Tag Archives: politics

Hope Springs Eternal: One Malaysian’s Dream

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Photo courtesy of Ng Seksan

OVER the last two weeks, an ‘installation’ of sorts has taken shape in various suburbs about town. Thousands of tiny colourful flags have sprouted from the grassy roadside slopes in Bangsar to Damansara Heights, Sri Hartamas and, last I saw, near the Section 16 intersection in Petaling Jaya.

This ever-growing citizen’s initiative, or ‘flowers’ as they are fondly known by the Malaysian Spring movement, were first planted at the Jalan Tempinis roundabout in Lucky Gardens, Bangsar.

I actually think they’re quite pretty. And, certainly striking in their simplicity, especially against the backdrop of the glossy, propaganda-laden posters and political flags that have blanketed the Malaysian landscape of late.

Credit goes to movement founder Ng Seksan and his team who have been hard at work planting the ‘flowers’ since April 14.

Sadly, though, sourpusses have poured cold water over their efforts. An article in an online media news portal reported that detractors had lodged police reports claiming the flags “disturb the eyes” and are an “obstruction of the road”.

Clearly, this flag phenomenon is fast becoming a pain in the EC’s behind. It’s certainly flagging up the growing resentment and restlessness amongst the Malaysian people.

According to Ng, an architect and art collector, the flags symbolise hope for Malaysia. But at the very least, they are a work of art – creative, aesthetically pleasing and hold significance to both creator and audience.

So I can’t help but feel disappointed at the narrow mindedness of those who have decried the Malaysian Spring effort. Surely, freedom of expression is not a crime? Surely, there is equality in visual campaigning. Surely, one can see that those flags are neither an eyesore nor an obstruction to traffic!

Truth be told, I do not profess to campaign for any political party in particular – and am not about to start.

There are days that I mull over the rampant corruption in the country, the glaring inconsistencies of the ruling government, the opacity of business transactions at so many different levels, and the injustice that lies within affirmative policies. I wonder if the deeply entrenched culture of patronage will ever be shattered. I wonder if BN will ever change.

Then there are days when I consider the issues within the Opposition: their inability to agree, the power struggles that drive their disunity. And find myself wondering whether, if given the mandate, they will be able to transform Malaysia into the country that I – and so many Malaysians – hope for it to be. I wonder if they can and will effectively stem the outflow of talent and funds, and reinstate integrity, equality and justice within our systems.

I suppose this effectively puts me in the category of fence sitters that now comprise some 48% of voters in the country.

Ultimately, who we choose to govern the country is our prerogative. But, the choice we make will have a far reaching effect. And come May 5, I know I will weigh my decision wisely. For my hope is for an open, fair and transparent government that will bring peace and prosperity to my country.

Which brings me back to the story of the flags. I hope the Malaysian Spring movement continues unimpeded till polling day. I hope to see more ‘flowers’ springing up in cities across the country. I hope this citizen’s initiative will not be in vain.

At the very least, and as Ng says, “What we’re planting for is hope and the betterment of Malaysia.”

I hope for a better Malaysia.

5 Stupid Statements (and counting)

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IN her Musings column in The Star yesterday, Marina Mahathir called for a “End Stupid Statements” campaign. Rather interesting, I thought, and also very apt given the stupidity of our (former, current and aspiring) politicians. To kickstart this campaign — at least in the corner of my little mind — I decided to list some statements, in no particular order, which I  found highly amusing. Does anybody want to add on?

1.  JUST A WIFE*

“I am just the wife of the NFC chairman…”

– Women, Family and Community Development minister and Wanita UMNO chief  Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil trying her darndest to distance herself from the NFC feedlot scandal

*(note: can be sung to the tune of No Doubt’s ‘I’m Just A Girl’).

2.  SAVING FOR A DIAMOND RING 

‘Beli sendiri guna duit menabung dari kecil…’

– Self-proclaimed FLOM and wife of PM Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor on where she got the money to splurge on the US24.5 million 30-carat diamond ring from Jacobs & Co. Fine Jewellers  New York as mentioned in Utusan Malaysia.

3.  UPPING THE BABY DUMPING

‘Seksualiti Merdeka festival could lead to more baby dumping cases in the future..’

– Caught-in-khalwat Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin connecting the dots between the sexual rights movement and social ills. Guess he never learned from his ‘bocor’ statement.

4. DON’T TALK SHIT

“If they say that ‘oh we feel that we are second  class citizen’, don’t talk shit I tell you. Don’t talk shit.. I I I I I I I I  I I I I I repeat, don’t talk shit. We the Malays have forgive a lot of things to this people. We have sacrifice a lot of our interest.”

– Perkasa chief and national head clown Datuk Ibrahim Ali in an interview with Al Jazeera on the place of non-Malays in Malaysia.

5.  STARTING A HOLY WAR

“Please record my words — if there is any party in Penang, especially the Christian priests who are being backed by the Penang DAP, should continue with their agenda which we already know, I would like to offer that if they want to hold a crusade, we can. This is in the spirit of Sultan Saladin Ayubi… if they want to fight a crusade, we can.”

– Datuk Ibrahim Ali (same clown, different shit) threatening to wage a holy war on Christians if they continue on their agenda to usurp Islam.


If Reinhold Niebuhr were Malaysian…

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"I was misunderstood!"

