Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Conversations at Tea in Seiyoun (Hadramawt) Yemen"

A close friend of mine wrote this. She wants to be anonymous ...It took place 10 years ago.

It is a good read.

"Conversations at Tea in Seiyoun (Hadramawt) Yemen"

"There were at least ten women sitting in front of me. I was served tea. The tea was strong and thick, with one cube of sugar, served in small glasses with the tea barely covering the sugar.The women were talking and laughing amongst themselves but their eyes were on me. I was curious about them, they were more curious about me.

Except for S and M, they all looked about my age, at most a year or two older. Most of them had at least one child thugging at the side. Without their burkahs, I could see their faces in full. All of them were very good looking. There was something wild and carefree about them when they were just amongst women - their chatter and giggles were lively. Their eyes were especially beautiful. Enhanced by kohl, they shone bright, expressive, and got my full attention.

S, who had visited Singapore several times, could speak heavily accented Malay. She acted as my interpreter. M who was next to me, was assigned to follow me around. I woke up that morning and found M at my door smiling. Initially I thought she was there to direct me to breakfast, but when she did not go away, despite my various attempts to tell her to, I gave up and tried to get used to having her around me.

I was asked all sorts of questions – where I got my clothes, where I got my earrings, where I got my pendant, whether I knew what my pendant meant (my pendant was Allah in Arabic).I found the tea way too thick, way too sweet and I kept adding hot water. I nibbled on the nuts and fried dough. I was uncomfortable with the attention I got.

I wanted to change the conversation, so I started asking the questions. I asked about their names and their meanings, about their children, about school. They asked whether I was still in school. I decided to show off. I told them about my work, and I recited my education history, all the time with a smug smile on my face.

I saw the look of surprises. There were a few giggles. M, smiled shyly. S, stared hard at me. She asked for my right hand, turned it upwards and caressed my palm. She then asked M to give me her right hand and told me to caress M’s palm. I felt M’s palm, it was rough, rougher than mine. S announced that M was 16 years old and that my palm was too young for my age.

I was not surprise that M was only 16, her face looked her age, but understood that her palm felt much older and that the women were surprise to hear that I was 25 years old (had studied for 18 years from age 7 onwards). I also understood that compared to me, M did housework and worked in the field.

After a brief silence which allowed me to digest the situation, one lady started to speak, followed by another, and another, and they spoke amongst themselves. I saw curiosity but also a challenge. S took her time to let almost all the women speak. When she was satisfied that they had asked their questions, S looked at me, with a slight smile and spoke:

“They want to know why you studied so long, so hard? Would it not be a waste of time?”

My first reaction was to pity the women for not realising the value of education. I proudly answered that I went to school to get an education, which got me my good job. I added that in my country women could go to the highest level of education and work just like men, and I hoped one day the women in Hadramawt would also enjoy the same right to education and a good job, all the time with a smug smile on my face.

S was careful and slow in her translation. It warned me of a clash of cultures.The reply led to many chatters, but one woman stood up to speak.

She was articulate. She spoke calmly, but with strength and indignation. Her eyes were all the time on me, with almost a pitiful smile and a dare. From the expressions I saw on the other women’s faces, they supported her reply.

I was curious but met her eyes and the dare. I wanted to hear the reply of the women from Seiyoun whom I presumed had not much of an education. S translated slowly:

“They wanted to know why you waste your time in school and work in office - Why fight with men in their field? Look at us, we do all the work at home and in the field. We take care of the children.

We cook all the food. We let the men think they are in charge. If we don’t like them, we can always influence the children against their father. If they are really bad, we can always poison their food. Do you really think you are better than us with your education and your job in the office, fighting men all the time? Can you be happy?”

Although my ego wanted to dismiss their reply as uncivilised, something deeper told me to be quiet – not to speak on matters I hardly knew. In an inexplicable way, I understood them and the wisdom of how they led their life. It was simple and basic. Something I was not used to in my complex city life. Perhaps they were right, I might never be happy with my education, with my job, fighting with men all the time.

I could not win this debate. I offered a smile as a peace offering. They smiled in return. Even when I could not make out the words they said, I understood. Our eyes spoke a universal language.

The chatter continued on more mundane topics." "

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The SISTERS - PAS saga and Syed Akbar Ali's book launch

Here are three articles from THE SUNDAY STAR today about the recent saga between certain segment of PAS and SISTERS. There is a good reason why I am blogging this issue with Syed Akbar's book launch: do buy his book(s - he has two earlier ones that is worth reading too), and you will understand why...

Syed's book was launched by Tun Dr Mahathir.

