Friday, January 08, 2010

Allah IS and will always BE, but humans are confused

Why are we fighting over a word to refer to Divinity that historically have been used by Arabs of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith to describe God? A simple research on the internet will tell you this.

The word Allah does not belong exclusively to Malaysian Muslims, and this is a fact of today and the past backed by evidence. Go to the middle east and ask. It is the West that has assigned Allah to be the word used by Muslims. Don't be a Western bodek but understand the reality of diversity in the Arab world in which the word Allah came to be.

This is from Wikipedia, but check out their source from the Encyclopædia Britannica,and the Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa.

Allah is the standard Arabic word for God.[1] While the term is best known in the West for its use by Muslims as a reference to God, it is used by Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews, in reference to "God".[1][2][3] The term was also used by pagan Meccans as a reference to the creator-god, possibly the supreme deity in pre-Islamic Arabia.[4]

The concepts associated with the term Allah (as a deity) differ among the traditions. In pre-Islamic Arabia amongst pagan Arabs, Allah was not considered the sole divinity, having associates and companions, sons and daughters - a concept which Islam thoroughly and resolutely abrogated. In Islam, the name Allah is the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name. All other divine names are believed to refer back to Allah.[5] Allah is unique, the only Deity, creator of the universe and omnipotent.[1][2] Arab Christians today use terms such as Allāh al-ʼAb ( الله الأب, "God the Father") to distinguish their usage from Muslim usage.[6] There are both similarities and differences between the concept of God as portrayed in the Qur'an and the Hebrew Bible.[7]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Teo Kok Seong: Rakyat Perlu Menguasai Bahasa Melayu

This is a good discussion on Bahasa Melayu. I like it because it is answered by a Chinese Malaysian - Dr Teo Kok Seong, professor sosiolinguistic of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). In this series on how the national language is perceived by non-Malays....

Teo Kok Seong: ...Kata mereka, kita tidak boleh kata bahawa orang cina yang tidak boleh berbahasa melayu ini tidak patriotik.

Saya tak kata mereka tidak patriotik. Cuma saya kata agak pelik. Ini kerana hal ini tidak semestinya berlaku. Sebab bagi saya, seorang warganegara Malaysia mesti mempunyai pengetahuan bahasa melayu yang mencukupi. Sikit-sikitpun tidak mengapa. Sedangkan kita tengok ada yang sepatah pun tak tahu. Jadi macamana?


So do you agree that to be a Malaysian, one needs to at least know Malay?

I have met some Chinese Malaysian who don't know how to speak Malay, or they speak it so badly you want to ask them to shut up. These people just hang out with Chinese their whole lives and never want to venture out of their own language community. They study in Chinese schools, they do business with Chinese, and they eat Chinese food. I want to ask them, hey are you Malaysian or China Chinese?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What Environment? It's Occupation and Terrorism

I watched What Rainforest? and immediately felt that it should not be called an "environmental" documentary. But it's seemingly environmental sounding name belies the cruel reality of the story.

At the Freedom Film Fest where it debuted, it was put under the category "Native Rights and Conservation" and many like me would be wont to expect an environmental film. But how wrong was I.

As environmental issues become mainstream, its messages becomes simplified and stereotyped…. and boring. Add the indigenous people, and the hollywood theme of Guardian of the Rainforest gets even more tiresome.

Here goes – Primitive but wise with the way of the jungle, the indigenous people fight a losing battle against modern development to protect their way of life and identity. How heroic. How sad. Period.

I think it's time to move on. Because if you sing this refrain over and over, people stop caring. And it gives ammunition to those who don't give two hoots about the environment or native rights to respond: Hey, wake up man. We have to develop. We have hungry stomachs to fill. Why should we be sorry for cutting down a few trees? The West finished cutting their trees and now wants to stop us?! And those lazy natives, why are you so anti-development? You want to be uneducated, poor and hungry ah? (as if they were offered any choices).

That's the typical answer politicians in Sarawak love to give when you present them facts about illegal logging. Nevermind the criminal element of illegal logging, they will bring out that tiresome narrative about development vs environment.

The 36 minute documentary What Rainforest? by Chi Too and Hilary Chiew is a different sort of film albeit with an environmental sounding name. It made me sit up. It made me burn. It's not about development vs environment with pretty pictures of virgin rainforests and its denizens thrown in.

It's really about occupation and terrorism. Much akin to what the Palestinians are facing in their homeland. Driven out of their land and occupied by others while the rest of the world looks on.

Except that in this case, it is perpetuated not by foreign enemies but done with the aggressive support of the state using our tax dollars backed by dubious sections of the law. So in effect, it's state terrorism.

