Archive for the 'Opposition' Category

A twit and the corrosive culture of the Internet

Malaysian government’s connection with the Internet is something of a love-hate relationship. This is especially so after the 2008 general election when the activities of Net users were said to have caused to a certain degree the ruling coalition to experience heavy electoral losses.

So the quibbling of Information and Communication Minister Rais Yatim over the purported dangers of Twitter, Facebook and blogging can only be read as reinforcing the said sentiment of the federal government.

But this time around, the minister concerned argued that the use of the Internet might run counter to the values supposedly promoted by revealed religions such as Islam, Christianity and Buddhism.

What he failed to state is that religions exhort their adherents to search for truth and justice wherever it may be, and this includes the Internet vis-a-vis the mainstream media whose credibility has tumbled.

And, apparently, if everything else failed in his urging, Rais warned Muslims and other religious groups to be “wary of the Internet as it was introduced by the West”.

If we were to follow through his argument to its logical conclusion, then we will have to stay away from the television set (through which programmes from RTM, TV3 etc are beamed) that was also first introduced by the West. On second thought, this (i.e. to shun television) may not be a bad idea after all.

Words I couldn’t say

The latest development from word-sensitive Malaysia, according to a report from The Malaysian Insider, is that Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) and Majlis Agama Islam Melaka (MAIM) have each issued a directive that prohibits the use of a collection of ‘Islamic terms’ by non-Muslims in the country.
For the uninitiated, this came in the wake of the ‘Allah’ controversy that has literally rocked the country.
These forbidden terms range from sheikh, haji, mubaligh, hadis, Injil, fatwa, mufti, al-Quran to Kaabah.
If this development is true, then a number of problems may arise as a result. For instance, a non-Muslim may be discouraged from pursuing her interest in Islamic studies because she cannot use these ‘Islamic terms’ in her scholarly work.
In other words, Islam may be seen as a religion that is inaccessible to non-Muslims particularly in Malaysia. Worse, Islam and its adherents could be misconstrued as being anti-intellectual.
Besides, it would be rather difficult for the non-Muslims to explain or understand certain aspects of Islam and its teachings without using those specific terms. For example, how does one talk about the pilgrimage without using the term hajj or the circumambulation, or the tawaf, around the Kaabah?
And, would a non-Muslim be penalised for using the term ‘mufti’ to describe a religious scholar in Islam? Would he still be punished for using the same word ‘mufti’ when he means a civilian dress used by a person who normally wears a uniform?
Needless to say, I am lost for words.

The first cut is the deepest

Looks like Chinese-based DAP is cut out to be a political party that has the wherewithal to dispel the perception that it is anti-Islam. 

The Malaysian Insider reports:

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — In an attempt to win over the support of Muslim voters, the Chinese-dominated DAP will host a circumcision ceremony for 75 Muslim males in Perak this weekend.

“For the first time in history, DAP will host a mass circumcision ceremony at a mosque as a sign or respect to Islam and to prove that the party’s struggle goes beyond racial and religious lines,” said Perak DAP secretary Nga Kor Ming in a statement today.

The circumcision of young males is a common practice among the followers of the Abrahamic faiths, but here it is often seen as part of Malay culture.

Nga said the ceremony will be held at the Masjid Expo in Kamunting, near Taiping.

Of becoming the butt of a joke

Penang opposition leader Azhar Ibrahim was reportedly ejected from the state assembly hall after he allegedly showed his butt to the House Speaker in a show of defiance against the call for him to apologise after he refused to retract the use of the word kerat, which the Pakatan Rakyat assemblypersons found it offensive.

Azhar protested that his political opponents merely misread his physical conduct as he ‘had only turned his back’. Some people may want to be generous enough to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Be that as it may, there’s no doubting that there had been some politicians who had metaphorically turned their backs on issues and matters of national import and urgency — in the Malaysian Parliament, state assembly halls and elsewhere.

Take, for instance, the case of the Dewan Rakyat Speaker yesterday. He rejected the urgent motion to declassify the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide report, the kind of information that is so crucial to not only the affected families but also other concerned Malaysians who seek transparency in the government and truth in the grave matter.

