Friday, May 23, 2014

My own child by Cecilia Dias - The STAR

An adopted child is destiny’s gift, with all its joys and complications, writes this mother.
I HAVE no photos of my daughter’s first months of life, no tasteful black and white images taken by an expensive professional of tiny toes and downy head. There was no delivery room drama, capped by the triumphant delivery of a healthy, bawling baby with which to regale dinner guests with. When you adopt a child, rituals of memory are, by necessity, different.
My daughter’s first weeks with us were spent in the Intensive Care Unit of a nearby hospital. We found ourselves researching the best strollers and infant bottles to buy, alongside reading about neonatal complications. She was what is termed a high-risk baby. It’s a phrase we only learnt after we adopted her, which is not to say that we were blindsided by her situation.
We knew what we needed to know just by looking at her. She was tiny, with wrinkled skin over fragile bones. She had no eyebrows or eyelashes, yet came with a full head of glossy, black hair. Her toenails were like the edible rice paper used to wrap milk sweets.
She came with a hematoma on her belly button, harmless but usually a result of prolonged crying. That’s a tough one for me to think about, still.
Family and friends shared the news of the adoption with unreserved joy. There were, however, those whose concept of family is delimited by bloodlines and genes.
One friend was thrilled by our decision to adopt, because, she explained, I was now bound to get pregnant, and we’d finally have a child of our ‘own’.
It’s a popular urban (uterus) myth, in which families dogged by infertility “cave in” and adopt only to become pregnant soon after. I found it annoying, the assumption that adoption was Plan B for my husband and I.
Even more offensive was the hierarchical distinction between biological and adopted children her comment implied. Was my daughter merely a means to an end, a simulacrum that would get my ovaries juiced up and provide me with an authentic, biological child in the near future?
Yet another friend, an Evangelical Christian, counselled us not to go through with the adoption because it was not God’s will for us to have an ‘imperfect’ child. This misguided interpretation of the biblical promise of blessing, was perhaps the point of no return in my already fragile relationship with the fundamentalist church I’d been raised in.
Yet, at the same time, I drew closer to God, filled with gratitude for the gift of our beautiful child.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Towards a shared destiny - Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi


FROM 1957 to 1969 and, (despite the trauma of 1969), for about two decades thereafter, we can say with confidence that Malaysia was regarded by many Asian and African societies as an exemplar of how a deeply divided, plural society can survive and thrive politically, economically and socially. Till about a decade ago, we would have compared favourably with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mynmar, Philippines, Thailand, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, the US before the Civil Rights Act 1964 and the UK up to the late seventies.     

Despite the obsession with race and religion in public discourse, we have made many strides towards nationhood since 1957.

  • The identification of race with social and economic function has been weakened. 
  • The vibrant economy has united our disparate racial groups.
  • Sabah and Sarawak have given to pluralism a territorial dimension. Malaysia has successfully used the economy to create and maintain social harmony. By encouraging entrepreneurship and allowing the minority communities to provide leadership in the economic arena,  twin objectives have been achieved:  the economy has developed fabulously. Every community has acquired a stake in the country.

Not all is well, however

Sadly, since the nineties racial and religious polarization has reached alarming levels. We have become a “nation of strangers”. In many corners of the world walls of separation are being dismantled. Sadly, in our society these walls are being fortified. Recently the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an advisory body of the US Government, has placed us on Tier 2 of a Watch List over concerns about limitations in Malaysia on freedom of religion.[1] 

To this bleak picture two qualifications must be added.

One, some of the racial and religious discord that exists in our society is a natural process of democratic freedoms. As a transforming society opens up, pent up feelings are expressed, often in ways that are deeply hurtful to others.