Ok, I'd say the Palestinians have it much worse, but the fact of the matter is that Occupation and Terrorism is happening in the Land of the Hornbills. Occupation - people's land are being occupied illegally. Terrorism - people are being threatened and even beaten if they refuse to leave, if they put up blockades, or if they're organising their people. There have been cases of mysterious disappearences and deaths of activists. Recently, Penan women and girls claimed that they were raped and sexually abused by loggers. All these are terrorism tactics to cow a people into submission so they abandon their claim to the land.

If the same events were to be transplanted into Peninsular Malaysia middle-class life, there would be lawsuits, and rolling heads. No, it wouldn't even happen to begin with. If it did, the closest thing that can bring that kind of outrage is the demolition of places of worship. It would bring no less than a Hindraf Makkal Sakti kind of respond.

When handbags get snatched, when houses get burglarized, especially when it's a politician's wife and a minister's house, they get frontpaged. When someone's land in Sarawak is being grabbed in broad daylight, and the owners terrorized by gangsters and police stand and watch, it's either too sensitive or too complicating to report. Let me just put it simply.

Imagine someone coming into your house and cart all your furniture out. Then, they put their own furniture inside your house and tell you, get out, this house belongs to us now. You go to the police. They do nothing. Ok now, put yourself in the native's shoes, or bare feet. Those bulldozers and loggers come, and they plunder your trees – trees that give shade, wood and fronds to build homes, herbs and roots for medicine, trees that shelter animals so you can hunt them for food, and strong roots to keep soil in place so you have water to drink and wash from clean rivers– in short, everything you need to survive. No need to venture into global warming talk or critters at the brink of extinction.

The greedy loggers don't care about any of that. They show you their license to log with Sarawak Chief Minister Taib's signature on it and laugh in your face. While you're slogging out in court moving at a snail's pace to prove that the land belongs to you because your ancestors were there first, they flout court decrees and start logging anyway. Before the judge can postpone the next trial date, they start planting oil palm. Then they claim the land is theirs because instead of leaving the land "idle", they cultivate it. Next they apply ownership papers to justify it.

What do you do? You'd better start planting oil palm before they come. Forget about your old life of living in harmony with nature. Forget about your cultural identity and traditional way of life, and least of all, the environment. Log the trees, sell the timber and with the money, plant oil palm. Lots of them. Then you can prove that the land is yours. Beat the greedy companies in their own game ha ha. That's what the last man standing did, Segan anak Degon. Hmm, tidak Segan sama sekali, brave man.
Hell, that's what I'll do if I were in his place.

To watch What Rainforest? Here

(Note to future film fest organizers interested in showing this film: This film should be put under the category: Occupation and Terrorism and shown with other films of this nature, such as the Palestinian conflict, and the War against Terrorism. Not under Environment.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


"UTUSAN MALAYSIA: Sekarang ini ada pula Melayu liberal yang juga mahu supaya diwujudkan kesamarataan?

DR. SHAM RAHAYU: Kelompok ini yang menjadi racun, saya sebut ini adalah Melayu yang makan Melayu, Melayu yang menjadi racun kepada Perlembagaan.

Tidak mustahil mereka yang mencetuskan semua ini.

Mereka yang nak jadi juara memperjuangkan hak sama rata, tanpa memahami sejarah Perlembagaan secara semangatnya.

Mereka melihat Perkara 153 itu seolah-olah membawa pandangan buruk kepada Melayu, mereka rasa keistimewaan itu macam bantuan kepada orang cacat, benda yang buruk kepada orang Melayu.

Ini menjadikan orang memijak Perlembagaan.

Mereka ini tali barut yang menjadikan Perkara 153 dan orang Melayu sendiri bencikan keistimewaan Melayu.

Kita tidak menafikan perkembangan mutakhir ini menunjukkan wujud dua Melayu iaitu Melayu liberal dan Melayu Perlembagaan. [Mingguan Malaysia]"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Media independence: Don't just leave it to the journalists

I refer to Mirror, Mirror by A. Asohan on StarMag June 15.

I was at the National Press Club when de facto Law minister Zaid Ibrahim gave a disingenuous speech to a roomful of journalists, bloggers and activists who work for press freedom.

He seemed to be the appropriate person from the government to be invited to speak in the Walk for Press Freedom event on June 1st. Firstly, because he seemed like a progressive fella with his talk and action on reforming the judiciary.

Secondly, because he is the de facto law minister, he would perhaps do something about the oppressive laws that continue to muzzle the media.

I think his speech was not only condescending, but showed his lack of understanding of the issues at stake. He started off by saying that he was not there to support press freedom nor was he the right person for that matter to be addressed to. Then he lectured the retinue of journalists and activists that they should blame themselves for the lack of media freedom, and NOT the government.

