Monday, January 27, 2014

Have A Meaningful Chinese New Year - Today in The STAR

“Give a man a fish, and he has food for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he learns a skill for life.”
– Fan Li (also known as Tao Zhu Gong; 517 B.C - 428 B.C)

            Back to basics: let’s agree on need-based affirmative action

No nation that has ‘the haves and the have nots’ can do without affirmative action or positive discrimination. This is because equality amongst unequal favours the strong over the weak and acts powerfully to maintain the status quo. 

Preferential treatment in areas of employment, education, and business were introduced to correct imbalances taking factors such as gender, race, colour, status, religion and national origin all over the world, from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa. In Malaysia, we had our New Economic Policy – NEP.

The debate in Malaysia pitting race-based policies with a need-based alternative is myopic and more political than rational. It fails to deliberate a wider definition for what we should consider as a ‘need-based’ approach, which racial factors can be one of many.

A need-based strategy must take into account both the generic and the specific. It is not enough to say that all that are poor must be assisted as we must not only cater to issues made visible through numbers and figures but must also address underlying historical socio-economic and socio-cultural issues. We need to also cater to the specifics.

Take for example the poor Malaysian Tamils displaced from the estates – they are totally uprooted, landless, without education and useful skills, and limited by communication barriers. Trapped in the cycle of poverty, they and their children warrant specific attention and support from homes to schools to jobs. Similarly, we cannot equate the urban poor with the rural poor. They may earn the same, but their challenges are not.

NEP’s successes were due to the non-myopic need-based approach being applied. We must continue the good work. To move forward, we need to deliberate, be more detailed, and continue identifying pockets of poverty that require need-based affirmative action. But first, let us agree on what is need-based affirmative action.

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.

Let us be, first and foremost, Malaysians.

Let us add value,

Have A Meaningful Chinese New Year

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Storm in a teacup by Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi - The STAR

We need to sit down with humility and maturity at the table of fellowship for a dialogue.
ON Prophet Muhammad’s birthday it was heartening to hear the clarion call by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Ruler of Negri Sembilan and the Raja Muda of Perak for accommodation and tolerance on issues of religion.
Their sentiments are in line with Islam’s recognition of religious pluralism and its affinity with Judaism and Christianity. It is said in Surah 29:46: “And say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.”
Abu Dawud reports that Prophet Muhammad once warned his people: “Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.”
I wish that on the Kalimah Allah issue, a spirit of respectful dialogue with humility and maturity could replace the shrill voices of discord and threats that have characterised the debate in the last few weeks.
If we could calmly listen to each other and try to understand each other’s fears and suspicions, we could arrive at some broad agreements.
In fact, a middle path already exists in the assiduously arrived-at Ten-Point Agreement of April 2011.
We need to honour this solemn pact and do whatever is necessary legally and politically to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way. The obstacles are indeed many.
Exclusivity: Many Muslims are claiming that the word Allah is exclusive to Islam and for this reason its usage by others must be banned.
This argument is based purely on local laws and on local perceptions. It has no theological, etymological or global basis.
The term Allah precedes Chris­tianity and Islam and is widely employed by Arabs of all faiths.
The Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikhs uses the term 46 times! Christians in Indonesia and in Sabah and Sarawak have for centuries invoked the term Allah to refer to God. Having said that, it must be pointed out that the concept of Allah, as shaped by Islam for 1,435 years, is radically different from the concept of god in most denominations of Christianity.
Wounding religious feelings: In the theology of Islam, Allah cannot be depicted in any human form. Allah cannot be an aspect of the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Allah does not beget and cannot be begotten (Surah 112:3). There is a clear distinction between God Almi­ghty and His many noble Prophets.
That being so, if it were to be preached publicly that Allah was born of Mother Mary; that Allah was born in the manger; that He was crucified and resurrected, this will blaspheme Islam and could be caught by Section 298 of the Penal Code. There will be implications for public order.
Proselytisation: I believe that the unspoken factor behind the Kalimah Allah dispute is the fear in some Muslim minds that Christian evangelical groups in peninsular Malaysia are using the word Allah to circumvent the restriction in Article 11(4) on converting Muslims. This suspicion must be addressed.
State laws: Article 11(4) authorises state assemblies to enact legislation to regulate the preaching of religion to Muslims. Ten states plus the Federal Territory have such laws in place. Till these laws are repealed or amended by the state authorities or nullified by the courts, their provisions will override the admirable 10-point solution.
I must add that some provisions of state laws enacted under Article 11(4) appear as unconstitutional as can be. The spirit of the Constitution in Article 11(4) is to forbid any att­empt to proselytise Muslims to other faiths.
Nine of the state laws resort to overkill by banning the usage of a number of Muslim or Arabic words without linking the usage to any attempt at proselytisation.
Even if the words are used in private, or to followers of one’s own faith, the usage is outlawed.
This appears unconstitutional. It would be useful to move the Federal Court for a ruling on this issue as to whether various state enactments under Article 11(4) are partly or wholly contrary to the Constitution.
State Rulers: Many state rulers, acting on advice, have relied on state enactments to issue edicts against the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims. However, questions of constitutionality of the legislation cannot be prevented from reaching the Federal Court.
Schedule 9, List 2, Para 1: The Constitution specifically asserts that Syariah courts have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam. It is arguable therefore that Syariah authorities likewise have juri­s­diction only over Muslims. It is my submission that to the extent that state laws under Article 11(4) are addressed to non-Muslims, these laws are civil laws and are enforceable only by civil authorities in civil courts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Rising Cost Of Living And Ethnic Relations In Malaysia by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