Second, many of the conflicts between the Muslims and non-Muslims of this country are actually not about Islam versus non-Islamic religions but about a resurgent Eastern society seeking an alternative to the hegemony of “Western” values. For example conservative Malay-Muslim hostility towards gambling, drinking, free sex, drug-laced music concerts, same-sex marriages, homosexuality, a free-wheeling media, over-sexualisation of female dressing, separation of religion and morality and extolling of a secular way of life are not necessarily reflective of a clash between Islam on one side and Confucianism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions on the other but a clash of traditional Eastern values with the hedonistic, media-driven culture of the dominant North Atlantic colonial nations..  

There is wide gap between the theory and reality of the Constitution

If we read about the making of the Constitution, we will see that by far and large the forefathers of our Constitution were animated by a remarkable vision and optimism of a shared destiny among the various peoples of the Peninsula.

“Out of Many, One” was perhaps their creed. Their life was enlightened by a spirit of accommodation, compassion and tolerance. They abjured ideological purity of the political, economic and religious type. They walked the middle path of moderation. They gave to every community a stake in the nation.  No group received an absolute monopoly of power or wealth. Every community received something to relish and cherish. Pluralism was accepted as a way of life and the unity that was sought was a unity in diversity. 

The Constitution, even in its “ethnic provisions” sought to avoid extreme measures and provided for a balance between the interests of the “Bumiputera” and “non-Bumiputera” communities. Fifty-seven years ago, a pact, an understanding, a  “social contract” was forged between the Malays and the non-Malays. In 1963, with the birth of Malaysia, a new pact was drawn up to safeguard the interests of Sabah and Sarawak.  

Regrettably the Constitution’s “social contracts” of 1957 and 1963 are not being fully observed. The public sector as well as the private sector and all sides of the racial and religious divide are culpable of causing breaches. A few examples may illustrate the point.

Article 153: This Article was about affirmative action for the weak, and not about racial exclusiveness or racial superiority or ketuanan Melayu. In reality, however, overzealousness prevails. Affirmative action under Article 153 has metamorphosed into something else that is not easily possible to defend under constitutional jurisprudence. In some areas racism has become institutionalised.

Article 11(4): This Article permits State legislatures to enact laws to control or restrict the propogation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims. Most States have enacted such laws. Though Article 11(4) is broadly phrased, its primary purpose was to prevent conversion of Malays to Christianity due to the global reach and influence of Christian evangelists. By far and large, Article 11(4)’s restrictions have been observed. But now and then, stories of Muslim apostasy break the calm. Missionary work amongst Muslim children and critically sick Muslim patients in hospitals is not unknown. Bibles are discretely placed in hotel rooms. These proselytising activities cause disputes now and then. For example in April 2014, the Pahang Malay and Islamic Customs Council (MUIP) barred non-Islamic materials and symbols from the guest rooms and public reading areas of all the 147 hotels in the State. The MCA questioned this ban immediately and did not take Article 11(4) into consideration. 

Article 152(1)(a):This Article provides that the Malay language shall be the national language and shall be used for all official purposes. However, no person shall be prohibited from using (other than for an official purpose) or from teaching or learning any other langauage. The Court in Merdeka University Bhd v Government [1982] 2 MLJ 243 has distinguished between the right to learn a language and the right to learn in a language.This means that under the Constitution there is a protected right to teach and learn a language as a subject but there is no constitutional right that the language be used as a medium of instruction. Vernacular schools are permitted by the Education Act but they are not a constitutional right despite what some political parties represent.

In many other areas, the demagogues, the racists and extremists of all communities are preaching their own sectarian interpretation of our “document of destiny” and are fanning fears and suspicions. Extremism has become mainstream and moderation is seen as capitulation to other races and religions and as a betrayal of one’s own community.

Within society, extremist race and religious organisations are mushrooming. It will not be proper to call for their ban. They have a right to exist under the Constitution. But the authorities must ensure that  (i) other moderate organisations are allowed to exist and function without unfair restrictions and (ii) the law is applied fairly and equally to all and there is no selective prosecution where transgressions of the law take place.

