Sunday, September 30, 2007

Take Care of Your Kids, Let's Have Nurin Alert

I don't know whether at this point in time following the brutal murder of eight year-old Nurin Jazlin, there is any effort to discuss measures to save abducted children, or even plans to provide safety guidelines for parents and children.

Let's stop the rhetorics and tiresome statements that are playing like an old record, that we have heard over and over again.
Tell us something we don't know. Tell us something new.

Again...stop criminalising parents for negligence. I cannot agree more with NST columnist Johan Jaafar here.
We keep doing that and we will get nowhere near finding a long-term solution to helping kids like Nurin in the future.

I think the relevant agencies should start working to educate society and to create awareness on safety for our children.
They should get assistance from professionals and experts in this area.
We claim to be no longer a Third World country, then, we should start having a progressive mindset in dealing with this problem.
We can always look to successful models and programmes in other countries.

Our blog sister, Farina of Princessjournals who mentioned Amber Alert (also here and here) when commenting about Nurin's abduction and murder in my earlier posting, came out with her own list (of do's and don'ts), inspired, I am sure, by her current American experience.
(Ahirudin Attan (Rocky's Bru) has suggested that a Malaysian Amber Alert be called Nurin Alert, in memory of Nurin. )

See Farina's suggestions here.
The guidelines are taught to families in the US. For (some of) them to be followed here in Malaysia, a mindset change is needed, which is absolutely not impossible.
But it has to start with education and awareness on why these are necessary -- for the safety of our children and to prevent another Nurin tragedy.

We cannot let Nurin's tragic end remain just a memory that will dissipate and disappear with time. She did not die in vain, for us to forget that it may happen again, as I know it surely will.
Should we continue with our lives as though everything is back to normal and hunky-dory and, yeah, yeah, life goes on?

I am strongly for Amber Alert, as is another blogger, Tembam, a former journalist who visited my posting on Nurin and the relevance of Amber Alert. Tembam who supported the need for an Amber Alert in this country, has been posting about Nurin and the Nurin-after situation with passion, vigour and a little bit of anger. Thank you, Tembam.

If we had an Amber Alert already in place, let me tell you, those murderers would not have got away with what they did to Nurin.

Amber stands for America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response. But it is also the name of the child who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Arlington, Texas in 1996. The tragedy of nine year-old Amber Hagerman shocked America and caused public outrage. Amber Alert came into being. The concept has been embraced by all segments of society and has saved the livesof hundreds of children.

Here is what it's about:

The Amber Alert is a critical missing child response program that utilizes the resources of law enforcement and media to notify the public when children are kidnapped by predators. Although the scope of the Amber Alert varies, the criteria for activation are fairly consistent. Whether it is a local, regional or statewide program, law enforcement activates an Amber Alert by notifying broadcast media with relevant identifying and case information when circumstances meets the following criteria:

  • The missing child is of a pre-determined age;
  • The law enforcement agency believes the child has been kidnapped;
  • The agency believes the missing child is under threat of serious bodily harm or death.

Once they receive the Amber Alert radio and television stations interrupt regularly scheduled programming to notify the public that a child has been kidnapped. Because 95% of all people driving in their cars listen to the radio, this is an extremely effective way of providing descriptions of the child, the kidnapper, vehicles or accomplices.

Besides turning the public into instant investigators when children are kidnapped, benefits of the Amber Alert include:

  • It is free;
  • It encourages participation between natural adversaries, law enforcement and media by drawing on their inherent strengths;
  • It promotes accountability by creating the foundation of a comprehensive missing child protocol;
  • It is an effective time critical response to kidnappers who can disappear with children at the rate of a mile per minute;
  • It sends a powerful message to wanna-be kidnappers that this is a community that cares about and protects children;
  • It saves lives.
When an Amber Alert is issued, the broadcast media goes into full swing, informing listeners and viewers of the kidnapped child's name and useful details such as how she looks like, what she was wearing the last time she was seen, and with whom and where or whether she was in a vehicle. Besides this, electronic billboards are used to flash the kidnapped child's name of picture and also the relevant details.
People are kept alert and will be on a look-out.

It must be remembered that when a child is abducted, it is always done with sinister design.
Having such a system is about saving the child's life before it is too late by forcing the perpetrator to release him/her before he sets out on his torturous binge.