When a nation with a multi-ethnic population is confronted with a serious economic challenge, it has to be concerned about how it will impact upon ethnic relations. This is especially true when the ethnic situation, prior to the economic challenge, is already problematic.

The rising cost of living in our country could have repercussions for ethnic relations in at least two ways. One, the tendency to put the blame for any escalation in the price of goods and services on one party or the other --- rather than looking at the total picture --- could result in a segment of the people criticising the mainly Malay government for their plight while another segment may choose to condemn a largely Chinese business community for their difficulties. These are perceptions which exacerbate the ethnic situation. Two, sometimes, elites, unable to arrest the decline of the economy, may deliberately manipulate ethnic fears in order to divert the people’s anger and perpetuate their own power.

We should not fall into this ethnic trap. Responsible men and women in all spheres of Malaysian society should turn around this economic challenge into an opportunity to improve ethnic relations. There are perhaps 10 steps that can be taken in that direction.

One, all communities in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak should be mobilised to combat the rising cost of living. It should be a truly multi-ethnic mobilisation which would identify the causes of the rising cost of living and act firmly and expeditiously to overcome the problem. If say profiteering and cartels have aggravated issues of demand and supply, effective punitive measures should be implemented immediately. This would also be the right occasion to initiate a nation-wide ‘people’s price-alert movement’ which would be a powerful pressure group against unscrupulous traders.

Two, this would also be the time to reiterate our commitment to a policy that extends support and assistance to everyone regardless of ethnicity, based upon needs. This should apply not only to poverty eradication, health-care and welfare--- where it already exists --- but also to education, housing, bank-loans and the like.
Three, there should also be a concerted effort to reduce the gap between the ‘have-a-lot’ and the ‘have-a-little’ which is essentially a socio-economic challenge. Its resolution will impact positively upon inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic disparities. Implementing a minimum wage policy; providing facilities for the poor such as child-care centres and kindergartens, 1Malaysia clinics and 1Malaysia shops; and creating a comprehensive public transport system are commendable moves but much more has to be done. Building more affordable houses for the middle and lower income groups would be one such endeavour. At the same time, incomes will have to rise further for 60 to 70 percent of the working population while emoluments for the top brass which are sometimes astronomical will have to be reviewed.

Four, as part of this attempt to close the gap between the very affluent and those who are struggling to make ends meet, the level of education and skills of 75 percent of the Malaysian workforce who possess only a School Certificate (SPM) and other lower qualifications will have to be improved considerably. Here again, the effort should be multi-ethnic. Polytechnic education would be a critical component of this elevation of skills.

Five, raising skills and educational standards should go hand in hand with massive investments in scientific research. In spite of current economic difficulties, the budgetary allocation for research and development (R & D) should continue to increase. This is what will spur invention and innovation in the future. The private sector which has been lagging behind in this field should play a bigger role in this national mission that should transcend ethnic barriers.

Six, it follows from this that recognising and rewarding ability and excellence, regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation, should be an integral aspect of the national psyche. This is a principle that should be observed in both the public and private sectors. The national economy as a whole will benefit from this. Needless to say, it will undoubtedly result in greater inter-ethnic harmony.

