Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up." Mark Twain

Sunday, August 16, 2009

If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get. ~Frank A. Clark
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fraudulent Defenders of Our Faith

August 9th, 2009
Fraudulent Defenders of Our Faith
M. Bakri Musa
With Ramadan soon upon us, Muslims everywhere are caught up in a heightened sense of spirituality. That is the good news.
Take last Thursday evening, for example. The San Jose, California, masjid was inundated with believers staying late into the night. It was the 15th of Shaaban, an especially blessed time in the Muslim calendar. Shaaban is the month before Ramadan, and serves as a ‘warm-up’ to it. As my Imam Ilyas noted wryly in his Friday khutba, what struck him was that many that evening had never before set foot on the premises. That is the bad news.
Malays too are struck by this wave of religious fervor with the impending arrival of Ramadan. Thus the recent local governmental agency raid on a 7-Eleven store in Selangor, stripping the store of its beer inventory. Never mind that the store had been selling that beverage for decades without any harassment from the authorities.
Then there was UMNO Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin calling on his PAS counterpart to ‘unite’ against DAP (and thus Pakatan) for allegedly ‘insulting’ Islam. Not to be outdone, Khir Toyo, a fellow ‘fighter’ in UMNO Youth, chided PAS for not standing up to the Pakatan state government’s ‘insulting’ Islam by ordering the beer loot be returned to the store.
It turned out that the local agency had no authority to conduct such a raid. Alas, observing the niceties of the law has never been a strong point with these Malaysian jihadist wannabes.
Our Malaysian jihadists may consider themselves ‘modern’ and of a different breed. After all Khairy has been to Oxford while Khir is a trained dentist. Alas they are ‘modern’ only in their outward appearances, what with their fancy suits and palatial bungalows. In mindset and attitude however, they are no different from those madrasah-educated, disheveled bearded Talibans dwelling high in the caves of Afghanistan.
More to the point, I am not all assured that these overzealous ‘defenders’ of Islam are doing our faith any favor. On the contrary, these fraudulent defenders of our faith are smearing the image of Islam.
As my Imam Ilyas rightly pointed out on noting the large crowd at the masjid on the evening of 15th Shaaban, while he was pleased with the turnout he gently reminded us that it is far more important to do the many little “good” gestures required of us by our faith all the time than be focused on doing the spectacular ultra religious deeds during Ramadan.
For example, it is much more important to be generous throughout the year rather than making a highly publicized generous donation during Ramadan. On another level, there is no point for us to live a life of vice and corruption and then once a year undertake a Hajj or umrah in an attempt to ‘cleanse’ ourselves.
If the average citizen could see through the hollowness of such ‘pious’ gestures, rest assured that Almighty Allah would have minimal difficulty figuring out the hoax.
The late Zakaria Mat Deros, a former railway guard turned fabulously wealthy politician with the obscenely ostentatious bungalow squatting amidst the squalor of the Malay kampong in Port Kelang, was a prime example. He was accompanied on one of his frequent umrahs by no less than the head of Islam Hadhari, then Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.
I wish that characters like Mat Deros were the exception; unfortunately they are the norm. Consider that self-admitted adulterer Razak Baginda. Not only did he try to cleanse himself religiously by visiting (yes, ‘visiting’ is the appropriate term) Mecca, he went on to ‘purify’ himself by going to Oxford. Presumably he thinks that a doctorate from that august institution would purify him in the eyes of the secular crowd.
I wonder how Razak Baginda felt when he undertook his umrah knowing that a young girl his daughter’s age was blown up to smithereens as a consequence of his philandering. Did he offer any prayers for the soul of his former lover and for her still grieving family? Charity and generosity after all are one of the pillars of our faith.
These Malays should heed the advice of my young but wise Imam. They should instead focus on being ‘good’ in their every day existence instead of trying to display their piety in dramatic ways during special occasions.
The central injunction of our Quran – Amal makruf, Nahi mungkar (Command good, forbid evil) – should be our daily creed. Frequent trips to Mecca, glamorous iftar parties during Ramadan, and having a surau as part of your palatial mansion will not make up for your ignoring this elemental and recurring Quranic refrain.
I wish that Khairy Jamaluddin and Khir Toyo, being young and the future leaders of UMNO, as well as others would address the gross injustices perpetrated on our citizens, the corruption that is infesting our society, and the poverty that blights far too many Malaysians, instead of being unnecessarily obsessed with 7-Eleven stores selling beer. In the same vein I do not see Khairy, Khir and others of their ilk being outraged at UMNO stalwarts serving on the boards of Carlsberg and the Genting casino company.
The pair’s selective outrage baffles me. Or stated differently, I, like others, readily see through their hoax.
There is nothing Islamic about a society infested with corruption, dehumanized by poverty, and riddled with injustices. It would be the height of hypocrisy, and mock our great faith to boot, for Khairy and Khir Toyo to claim the mantle of Islamic leadership if they are a part of the state apparatus that allows these evils to continue.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Himpunan Anti ISA: Pengalaman pertama bersama rakyat.