I am certain, with will and commitment, it can work here. What do you think?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Police Arrest Five People in Nurin Murder Probe


Police have arrested a fifth suspect, a 23 year-old woman believed to be a foreign national.

She was picked up at midnight (Friday, Sept 28) at a Ramadan Bazaar in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan where she worked as a sales assistant in clothes stall.

She is said to have been responsibble for feeding Nurin Jazlin during the period the child was held captive between the time she disappeared on Aug 20 near her home in Wangsa Maju in Kuala Lumpur, and her body was found s
aID Director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee confirmed the arrest of the wtuffed in a gym/sports bag on Sept 17.

Read the Bernama story here.

My earlier posting:

With the good news, comes the bad.

According to Bernama, police have arreste
d five people, one of them a woman, in separate raids in Shah Alam Friday night to assist them in their probe into *Nurin Jazlin's murder.
Quoting Bukit Aman CID Director Christopher Wan Soo Kee, it said besides the arrests of the five, aged between 27 and 33 years, the police also seized two cars and five mobile phones.

This is good news because we are hopeful that these suspects could lead the police to the killer(s).

Now, the bad news.
It seems that Nurin's brutal murder could be linked to a child pornographic ring..
The NST has the story here.

Now that is so disturbing. I hope investigations prove this to be wrong and untrue.
This was Pasquale's fear. I hope his fear is baseless.

Whatever it is, let's hope the police get the real killer(s) real soon.

*In case you're been hibernating in a cave somewhere the past month or so, let me run this through: Eight year-old Nurin never returned home after she went to her neighbourhood pasar malam in Section 1, Wangsa Maju in Setapak on Aug 20.
On Sept 17, her body was found stuffed in a sports bag in Petaling Utama.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Walk For Justice

I have never seen so many lawyers gathered at one location.

There were hundreds of them -- male, female, old and young in their white and black "uniform", in front of the Palace of Justice.
Some media reports put the number at 1,000 and more.

Earlier, as I was tearing down the KL-Seremban highway, I overtook four buses which I somehow figured were ferrying lawyers to Putrajaya for the march. I wasn't wrong.

As I approached the first entrance to Putrajaya, I found it "closed" with several police officers and men directing vehicles away.
At the second entrance, I saw policemen stopping vehicles before letting them through.
"Oh-oh," I thought. "The buses will have trouble entering."
I drove on and went into the third entrance which was free of police presence.

Along the way to the Palace of Justice where the gathering was to take place before the march to the Prime Minister's Department, I saw so many policemen stationed at several locations.

The police presence was very noticeable because you don't see that on any other day in this federal administrative capital.

I made my way to the Palace of Justice where the crowd of lawyers had gathered. Several members of the opposition parties -- DAP, Pas and Keadilan - joined the gathering for the march.
Also there were local and foreign Press covering the event. Met some former colleagues.

In front of the building, the anti-riot police stood in line. Very intimidating. No, sir, I won't mess with these guys.

As we were chatting, a helicopter flew past. The crowd broke into applause. We waved and gave a "V" sign -- victory or peace. Whichever.
Actually, it whizzed past a couple more times.

The march was to have begun at 11am but we got word that the buses ferrying the lawyers were stopped at the entrance to the federal administrative capital.
They were denied entry. It meant that they had to walk some 5 kilometeres to reach the Palace of Justice.

Among the crowd were uniformed policemen, some of whom were taking pictures of the people there.
I smiled for one of them.

We waited for the lawyers who were making their way by foot to the Palace of Justice because their buses were refused entry.

Led by Edmund Bon, they arrived slowly but steadily to join the rest of their brothers and sisters for the peaceful protest march.
Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan then said a few words.
Following that, a couple of lawyers spoke. There was some chanting, some applause. You know, working up the "semangat", and we were ready to walk. It was just before noon.

I could see that the crowd was really huge. It was incredible.
Thank God for the boulevard which was just perfect for the march.

I was with NST writer Aniza Damis (who was on assignment) and Ahirudin Attan (Rocky), making our way towards the PM's Department which was straight ahead.

Obviously, the peaceful "march for justice" caught everyone's attention.
It must have been quite a sight.
Hey, this was not the floral or national day parade. It was a protest march by Malaysian lawyers. By some very fine and brave men and women.