Seven, recognising ability is linked to some extent to the question of recruitment and promotion in the public sector. In the last four or five years there has been a more earnest drive to recruit more non-Malays and non-Muslim Bumiputras from Sarawak and Sabah into the public services. The mobility they enjoy, as provided for in the Federal Constitution, should enable them to hold high positions of responsibility. At the same time, Chinese captains of industry and leading entrepreneurs should demonstrate a commitment to strengthening entrepreneurship among Malays and other non-Chinese Malaysians through mentorship programmes and by facilitating accessibility to their business networks. This has not been done in an organised, systematic manner by any Chinese entity since Merdeka. And yet this is the sort of cooperation that will reduce the distance between communities. It underscores the principle of reciprocity which is a fundamental prerequisite for harmony in any multi-ethnic society.

Eight, indeed, the nurturing of reciprocity and other such positive values will be a tremendous boost to inter-ethnic relations. We have not done enough to harness the potential of values such as cooperation, respect and integrity --- or reciprocity for that matter--- in our economic policies and programmes. Leaving aside the tokenism in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, economic activities, by and large, have
been dominated by the credo of profit maximisation and crass competition. The present economic situation is a good time as any to explore alternatives. Perhaps cooperatives which can also be a conduit for promoting multi-ethnic sharing may be a way of evolving new economic structures in the future that are more orientated towards justice and compassion.

Nine, it is because values that would ennoble the economy and society have not been accorded the importance they deserve that a lack of professionalism and a lack of competence appear to be more glaring today than in the past. This is obvious in the Auditor-General’s annual reports on the performance of government departments and public agencies. Malaysians of all shades and stripes are incensed by disclosures of wastage, leakages and extravagance in these reports. They are also united in wanting the Government to punish the culprits as harshly as the law would permit --- and yet the response of the authorities has always been below public expectations.

Ten, Malaysians are also united, irrespective of ethnicity, in their desire to see the government eradicate corruption --- a scourge that is again a reflection of the weakening of society’s moral fibre. While institutional arrangements and processes directed at fighting this scourge are stronger than ever before, elite corruption remains a challenge. Unless there is more transparency and accountability --- honest adherence to the culture of open tenders for instance --- corruption will continue to make a mockery of the nation’s professed commitment to the virtues of integrity. Worse, it will continue to erode the trust that the ruled must have in their rulers if governance is to lead to justice and peace.

Indeed, it is trust between rulers and the ruled that will enable us to overcome the challenge posed by the rising cost of living just as it is trust that will ensure harmonious inter-ethnic relations.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Successful parenting without spending money: a mother's story

Sickened by the whole whirl of 'kiddy consumerism’, eight months ago Hattie Garlick did something radical and decided to opt out altogether. So how are she and two-year-old Johnny faring?

Hattie Garlick with her two-year-old son, Johnny, at home
You don’t expect to be faced with an existential crisis at a children’s birthday party. Yet there I was, in early January, cake half way to mouth, when one of the fathers asked me, 'So do you think the way we’re raising our children is evil?’
How had I got here? A fortnight before, I’d blithely started a blog, Free our Kids, that would chart a year-long personal challenge: could I go a whole year without spending any money on children’s products for my son? In retrospect, I hadn’t thought a great deal about it.
I published the first entry, went to make a coffee, and came back to a small storm of online interest. One hundred messages, five hundred newTwitter followers and 10,000 visits to the blog by the end of the day.
By the end of that week, it had had international coverage from Australian breakfast TV to the Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton.
I’m not an eco-warrior or a socialist. I don’t, as that father suggested, think 'we should all just weave our shoes out of palm fronds, go live in the hills and sing kumbaya.’
Neither am I another self-appointed expert on other people’s parenting techniques. I’m just a working mother with limited time, patience and funds.
This became critical three days before last Christmas when I was made redundant. It was terrifying. Every area of unnecessary spending – new clothes, eating out, magazine subscriptions – had already been eliminated when our two-year-old son was born.
But I began to notice something: my wallet was stuffed with receipts for toys, 'Tiny Tots Tumble Classes’ and cute little trousers from Baby Gap. Every supermarket shop included at least £15 of 'children’s food’ such as mini pots of yoghurt, special squash and fish fingers. It all added up.
And it wasn’t just about the expense. According to UNICEF’s well-being reports, British children’s happiness lags well behind many others in the developed world.
The reason? We, their parents, are trapping them in a cycle of 'compulsive consumerism’ that makes them miserable. Meanwhile, parents are wracked with guilt, partly because we can’t afford all the things we think our children want and need.
I thought of Johnny’s overflowing toy box and of how rarely he actually played with anything in it. Apparently, there are 474 million unused toys gathering dust in British homes – seven for every single person in the country.
Was I accidentally teaching my son materialistic values? I made a New Year resolution to cut out all spending on 'kiddy consumerism’: no more new toys, no more new clothes, no kiddy snacks, paid-for activities, disposable nappies or professional haircuts.
Our mothers and grandmothers managed without them, right? There must be alternatives.
But points that had felt clear, typed onto the glow of a laptop screen, became clouded with emotion as I looked at the room of presents and cutely-outfitted children. Would I be depriving Johnny? Was I prepared for him to stand out from his peers?
Before I could think about clothes and toys, however, I had to tackle food. Johnny has always been fussy. I’ve relied on organic toddler lasagne and mini-rice cakes to coax him into eating.
Heading to Tesco for the new, 'real’ food we would be eating together, I was suddenly aware of the vast range of children’s products on offer. Infant ready meals didn’t even exist as an industry category in 2006. Now they’re worth £25.8 million in this country and are growing by 23 per cent every year.
Why had I been buying them? Yes, I had a picky toddler who screamed at the sight of a cucumber. I was short of time. But, I'm realising, I was short of self-confidence too. I was easily lured by promises of brain-boosting omegas and balanced diets. Not this time.
That night, instead of cooking two separate meals, we sat down to a family supper of shepherd’s pie. And… nothing happened. Well, Johnny picked out the carrots and built a tower with them.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Put the Allah controversy to rest immediately - Interview between Nile Bowie and Dr Chandra Muzaffar