Himpunan Anti ISA: Pengalaman pertama bersama rakyat
Zaid Ibrahim Thu Aug 06, 09 10:26:35 am MYT
Hari ini (1 Ogos 2009) buat kali pertama dalam sejarah hidup saya, saya menjadi mangsa bom gas pemedih mata. Pedih sungguh mata dan hati saya! Inilah pengalaman saya berhimpun dan berarak bersama dengan berpuluh ribu rakyat Malaysia di Kuala Lumpur. Ia benar-benar membuka mata saya di samping memberi banyak pengajaran.

Saya amat terkejut kerana tidak menyangka betapa kejamnya polis bertindak terhadap rakyat yang hanya berhimpun dan berjalan secara aman. Rakyat hanya mahu meluahkan perasaan tentang buruknya Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) yang perlu dimansuhkan secepat mungkin. Rakyat kita tidak membawa senjata, mereka hanya membawa anak-anak untuk menyedarkan warga kecil betapa kejamnya ISA.
Lelaki, perempuan, tua dan muda, pelbagai kaum, bermacam agama, semuanya berhimpun secara aman di ibu kota. Hak untuk berhimpun secara aman adalah hak asasi rakyat. Tapi nampaknya hak yang dijamin oleh Perlembagaan Persekutuan ini sudah tidak ada guna lagi. Hak kita sudah hancur kerana polis yang bersenjata, yang berkuasa penuh, yang sombong dan angkuh, kini telah menentukan hak kita.
Bila polis kata perhimpunanan itu haram, maka kita semua yang berhimpun atas dasar kebebasan dan hak yang telah dijamin oleh Perlembagaan Persekutuan, telah menjadi mangsa kekerasan polis. Ya, polis yang mengaku diri sahabat rakyat, kini menunjukkan belang sebenar mereka. Tak sangka, dengan sedikit kuasa itu, mereka sudah merasakan diri seperti Fira�un.
Saya sebagai warga Malaysia yang prihatin telah turut sama menyertai perhimpunan aman ini. Tapi saya bersama dua anak saya dan kawan-kawan lain tak tahu ke mana mahu dituju kerana polis telah tutup banyak jalan. Kami hanya mahu ke Istana Negara untuk menyaksikan penyerahan memorandum anti-ISA.
Kami telah tersepit di sebatang jalan dekat Masjid Negara. Ramai yang berarak menghala ke Jalan Kuching ke arah Selangor Club, kami pun ikut sama. Niat kami hanyalah untuk bersama-sama orang ramai menunjukkan sokongan. Tetapi bila sampai sahaja di belakang Selangor Club, polis dengan ganasnya telah menyembur gas pemedih mata dan menggunakan pncutan air tekanan tinggi. Lintang-pukang orang berlari. Saya pun tunggang-langgang lari.
Polis kemudian meminta orang ramai bersurai. Tetapi ke mana nak bersurai kerana semua jalan sudah ditutup. Tak ada cara lain kecuali patah balik ke arah Masjid Negara. Saya pun bersedia untuk bersurai. Tapi bila sampai dekat dengan Masjid Negara, ada pula sekatan jalan polis. Di situlah saya lihat orang ramai angkat tangan supaya polis membenarkan mereka bersurai ke arah bagunan Dayabumi.
Saya juga angkat tangan kerana kami memang nak bersurai. Ada dua orang wanita tua bersama saya yang merah serta berair mata mereka di samping terbatuk-batuk akibat bom gas pemedih mata. Seorang peserta lelaki yang cacat anggota dengan crutches nya tidak dapat lari. Saya tak tahu apa nasib manusia berani ini. Kasihan saya melihat mereka semua.