We reached the circular in front of the gates of the PM's Department.
As expected, there were already policemen and members of the Federal Reserve Unit standing guard along the road.

And as fate would have it, the heavens opened and it began to pour. It rained and it rained.

But the lawyers kept their faith and stood their ground, their spirit unrelenting and indomitable.
Their representatives proceeded to meet an officer of the PM to hand over their memorandum.

And the rain kept on beating down on Putrajaya.

Everyone was drenched to their skin.
But who cares. They walked the talk, didn't they?
And what a walk it was.

You can read the AFP story here.

And from the blogs: Rocky's Bru, X-Eyed Jules, Shanghai Stephen and Tony Yew.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

Bapak's Homecoming -- September 25 2007

The year 1981 was just another year. Or so we thought.
Bapak had been in detention for nearly five years and we had no inkling of any plan by the Government to release him.
Honestly, after five years of Bapak's incarceration, we were pretty much hardened, but not resigned to his and our situation.
We were not resigned to the fact that Bapak would forever be a detainee, that we would forever spend Tuesdays visiting him at the police station.
We continued to hope, to pray that one day, someone in power would be moved to have him released, that someone in power could see the injustice and cruelty of his detention,.
That someone in power had the heart to see that it had been years too long for a man, not a criminal, to be living life that way.

That year in 1981, Malaysia had a new Prime Minister -- Dr Mahathir Mohamad who took over from Hussein Onn.
We were oblivious to any signs indicating foreseeable changes that were to take place.

I remember I had just returned from my graduate studies in Boston, in the US. I was happy to be home and to be resuming work with the NST as I had been on study leave.

Everything seemed a blur. Some details of events leading to his release remain sketchy to me.
What I remember was that there was news that Dr Mahathir had ordered the release of Bapak and several others including Abdullah Ahmad, Abdullah Majid and Samani Amin.
I remember Kak Ton who was a journalist with Bernama telling Mak and the rest of us at home in Section 16 about Bapak's imminent release.
And then, I think Mak received an official call about it.

And then reporters, and photographers came to wait for Bapak's release.
They waited the whole day. Because I knew a couple of them who were senior reporters (compared to me who was then still a rookie), I chatted with them and served them coffee, after coffee. Maybe cookies too. Or some goodies.

Oh...words cannot describe the feeling, such elation. The heart throbbing as we kept on looking outside for Bapak to arrive.
Would he come home in a Black Maria? Or that red sedan? Oh, dang...does it matter?

Then, just as darkness fell, a car zoomed into Lorong 16/7C and screeched to a halt right infront of our gate.

The door (was it the front or passenger, can't remember) flung open and out came --- our Bapak. Yay! Hurray! Best-nya!

Oh, it was a celebration of the heart! Freedom! Homecoming!

He was wearing the same red and white checked shirt which he wore the night he was arrested.

Bapak was grinning at all of us. The (plainclothed) police officers accompanied him to the house. He spent a few moments with them, smiling and joking.

Bapak was home!

The story of his release was on the front pages of the morning papers. But the photo of a very happy Kak Olin welcoming Bapak with the rest of us surrounding him, was in the back page of the NST.
Those days when the NST was a broadsheet, the back page was a news page of equal importance and prominence as the front page.

That night, he received streams of visitors. He was kept up all night long, joking and talking with old friends.

He did not seem to mind staying up, satisfying the curiosity of his visitors with anecdotes of his incarceration.

"Dah biasa tak tidur malam...mengaji, baca Yassin," he said casually but with a glint in his eyes.

Macam Tu-Lah, Kak Ijat

Well, finally, we are hearing sensible remarks by some people with regards to the decision to charge Jazimin Abdul Jalil and his wife, Norazian Bistaman.
Unless you've been Rip Van Winkling this past week, you'd know that Jazimin and Norazian are the parents of eight year-old Nurin Jazlin who was brutally murdered.
Nurin was missing for almost a month.
After her body was found stuffed in a gym bag, the Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahizat Abdul Jalil and Minister in the PM's Department Nazri Aziz all echoed a very harsh statement. Cruel, in fact.
They said that Jazimin and Norazian could be charged for negligence as there were laws providing for that.