Inter-religious disputes are intensifying

  •   Around the world, attempts at proseylitisation often result in violent reactions. Malaysia has mostly been able to avoid religious riots but tensions remain high due to intense competition between Islamic dakwah and Christian missionary activities in regions inhabited by the orang asli and by the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.
  •    The use of the word “Allah” by West Malaysian Christians has aroused the anger of many Peninsular Muslims. The argument by some Christians that the word “Allah” is central to Christian faith and restrictions on its usage will hinder freedom of religion has not convinced Muslims, most of whom suspect that the new-found veneration for the word Allah in Christian dialogue is an adroit attempt to circumvent the pre-Merdeka restriction contained in Article 11(4) on propagation of other religions to Muslims.
  •   Some Muslims allege that the constitutional limitation on preaching to Muslims in Article 11(4) is often  adroitly evaded or ignored.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Conquer hatred with Love - Have A Meaningful Wesak - Tuesday (Tomorrow) in The STAR

Kanishka, the great patron of Buddhism who turned a new leaf by choosing to embrace peace and positivity

Back to basics: Choose to be Positive, conquer hatred with love

As a nation, we can perform only from our strengths. One cannot build greatness on weaknesses.

To perform on our strength, we must first choose to be Positive. A Positive approach creates new energy and multiplies our power. A negative one drains energy and dilutes. Which attitude are we practicing today?

Take our history. When we look back at May 13th do we choose to highlight our strength or weakness? Choose to see the positives or negatives? Do we harp over and over again the thousands that rioted and failed us, or should we celebrate the millions peace loving Malaysians who stayed United – helping to protect each other? The former helps us hate each other; the latter makes us love each other better. We must make smart choices.

What about our media? Do we give more space and attention to positive news or negative ones?  Should we highlight the few extremists spreading hate and make quick gains or choose to focus on news of unity, cooperation, and collaboration that help build our nation and reap long term profits from a cohesive society?

We the rakyat too must choose wisely. Do we crave to read, resend and repost news that hurts each other or promote those that help build unity?

We must choose the Positive approach. We cannot conquer hatred with hatred; we can only conquer hatred with love.

Join us in conquering hatred with love through #SaySomethingNice campaign 2014 by spreading and sharing positivity in Malaysia. We are kick starting the campaign this 24th May, 3pm at our office.

Let us be Positive and conquer hatred with love.

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.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Muslim Dilemma – HUDUD and the chopping of hands

While we Muslims are busy debating about cutting of hands, non-Muslims are busy discussing cutting edge technology. So who do you think will rule the world?

While Muslim doctors are asked to perform the act of severing hands, non-Muslim doctors are encouraged to find ways to reattached them. Who do you think will win people’s minds?

While Muslim leaders debate about chopping of hands, leaders of the other faiths are busy giving a helping hand to those in need in all corners of the world, including to needy Muslims.  So who do you think will win their hearts?

My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, we need to re-look at our priorities. In Malaysia, we Muslims are yet to be discipline at work, we do not read enough and our kids are not the best at their studies. We still need the government’s help and we are far behind in so many aspects. And we think Hudud is crucial at solving all these?

As I suggested above, doctors around the world are busy finding ways to reattached severed limbs. One day when technology reached the level that reattaching limbs is as easy as ABC, perhaps finally we will realized that the Quran is not literal in its hidayah.

“Say: Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed.” Quran 39:9

“Allah will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks. Allah is informed of what ye do.” Quran 58:11

“High above all is Allah, the King, the Truth! Be not in haste with the Qur'an before its revelation to thee is completed, but say, "O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge." Quran 20:114

“And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah's) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” Quran 3:159


Anas Zubedy
Kuala Lumpur

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dangers of charismatic leadership by John Zinkin - The STAR