Rupa-rupanya polis sudah berniat jahat. Tanda angkat tangan tidak ada erti kepada mereka. Walau pun melihat ramai antara kami yang sudah mahu bersuara, polis terus melepaskan bom pemedih mata. Saya dapat lihat wajah-wajah polis berkenaan, kebanyakannya orang Melayu, yang penuh benci dan kesumat dendam.
Maka terpaksa lagi kami berlari elakan diri. Tapi nak ke mana lagi? Di Jalan Kuching dekat Selangor Club pun polis sudah melemparkan bom pemedih mata. Bom dari canisters yang tidak ada jenama kata kawan saya. Bererti bom jenis buatan haram. Dinegara kita apa pun boleh dilakukan Ramai orang termasuk saya terpaksa lari masuk ke dalam hutan kecil berhampiran Jalan Kuching dengan melompat pagar bangunan di situ.
Mujur juga ada pengawal keselamatan di situ yang baik hati yang telah melepaskan kami keluar dari perkarangan bangunan tersebut. Semoga Allah membalas budi baiknya. Di sana barulah kami dapat keluar untuk bersurai. Masa itu mata kami semua sudah merah, suara parau dan seluar koyak akibat terpaksa melompat pagar. Saya pun baru sedar bila sudah berumur begini lutut sudah tidak sekuat waktu muda dulu.
Memang jelas hak dan kebesan kita semakin terhakis. Apa yang polis lakukan dengan cara mengepung orang ramai yang hanya mahu berhimpun secara aman dan membelasah mereka dengan semburan air dan bom pemedih mata adalah untuk menunjukan kepada rakyat bahawa kerajaan Barisan Nasional tidak peduli dengan kehendak dan keperluan rakyat.
Mereka mahu mengajar rakyat Malaysia bahawa era Pak Lah yang mahu mencuba membuka ruang kebebasan sudah tidak wujud lagi. Ini era Najib yang tak mahu dengar dan tak terima pandangan rakyat.
Bagi polis yang jelas bekerjasama dengan Umno dan Barisan Nasional, mereka mahu rakyat takut kepada mereka. Mereka tidak mahu kita di Malaysia bebas seperti Indonesia dan Filipina yang memberi rakyat peluang bersuara dan berhimpun secara aman.
Mereka mahu semua rakyat sedar bahawa Malaysia adalah Negara Polis seperti Myanmar. Sesiapa yang berhimpun dianggap bersalah kecuali mereka yang berhimpun untuk menyokong Najib dan pemimpin Umno yang lain. Inilah mesej 1Malaysia ciptaan Najib yang memberi amaran kepada rakyat bahawa kekerasan akan digunakan pada bila-bila masa sahaja demi mengekalkan kuasa.
Tapi rakyat Malaysia termasuk saya juga ingin menyampaikan berita kepada Najib. Kita akan berkorban apa saja untuk menentang kekejaman dan kezaliman. Kita yakin kita di pihak yang benar kerana kita menentang salaha guna kuasa, penyelewengan dan rasuah. Kuasa rakyat akan menang juga suatu hari nanti di negara Malaysia yang tercinta ini,
InsyaAllah. Pejuang Rakyat akan sentisa dingati selalu, InsyaAllah.
(Penulis adalah bekas Menteri di JPM, bekas MP Kota Bharu yang kini menyertai KeADILan). - mr_

