Thursday, April 16, 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015
|“I believe that the principles by which you live is a measure of your faith.” – Karpal Singh (1940 – 2014)|
Let us be Moderate:The connection between
thankfulness and moderation
In our Chinese New Year advertisement, we elaborated the first point of the Ten Principles for a Moderate Malaysian. In this Vaisakhi message, we are happy to share the second principle. We hope you look forward to the upcoming eight.
Principle Number Two.
I will practice the spirit of thankfulness. Instead of complaining, I work with what I have. I know deeply that the little that I have is enough to move me forward if I am sincere and conscious.
1. Why thankfulness?
A moderate person practices thankfulness. A thankful person celebrates life. To be happy, we must first be thankful. Thankfulness is a sign of peace within. A thankful person believes life is good and will surround themselves with positivity. A thankful person will always interpret a future that moves forward. A thankful person is a happy person; and happiness breeds moderation. When we are thankful, we cleanse our heart off greed, envy, anger and pride.
2. Why what we have is enough?
Because that is the formula of success. Only those who believe that what they have is enough will be able to take action immediately. Those who feel that they do not have enough will play the waiting game and delay their actions. A person who believes that what they have is enough will not put the blame on external influences. A thankful person will work with what they have. They would make a home out of a humble house and a school out of a shack. They would turn to creativity, ingenuity and hard work when faced with obstacles.
3. How to be a thankful person?
A thankful person trusts in a merciful God and sees life as a gift. When put to test, even a great one, a thankful person believes that it is an opportunity to discover God’s message and God wants us to first fight the enemy within. To do that, a thankful person must first deal with himself. As Guru Nanak rightly puts it; by conquering your mind, you can conquer the world. As such, a thankful person will always see the silver lining or hikmah in every situation.
At zubedy, our programs draw strength from shared values and traditions. We believe that at heart, all Malaysians want good things for themselves and for their brother and sister Malaysians, simply because our nation cannot prosper as a whole if some of us are left behind.
You and I, we must practice the spirit of thankfulness and be Moderate Malaysians.
Let us add value,
Have A Meaningful Vaisakhi.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Dogma trumped justice and reason in the Kelantan State Assembly on the 19th of March 2015.
When dogma overwhelms one’s outlook, reality is often set aside. By tabling the Syariah Criminal Code 11 1993 (Amendment 2015) or Hudud Bill at a time when the people of Kelantan are still struggling to overcome the devastating consequences of one of the most severe floods the state has known, the PAS government has deliberately given greater emphasis to modes of punishment than to the dire needs of the masses. Reason and justice demand that restoring the shattered lives of the tens of thousands of flood victims take precedence over every other task.
In fact, if both state and federal governments addressed the underlying causes of the floods, they would discover that the failure to uphold environmental standards --- a cherished principle in Islam --- was one of the contributory factors. It is adhering faithfully to fundamental principles of this sort rather than remaining fixated on penalties and prohibitions that is the true essence of Islam. Similarly, a criminal code that concentrates upon modes of punishment will not solve the root causes of the many social ills that afflict Kelantan from drug-abuse to HIV/AIDS. What is needed is a determined effort to tackle the sociological and economic dimensions of these ills.
This inability to come to terms with the realities that confront them is also reflected in the reluctance of the proponents of hudud to examine the actual situation in the few countries that have implemented hudud. Nearly all of them are authoritarian, adopt a literal approach to laws and religious precepts, marginalise non-Muslim minorities and subordinate women. From the perspective of human dignity and social justice, not one of them is worthy of emulation.
Hudud proponents have also refused to consider the position of a number of important Muslim countries that have chosen not to implement hudud. The world’s largest Muslim nation, Indonesia, has, since its founding in 1945 remained committed to Panca Sila as its national ideology. Panca Sila whose first principle is the Oneness of God makes no mention of hudud. It is significant that on the 11th of February 2015 all major Islamic movements in Indonesia, including Muhammadiyah and NahdatulUlama with millions of members reiterated their endorsement of the Panca Sila in the Yogyakarta Statement.
Turkey, another country with an overwhelming Muslim majority and led by a party with an Islamic root is unambiguous in its choice of secular law as the basis of its system of governance. Neither the Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt, an appendage of the Muslim Brotherhood, nor the An-Nahda of Tunisia, with its Islamic image, incorporated hudud into its manifesto when it sought power in the post- 2011 scenario following the Arab uprisings. Indeed, in the Arab uprisings as a whole which adopted freedom, dignity and justice as their battle-cry hudud was not a goal.