JACK Welch believed effective leaders exhibit four characteristics: personal energy; the ability to energise others; the ability to execute; and the ability to make tough decisions, which he called edge. These were his “4Es” of leadership.
If what we want is charismatic leadership only, he was right. Charismatic leadership has been much admired in the past 30 years as a result of the media and Hollywood creating superstar CEOs – the boardroom equivalent of Superman. However, charismatic leadership has three potentially serious dangers: self-importance and ego; intolerance of different opinions; and dependent subordinates afraid to be accountable.
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu recognised these drawbacks nearly 3,000 years ago when he defined great leadership:
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did this ourselves’.”
Self-importance and ego
I remember a CEO of Wesfarmers, one of Australia’s leading public companies, being asked what the secret of his success was. His answer was: “I take my job very seriously, but I do not take myself seriously at all.”
Successful, charismatic leaders can become self-important and driven by the need to feed their egos. The bankruptcies of Bear StearnsMerrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers were in large part the result of the egos of their previously highly successful CEOs.
The same might be said of the problems faced by Manchester United – Sir Alex Ferguson failed to create an institution that could thrive after his departure – Lao Tzu’s key test of leadership.
The media and Hollywood are responsible for this cult of the iconic CEO.
Business success is the result of the brilliance of the CEO while the rest of the organisation – its people, products and systems – are ignored.
Followers are also to blame when their leaders become too obsessed with “I” and forget about “We” – Lao Tzu’s point. Followers who kowtow too much to their leaders will gradually turn the most empathetic and humble leaders into self-important autocrats. Medieval Europe understood this and kings had court jesters whose role was to point out their fallibility and self-importance. Culture plays its part too.
In so-called “High Power Distance” cultures where attention to protocol and keeping one’s distance from the people one leads is regarded as essential, it is really hard for leaders not to become self-important and cut off from reality.
Intolerance of different opinions
Charismatic leaders’ personal energy and their ability to energise others too often translate into an excessive focus on the leader’s way of doing things, captured in the phrase “My way or the high way”. Sir Alex Ferguson was famous for his intolerance of divergent opinions.
The advantages of such an approach are that everybody knows what is expected of them, how they are expected to perform and time is not wasted debating alternative ways of doing things. This may work well in a stable, unchanging environment, but is likely to lead to failure in a dynamic, changing
world where the past is not a good guide to future success – i.e. today’s business conditions or the EPL.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Berhijrahlah penjaja kebencian by Rozhan Othman - TMI