For The Sunday Star articles click here

To go to Syed's launch, click here

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Something Positive - By Shad Faruqi

Wednesday June 17, 2009

What makes Malaysia tick
Reflecting on the Law

Instead of creating a melting pot, Malaysia painstakingly weaved a rich cultural mosaic, the various people like the colours of a rainbow – separate but not apart.
A HIGH-POWERED delegation from Afghanistan is visiting the UM’s International Institute of Public Policy and Management to study our parliamentary system and to get a background on what makes our country tick.

And tick it does! Even US President Barack Obama gave us a pat on the back for being an exemplar among Muslim nations.

To continue click here :

Sunday, June 14, 2009

1MALAYSIA - By Dr Chandra

Sunday June 14, 2009

1Malaysia: The way ahead


Besides the Government, all strata of Malaysian society must commit to the challenge of transforming the concept into reality by bridging existing gaps.

IN his royal address in conjunction with the King’s birthday on June 6, 2009, His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, called upon all Malaysians to make the ‘1Malaysia’ concept central to their lives.

On the same occasion, the proponent of the concept, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, made it explicitly clear that in its quest for national unity, 1Malaysia will be guided by the Malaysian Constitution.

This clarification is important since it defines what the 1Malaysia quest is and what it is not.

Click here to continue -

Saturday, June 13, 2009

10 Questions, The STAR today - Director's Cut :)

Do you vote? Which political party represents the principles that you stand for?

Amy Teh, Perlis

Yes I do, since I turned 21. I vote for the individual, not the party; I have voted both BN and non-BN candidates in the past. I think this approach is vital for the rakyat to ensure that our political parties; the government and opposition; become better and better. Always choose the better candidate, that way the parties will be forced to choose the best people they can offer to represent us.

Don't choose the party, choose the candidate! I will even choose an independent if the candidate is the best person for the job.

As for political parties, I believe that all our political parties are working to better Malaysia, and they are not enemies to each other, they just have opposing views on how best to manage the country. However, a political party that is not exclusive to a particular race or religion suits me best.

Do you think it is worth spending so much (despite the discount) on the media space for your messages? Do you think it's working, for wouldn't that be the whole idea?

Ronald J Mark, Klang

I believe it is worth every single sen! I believe in marketing, branding and advertising.

Ronald, one of the best ways to be happy in life is to make into a business something you would do for free. In that way you become a social entrepreneur, one who marries a social cause that is close to your heart with business objectives that provide funds and profits funds to further your goals while providing a comfortable lifestyle.

I consider myself lucky to have found a way to make it work for me.

Each time I advertise, I advance my social cause while increasing my organization's Brand value. Do I think it is working? When you have high ideals, you must see things from a long term perspective and realize that you are just a tool for the cause. My job is to help nudge the public slowly but surely towards unity.

As for Zubedy the business, we are growing.

Will you ever get involved in politics? Say, what do you think about setting up your own political party?

Zubaida Amin, Terengganu

Each time we talk about politics or when we vote we are already involved in politics. It is a matter of degree.

I have no intentions to set up a new political party. However, I will be happy to help, facilitate and promote Malaysian politics into a true two-party system; each party representing Malaysians not based on race, religion, territory or gender.

For example, I would encourage a Barisan or Pakatan direct membership where members bypass the need to belong to the sub-parties. While merging all the sub-parties will not be pragmatic at this point of time, I would like to persuade BN and PR leaders to start it at the youth level where members of the youth automatically belong to an umbrella party and elect their own leaders regardless of party, race, religion or gender. Yes, gender too. I see the separation of women into a sub-organization in political parties a little out of date. We should nurture organizational processes, structures, systems and cultures that allow the best to lead; regardless of gender too.

In that way we can prepare a next generation of leaders who are capable to lead Malaysia as Malaysians not Malay, Indian, Chinese, Kadazan, Iban etc, and not overly male-centric.

You don't seem like an ordinary guy with ordinary dreams. What would you say is your most unique trait?

Esther Von, PJ

My positivism springs from my absolute trust in God who is Gracious and Merciful.

I believe in 'turning the other cheek' and I am able to 'hate the sin and not the sinner'. So if anyone did something bad to me, I am able to forgive and forget - you learn to limit your attachment to your egoistic needs. I also am able to love all because how could you hate anything that is God-made? I trust that everything will lead to a good end and each problems faced are just a test for us to better ourselves.

A good and loving God will not test you more than you can handle and will not put you through anything that could be bad for you. So just deal with them with all your talent, heart, mind and soul and He will help you through. Once you have trust in God rooted in your heart, you will do and not just talk, you will take action and not complain, and you will practise and not just preach.

What about your upbringing, do you think, has made you who you are.
Were you an "activist" during your school days?

Seng Kee, KL

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up in a loving environment and Penang's multicultural setting. I had great role models throughout my life. I am also lucky to be brought up in poverty and had the chance to grow rich on my own accord while at the same time understand and care for the poor. I am lucky like millions others to be born in a peaceful and special country called Malaysia. A country that provides opportunities to know so many cultures, people and traditions and the environment to prosper- we are blessed!