Why have hudud proponents in Malaysia ignored realities in Kelantan and in the Muslim world and persisted in adopting a dogmatic approach towards hudud? Part of the explanation lies in their narrow, superficial notion of Islamic identity. Like ultra-conservative groups elsewhere, they regard hudud as the defining characteristic of an Islamic state and identity when in reality punitive laws constitute a minute fraction of the Quran. What defines the identity of the Quran and Islam is a profound commitment to human dignity and social justice rooted in God-Consciousness.
In Malaysia, a hudud-centred religious identity has been reinforced by the intimate link between Islam and Malay ethnicity which has strengthened identity consciousness as a whole in a situation where the Malay-Muslim populace has always perceived the large, economically stronger Chinese community as a challenge to its own position in what is historically a Malay land. It is this notion of identity shaped by these forces which clings on tenaciously to hudud and other such exclusive, distinctive dimensions of Islam in the hope of asserting the religion’s power and authority.
The protection of identity along these lines has in turn spawned an irrational fear of discourse and debate within the Muslim community. This is why hudud as the inherited legacy of the jurists in Muslim history remains unexamined and under-evaluated. It is seldom highlighted by Islamic scholars in Malaysia for instance that the Kelantan Hudud Bill includes punishments for liquor consumption and apostasy which do not appear in the Quran. In the case of apostasy in particular the Quran does not provide for temporal punishment and only alludes to punishment in the hereafter.
What is even more significant, hudud (or hadd in its singular form) is not used in the Quran in relation to punishment per se. As Islamic jurists have pointed out, the term that is employed in the Quran is Hudd Allah which occurs 14 times in the sacred text to signify limits --- limits in the general sense. This general concept of limits or boundaries in human behaviour is an idea of tremendous value which is eternally and universally applicable. It is because discourse on Islamic concepts and ideas is frowned upon in Malaysia that there has been no attempt to understand this deeper philosophical meaning of hudud. Instead the Malaysian Muslim mind has remained trapped in a penal code view of hudud which focuses upon punishments and penalties.
There is a third reason why many Malaysian Muslims are fixated on hudud. For more than three decades now, the question of hudud has been sucked into inter-party political rivalry. PAS, especially after 1982, has invariably presented itself as the champion of hudud. The UMNO leadership in the past sought to diminish Pas’s claim by arguing that PAS’s hudud lacked legitimacy since it was at variance with certain Quranic principles. Since 2008 however when the UMNO-Barisan Nasional (BN) government lost its two-third majority in the Federal Parliament and Malay support began to wane, some UMNO leaders have sought to project the party’s Islamic credentials by also playing the hudud card.
Sensing that hudud is an almost insurmountable barrier separating PAS from its partner, the DAP, UMNO has attempted to exploit this difference in order to weaken the Pakatan Rakyat (PR). Some in UMNO may even see hudud as a way of strengthening ties with PAS. As a result of all this politicking, hudud has become more entrenched in the political landscape.
This brings us to the consequences of the hudud controversy for Malaysian politics and society. As we have seen, it threatens to split the PR. If either PAS or DAP leaves the PR, the PR will have less appeal in the electorally mixed constituencies which are vital in determining who is in power at the Federal level. On the other hand, this may also compel the PR parties to stick together in an uneasy, opportunistic alliance.
The hudud controversy will also impact adversely upon the BN. If UMNO is perceived to be colluding with PAS, the non-Malay, non-Muslim parties in the coalition will become even weaker vis-a-vis their base. This possibility could have a disastrous effect upon the BN’s ability to rule from Putrajaya since a substantial chunk of its electoral support comes the indigenous non-Muslim communities of Sarawak and Sabah. It is important to emphasise that it is not only the indigenous, non-Muslim parties in the two states that would eschew any UMNO-PAS collusion; even the indigenous Muslim parties would reject any such move, given the social ethos in Sarawak and Sabah.
What this means is that intra and inter-religious relations would deteriorate under the weight of hudud politics. Muslim opinion would become even more fractured. The Muslim non-Muslim chasm would widen. This deterioration could become even more pronounced if other Muslim majority states in the Federation also seek to follow Kelantan’s example and try to introduce hudud with the blessings of the Federal government. The temptation to do so would increase especially if the imposition of hudud enhances one’s electoral standing.
Since hudud is not just a set of laws but a reflection of a certain approach to Islam, it is not inconceivable that as an ultra-conservative understanding of the religion becomes more widespread, alternative views on various Islamic issues will be marginalised and de-legitimised. A particular interpretation of Islam associated with the religious elites will become so dominant that differences of opinion will not be tolerated. Conservative religious authoritarianism impacting upon society as a whole may well become the order of the day.