Bagaimanakah perasaan anda bila Pravin Togadia, seorang pemimpin VHP, sebuah parti ekstermis di India, menyeru penyokongnya menghalau orang Islam yang membeli rumah di kawasan kejiranan yang majoritinya penduduk Hindu?
Apakah sikap anda terhadap pergerakan Ku Klux Klan yang cuba menghalau orang-orang kulit hitam melalui ancaman dan ugutan? Bagaimana pula dengan reaksi anda kepada saranan Menteri Luar Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, bahawa rakyat Palestine patut dipecat dan dihalau ke Jordan?
Bagaimana pula pendirian anda dengan kempen Marine Le Pen pemimpin National Front di Perancis yang mendakwa pendatang Arab ke Perancis kini menakluk negara itu dan menggesa mereka dihantar pulang ke negara mereka?
Jika anda berasa semua pendirian ini melampau dan harus ditentang,  sentimen yang sama juga diutarakan oleh kumpulan ekstremis di Malaysia.  Penjaja-penjaja kebencian di Malaysia pada dasarnya tidak banyak berbeza daripada pemimpin ekstremis VHP, Ku Klux Klan, Avgidor Lieberman dan Marine Le Pen.
Jika Ku Klux Klan menggunakan salib sebagai simbol pergerakan itu, penjaja kebencian di Malaysia menggunakan Islam dan dakwah sebagai topeng ketika mengenengahkan agenda perkauman mereka.
Yang nyata, mereka ini semua adalah penjaja kebencian dan sebenarnya terpesong daripada ajaran Islam.  Namun, mereka sedar menonjolkan diri sebagai jaguh kaum dan menjaja kebencian berpotensi memberi keuntungan untuk diri mereka. Ada suratkhabar yang turut menjadi penjaja kebencian dan tidak pula dikenakan tindakan. Namun, syarikat-syarikat GLC disuruh lebih banyak memberikan iklan kepada surat khabar ini.
Bagi tokoh-tokoh kebencian ini, mungkin mereka mengharapkan penajaan wang seperti yang diberi sebuah badan kerajaan kepada sebuah NGO penjaja kebencian lain. Mereka mungkin berharap untuk  dijadikan senator atau diberi darjah kebesaran. Kebenaran tidak penting, yang penting ialah menjadi instrumen politik puak tertentu dalam mengapi-apikan sentimen perkauman. Islam pun tidak penting. Hanya guna Islam, tidak perlu hayati Islam.
Satu sifat penjaja-penjaja kebencian ini ialah mereka amat berekonomi dalam menyatakan fakta.  Kenyataan mereka lebih mendedahkan kejahilan mereka serta pemikiran sempit dan sonsang mereka. Walaupun mengguna identiti Islam, keIslaman mereka sama tulen dengan “keKristianan” Ku Klux Klan.  Hujah-hujah dan pandangan yang mereka kemukakan sama cetek dan tipis sepetimana cetek dan tipisnya keIslaman mereka.
Perhatikan kenyataan  seorang penjaja kebencian, “Orang Cina datang ke negara ini bersama penjajah British sebagai penceroboh. ..Siapa yang bagi mereka hak kerakyatan dan kekayaan sehingga hasil pencerobohan mereka dilindungi sampai hari ini?...Itu semua perbuatan British yang bersekongkol dengan Cina menindas dan membuli orang Melayu,”
Nyata sekali di sini penjaja kebencian ini jahil mengenai sejarah. Kedatangan orang Cina ke Tanah Melayu telah bermula sebelum kedatangan British ke Asia Tenggara lagi. Rekod sejarah menunjukkan  lebih 50% penduduk pekan  Kuala Terengganu pada pertengahan tahun 1600han adalah berbangsa Cina. 
Mereka hidup damai dan tidak bersengketa dengan orang Melayu.  Demikian juga, penjaja kebencian ini nampaknya lupa akan kedatangan orang Cina yang kemudiannya menjadi masyarakat Peranakan di Melaka. Mereka tiba ketika zaman kegemilangan Kesultanan Melaka dan Puteri Hang Li Po, seorang puteri Cina, menjadi isteri kepada Sultan Mansor Shah. 
Penjaja-penjaja kebencian ini juga lupa atau sengaja melupakan bahawa pembabitan orang Cina dalam industri tertentu seperti perjudian dan pembuatan bir adalah kerana lesen yang diberi pemimpin Melayu, bukan British. Dan ada di antara syarikat-syarikat ini dipengerusikan oleh orang Melayu, bukan British.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Complaining To Obama; Distorting The Truth by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

The views expressed, and the stances adopted, by a number of local politicians and activists in the midst of President Barack Obama’s official visit to Malaysia at the end of April raise some important questions about their understanding of the nation.

Taken as a whole, it appears that these public figures had chosen to complain to the President of the United States of America about various challenges facing Malaysia ranging from human rights and religious freedom to governance and integrity. They wanted Obama to “demonstrate concern about what is happening in Malaysia …” In their view, such concern would have been “consistent with US democratic ideals and its foreign policy of promoting freedom and justice.”

US foreign policy in reality has been more concerned about perpetuating its global hegemony than promoting democracy as borne out by its activities in a variety of nations from Chile and Nicaragua to Iran and Indonesia over the last so many decades. Any honest observer of international politics would admit this. To invite such a hegemonic power to help promote democracy in Malaysia is demeaning. It stains and sullies the dignity of our people. It denigrates and disparages our honour as a nation.

