Saturday, January 15, 2011
I stayed in Jalan Mentri where there are blocks of double storey terraced houses that lined both sides of the road. Just four blocks down the road was a surau which has since been converted into an Agama school. Right infront of the surau, the occupants of the double storey terrace houses were mainly non-Malays/Muslims.
When an "Azan" is made early in the morning to remind Muslims about the "Fajr" prayers, my mum would used this call as an alarm clock to get up to start the day's household chores. The first thing she would do is to attend to the laundry. After doing this, she would then proceed to prepare breakfast and at the same time, waking us up and be ready for school. By then, my dad would also be up and ready to board the morning bus to work.
In the evening, when the "Azan" is made to remind Muslims about the "Maghrib" prayers, we realised it was time for us to return home for dinner as we would be at that time be in a field flying kites, having a game of soccer, etc. with our friends.
For almost twenty years during my stay in this neighbourhood, not a single soul complain about the volume of the Azan because it has become an accepted norm. In fact, the ones most affected would be those non-Malays staying right infront of the surau which is about 50 feet away (door-to-door). But they continued to stay there for almost twenty years!
But today, how times have changed ....
The recent uproar about the Azan at the Masjid Al-Ikhlasiah in Kampung Kerinchi just simply showed how our society have degenerated in terms of inter-racial/religious understanding. We are so divided today that even a request to lower the volume could even bring about a public display of anger. However, I certainly would like to pose the following questions:
1. Was the letter sent by the MCA lawyer, a demand or an appeal? If it was a demand, then the person who sent the letter has overstepped the boundry since religion is a sensitive issue and must be handled as such.
2. If the letter was an appeal, then would the mosque committee consider the matter as such and inform the sender that the matter was under consideration?
3. The mosque committe while considering the matter should take into account the following:
3.1 If the Azan is for the "fajr" prayers, then it will affect those who have been working on night shifts and need the sleep.
3.2 What about the babies?
3.3 What about the ageds?
3.4 What about the sicks who are trying to recover from their ailments?
Since we are not living in a homogenious religious environment, all the above must be factored in so that everyone can live harmoniously with one another.
Perhaps, this little reminder may help. The honour of being the first Muezzin goes to Hazrat Bilal, a black slave who converted to Islam. He had a very sweet, resonant and musical voice. He was appointed as Muezzin by the Great Prophet SAW. The appointment of a black slave as the first person to call Muslims for prayers, shows that in Islam, all human beings are treated as equals. Rich or poor, black or white, short or tall - all are equal in the eyes of Allah. It is the piety of each individual that makes the difference [read more here].
As such, a little understanding from both sides will go along way to douse the anger that has been ignited in the last few days.
You are a highly educated person and one with the ability to think. As such, you are probably aware that the welfare of this nation rests on more than just the MCA winning its share of seats at the next general election and remaining in the coalition that holds the power to decide the fate of Malaysia.
You are probably aware that the way forward for Malaysia is renouncing the way of the Barisan Nasional, led by Umno, falling back on an outdated decades-old formula. And that if you and the MCA continue to collude with the other parties in BN to retain power, you are subscribing to practices that could lead the nation to racial rifts and economic ruin.
If you do agree, what then is the rationale for the MCA to continue to exist as an ethnocentric party? What is the rationale for you and your party members to stick with Umno which avowedly fights for the Malays and the MIC which avowedly fights for the Indians?
How long more do you see this ethnocentric equation taking hold of the lives of Malaysians, causing strife from time to time when disputes arise over who should get what and how much? We’ve had 53 years of that; isn’t it enough?
Which is more important for you and your MCA colleagues: To stay on in BN in order to reap the rewards of being in government positions, or to do something that will ensure the honor and integrity of your party and of yourselves? I cannot tell you what that thing is which you could do to gain rectitude. You have to find it yourself.
But as you search for an answer, perhaps you would like to reflect on how strong the MCA’s position really is within the BN coalition for the party to achieve its aims. Are you, for instance, contributing to inter-racial understanding and harmony? How could that be when you have to speak up against any threat to the position of the Chinese? How could that be when Umno must speak up against any perceived threat against the Malays?
It’s a game full of contradictions, isn’t it? You can’t have one and the other, can you? In fact, your attempts over the past several months to speak up for the Chinese – indeed, for the country as a whole – clearly illustrate this.
Last August, after the Malaysian Chinese Economic Congress, when you called on the Government to gradually remove the 30 per cent Bumiputra equity in all sectors of the economy, you were immediately jumped upon by Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin. He even warned you about May 13.
A few days later, in your interview with a Malay-language newspaper, you had to soften what you had said, clearly showing your vulnerability.
Even Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein told you to “stick to the struggles of BN”. What are they? Do you know?