I think if we were more self-respectable, we would’ve just walked out. Luckily, some of us boo-ed and jeer-ed him. Afterall, we didn’t go there to be lectured by some politician about media freedom. We want to see if this government after March 8 is committed to media freedom, as it seems to be, about the state of the judiciary.

A media of integrity, a fair and balanced media, is not just the prerogative of journalists. It is in the interest of everyone – it is the right of the citizens in a democratic country. It should provide a fair and balance view of issues important for the people, and to be the voice of the voiceless, rather than a mouthpiece of the government.

After Operasi Lallang in 1987, the government under the former Prime Minister effectively brought all mainstream media under its control either directly, or indirectly. Newspapers were bought over by political parties and laws like the Printing and Publication Act, the Official Secrets Act and the Sedition Act instill fear and self-censorship among its senior editors and working journalists.

In this climate of fear, the lack of critical journalism is precisely what’s driving people online to get their news. The explosion of bloggers and online news and the millions of hits they get show the people’s hunger for REAL NEWS and VIEWS that matter. That power is now accorded some respect after the fallout of the recent general election. Good. Now let’s hope something is done to lift those laws that curtail the independence of mainstream media.

If we leave it to the current batch of working journalists and senior editors to revamp the state of the media, with those laws still hanging over their heads like a Damocles’ sword, we won’t get anywhere. After all, their bread and butter depend on retaining the status quo.

In the same way, let me ask Zaid, why didn’t he tell the judges to clean the judiciary up? Can we leave it to the judges to clean themselves up, when some of them are implicated as beneficiaries of executive interference? Why talk about an independent commission to elect judges, why bother when judges themselves haven’t said anything about overhauling the justice system?

A strong, independent media is an integral institution of a functioning democracy. Like an effective, independent judiciary – those two pillars of democracy should not just be left just to working judges or working journalists. They are too important.

And this time I agree with Asohan - the press, the powers-that-be and the public – are stakeholders here. It is in the interest of the Malaysian public to be served news that is fair and balanced and that reflects their needs and aspirations. If you believe that you deserve to know the truth and make informed decision, make it known by signing on this petition

Come on, take that first step.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I came across some startling numbers in Newsweek while taking my usual lrt train to work in downtown KL. "By the Numbers" is my favourite section in the magazine because it makes you double back and think again. This time it's about Burma and food.

Since the media broke stories about the food crisis and rising food prices, I've been trying to get my head around this new global life threatening issue. Food shortage due to climate change and biofuel taking away land for food crops are among the things that have been blamed. And the solutions - I've read that we need another green revolution, we need more genetic modified seeds, we need to modernise and corporatise agriculture, and we need more free trade.

But are those the answers? Or are they the very reasons why we're facing the food crisis now.

These numbers from a very "backward" country confirms my suspicion about the mis-conceptions and mis-information about the global food crisis.

By the Numbers (reprint from Newsweek May 25 - June 2)

Burma is a land of agricultural bounty - its rice yield ranks as one
of the highest in Southeast Asia. This richness has cushioned the
ruling junta from the food riots that are starting to plague
neighbouring states.

206 - number of kilograms of rice per person per year consumed in
Burma, the highest in the region.

3.8 - number of tons per hectare of Burma's rice yield - 44 percent
higher than that of neighboring Thailand.

2,912 - average number of daily calories consumed by Burma's citizens,
the highest in Southeast Asia

6% - of Burma's people who are malnourished, as opposed to 20 % of
Thais and 19 % of Vietnamese.

Now for those of you who have little idea about the wealth disparity of these South East Asian nations, here are their GDPs per capita.

Burma USD 1,800
Thailand USD 9,200
Malaysia USD 12,200
Indonesia USD 3,900
Philipines USD 5,000

Thailand's GDP per capita is more than FOUR times that of Burma, and Malaysia's is almost SEVEN times that of Burma. If you walk in downtown Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, and then in Rangoon, you'd think that you've been transported 50 years back. Yet there are more malnourished people in Thailand than Burma.

I am amazed that whatever we think about the Burmese, as being oppressed and starved by their fat military rulers, they are amazingly self-sufficient. Left to their own devices, left to their antiquated agricultural tools and their traditional way of farming, Burma's rice yield per hectar is 44% higher than Thailand, which has an export oriented agriculture and has embraced all kinds of new technologies, modern chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

That leads me to ask: Is modern farming depleting the richness of soil and thus, reducing the capacity of land to produce? Is the corporatisation of food decreasing food sustainability and food security?

I want you to read Vandana Shiva's interview with ALTER net. She is a world-renowned environmental activist, physicist, and authour of 300 papers in leading scientific and technical journals. Here she explains how corporation-friendly economic schemes got us into this mess in the first place.

Vandana Shiva: Why We Face Both Food and Water Crises