Then public outrage and outcry.
What is wrong with these people? Have they no heart? have they no compassion?
The couple's child was brutally murdered, for Heaven's sake!
Stop this hogwash and go catch the beast -- was the message from people.
It was as though the police had nothing but were trying hard to look fro something in the law to nail the parents.

But today, I read remarks (in the Star) made by Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Lee Lam Thye that it was unfair to charge Nurin's parents.

Here's what Lee said:

“They have gone through enough and there is no need to further punish them,” he said. Lee was among many who have voiced their objections to any legal action against the parents.
He said the main issue now was not about punishing the parents but how police and the public could work together to nab the criminals.
“This is a very heinous crime and every effort should be made to solve the case,” he said.

The report also quoted Shahrizat who -surprise surprise - agreed with Lee.

She said:

"Although the law must take its course, any decision to prosecute must be made based on the facts of each individual case,” she said in a statement yesterday.
She said any decision to prosecute must therefore be made cautiously and prudently.
“I believe that the Public Prosecutor will consider all these before deciding whether to charge or not in any given case,” she added.
She added that the whole nation must help the police track down the culprit.
“The police must continue and intensify their investigation,” Shahrizat said, adding that Nurin’s parents now needed compassion and support.

She could have said all that on Friday. That was not too difficult, was it?

Monday, September 24, 2007

No Charges Against Nurin's Parents?

That's what I've understood from a statement today by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Although he was not specific, I have taken it to mean that no charges will be made against Jazimin Abdul Jalil and Norazian Bistaman for alleged negligence resulting in the brutal murder of their eight year-old daughter, Nurin Jazlin.

Comforting. If that's what he meant. Read the Bernama story here.

Here's part of what he also said:
"Negligence generally is a serious issue as we want parents to be responsible for their children. For as long as they are under-age, they are under the responsibility of their parents, so it's most important that parents ensure they are constantly under supervision so that nothing untoward happens that can lead to injury and so on."

I agree with the PM's (and the Umno supreme council's) view that Rukun Tetangga watch in neighbourhoods be intensified.
But, er.... is this not an old, very old suggestion by oh-so many quarters? Still, I'm pleased it was mentioned.

But, he remarked that "RT patrols alone would not be sufficient without the cooperation of everyone, especially the parents themselves in looking after the safety of their children."

And here's the message to us all:
Everyone must carry out their own responsibility instead of merely depending on the police in order to eliminate this threat."

Sigh, sigh, sigh. I agree but somehow I detect a tone suggesting that we have not been responsible enough and have been depending too much on the police. That's why we cannot eliminate "this threat".

On another note, I would like to thank my friends in Bernama for this brave news report - "Many Disagree With The Proposal to Charge Parents of Missing Children".
Clearly, the editors there are as taken aback by Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's wish to go after parents of missing children, starting with Nurin's parents.
Those interviewed by Bernama wanted Shahrizat to define the meaning of "negligence" to avoid parents being victimised.
The Minister's proposal will have negative effects on society, they said.
I so agree.

New clues.
Meanwhile, Selangor Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar says DNA tests on hair strands found on Nurin's body will be known this week. The findings will give police new clues, he said. Read the Bernama report here.
I hope it doesn't turn out to be another false hope. Last Thursday, the IGP said the cops were closing in on the killer and would make an arrest soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

They Really Wanna Get You Two...

I think we will, from now on, be hearing more people from "up there" echo the statement by Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan that Jazimin Abdul Jalil and his wife, Norazian Bistaman can be charged for negligence that led to the brutal murder of their eight year-old daughter, Nurin Jazlin.

That will be the tune they will be singing.
The latest is from, who else, Nazri Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, who said: "Law is law...we need to take action, nobody can slip away."

Nazri said charging her parents for alleged negligence was in accordance with the provisions of the Child Protection Act.

He said the police investigations were in line with the Rukun Negara principle -- rule of law.

Nazri further said that the tragic death of "innocent Nurin was a heart-wrenching episode that should serve as a lesson to all parents, to equally play their role in ensuring their children's safety".

Read the Bernama story here.

Strong stuff there. "Rukunegara", "rule of law, "law is law", "lesson to all parents".
The only part I agree with is the "heart-wrenching episode" of innocent Nurin's tragic death.

