Archive for November, 2008

Fly me to the moon

You get to see and hear things lately, such as the antics of certain Parliamentarians, and warped ideas expressed by certain Malaysian individuals and NGOs, some of which are hastily formed, that are simply out of this world. These are things that would make you — like crooner Frank Sinatra — feel like catching the next flight to the moon.

Where public vigils turn into private functions

Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim announced that he had struck a ‘deal’ with the state police to allow public rallies to be held in private halls.

And, he added, if members of the public felt a need to express their sentiments publicly, they could do so for 15 minutes max, after which they’d have to adjourn and run to the nearby hall concerned.

Here’s an extract from The Malaysian Insider report:

Selangor to allow limited public demonstrations

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 – Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said today that an agreement has been reached with state police to facilitate demonstrations.

When met by reporters in Parliament for his comments on the Internal Security Act demonstrations held yesterday, he said that Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar has agreed to a process which allows the public to gather in private halls.

“For those held in halls, meaning multipurpose halls and the like, the police will not take any action,” he said.

“If there is a desire to make their feelings publicly known, then it must be done as quickly as possible so as not to become a hindrance to others,” he added.

According to the head of the PKR-led state government, it has been suggested that such public protests should last no more than 15 minutes before the group returns to the hall to continue with other items on the agenda such as lectures or discussions.

“However, it would still be better to make an official request to the police to inform them of such an event,” he said.

Fatwa and punishment

Apply the full force of the law when dealing with those who question the institution of fatwa. That seemed to be the message conveyed to the government by a group of Muslim lawyers in the wake of the ‘yoga edict’ controversy.

This, they insisted, is to protect the sanctity of Islam against criticisms hurled by detractors, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Here’s an extract of the story that was front-paged in the Utusan Malaysia:

KUALA LUMPUR 23 Nov. – Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia (PGSM) mendesak kerajaan menggunakan peruntukan undang-undang di bawah Enakmen Kesalahan Jenayah Syariah dan Kanun Keseksaan bagi bertindak ke atas pihak yang mempertikaikan institusi fatwa.

Presidennya, Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar berkata, tindakan itu penting bagi memelihara kesucian Islam berikutan banyak pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) dan media secara terbuka mengeluarkan kenyataan dan laporan yang mencabar institusi berkenaan.

Oleh itu katanya, kerajaan perlu bertindak menggunakan undang-undang tersebut yang membenarkan tindakan diambil ke atas mereka yang beragama Islam mahupun bukan beragama Islam.

‘‘Undang-undang telah ada dan bagi PGSM, kerajaan perlu bertindak segera bagi menangani keresahan umat Islam setelah melihat institusi fatwa dicabar lebih-lebih lagi oleh umat Islam sendiri.

‘‘Selama ini undang-undang telah ada tetapi jarang kita dengar ada pendakwaan diambil tetapi kali ini saya harap demi kesucian agama, ia tidak lagi dibiarkan,’’ katanya kepada Utusan Malaysia di sini hari ini.

Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan semalam, memutuskan amalan yoga secara sistematik iaitu yang membabitkan gerakan fizikal, bacaan mantera dan matlamat penyatuan diri dengan Tuhan, bertentangan dengan syariat Islam.

Pahang blogosphere has a silver lining?

Three pensioners have been recruited by the Pahang state government as bloggers ‘to thwart slanderous comments and allegations posted on the Internet’.

According to The Star, the bloggers would be paid allowances and ‘provided with computers and the Internet access in their homes’.

‘Act against those who oppose ISA’

A few Malay-Muslim groups are up in arms against those who oppose the ISA, one of the five issues that compelled them to lodge police reports. These are issues they claimed had ‘endangered Muslim and Malay unity’.

They also planned to hold ‘several roadshows nationwide, starting in Selangor, to explain the issues that are affecting the Malays and to remind them of the importance of maintaining unity’.

Wait a sec! Did they imply that the so-called ‘Muslim and Malay unity’ hinged on detention without trial aka ISA? Associating this kind of unity with a piece of legislation that has long been considered unjust and therefore going against the very teachings of Islam that prioritise justice and compassion, among other important things in life? 

One wonders whether the Fatwa Council has an opinion on this matter.

Below is an extract from The Star report today:

KUALA LUMPUR: Representatives from an umbrella body of Malay and Muslim non-governmental organisations lodged five police reports Sunday over several issues which they claimed endangered Muslim and Malay unity.

The Heritage Associations, Malay Cultural Organisations and Related Bodies Cooperation Network (Pewaris) urged the Government to act against groups which are asking for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA).

They also lodged reports against the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), Gerakan Wanita chief Datuk Tan Lian Hoe and Sisters in Islam, the last for their remarks on the National Fatwa Council’s edict against pengkid or tomboys.

Of yoga and spiritual leap

A few Muslim opposition leaders — apart from Muslim yoga practitioners — have already voiced their concern and unhappiness over what they consider as a blanket ban on Yoga, arising from the fatwa issued today by the National Fatwa Council.

Kuala Selangor MP and also PAS research head, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, said that if the intention of practising yoga was for the well-being of the body, mind and spirit, then religion need not come into it.

‘There is no need for this siege mentality where everything is viewed from the perspective of encroaching on Islam and attacking us,’ he said, adding that if one wanted to stray from Islam, there were other ways besides yoga to do it.

Yes, perhaps the Council may want to consider critically examining other areas in Malaysian life where one’s faith in God might become questionable, if not shakeable. For instance, the apparent obsession among certain Muslim politicians with raw political power and their seeming insatiable desire for material wealth that might just decentre, or marginalise, the Almighty in their scheme of things on this earth.

Here’s an excerpt from The Malaysian Insider report on the yoga issue:

PAS, PKR and ordinary Muslims criticise yoga ruling

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 – Muslim opposition leaders want the National Fatwa Council to be more specific in its edict so that Muslims can decide what forms of yoga are permissible.

PAS research chief Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider that the council should not make a blanket ban but “lay down what is or is not permissible about yoga.”

“This allows a Muslim to be critical of their own faith and empower them to make judgments based on convictions.”

The Kuala Selangor MP added that if the intention of taking up yoga was for the well-being of the body, mind and spirit, then religion need not come into it.

“There is no need for this siege mentality where everything is viewed from the perspective of encroaching on Islam and attacking us,” he said, adding that if one wanted to stray from Islam, there were other ways besides yoga to do it.

PKR Youth’s chief strategist Yusmadi Yusoff also said that the council needed to be more specific with what forms of yoga it found objectionable as generalising the entire art under a ban was discriminatory and denied Muslims a choice of a healthy lifestyle.

“The form of yoga practised in Malaysia is simply a healthy exercise. If the fatwa is on the basis of religious rituals or inclinations, then it must be more specific and detail what parts exactly,” he said.

The Balik Pulau MP also noted that other martial arts, including those in Malay culture, had religious inclination but were not banned outright and doing so, as with yoga, would sacrifice a lot of benefits as a physical and mental form of exercise.

Shahrizat rocks Rafidah

This ‘Rocky’ theme song is probably the favourite of both Shahrizat and Rafidah in the wake of their willingness to fight it out to the finish for the coveted position of Wanita UMNO head. An impending fight between the two came about after the ‘transition plan’ went awry.