I was active in school (interact club & consumer society) and the university. I led teams of people in assignments that created new records for student level projects. I stayed away from student councils that wrestle over petty issues instead of producing.

I was not and am still not an 'activist' who fights for principles rather than substance. I believe in making things happen, bit by bit. My motto was (and still is) 'If you do not take real action today then it is a waste of time'.

How does it feel to be famous? What do you plan to do with your fame?

Rajan Muthu, Klang

I do not think I am famous. Today I am a little more known compared to a year ago, I plan to get more known in the future and use fame as a platform to further my plan to sell UNITY as the better option. I also hope to attract likeminded people to work together towards the goal - in arts, sports, business, politics, education etc.

Some say you are publicity hungry and your attempt to take up such huge space in the newspapers is just part of that. What do you have to say to them?

May Hong, Penang

Firstly, I do not see anything wrong when someone is publicity hungry.
The world will be a boring place if there is no one wanting to be a public figure, famous and known.

Secondly, on the contrary, I usually like to be the one behind the camera! But about one and half years ago I made a conscious effort to change and basically force myself to face the camera. It was difficult and I am still learning to do so today. This I do because I figure that if I get well known I can sell my idea of UNITY to a larger audience. I have strong conviction that the idea is working.

Are you rich? Does wealth drive you?

Payao Wilarot, Kelantan

Being rich or poor is relative.

Compared to the time I was growing up, I am super rich today; back then we sometimes ate rice with only soy sauce and Planta. Yet, even today in 2009 there are many of our brothers and sisters around the world who would consider themselves lucky if they get to eat rice with Planta and soy sauce on a daily basis. Compared to people in many areas in the world, most of us in Malaysia are rich.

I plan to make money, a lot of it and use it to further my cause. I still have shallow needs - I love my BMW and I do want a big house.
I am neither Buddha nor Prophet Muhammad. I dream of a day when I can detach myself from external trappings. Ask me the same question in 20 years time please.

Do you think Malaysians have a long way to go before they become more accepting of one another and less judgemental?

Sulaiman, Kuala Selangor

Yes, the quest for UNITY will always be a work in progress. We Malaysians are doing well but we can be better. To accept one another we need to know each other at a deeper level, more than kongsi raya and rumah terbuka. The problem arises when we judge without knowing - most of us know too little of each other's cultures, way of lives and motivations.

We need to spend more time growing up, playing, learning and working together. We are doing this separately. For example, in the peninsular, we are one country but grow up like three different people.

We can do more to change this. The next time you move house, choose a neighbour of a different race. The government could also introduce tax breaks to those who choose to have a neighbour from another ethnic group. We need one school system, etc.

You are a businessman. Is this what you had always wanted to do as you were growing up or what really were your aspirations?

Susan Lance, Ampang

I have always known that I will be a promoter of UNITY.

Growing up in a poor family, I have always wanted to be rich. It is difficult to be rich working for the government or joining politics; unless you are already from a rich family or you get married to one who is wealthy, haha!

Based on my strength and capability, it was either I become a corporate leader, an innovator or businessman. I started off as a corporate man.

Today I am a businessman and I have written many innovative and original programs and products.

I truly enjoy being a businessman. You make things happen and produce quantifiable results. It's cool being a businessman. When my generation was young, we pretended and dreamt of being a rock star or an entertainer. Today young people pretend to be CEOs of business start-ups and they have dreams of owning their own business. Almost 50% of people I meet have intentions to be in business someday.

Being able to be in business and promote UNITY is a dream career for me. I invite YOU to work towards UNITY in whatever capacity you are in, too.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Please endorse this by noon today 10/06/09


9 June 2009

Dear friends,


The above refers. HAKAM also refer to the resolution passed by
Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) on 7 June 2009 for the National
Fatwa Council to conduct investigation on SIS and banning it if proven
that SIS is against the Syariah and to rehabilitate its members.

We attach herewith a Joint Statement to seek your endorsement so that
together we can effectively defend the right to expression.

Please feel free to widely circulate this Statement to your contacts
for their endorsement as well.

Please send back your endorsement by 12 noon tomorrow, Wednesday 10
June 2009 to c/o: Azareena Aziz or fax to:
603 – 7785 8737

Thank you.
Malik Imtiaz
The National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)