No Need To Restore The ISA by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

It would be unwise to restore the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Of the many features of the ISA, it was detention without trial which had evoked widespread condemnation. Because it allowed incarceration without independent judicial evaluation of evidence, it was regarded as an affront to the rule of law and a violation of the principle of justice. Many Malaysians therefore welcomed the announcement by Prime Minister, Dato Sri Najib Razak, on 15 September 2011 to abolish the ISA.
Some of those who are now keen on the restoration of the ISA argue that the Executive should have the right to detain a person before he commits an act that threatens national security because we are a multi-ethnic society and extremism lurks just beneath the surface. Only preventive detention can curb ethnic or religious extremism from creating havoc in a society like ours.

This is a deeply flawed argument. If we have been able to keep extremism in check over the last 56 years, it is because the state has maintained a certain equilibrium in mediating competing ethnic interests; there is some scope for the expression of views that cannot be accommodated within that balance; there has been economic growth and a degree of distribution; and there is tolerance of cultural and religious diversity. Besides, the cultures of the various Malaysian communities cherish moderation and shun extremist acts that veer towards violence and upheaval. If the ISA has had any role at all in preserving social equilibrium, it has been minimal.

This is borne out by the political conduct of individuals detained under the ISA in the wake of ethnic unrest in the past. There is a politician who was imprisoned twice under the ISA in such circumstances and yet he continues to adopt communal stances on issues which reveal very little understanding of the feelings of the majority community. Then there is a politician from the majority community who was also detained twice under the ISA and yet remains utterly insensitive to the sentiments of the minorities to this day.
ISA will not change the attitudes, values and beliefs of those who are deeply immersed in a communal worldview. Often, this worldview is rooted in communal prejudices and antagonisms that have evolved over a lifetime. To throw such people into jail without a proper trial will only reinforce their communal anger and bitterness. In a society where communal attitudes are pervasive, they become heroes and martyrs among their own kind.

Rather than bring back the ISA, both state and society should address the root causes of communal thinking and work out feasible remedies. Opinion makers should also engage advocates of communal positions and persuade them to adopt a more balanced perspective. Organised public education on the ethnic situation in the country is equally important. Of course, laws also have a role to play in curbing extremism. The Harmony Act proposed some time ago may have a positive impact upon ethnic relations if it is properly conceived and effectively implemented.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Remembering my father, Tun Razak by Nazir Razak - The STAR

As Prime Minister, he was truly committed towards building a nation where every single one of its citizens could find a place under the Malaysian sun.
THIRTY-EIGHT years ago today, on Jan 14, 1976, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein passed away in London from complications wreaked by leukaemia.
Malaysia lost its prime minister. I lost my father. Malaysia was 19. I was nine.
The days immediately after were shrouded in personal sorrow and national mourning.
My four brothers and I sought to comfort our mother, while the public and heartfelt outpouring of grief throughout the country served as a resounding reminder that we were not alone in our time of tragedy.
I must confess that given my age, and my father’s hectic schedule, I sometimes lament the fact that he gave so much to the country, leaving too little for his family.
However, I have never wavered from being enormously proud of his selfless dedication to our young nation.
I did not get the time to know him. But imprinted in me are the values he imparted, the integrity that he insisted upon above all. Yes, above all; including his family.
I recall the time when my brothers and I approached him one evening and asked that a swimming pool be built at Seri Taman, the Prime Minister’s residence where we lived.
The lawyer that he was, he insisted that we make our case with logical and rational arguments.
We did so, and thought we had presented the argument pretty well, until we noticed his face had started to darken, and the eyes flashed with annoyance.
My father made it abundantly clear that while Seri Taman may be our home, the house belonged to the Government and, hence, to the people.
Anything spent on it would have to come from public funds; and there was no way he was going to allow the state coffers to be depleted on something as frivolous as a swimming pool. “What will the people think?” he thundered.