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

H1N1, bala dan keengkaran orang agama tegur kemungkaran - Tok Guru

H1N1, bala dan keengkaran orang agama tegur kemungkaran - Tok Guru
Wan Nordin dan Salmah Mat Hussin Wed Aug 05, 09 7:35:09 pm MYT
KOTA BHARU, 5 Ogos (Hrkh) - Menteri Besar Kelantan, Tuan Guru Dato' Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat mengkiaskan, virus H1N1 yang semakin serius melanda negara hari ini adalah satu bala atas kemungkaran yang berlaku.

Bala ini katanya akan datang tidak mengira samada di kawasan itu ada golongan agama atau sebaliknya, semuanya akan ditimpa.
Lebih-lebih lagi apabila ada golongan agama yang 'membisu' yang tidak mahu menegur atau menasihati kemungkaran yang berlaku, ujarnya sinis.
Beliau berkata demikian ketika diminta mengulas mengenai perkembangan terkini virus H1N1 yang melanda negara yang kini menyebabkan 12 kematian.
Beliau ditemui di pengkalan kapal, Pengkalan Kubor sebaik menyambut ketibaan delegasi MISI ROYALTI 2009 yang membuat pelayaran ke Pelantar Minyak Cakrawala, sempadan Malaysia Thailand 4 hingga 5 Ogos.Misi itu dikepalai Exco Kanan Kelantan, Dato' Paduka Husam Musa.
Bercakap lanjut mengenai isu H1N1, Tok Guru bagaimanapun berharap semua pihak berdoa kepada yang Pencipta selain berusaha dengan kaedah perubatan.
Beliau turut mahu semua pihak berganding bahu bagi mengatasi kemelut ini, kerajaan pusat, rakyat mahupun kerajaan-kerajaan negeri.
"Kita kena serah kepada Allah, bala ini bila mari(datang) dia jangan kata tak ada kena mengena dengan tuhan, alim ulama sebut ia akan kena termasuk kepada orang baik, kerana apa mungkin kerana dia tidak nasihaa dan tak tazkirah.
"Oleh itu kita kena kerjasama semua sekali, rakyat mahupun kerajaan kena bekerjasama, jika tidak habis kena bala, bumi ini tuhan punya, justeru kita tidak boleh buat pandai-pandai," katanya.
Sementara itu dalam perkembangan terkini, seorang lagi kanak-kanak, berusia enam tahun, meninggal dunia 2.30 pagi ini di Hospital Batu Pahat akibat wabak selesema babi A (H1N1), menjadikan jumlah seluruhnya 12 orang meninggal dunia di seluruh negara sejak dua minggu lalu.
Dua korban terbaru wabak tersebut yang dilaporkan sebelumnya terjadi di Melaka.
Seorang lelaki 20 tahun dan remaja 12 tahun dari negeri itu - masing-masing menghidap lelah dan kegagalan buah pinggang - menjadi korban terbaru kes selepas kematian kanak-kanak tiga tahun disahkan akibat virus tersebut.
Mangsa kesembilan Iffah Syazwina Samsuddin dilaporkan meninggal dunia pada 4.30 petang semalam di Hospital Melaka.
Korban kelapan membabitkan seorang guru 51 tahun dari Kuala Selangor yang meninggal dunia Ahad lalu. Sekolah tempat guru itu mengajar ditutup pada 27 Julai.
Setakat ini, 1,476 kes selesema A (H1N1) dilaporkan di seluruh negara, termasuk 16 kes terbaru termasuk kematian tersebut.
Korban ketujuh, ibu 24 tahun dari Miri, Sarawak yang baru melahirkan anak sulungnya dua minggu lalu meninggal dunia Ahad lepas. Anaknya bagaimanapun dilaporkan selamat.
Keenam, murid lelaki berusia 11 tahun dari Johor Bahru meninggal akibat komplikasi, 2 Ogos lalu.
Kelima, seorang kanak-kanak perempuan berusia 10 tahun dari Bagan Serai, Perak meninggal dunia Jumaat lalu.
Pada 28 Julai lalu, wanita berusia 20 tahun dari Melaka meninggal dunia akibat pneumonia teruk yang dijangkiti dari persekitaran.
Sehari sebelumnya, seorang lelaki berusia 42 tahun mati akibat wabak itu setelah disahkan menghidap selesema A (H1N1).
Si mati yang mengalami pelbagai komplikasi meninggal akibat pneumonia yang serius dengan kegagalan beberapa organ setelah 10 hari mendapat rawatan.
Korban kedua wabak itu di negara ini, lelaki 46 tahun yang meninggal dunia di hospital swasta di Subang Jaya, 26 Julai.
Lelaki tersebut dilaporkan mati akibat "pneumonia teruk dengan kegagalan pernafasan bersama kejutan septisemia dan kegagalan buah pinggang akut" selepas tujuh hari di unit rawatan rapi.
Pada 23 Julai lalu, seorang pelajar Indonesia berusia 30 tahun yang menuntut di Pusat Antarabangsa Pendidikan Kewangan Islam (INCEIF) di Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur menjadi korban pertama berkaitan wabak selesema A (H1N1)./wann_

Enough of Pledges! We Need Actions!