This has to be checked immediately. One hopes that if the Kelantan Hudud Bill comes up to Parliament, the MPs will vote according to their conscience and not yield to a notion of Islam which does not represent the essence of the faith. The judiciary if it is called upon to exercise its wisdom in this matter should also rise to the occasion and protect the integrity of the Constitution. Most of all, the people should come out in defence of justice and reason and not submit blindly to dogma.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Identical twins in Finland who shared the same sports and other physical activities as youngsters but different exercise habits as adults soon developed quite different bodies and brains, according to a fascinating new study that highlights the extent to which exercise shapes our health, even in people who have identical genes and nurturing.
Determining the precise, long-term effects of exercise is surprisingly difficult. Most large-scale exercise studies rely on questionnaires or interviews and medical records to establish the role of exercise. But these epidemiological studies, while important and persuasive, cannot prove that exercise causes health changes, only that people who exercise tend to be healthier than those who do not.
To prove that exercise directly causes a change in people’s bodies, scientists must mount randomized controlled trials, during which one group of people works out while a control group does not. But these experiments are complicated and costly and, even in the best circumstances, cannot control for volunteers’ genetics and backgrounds.
And genetics and upbringing matter when it comes to exercise. Genes affect our innate endurance capacity, how well we respond to different types of exercise, and whether we enjoy working out at all. Childhood environment also influences all of this, muddying the results of even well-conducted exercise experiments.
All of this makes identical twins so valuable. By definition, these pairs have the same DNA. If they were raised in the same household, they also had similar upbringing. So they can provide a way to study the effects of changes in lifestyle among people with the same genes and pasts.
Some past studies had found that older identical twins whose workout habits had diverged over the years tended to age differently, with greater risks of poor health and early death among the sedentary twin.
But no studies had looked at young twins and the impacts of different exercise routines on their health. So for the new study, which was published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla and other institutions in Finland turned to that country’s extensive FinnTwin16 database, which contained twins’ answers to questionnaires about their health and medical conditions, beginning when the pairs were 16 and repeated every few years afterward.
The researchers were looking for young adult identical twins in their early- to mid-20s whose exercise habits had substantially diverged after they had left their childhood homes. These twins were not easy to find. Most of the pairs had maintained remarkably similar exercise routines, despite living apart.
But eventually the researchers homed in on 10 pairs of male identical twins, one of whom regularly exercised, while the other did not, usually because of work or family pressures, the researchers determined.
The dissimilarities in their exercise routines had mostly begun within the past three years, according to their questionnaires.
The scientists invited these twins into the lab and measured each young man’s endurance capacity, body composition and insulin sensitivity, to determine their fitness and metabolic health. The scientists also scanned each twin’s brain.
Then they compared the twins’ results.
It turned out that these genetically identical twins looked surprisingly different beneath the skin and skull. The sedentary twins had lower endurance capacities, higher body fat percentages, and signs of insulin resistance, signaling the onset of metabolic problems. (Interestingly, the twins tended to have very similar diets, whatever their workout routines, so food choices were unlikely to have contributed to health differences.)
The twins’ brains also were unalike. The active twins had significantly more grey matter than the sedentary twins, especially in areas of the brain involved in motor control and coordination.
Presumably, all of these differences in the young men’s bodies and brains had developed during their few, brief years of divergent workouts, underscoring how rapidly and robustly exercising — or not — can affect health, said Dr. Urho Kujala, a professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Jyvaskyla who oversaw the study.
Of course, the study was small and not a formal randomized trial, although it involved identical twins.
But Dr. Kujala said he believes that the results strongly imply that the differences in the twin’s exercise habits caused the differences in their bodies.
More subtly, the findings also point out that genetics and environment “do not have to be” destiny when it comes to exercise habits, Dr. Kujala said. For these particular twins, whether their genes and childhoods nudged them toward exercising regularly or slumping on the couch, one of the pair overcame that legacy and did the opposite (for better and worse).
The rest of us can do likewise, Dr. Kujala said. Even if the input from our DNA and upbringing urges us to skip the gym, we can “move more,” he said, and, based on this study, rapidly and substantially improve the condition of our bodies and brains.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
We are pleased to announce that zubedy is once again conducting our Multi-Generational Workforce Study. This is our third survey, the first two surveys was in 2009 and 2012.
Managing multiple generations and top talent retention are key issues in today’s human resource management. We aim to understand the nature and impact of the various generations working side-by-side in organisations in greater depth.
We would like to invite you to answer the questionnaire. It will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.
The closing date is 30 April 2015. The questionnaire is provided through Google Documents (Google Docs) to ensure confidentiality of the respondents.
Monday, March 2, 2015
For example, Sharif University of Technology in Iran has successfully produced their own ‘home-made’ satellite – ‘Sharif-Sat’ – that is about to be launched into space, and its undergraduate programme has been acknowledged by the global engineering fraternity as ‘world class’. Yet, this university was not even ranked among the Top100 in any global university rankings.
This article was taken from The Malaysian Insider
This article was taken from The Malaysian Insider