To convince Obama that he had to come to the rescue of Malaysian democracy, an Opposition politician, DAP Secretary-General, Lim Guan Eng, even suggested to Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, that based upon the popular vote --- the three opposition parties together, (the Pakatan Rakyat) obtained slightly more votes than the ruling Barisan Nasional --- the Leader of the Opposition, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, should have been the Prime Minister! Surely he knows that in the first-past- the – post electoral system it is the number of seats won and not the votes polled that determines who or which party forms the government. In the US which operates within the same sort of electoral system, there had been occasions when a candidate secured the presidency even though he had garnered less popular votes than his rival, as happened in 2000.

It was not just misrepresentation about the electoral system. It was also alleged that there was “widespread fraud” in the last General Election. And the man who made that allegation in an article in The Washington Post on the day that Obama landed in Kuala Lumpur was the fabricator of that infamous lie about 40,000 Bangladeshis being flown in to vote for the BN.

If distortions and lies were not enough to persuade the US President to act on behalf of the complainants, another Opposition politician attempted to appeal to Obama’s conscience as an African-American by invoking the legacy of the civil rights movement in the States while implying that minority races in Malaysia are also “extensively discriminated politically, socially and economically.” By drawing this parallel in his Open Letter to the President of the United States of 26 April 2014, Tony Pua, the DAP Member of Parliament for Petaling Utara, has revealed how intellectually shallow and superficial he is. The circumstances that gave birth to the civil rights movement in the States bear no comparison to the situation of the minorities in Malaysia.

The movement which grew and expanded in the nineteen fifties and sixties was a legitimate response to the massive segregation and discrimination of the African-American population in almost every conceivable sphere of public activity. The African-American, invariably at the bottom of the heap, found that he had hardly any access to schools, libraries, public buses and even churches in many parts of the country simply because of the colour of his skin. In much of the southern United States he could not even vote until 1965! He was the victim of an oppressive, inhuman system that privileged the “White.”

Contrast this with the socio-economic, social-cultural and socio-political environment of the minorities in Malaysia, especially the largest of them, the Chinese community. Since Merdeka, the Chinese have remained the dominant element in the middle and upper strata of the socio-economic ladder. They own 70% of public-listed companies, 69.4 % of business complexes and 71.9% of all commercial and industrial estates. More than 80% of the wealthiest Malaysians come from the community. In this regard, it should also be emphasised that there are some poor and disadvantaged Chinese and a huge percentage of marginalised and disenfranchised Indians.

Returning to the position of the Chinese, the Chinese language and Chinese culture have a pervasive presence in the country, sustained by a Chinese language school stream, a thriving Chinese media network and Chinese cultural activities that go down to the grassroots through clan associations and sub-ethnic groupings. Through the generous conferment of citizenship on the eve of Merdeka, the Chinese, Indian and other minorities play a significant political role at both Federal and State levels. It is a role which in the case of the Chinese has been buttressed by the community’s economic strength and reinforced by a whole spectrum of civil society organisations.

Pua would only be able to appreciate all this if he is prepared to come to terms with the history and evolution of our multi-ethnic society. It is very different from the US. Malaysia belongs to that category of societies that became multi-ethnic in its present form largely because of colonial rule. It was Chinese and Indian migration and domicile mainly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries serving British colonial interests which transformed Malay Sultanates into multi-ethnic societies. It was a transformation over which the Sultanates had hardly any control. In the end, it produced the divided economies and social systems --- one indigenous and Malay and the other non-indigenous and non-Malay --- that independent Malaya inherited in 1957.

Integrating the two is the cardinal challenge that faces the nation today. Many of the major issues confronting us in the realm of ethnic relations pertaining to the Special Position of the Malays and the indigenous communities of Sabah and Sarawak and the New Economic Policy (NEP) and even to religious rights and to the nation’s identity, revolve around this challenge of integrating interests, attitudes, emotions and worldviews associated with these two historical processes, one Malay, the other non-Malay. There are of course other issues that go beyond the Malay-non-Malay dichotomy linked to governance and integrity that also demand just solutions.