August 2nd, 2009
M. Bakri Musa

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s pledge to improve six key areas (crime, corruption and poverty reductions as well as education, infrastructure, and public transportation) would have met widespread applause if only he had indicated just a wee bit more on how he would go about achieving those lofty goals. Malaysians are rightly fed up with highly optimistic targets and stirring slogans; what we desperately need are leaders who could execute things and get us there.
Najib refers to those objectives as national “Key Results Areas” (KRAs). If he is not diligent and imaginative in the execution, Najib’s KRA could very well end up as KeRA (monkey). Kera would then join up with Najib’s earlier glokal Malay to be the next laughing stock of the nation.
The very manner in which Najib made the announcement does not give us much confidence. He made it at a huge gathering of civil servants and on a working day. Thus during that entire morning work at the various government offices was at a standstill.
More than likely the afternoon too was a washout, with those officers busy rehashing the speech. With their superiors absent, the subordinates would even be more sluggish than usual. I pity members of the public who had urgent businesses with the government on that day.
Najib has acquired one of the many bad habits of his predecessor. Abdullah Badawi used to convene his ministry officials for a monthly lecture a la school assembly. And just like a headmaster, Abdullah would stand on the podium sermonizing in his soporiferous monotone voice, putting everyone to sleep. That is, if he himself had not dozed off first. Of course work at the ministry would come to a screeching halt.
The Chief Secretary to the government Sidek Hassan has not thought of advising Najib to use other more effective and cheaper ways to communicate, like newsletters or even taping the message onto a CD and then distributing it. Perhaps Sidek is in awe of Najib, imagining him to be the civil service’s Steve Jobs. Apple’s Jobs used to gather his employees in a huge hall at the launch of a new product or to make significant announcements.
If only Najib has a fraction of Job’s charisma and executive ability, perhaps such large gatherings could be excused and defended as a means of rallying and inspiring the troops. Having seen the videotape of the assembly however, it was more a torture session, torture for those civil servants to remain awake!
Najib deludes himself if he thinks that simply assigning a responsible minister would solve the problem of execution. None of the six ministers he has selected had excelled themselves or impressed us with their executive talent. Muhyyuddin, for education, has not ‘wowed’ us with his flip flopping on the policy of teaching science and mathematics in school. As for Hishammuddin, responsible for crime reduction, his previous tenure in Education did not enthrall us with his competence.
Then there is Ong Tee Keat, responsible for infrastructure development. This poor soul has yet to explain the rapidly ballooning boondoggle that is the Port Klang Free Zone Development scandal.
I would have been more impressed had Najib in assigning the areas of responsibility also indicate the price for nonperformance. Would Hishammuddin be relieved of his cabinet post should he fail to reduce the crime rate? Heads must role when there is a major lapse. That is the only way to make people accountable and take their responsibilities seriously. If there is no price to pay for failure, there is little incentive to perform, much less excel.
Take crime reduction; Najib is needlessly reinventing the wheel. All he has to do is revisit the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Police of four years ago. Along the same vein, if during the tenure of the present Police Chief Musa Hassan the crime rates have soared, that is compelling enough reason not to renew his contract.
My hunch is that Najib will renew Musa’s contracts, thus making a mockery of the commitment to crime reduction. Najib would do more for crime reduction by firing the glaringly ineffective and incompetent Musa Hassan. Otherwise all those lofty goals would merely be cakap kosong (empty talk), KRA morphing into KeRA.
Likewise in his battle to curb corruption, Najib would do well to get rid of the present director of MACC, Ahmad Said Hamdan. His agency’s record in the two latest high-profile cases is abysmal. Then there is the tragic death of one of its ‘friendly’ witnesses.
Simply upgrading or renaming the old Ant Corruption Agency to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission would not combat corruption if you are still stuck with the same personnel, procedures, and mindset.
A Better Approach
A more effective approach would have been for Najib to gather his assigned minister and the relevant senior officers to a private meeting where he would lay out his goals and inquire from them the steps and initiatives they would recommend in reaching those goals.
Those meetings would be working sessions, dispensing with time-wasting unnecessary protocols. Everyone would literally roll up their sleeves. That is not the time to be in your three-piece suit. There is much heavy lifting to be done, with ideas critically examined, resources allocated, and markers put in place.
Such meetings would not only be cheap they would also not disrupt the normal workings of the various departments, especially if they are held outside regular office hours. Those meetings would be the time to monitor progress, get feedback, and modify strategies accordingly.
Najib’s meetings thus far have been heavy on press coverage and laudatory comments especially in the mainstream media. This is not the time for premature accolades; there will be plenty of time for that later those objectives are achieved. Meanwhile we should all be critical lest these leaders get carried away with premature and unmerited applauses.
Like his predecessor Abdullah Badawi, Najib is satisfied merely with making highly publicized public pronouncements instead of attending to the necessary nitty-gritty of governance. It is attention to such practical and mundane details on which the success or failure of a policy would depend.
Najib must act more as chief executive and less a sultan satisfied merely with issuing endless titahs (edicts). Malaysia has enough sultans already with the nine that it has; there is little need to add to the roster.