Father’s love: Nazir with his father on Tun Razak’s last Hari Raya.
In my years of growing up, I actively sought to hear from people who knew my father well, including those who had worked with him in government, politics, the Merdeka movement and so on as well as his personal friends.
It was my only way of getting to know him. What stood out for me was that in almost every conversation I had about him, the qualities they always referenced were his values.
As the custodian of the nation’s coffers, his frugality was legendary.
“You had to account for every cent, or he would be on your back,” one former minister told me. Well, I knew that already. Not just from the swimming pool episode, but many anecdotes.
My elder brothers often talk about one of the rare opportunities they had to accompany him on an official trip to Switzerland.
He made sure he paid their expenses himself, was so careful with the cost of the trip to the Government that he moved his whole entourage to a cheaper hotel than originally booked, and they dined over and over again at the cheapest restaurant in the vicinity of the hotel.
And then there was his final trip to Europe in October 1975 for medical treatment.

click here to read more on this article

Monday, January 13, 2014

zubedy in 10 minutes

Down memory lane for unity by Shahanaaz Habib - The STAR

Tales of yesteryear: Harris started the Facebook page with the hope of rekindling rich experiences of the past to make people see how united they used to be.
Tales of yesteryear: Harris started the Facebook page with the hope of rekindling rich experiences of the past to make people see how united they used to be.
A Facebook page revives images of the past to remind Malaysians of the good old days when more things seemed to unite and bind us rather than separate and divide.
WHATEVER happened to the good old days when people of different races, religions and cultures would sit, talk, play, joke and laugh together?
Retiree Harris Abdullah, 56, who grew up in a generation where people of all races mixed around easily, feels “the present generation is split”.
“A lot of people say they are not racist but they actually are. You can see that from the people they interact with,” he says.
“The Malays keep to themselves, the Chinese stick with the Chinese and the Indians mix with their own.
“You get that on Facebook too. People hardly have friends of a different race. And we call ourselves a multi-racial country? It is very sad.”
In July last year, the father-of-four started the Down Memory Lane (DML) Facebook page with the hope of rekindling rich experiences of the past to make people see how united they used to be and how much they actually have in common.
Reminders of the past: This old iron came up for discussion on the DML facebook page.
Reminders of the past: This old iron came up for discussion on the DML facebook page.
But there is one basic but important rule – absolutely no talk on race, religion or politics! If this rule is flouted, any one of the five Facebook page administrators would delete the comment or even remove the post.
“I’ve seen on my personal Facebook that whenever I put up jokes or comments on politics or religion, there is endless debate and even people arguing. It gets nowhere,” Harris says.
“I want people to come to the DML page to have fun, laugh and be happy, so let’s keep race, religion and politics out.”
And people seem to relish the idea. In just six months, 10,200 people have joined the DML group.
Harris was expecting only about 800 people to join and was surprised that it had attracted 2,000 people, including Malaysians overseas, in the first week.
The idea of creating DML came to Harris after he posted on his personal Facebook page an old photo of an ais kacang seller, and “suddenly people of all races started talking about their past experiences.”

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Use that body! by Fiona Ho - The STAR