In their writings and interviews in connection with the Obama visit, Pua and his friends had highlighted some of these issues. These are legitimate concerns which should be addressed. But these are our concerns. It is for us to work out the remedies, however difficult it may be.

There is no need for us to appeal to some external power for help. There is no justification to petition some global hegemon. We are not servile supplicants.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Present day Hudud and Mary in the Quran : One BIG Question

According to present day Hudud laws as proposed by PAS, 

  1. Zina is punishable upon conviction by stoning to death for a married person.
  2. Whipping of 100 lashes plus one year imprisonment for the unmarried.
  3. Four eye-witnesses will be required to prove the act. Each witness must be an adult (akil baligh) Muslim male of just character.
  4. Pregnancy on the part of an unmarried woman or when she delivers a child shall be evidence of zina of which would make her liable to the prescribed punishment unless she can proof the contrary – ie to bring 4 male Muslim witnesses of just character if she was raped.

Traditional Islam interprets Quranic verses about Mary, mother of Jesus as a woman who had a virgin birth (refer for example Quran 19:20 -22, 66:12). When Mary brought baby Jesus to the temple, she was insulted and mocked by all the men (except Zechariah) questioning how she came to be with a child as she was still single. According to the Quran, Jesus began to speak in the cradle to defend her mother (Refer Quran 19: 27-33)

The question.

How would modern day Hudud deal with Mary (the most exalted woman in the Quran, Quran 3:42) as she could not show 4 akil baligh male Muslim witnesses of just character?

Note: as an infant, Jesus was not akil baligh.

Anas Zubedy 

Be positive and count our blessings by Soo Ewe Jin - The STAR

We can whine and complain about things, or we can review the many luxuries we have conveniently classified as essentials. To be positive is not to deny the negative. It is simply acknowledging that there are many people in worse circumstances than us.
AN archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her.
Everyone in the ballroom erupted in cheers when the father of the bridegroom, who is known to us as quite a serious man, closed his speech with this quote by Agatha Christie.
It concluded a very heartfelt and moving speech. This father certainly had good lessons to pass on to his son and his daughter-in-law, and I was inspired.
I quietly took out my little 555 notebook and jotted down some of the salient points he made.
And as I looked through the pages I was transported back to one wedding dinner some months back that took place in the heart of Putrajaya.
My good friend from school days was the host and in typical Malaysian fashion, he had to start his speech with salutations to all the VIPs present.
It has been said that a speech should be like a skirt – long enough to cover all the essential parts and short enough to be appealing.
I remember my friend’s speech well because he kept to the three-point formula.
Those of us who have to sit through long speeches know that any speaker who ventures beyond the three points basically loses the attention of the audience.
Even if he is accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation, it is a matter of time before we murmur: “No power, no point!”
The three valuable lessons that my friend imparted to his son that evening were – be positive, be purposeful and be passionate.
The editor in me immediately noticed the alliteration, an important element in public speaking to make the message stick.
I paid particular attention to the story my friend shared about how to be positive.
“If you think you can, you can and if you think you can’t you are probably right,” he said.
“Challenges will come your way. It is said so poignantly that there is no life into which some rain has not fallen. All sunshine makes a desert.
“Obstacles are opportunities for growth. Stumbling blocks are stepping stones. It is the rough seas that make good sailors. Pain produces endurance, endurance, character and character, hope.”

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hudud - test for the Constitution by Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi - The STAR