We the undersigned are deeply disturbed by the call on the part of the
Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) to have Sisters in Islam (SIS)
banned and its members rehabilitated should its activities be
determined to be contrary to the Islamic shariah. It is apparent to us
that in making the call in the manner that it has, PAS has already
formed the view that SIS should be banned and its activities brought
to an end.
While we respect the freedom of PAS members to associate in a manner
that they consider appropriate as well as their freedom to express a
view on any matter as they see fit, the members of SIS, or any other
organisation for that matter, are equally guaranteed those freedoms.
No one person or organization has a monopoly over the right to express
views on matter of public importance. The call to silence SIS and send
its members for rehabilitation is an act of violence against those
freedoms and their constitutional underpinnings. It also lends itself
to further closure of the already narrow space of public discourse and
debate that a slew of anti-expression laws have allowed Malaysians.
For Malaysia to mature into the democracy that Malaysians aspire to,
it is vital that diversity, even of views, be protected and nurtured.
Respect for the freedoms guaranteed to all Malaysians by the Federal
Constitution, be they members of PAS or any other organisation or
simply individuals, is crucial to this endeavor.
The demand for action against SIS culminating in a ban is not easily
reconciled with PAS public rhetoric in favour of a more democratic and
inclusive Malaysia. On the contrary, the demand is wholly
anti-democratic. We reiterate that though members of PAS are entitled
to their views, the call for the banning of SIS is wholly
unacceptable. As a matter of principle, the question of banning any
organisation purely for their views should not arise at all.
Differences of views must be respected and, if at all, be resolved
through constructive engagement.

In view of this, we urge PAS to reconsider its position and take such
steps as are necessary to retract the call for action against SIS.

Signed by

Masjaliza Hamzah
Programme Manager (Research & Publications)
Sisters in Islam
7 Jalan 6/10, 46000 Petaling Jaya
Tel:603-7785 6121, Fax:603 7785 8737

Friday, June 5, 2009

Book Signing this weekend - MPH Mid Valley and Popular IKANO

Come discuss and share your views with me on topics you can choose from the book.

Some of the topics are:-

- Personal development
- Bangsa Malaysia
- Why & how we can stop corruption
- How to be happy at work & at home.
- What top management looks for in top talent,
- And, many many... more.

Rough schedule:

First 10 – 15 minutes – arrival of the fashionably latecomers

The next half an hour - Chat session & Q&A

Last 15 minutes - Book signing session.

This weekend sessions:

Saturday (6 June 2009) – MPH Mid Valley from 1 to 2 p.m

Sunday (7 June 2009) – Popular, Ikano Power Center from 2.30 p.m to 3.30 p.m

See you this weekend!

Cheers and peace, anas

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Terengganu Stadium Collapse - Is it because of corruption?

Pix from The Star Online

The MACC has swung into action and began investigating the manner the contracts were awarded for the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium (The Star today). Is corruption involved?

In the ‘Have a Meaningful Malaysia” book, pages 19 and 73, we spoke about the dangers of corruption.

From Page 19

Why is corruption bad for business and society?

Because it does not promote the best use of economic resources and guarantees that the wrong person gets the job.

Productivity is using the least to produce the most. Corruption gets in the way of productivity as more resources than necessary are spent.

When the wrong person gets the job, the final product or service is never at its best, sometimes they are not even up to par.

While society has created institutions, legal frameworks, rules and laws to deter corruption, the last line of defense lies squarely on the individual. In our strategy to combat corruption we must focus on individuals. We must convince them that they stand to lose and that corruption will cost them in the end.

Rational arguments are as important as spiritual ones. While integrity is essential for a successful career and for business, good ethics also makes economic sense.

Paramahansa Yogananda tells us that there are always two forces within us warring against each other. When we are tempted by corruption, we must choose well.

And in page 73, we stressed that –

" When bribes are paid, when someone who should not get the job gets it because of corruption, everyone loses, even the very people that got the bribe and the work. The one with the bribe does not learn how to do his or her job well, the one that got the work does not do their best because they do not have to. When there's dishonesty, every Malaysian loses, you and me, every time there's corruption, we Malaysians lose. And we will not put up with it any more. Enough is enough. "

Click hear for the whole copy

Marriage, Divorce & Religion : Speaking Aloud


Open to Public

Understanding the real issues of inter-faith marriages & conversion, custody, maintenance & rights, domestic violence.

Jurisdiction: Assessing the status quo with recent judicial decisions, relevant civil and syariah laws.


7.00 PM – 10.00 PM


1. Assoc Prof. Dr. Azmi Shahrom (UM)
2. Ms. Foo Yet Ngo (Lawyer & Chairperson of Bar Council Family Law Committee)

3. Adjunct Prof. Dr. Mehrun Siraj (IIUM, former Suhakam Commissioner and Secretary-General of Transparency International Malaysia)
4. Mr. K. Shanmuga (Lawyer for Subashini and Indira Gandhi cases)
5. Encik Hanif Kathri (Syariah counsel in Subashini, Indira Gandhi & Lina Joy cases)


Dato’ Chang Ko Youn, Dep. President & Chairman of Human Rights and Legal Bureau, PGRM

Sdri. Jayanthi Devi

Organise by
Pemuda National Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia

Co-organise by
Pemuda Legal, Public Complaint & Social Welfare Bureau