Bodyweight squats target the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and increases hip, knee and ankle mobility.
Bodyweight squats target the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and increases hip, knee and ankle mobility.
Bodyweight exercises are a great way to blast fat and shape up, and are easily modified to challenge any fitness level.
BODYWEIGHT exercises ranked among the top fitness trends in 2013, and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) predicts that the training style will continue to thrive in 2014.
Bodyweight training uses minimal equipment, and because you rely mostly on your own body for resistance, these exercises can be performed anytime, anywhere.
Research suggests that high-intensity, bodyweight-based exercises such as plyometrics, burpees and squats can produce cardiovascular benefits and strength gains to maintain good health.
Bodyweight exercises are also a great way to shape up, and are easily modified to challenge any fitness level. Adding extra repetitions, or performing the exercises faster or slower are some ways you can make a simple exercise more challenging.
In her book Lyn Kong’s Guide to Fitness for Busy People, author, speaker and personal trainer Lyn Kong shares some simple and practical home bodyweight workouts for fitness novices to kickstart their journey towards a better lifestyle.
Planks are great for shaping the abdominals, and helps improve core strength and posture. - do not reuse pix
Kong demonstrates how to do planks, which are great for shaping the abdominals, and helps improve core strength and posture.
“Many people do not have time to go to the gym,” says Kong, who is also a certified Kettlebell Level 1 and CrossFit Level 1 trainer.
Her guidebook provides step-by-step instructions on various exercises and bodyweight training programmes that can be done in the comfort of your home.
The following are the top five bodyweight exercises Kong recommends to help you get in tip-top shape.
Bodyweight squats
Muscles targeted: glutes, quads, hamstrings. It also increases hip, knee and ankle mobility.
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes slightly turned outward.
2. Keep your core tight for stability while keeping your chest lifted and your chin parallel to the ground.
3. Bring your hips back and down, as if you’re sitting on a chair, while keeping your weight on your heels.
4. Extend your arms in front of you for balance as you lower yourself until your thighs are slightly below parallel to the ground. While doing this, keep your back straight and do not let your knees come past your toes.
5. Lift your hips and torso back up at the same time to the starting position.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bonding a segmented society by Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi

FOR most of its 56 years Malaysia’s segmented society has managed remarkably to preserve peace, tranquillity and development. Lately, however, some intractable religious and racial disputes have besmirched the gentle face of our land. We must maintain a sense of balance.
Disagreements are natural: Human interaction is impossible without some conflict. The more free and democratic a society is, the more likelihood latent dissatisfaction will come to the fore! This is what is happening in Malaysia’s evolving democracy. As freedom takes root and knowledge of constitutional rights spreads, views and values are expressed, often with belligerence.
Managing conflict: Despite all these disputes, the real issue is not the existence of conflict but how it is handled so that society’s social equilibrium is not threatened.
Jais raid: I am appalled at the profane action by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) of entering the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia and seizing 331 copies of the Bible in the Malay and Iban languages. Despite Father Lawrence Andrew’s undiplomatic and ill-conceived public declaration that the Church will persist in its usage of the term Allah (in effect defying the Court of Appeal decision on the Kalimah Allah issue), this raid by Jais was most unfortunate.
It was contrary to Islam’s respect for all Revered Books and it was violative of several provisions of the Federal Constitution.
Article 11(1): Everyone has the right to profess and practise one’s religion and subject to Article 11(4) to propagate it. Article 11(1) must be read together with Article 3(1) that the practice of religion must not disturb peace and harmony.
Article 11(3): Every religion has the right to manage its own affairs, to acquire and own property and to hold and administer it in accordance with law.
Article 3(4): Though Article 3(1) declares Islam to be the religion of the federation, nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of the Constitution. This means that no constitutional right or duty is affected or abridged as a result of the adoption of Islam as the religion of the federation.
Article 11(4): This provision permits state legislatures to restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine among Muslims. Nine state legislatures, among them Selangor, have passed such laws. The Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 goes so far as to ban non-Muslims from using 34 or so prescribed Arabic/Malay words.
Jais is oversimplifying the situation by banking solely on this law to justify its raid. In fact many other related provisions impact on the matter.
First, in Article 11(4) State Enactment imposing a criminal liability on non-Muslims cannot be enforced in the state syariah courts because under Schedule 9, List II, Paragraph 1, syariah courts have no jurisdiction over non-Muslims. This implies that syariah officials, likewise, have no authority over non-Muslims. Take for example a khalwat case involving a Muslim and a non-Muslim. The syariah authorities have no right to arrest or charge the non-Muslim.
Any offence by non-Muslims under an Article 11(4) State Enactment must be tried by federal courts and by federal authorities. If Jais had become cognisant of any offence under the Enactment, it should have filed a police report and left the matter to the police and to federal prosecutors.
The spirit of Schedule 9 List II Paragraph 1 is that the ecclesiastical authorities of one faith should not prosecute the followers of another faith.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Latheefa Koya’s ‘Logic’

Earlier today YB Anwar Ibrahim and Dr. Chandra Muzaffar agreed on an out of Court settlement.

Anwar sued Dr Chandra on the 6th of March 2008. It was alleged that Dr Chandra defamed him at a forum in Petaling Jaya on the 3rd of March 2008 on three counts.