In other words, the landslide issue is so crucial that it defies logic and human compassion for it not to be discussed by the lawmakers.

And it gets even more tragic that such an information is classified official secret. Yet, this matter was not considered to be urgent enough for deliberation.

Another issue that is no less urgent and vital is the Biro Tata Negara controversy. The allegations hurled against the BTN are so serious as they imply rabid racism, bigotry, ethnic divisiveness and the fostering of hatred towards the Opposition and govenment critics.

And yet, many politicians and lawmakers, particularly those from the Barisan Nasional, prefer to turn their collective back on this matter.

Surely, those who are purportedly concerned about national unity and integration, such as politicians from UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan, among others, would be appalled to hear of stories of certain BTN lecturers who allegedly promoted inter-ethnic anxiety, if not tension.

Besides, isn’t this kind of BTN indoctrination antithetical to the much touted 1Malaysia?

For many of the ordinary, patient Malaysians who often find their intelligence being ridiculed, the misconduct of these politicians can be a real pain in the you-know-where.

We don’t need no (BTN) education

Biro Tata Negara (BTN), that government outfit set up under the Prime Minister’s Department, has become the talk of town the last one week or so as accounts from several people who had undergone its courses suggest that it funtions primarily as a brainwashing mechanism to promote ruling BN and racism, and at the same time to foster hatred towards the opposition.

If these accusations are true, then the stated objectives of the BTN to promote patriotism, nation-building and inter-ethnic understanding among the various ethnic groups in Malaysia have been called into question.

Addtionally, the supposed goings-on in the BTN don’t gel with the so-called 1Malaysia concept of the Prime Minister.

This is why concerned Malaysians such as DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang have even gone to the extent of calling for the closing down of the BTN.

A public inquiry into this controversy surrounding the BTN should be considered by the authorities concerned — despite the assurance of the Deputy Prime Minister and others that the BTN is not what the critics made it out to be.

Educating PR politicians

(Photo credit: The Malaysian Insider)

The photo above suggests that Kulim MP Zulkifli Noordin and PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah have kissed and made up, so to speak, after a recent public spat.

In his insistence that things have been resolved, Zulkifli tells Malaysians that “we want to educate the public that this is the new politics that we are bringing”.

What he wants Malaysians to know is that their spat is a living demonstration of a democratic process where party members do criticise one another and, in fact, they could agree to disagree.

So far so good.

But wary and weary Malaysians are concerned with certain Pakatan Rakyat politicians who espouse views that run counter to the very core beliefs or ideology of the respective PR partners, which leaves many Malaysians wondering why the hell do these politicians still align themselves to the political parties concerned.

To take a hypothetical case: a politician whose narrow political views and actions go against, say, the multiethnic ideology of her party may want to reconsider her membership in the party.

Equally serious, there are certain PR politicians who seem to have veered from the spirit of political understanding and cooperation between the coalition partners to the point of aggravating the ideological crack that already exists.

Indeed, ordinary Malaysians, with an eye on the next general election, may no longer tolerate such political misconduct. Needless to say, this should be instructive to the politicians concerned.

Of ‘friendly’ representative

So Port Klang assemblyperson Badrul Hisham Abdullah finally says goodbye to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) after months of speculation by political observers about his political future and inclination.

Like his Perak counterparts, he’s now independent but ‘BN-friendly’.

One wonders whether it would be terribly ‘painful’ for Badrul to maintain his so-called independence while at the same time he commits himself to being ‘BN-friendly’.

What does it take to have such political versatility, the very stuff that such politicians are made of?

The ordinary folks in his constituency who voted for him may be excused for passionately believing that there is such a thang as ‘Malaysia Boleh’.

Incidentally, he was reported to have said this: “I was elected by the people and not by the Mentri Besar of Selangor” — in a three-page statement in response to Khalid’s call for him to quit.

In this regard, Badrul may want to remember that he was then elected by the people as a PKR candidate, not ‘independent’ nor ‘BN-friendly’.