You were even a target of criticism at the Umno general assembly last October. A delegate slammed you for saying that the social contract should not be discussed openly.
Then at the BN convention last month, you called for a ban on the use of the term “Ketuanan Melayu”, and you told Umno it should not approve government policies during its supreme council meetings. But straight away, Hishammuddin said you had upset many BN leaders, including those in the MCA.
This boggles the mind. What you said was absolutely right – how could Umno take it upon itself to decide on government policies when it is only one of the component parties of BN? Does the MCA have no say? So how could MCA leaders be upset by what you said? Have they become Umnofied themselves? Have they become slaves of their masters? Or, as former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin said, “running dogs”?
If so, what dignity is left in them? And in you, if you continue to serve the MCA within the BN fold?
Isn’t it obvious, too, that what you say doesn’t count for “doodley-squat”, as the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut would call it?
To be brutally honest, what good is your speaking up when you are still within the same cabal and your partners not only disagree with you, they don’t respect what you say?
As you have probably been informed, people outside don’t give much credence to your speaking up, anyway. They think it’s just a sandiwara act to merely give the impression that you are standing up for what is right. But it’s just an act.
I admit that going by the issues you have been bringing up recently, you are highlighting the fact that things are not being done right, and that your political partners should be held accountable. I might even hazard that you are at least concerned. What I fail to see, though, is your commitment.
For instance, at the MCA general assembly last October, Umno president Najib Razak told your party right within your own premises to be less communal and less demanding. Did you have an answer to that? Did you tell him in return to ensure that Umno would be less communal too? Did you tell him that the MCA was not being more demanding, that it was merely asking for what is guaranteed all Malaysians?
You see, I believe you know what is right for the country, but you are not willing to go all the way to ensuring that what is right prevails. If you were, you would not continue with the current regime. You would press for reform.
Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said the judiciary needs to be independent, that it needs to regain the trust of the people? The same with the police, the mainstream media and the civil service?
Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said our education system needs to be totally revamped to institute quality and regard for merit?
Surely, you would not disagree with me if I said that the way we award government projects needs to be transparent to eliminate cronyism? Or is that too tough a call after your appointment as Penang Port Commission chairman, a move that raised many eyebrows?
Above all, surely you would not disagree with me if I said we need a government that is clean; tells the truth; follows the rule of law; uses public funds for the people’s sake rather than for its own; and upholds the country’s institutions rather than abuses them for its own advantage?
Do we have such a government today?
If we did, you would not have said what you said last Dec 5 – when you called for each BN component party to have an equal voice and to share power “genuinely”; when you said BN had to change to be inclusive, multi-racial and to put the people first.
I know how to read between the lines, Soi Lek, and what you said that time said a lot about the coalition your party is part of.
Do you think it is capable of responding to your calls for change? Right now, looking just at the Cabinet line-up, we can see what a far cry it is from the days of Tunku Abdul Rahman. Will we ever see an inclusive government that has non-Malay ministers for the portfolios of Finance, Trade and Industry, or Defence? That no longer looks at skin color but at ability, integrity and character?
I think you might better serve the people by taking the first step that leads away from race-based politics. If you choose to do that, you will be blazing a trail. And that could bring honor not only to you but your party as well. Unless, of course, you’re a politician first and a public servant last. Then all I’ve been saying here is worth doodley-squat.
Was Ummi Hafilda Ali’s press conference on Thursday sponsored by Umno? This is the million-ringgit question on everyone’s lips.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Puchong PKR member who attended the event expressed surprise at how the whole press conference was played out.
“I’m not here to condemn Umi Hafilda but people are not stupid… they are asking who is the hidden hand behind the press conference and why is she coming out with these allegations only now…
“There were so many Umno members that the whole event was suspicious. Also, they outnumbered the reporters,” he said.
On Thursday, Ummi Hafilda accused Anwar of having had sexual relationship with Azmin Ali’s wife Shamsidar Taharin.
She also declared that she would sue Anwar, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Karpal Singh and PAS for RM700 million.
Recounting what transpired during the press conference, the PKR member claimed the questions posed to Ummi Hafilda did not come from the reporters.
“It was the Umno members who were shooting her with questions… this is something unusual.
“Even the questions were not the kind the reporters would ask. One question posed was: why did Anwar go to Azmin Ali’s house to bathe his daughter Afifa? Malaysian reporters don’t ask such unethical questions.
“Every time Ummi Hafilda attacked Anwar and Wan Azizah, the Umno boys shouted and cheered like it was all a big Umno party,” he said.
He added that Ummi Hafilda also failed to describe the kind of suits she would file against Anwar and his team.
She only said that her lawyers had told her that the “summons against Anwar would be filed later”.