  1. That Dr Chandra had opined that he, Anwar Ibrahim would be an unmitigated disaster as Prime Minister of Malaysia. 
  2. Dr Chandra accused him of deceiving the people through his Machiavellian politics. 
  3. That Dr Chandra had alleged that Anwar had said that temple bells would not ring in a Hindu temple in the Kampung Rawa Dispute if the temple authorities did not abide by his rulings on the settlement of the said dispute.

Anwar withdrew the first two on 14th of January 2013.

Dr Chandra in his statement said, 

“When Anwar dropped the first and second claims which were the substantive claims against me last year --- especially the first claim --- I had contemplated retracting my third allegation which is what I did in Court this morning. Anwar for his part had accepted the retraction without costs, damages or an apology.Read here

However, Latheefa Koya announced in her press briefing after the settlement that Dr Chandra Muzaffar “menarik balik keseluruhan kata-kata fitnah”. Watch here

Here lies the irrationality. 

As I have stated earlier, Anwar did ‘menarik balik keseluruhan ’ the first two of Dr Chandra’s allegations. Following her logic, is she saying that her boss agrees that he would be an unmitigated disaster as Prime Minister who bends to deceive people with Machiavellian politics simply because he decided to drop the accusations? 

Or is this simply a desperately mindless and silly spin?

Anas Zubedy 
Kuala Lumpur

Note: While Latheefa and I share the same birthdate, it is obvious we do not share the same logic :)


The Out of Court Settlement between Anwar Ibrahim and Chandra Muzaffar on the 7th of January 2014. 

Given some of the comments on social media it is important to put my decision to retract my allegation against Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim in perspective.

I withdrew my allegation about the ringing of bells  in a Hindu Temple in connection with the Kampung Rawa Dispute between some Hindus and Muslims in March 1998  in the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning, the 7th of January 2014, as a reciprocal gesture since Anwar had withdrawn two other claims of defamation against me on the 14th of January 2013.

Initially, he had alleged that I had defamed him at a forum in Petaling Jaya on the 3rd of March 2008 on three counts.

1) I had opined that he would be an unmitigated disaster  as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

2) I had  accused him of deceiving  the people through his Machiavellian politics

3) I had alleged that he had said that temple bells would not ring in a Hindu temple in the Kampung Rawa Dispute if the temple authorities did not abide by his rulings on the settlement of the Dispute.

The third claim was actually an illustration I had employed to show that Anwar was inept in managing inter-religious ties.       

Anwar sued me on all three claims on the 6th of March 2008.

When Anwar dropped the first and second claims which were the substantive claims against me last year --- especially the first claim --- I had contemplated retracting my third allegation which is what I did in Court this morning. Anwar for his part had accepted the retraction without costs, damages or an apology.

At the end of the day, it was an amicable resolution to a legal wrangle that has gone on for almost six years.

Chandra Muzaffar



NUCC Full Press Release

The National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) held its first full council meeting today (Jan 6, 2014) to deliberate its priorities and task. The urgent task for the NUCC over the next six months is the drafting of the National Unity Blueprint which we have been mandated to complete by the Prime Minister.

Dialogue Perpaduan
We have decided today that we will undertake the formulation of the National Unity Blueprint by hosting a series of dialogues with the grassroots in town hall type of meetings throughout the country.

Seventeen towns have been identified and NUCC members will travel around the country to hear the views of the people in what they determine are issues and concerns and also the action n plan for the nation as a whole.

NUCC has secured the support of 20 academicians, who, since 2007, have the invaluable experience of having conducted the Ethnic Relation’s Module at our public universities under the leadership of Prof Shamsul Amri Baharuddin (UKM, Institute of Ethnic Studies), to assist the NUCC in documenting the detailed comments and suggestions as well as draft the National Unity Blueprint.

Working Committees
The Council also discussed the establishment of five working groups namely Law and Policies; Multiculturalism; Inclusive Development; Youth & National Unity and finally National Integration.

Religious Liberties
On a contemporary matter, the Council also deliberated on the recent issue pertaining to the use of the name Allah by Christians; the raid by Selangor religious authorities at the Bible Society of Malaysia and a number of demonstrations in Selangor pertaining to this matter.

After deliberation, the NUCC came to the following conclusions:

First, NUCC believes that all Malaysians must uphold racial and religious harmony. Any acts that causes disharmony should be deplored especially the politicization of race and religion.

Second, NUCC views that all parties must be mindful of the sensitivity of this matter and should refrain from making statements that can further undermine national unity.