I’m taking my own spin on Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the Serenity to accept…that our leadership is flawed, and the extent to which (and when) there can be change,

and that the mealy-mounthed Ibrahim Alis of the nation will always be around to mess up the already frayed nerves of the rakyat and that this is not likely to change;

“The courage…to all still-dithering Malaysians to change the things they can — even if it means having to vote in a ramshackle, porak-peranda Opposition party to prove a point (or at least, get the Ibrahim Alis of the nation off their home made pedestals);

“And the wisdom… to know whom to vote for no matter how dismal a future it may hold AND not to haul ass in spite of the rate things are going…

Shucks. Hope the Bersih rally doesn’t get too out of hand.

Losing Our Religion

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I PROMISED myself that I would not make any comment on the whole Bible row and the ‘Allah’ issue. After all, many bloggers have commented about it; some have even raised an almost academic point over the whole matter (read this post on LoyarBuruk). There are enough mouthpieces in that sense, so no point flogging a dead horse.  In fact, just last night, after drinks with Ivan Lam at Chilli’s, I was thinking it’s high time for another narrative on art (it’s been a while and I miss it).

But when I got to work this morning and got online to read the news, the reports on the whole Alkitab and Allah issue stifled whatever plans I had the night before. The politicising of the matter and the fact that it has gotten inadvertently tied up with the coming Sarawak elections — and very likely, considering our (political) track record, even the GE — really got me hot under the collar.

Let me first say that I am by no means a staunch Christian; I admit to being unable to live out the tenets of Christianity for the most part, but I try my best.  I believe that the Bible (or the Alkitab, in keeping with the current religious dissensions in the country) is true and that it is a source of inspiration to me as a believer; a reminder to live right and be good to others.

And I believe that calling God ‘Jesus’, ‘Lord’, ‘Yahweh’, ‘Tuhan’, ‘Elohim’ or ‘Allah’ is really within my rights as an individual and as a Christian, and is certainly neither wrong nor offensive to others. After all, the Indonesian Christians as well as our East Malaysian brethren have been using the word ‘Allah’ when calling on God from time immemorial. Many (both Muslims* and non-Muslims), have argued that ‘Allah’ is not exclusive to Islam. Frankly, I have no interest in going into the apologetics of the word because many others before me have done so, and it served no purpose. Why the whole debate sparked off in the first place remains incomprehensible to me.

The defacement of the 35,000 imported Bibles not too long ago is another senseless matter. I can’t understand how the Alkitab is a threat to national security. I have far greater faith in our Muslim citizens’ intelligence and ability to tell that the Bible/Alkitab is for Christians and that the use of the word ‘Allah’ therein is also within the Christian context, therefore there should be no cause for confusion. Does the government not have enough faith in the discernment of Malaysian Muslims? In any case, isn’t it the prerogative of Ali, Ah Seng, Arumugam and Alistair anak Batu to choose what they want to believe in? Or is there a new provision that certain religions should be crammed down one’s throat? All that has been debated before.

What really gets my goat is when wisecracks like Mr DPM start making claims that BN is not against Christianity. If that is true, then why bring it up in the first place, why the need to clarify? And why is the issue not resolved thus far? And then there is the Cabinet’s rather suspicious 10-point formula, not to mention Mr Long-Time Chief Minister’s (another Muhammed Yaacob, Wan Mokhtar, Samy Vellu wannabe) dialogue with the Christians.

What’s even more saddening is how this whole issue has gone so awry with SMSes circulating around that Christians should not vote for BN because voting against BN means a vote for Jesus. Call me an idealist, but in my book, politics is politics, and religion is religion and the twain shall ne’er meet.

Yes, I am worried that this issue never ends. That it could be a precedence to curb ALL non-Muslims of their freedom of religion. That this would spell darker days to come not just where religion is concerned.  But the fact that the politicising of my faith has invaded a realm that is as intimate as the SMS makes me shudder at the reality of the implications ahead. I urge non-Christians and Christians alike not to send out SMSes like this because, personally, (1) that is using Jesus’ name in vain and, (2) that is disrespectful and a low blow. I’d like to think that we do not need to stoop to such levels and bandy the supremacy of Christ with such flagrant disregard. It looks bad on us. If we have to resort to tying religious beliefs to politics, we certainly are losing our religion.

*If my memory serves me well, PAS strongman Nik Aziz has come right out and said that it’s OK for non-Muslims to use the word ‘Allah’ and if PAS is not the most Islamic political party in the country, then I don’t know who is.

Another One Bites the Dust

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Kerdau's seat is vacant following the death of UMNO's Zaharuddin Abu Kassim. Pix credit: http://malaysiakini-at-malaysiakini.blogspot.com

ANOTHER assemblyman died over the weekend and the good people of Malaysia will be expecting a 16th by-election in Kerdau. This is becoming quite a regular feature since the GE in 2008. I mean, didn’t we just finish a couple already and still have the Merlimau one looming in the horizon?

Seems like they’re all dropping like flies and I’m not shocked anymore.

Don’t mean to be getting ahead of myself, but I wonder sometimes if there’s some kind of conspiracy theory going on. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we’ve had the most by-elections in a single term (three years, if my Maths is correct) in all history…

Looooottttaaaa money spent on these by-elections, good people. All this on top of unnecessary office towers to say the least…

Shall I indulge in some cheap entertainment and speculate who’ll win this round?