“When she said it, our view was that the whole drama was aimed at tarnishing Anwar’s name again.
“Furthermore, Ummi Hafilda said she was arrested by 50 policeman as ordered by Anwar. She also claimed the police tortured her and forced her to sign an oath.
“It’s all very detrimental to the police… she has implied that the police are controlled by Umno politicians. Anwar was an Umno member then,” he said.
The source said the common conclusion among the Pakatan Rakyat rank-and-file now was that Ummi Hafilda’s attack on Anwar was timed to undermine Pakatan in the Tenang by-election.[Source: FMT]
Monday, January 10, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
This week "cross over" artiste is none other than the late Sudirman. What more can I say about him that have not already been said. This guy was simply a superstar. Back in 1990, when I was a GM of a club, I had him to perform a concert for the members who were a mix of locals and foreigners. He was a first class act and this guy could entertain. He sang in several languages but his English songs were the most memorable.
Here I would like to feature three of his hits, the first, "Here I Am", made popular by Air Supply. The second is the Michael Jackson's classic, "One Day In Your Life". The third song, "A Thousand Million Smiles" was written specially for him by Paul Ponnudurai with music composed by Michael Veerapan.
Earlier there were attempts and allegations that Teoh had taken his life because he regretted turning over his boss, a Selangor Dap State Exco, on allegations of corruption. Teoh was even accused of being involved in a minor corruption case which involved a sum of no more than RM2,400.
Mysteriously, a note which was claimed to be a suicide note surfaced towards the end of the inquest after it was held in MACC's custody for several months.
I was asked by reporters a day on the possible reactions before the coroner delivered his verdict. I said it would be disastrous for MACC, the government and the court if Teoh's case was ruled as a suicide because of a lack of hard evidence.
Moreover, Teoh's fiancee was expecting his baby and he was supposed to get married the following week. Teoh was only a witness and not a suspect of an alleged corruption case. These facts cannot conclusively confirm that it was a suicide. Hence, ruling it a suicide would tarnish even more the already suspected reputable of the public institutions.
On the other hand, I said that it would be equally bad and damaging for the government if the coroner ruled it a murder or homicide. It is hard to take the politics out of Teoh's case. There were political elements and interests involved in the corruption reports which ended up in an investigation, interrogation and his untimely death.
If it was ruled as a murder or homicide, the implications are wide and deep. The police will have to investigate right up to the ones giving instruction to the MACC to haul up Teoh, the motive and the culprits. The MACC's investigation procedure would have to be reviewed once again and it is safe to assume that it will be become one of the most unpopular public institutions in the country.
The stake is high. If any MACC officers were eventually brought to justice, which public institution or officers would allow the collusion between ruling politicians and civil servants to continue without any protection against prosecution?
The claim that this government does not manipulate any public institution to its benefit and advantage is becoming quite lame and unconvincing. Imagine the use of police force to break up opposition political gatherings but keeping closed eyes on Barisan or pro-Barisan gatherings, questionable judicial verdict, controversial decision by Election Commission to ignore vote buying and others.
The continuation of the manipulation may give Barisan short-to-medium term advantage but it is also eroding its legitimacy to lead as a popularly elected government. It cannot continue hoping to win elections through constituency delineation, postal votes and sectarianism.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced that a Royal Commission of Inquiry will be set up to investigate the Teoh Beng Hock case.
I agree with Perkasa on the need of a RCI but disagree on the reason. Perkasa said it would tantamount to disrespecting the courts and a waste of public funds. I question the effectiveness of the RCI if the government can choose to follow or not the recommendations of RCI.
It is unfortunate that RCIs have lost its relevance and reverence. We need a government which is serious about good governance, rule of law and democracy.
Malaysians must play a part in the case. They need to deliver the right and fair verdict on the quality of governance and the government in the next general election. This is the only way to help Malaysia.
I was also asked about the court's verdict raising ethnic tension in the country. I responded by saying that the death of Teoh Beng Hock was not driven by racial hatred or violence. His death was was a result of a failed democracy, irresponsible governance and an abuse of power.
Malaysians of all races are appalled by his death. I felt the same for Kugan, Aminulrasyid and others who were brutally killed.
[Source: Khoo Kay Peng]
Let's face it. TBH was not called to the MACC office because he was caught speeding and tried to bribe a policeman. Neither did he go to the MACC office to be questioned as to why his girlfriend was pregnant before they even got married. He was questioned because of alleged misappropriation of a paltry sum of money by his boss. This is POLITICAL! In the light of this and with the court's verdict that TBH did not die from a suicidal death nor a homicidal death, so logically speaking, TBH must be ALIVE! This is the only conclusion I can come out with if one was to base it on sound reasoning.