Third, NUCC regrets the raid and confiscation of Bibles. This is a blatant disregard of the TEN POINT SOLUTION made by the Federal Government in April 2011 and reiterated by Prime Minister in Oct 2013.

Fourth, NUCC calls all parties to abide by the TEN POINT SOLUTION which is also accepted by the Christian Federation of Malaysia.

Fifth, NUCC calls on the Government to ensure compliance of the TEN POINT SOLUTION and to respond to challenges to national unity with a greater sense of urgency.

Sixth, NUCC calls on all Malaysians to respect all places of worship and not to hold any demonstrations outside any place of worship.  NUCC welcomes the decision of Selangor UMNO not to stage any demonstration outside churches on Sunday.

Seventh, NUCC urges all Malaysians to promote religious dialogue and harmony.

Eighth, NUCC’s working committee on Law & Policies and the working committee on Multiculturalism will host closed door discussions with the religious authorities, religious and community leaders to find a peaceful settlement. NUCC members will serve as Unity Bridge Builders in Malaysian society

Ninth, NUCC calls all parties to remain calm, respect the religious freedom of all as provided for in the Federal Constitution and in all their dealings to act with mutual respect, peace, compassion and moderation.

Tenth, we also call on all leaders from all political parties including Federal and State leaders to ensure that such acts are not repeated in order to eliminate religious or racial tensions. Furthermore these leaders must play a more proactive role in defusing religious or racial tensions as community moderators in building a peaceful and harmonious Malaysia.

Issued by
NUCC Members
National Unity Consultative Council
Jan 6, 2014



11 April 2011                                                                                      JPM.PEMANDU,600-231112011 (2)

Bishop Ng Moon Hing
Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM)

As we are all aware, the impounding of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia has triggered concerns and tensions within the country which we have to address urgently to prevent these from escalating any further. Consequently, we have been in discussion with the Christian Federation of Malaysia and other Christian groups to resolve the Bahasa Malaysia/lndonesia Bible and also other religious issues. Taking into account the polarity of views of the different religious groups, including Christians and Muslims, the Government decided on a Ten Point Solution.
On 2nd April 2011 the Government announced a Ten Point Solution to address the Bible issue and other related issues. I wish to confirm that this is a collective decision by the Cabinet.

The Ten Point Solution is as follows:

1. Bibles in all languages can be imported into the country, including Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia.

2. These Bibles can also be printed locally in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. This is a new development which should be welcome by the Christian groups.

3. Bibles in indigenous languages of Sabah and Sarawak such as Iban, Kadazan¬Dusun and Lun Bawang can also be printed locally and imported.

4. For Sabah and Sarawak, in recognition of the large Christian community in these states, there are no conditions attached to the importation and local printing of the Bibles in all languages, including Bahasa Malaysia/ Indonesia and indigenous languages. There is no requirement for any stamp or serial number.

5. Taking into account the interest of the larger Muslim community, for Peninsula Malaysia, Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia, imported or printed, must have the words “Christian Publication” and the cross sign printed on the front covers.

6. In the spirit of 1Malaysia and recognising that many people travel between Sabah and Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia, there should be no prohibitions and restrictions for people who bring along their bibles and Christian materials on such travel.

7. A directive on the Bible has been issued by the Ketua Setiausaha (KSU) of the Home Ministry to ensure proper implementation of this cabinet decision. Failure to comply will subject the officers to disciplinary action under the General Orders. A comprehensive briefing by top officials, including the Attorney General (AG), will be given to all relevant civil servants to ensure good understanding and proper implementation of the directive.

8. For the impounded Bibles in Kuching, Gideon, the importer can collect all the 30,000 Bibles free of charge. We undertake to ensure the parties involved are reimbursed. The same offer remains available for the importer of the 5,100 Bibles in Port Kiang, which have already been collected by the Bible Society Malaysia (BSM) last week.

9. Beyond the Bible issue, the Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to work with the Christian groups and all the different religious groups in order to address interreligious issues and work towards the fulfilment of all religious aspirations in accordance with the constitution, taking into account the other relevant laws of the country. In order to bring urgency to this work, in my capacity as the Prime Minister, I will meet the representatives of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) soon to discuss the way forward.

10. The Christian Ministers in the cabinet will meet on a regular basis with representatives of the various Christian groups in order to discuss their issues and work with the relevant Ministries and myself in order to resolve them. As the leader of this country, I wish to reiterate the Government’s commitment in solving any religious issues in this country. There is a need to manage polarities that exist in our society to achieve peace and harmony. I believe the best way to achieve this is through respect, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Yours sincerely,
(Prime Minister of Malaysia)