it was quite right for government leaders and de facto opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to have called for the forum to be closed-door.Because then the discussion would only involve religious leaders, and we wouldn't have to listen to the sad stories of these sad families, and feel sad.

About an hour into the forum, the police came in, followed by a handful of protesters who wanted to enforce an early shutdown of the forum.

I don't know how it is with other cultures, but I was taught that when you want to enter someone's home, you have to first give the salam (greeting of good wishes) to the host, then wait to be invited in before stepping over the threshold.If you give the salam three times and no one answers, then you should go away peacefully.

Naturally, the gate-crashing came as a shock. But then, I remembered the virtue for which Malaysia is famous: tolerance of other cultures. Obviously, the culture I had been brought up in is but one of the many different cultures that co-exist harmoniously in Ma-laysia.

When Professor Mehrun Siraj, a law professor who has taught at least an entire generation of lawyers in several Malaysian universities (and is probably now teaching the children of her first students), stood in front of the hall and started to speak, a couple of protesters, including Peninsular Malay Students Federation vice-president Jais Abdul Kari, yelled at her at the top of their lungs, trying to shout her down.

I was upset by this. I was as angry as I would have been if they had been shouting at my own mother. But then, I realised that this must be this culture's way of showing respect to elders. So, I calmed down.

After the forum was declared officially ended, Jais shouted, "Everyone get out! Take only the stairs, so that we can see that all of you vacate this building. "We will not leave until you all get out!" and stood by the auditorium's main door, like a host who's trying to kick out rowdy party guests.

Some people might find this disturbing. But the beauty is it brought together people of different ideologies.For instance, two protesters, one from Pas, the other from Umno rather happily and proudly said, "See! Who said Pas and Umno can't work together!"Meanwhile, at the front of the auditorium, PKR member of parliament Zulkifli Nordin was telling Bar Council officers off: "Don't touch (on) Islam. Don't touch (on) Muslims."The fact that members from the Islamist Pas, ultra-Malay Umno and secularist multiracial PKR can come together, focused on a shared belief, instead of bickering over political differences, shows how mature and fluid politics has become in this country.

The greatest proof of democracy at work that day was this: Might is right.Unlike in other countries where Muslims are the minority and have to patiently engage with the non-Muslims and convince them Islam is a peaceful religion and our God is merciful and just, over here, the Muslim majority can just tell people to shut up.

Many people might be opposed to this, but I sincerely hope democracy will be allowed to flourish.Then I can quit my day job and go into the banner-making business.