There are provisions for the federal legislature to authorise Kelantan to implement its Islamic criminal enactment.
PARTI Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) appears determined to introduce a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament this June to implement its Syariah Criminal Code Enactment of 1993. The Enactment had, two decades ago, sought to apply hudud, the Islamic penal code, to Muslims in Kelantan. However, it could not be implemented due to many constitutional hurdles.
Federal-state division: First, under Schedule 9, List II, Paragraph I, States have authority relating to “creation and punishment of offen­ces by persons professing the religion of Islam, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List”.
Criminal law and procedure, administration of justice, jurisdiction and powers of all courts, creation of offences in respect of any of the matters included in the Federal List or dealt with by federal law are in federal hands. Theft, robbery, rape, murder, incest and unnatural sex are all dealt with by the federal Penal Code. These offences are, therefore, out of bounds for the States even though they are also serious wrongs in Islamic criminal jurisprudence.
Second, Schedule 9, List II, Paragraph 1 clearly provides that Syariah Courts shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam.
This means that Syariah Courts have no power to apply the hudud laws to non-Muslims even if the non-Muslims consent to be so subject. Jurisdiction is a matter of law and not of submission or acquiescence.
Third, the Constitution in Schedule 9 List II para 1 says that Syariah Courts “shall not have jurisdiction in respect of offences except in so far as conferred by federal law”.
The relevant federal law is the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965. It imposes limits on penalties that the Syariah Courts can impose. These are maximum three years jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes. Death by stoning, amputations and life imprisonments are outside the powers of the States.
Fourth, police, prisons, reformatories, remand homes and places of detention are all in the Federal List. Therefore, State-run detention or rehabilitation centres enforcing hudud penalties are all beyond State powers.
New momentum: PAS is hoping that these significant hurdles can be overcome if it takes the battle to the federal Parliament and gets the federal legislature to authorise Kelantan to implement its Islamic criminal enactment. Indeed, such provisions exist.
Article 76A: This Article permits the Federal Parliament to extend the legislative power of the States to enact laws on matters in the Federal List. This means that if the political equation is favourable, the Federal Parliament could by a simple majority pass an Act to authorise Kelantan to enact laws on crimes in Kelantan. The Kelantan law would then supersede any federal law on the point. In addition, under Article 80(4), the federal government can by law extend the executive authority of the State to cover the authorised federal topic.
Private Member’s Bill: Perhaps Kelantan intends to initiate a Private Member’s Bill to launch the Article 76A initiative. Private members are those MPs not holding ministerial posts. They may, under Standing Orders of the two Houses, draft a Bill and seek leave of the House by way of a motion to introduce the Bill.
If leave is granted, then the Bill shall be referred to the Minister concerned. With his report, the Bill can be taken up for second reading, debate and vote.
Such a Bill requires a simple majority of those present and voting. With 21 MPs from PAS, 88 from Umno and some Muslim MPs from PKR and Sabah and Sarawak, the Bill could squeeze through. The political dynamics is, of course, immensely complicated.
Constitutional crevices: Presuming that PAS succeeds under Article 76A to make inroads into the Federal List or through a Private Member’s Bill to legislate for criminal law in Kelantan, will the hudud issue be settled once for all? No one with knowledge of constitutional law will argue that the issue is straightforward and simple. Even if the State Enactment is passed, it may be challengeable in a court on constitutional grounds.
For example, if the State law on crime is made applicable only to Muslims and two thieves, one a Muslim and the other a non-Muslim, on conviction receive radically different penalties, is this not a flagrant violation of the rule of equality before the law under Article 8?
Article 8 forbids differentiation between persons on the ground of religion “except as expressly authorised by this Constitution”. There is an exception in Article 8(5) in relation to personal law. “This Article does not invalidate or prohibit any provision regulating personal law”.
Matters of theft, robbery, rape, incest and homosexuality are by no stretch of imagination matters of personal law. This means that it is arguable that our Constitution does not permit two thieves, similarly situated, to be treated differently for purposes of the law relating to punishment.
Alternatively, the Kelantan hudud law could apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In such a case, constitutional objections will arise that our Constitution does not permit the syariah to be imposed on non-Muslims.
It would be different, of course, if Malaysia were a full-fledged Islamic state. Then the hudud or any other uniform criminal law would apply to all.
Which leads one to the perennial polemic about whether Malaysia is an Islamic or secular state? The issue is immensely complicated and cannot be covered here in detail save to say that we have a supreme Constitution. The syariah applies in only a limited (though expanding) field and only to Muslims.