Nazri's tune? Unbelievable.
As I have said, I am against the police framing charges against the parents because I don't believe that there was any criminal element in their lapse in judgment for allowing Nurin to go the night market.
The police should NOT invoke the Act in this case.
It is bad judgment to do so. It is just not right to drag the parents to court.
How can you turn around and put the blame squarely on the parents?

It sure looks like there is a real effort to take Jazimin and Norazian to court. Never mind if the couple has two other children. But, oh. That's ok. They're not your kids. We'll just dump them in any of the welfare departments because they're better than the parents.

But, you know what. Perhaps, we should let the police go ahead and charge them if they are convinced that there is a case. (I don't believe there is.)

I'd like to see what happens.

By the way, have you found the beast yet?

Let's Walk the Talk

Join lawyers in their peace march on Wednesday, Sept 26, at 11am in Putrajaya.
The Bar Council-sponsored march will begin at the Palace of Justice and end at the Prime Minister's Department where a memorandum will be submitted to the Cabinet calling for the setting up of a Royal Commission "to investigate the rot that has set into the judiciary since 1988".

Buses have been chartered and will leave the Bar Council's secretariat at 9 am to Putrajaya.

If you (non-lawyers) can, wear black and white, preferably with a jacket.

Read also Return The Judiciary To the Rakyat
and Lawyers To March To Putrajaya.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, we can start working on how we can save the lives of children in future abduction cases.
While the police are hunting for Nurin Jazlin's murderer(s), we should be working on ways to save our children from sufferring the same fate as Nurin.
For as long as there are evil, sick and sadistic people in our midst, children are never ever safe from harm and brutality, and death.
What we can do is save them from harm and from possibly being killed, when they are abducted.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has vowed that a case such as Nurin's "won't happen again".
I'd like to know how she plans to prevent abducted children from being murdered.
The Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan has given us an indication of how those in power/authority prefer to deal with the situation.
Well, I am appalled. Haven't Nurin's parents paid the ultimate price (to quote Rocky's Bru) for their negligence? Haven't they been punished enough?
Blame the parents, by all means. But attempting to jail them under the Child Protection Act is going overboard.
Like a commentor (in my previous posting) said -- the charge won't stick, so why waste anyone's time.
Jazimin Abdul Jalil and Norazian Bistaman are not bad or abusive parents who had deliberately subjected Nurin to abuse, torture and subsequent death.
They did not leave her at home alone while they went away on holiday.
I remember such a case in the US in which a woman left her kids alone at home while she had a great holiday with her boyfriend in Hawaii. Her kids were starving. Luckily their grandma came a-visiting, saving them from further wasting away.

There are better and more effective ways to prevent another tragic case but you need to work a little harder and give more dedication and commitment to make it work.

Perhaps, Shahrizat's ministry could begin educating parents about the danger of allowing children to wander around in pasar malam, shopping complexes and other public places without adult company/supervision. That's a start if no such awareness campaign has been introduced.

But, here's a suggestion for a long-term measure that has proved successful in the US -- the AMBER Alert system.
This has been in place in that country since 1996 after nine year-old Amber Hagerman was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas. She was later found brutally murdered.

AMBER also stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.

This suggestion came in my earlier posting by a commentor who is now residing in California. She goes by the name Princessjournals. She appealed to the relevant authorities here, including the police, to adopt the system.
When she mentioned AMBER Alert, it rang a bell, as I have read something about it years ago.
So I googled it.
AMBER Alert is an early warning system to help find abducted children in which broadcasters team with the local police.

Read it here for a better understanding.

But here's a bit on it:
Once law enforcement has determined that a child has been abducted and the abduction meets AMBER Alert criteria, law enforcement notifies broadcasters and state transportation officials. AMBER Alerts interrupt regular programming and are broadcast on radio and television and on highway signs. AMBER Alerts can also be issued on lottery tickets, to wireless devices such as mobile phones, and over the Internet. Through the coordination of local, state and regional plans, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is working towards the creation of a seamless national network.

AMBER Alert has been very effective. AMBER Alert programs have helped save the lives of over 200 children nationwide.

Since it began in Dallas, other states and communities soon set up their own AMBER plans as the idea was adopted across the nation.

I don't know of any similar system in place in Malaysia. Obviously nothing remotely close to AMBER Alert was taking place throughout the 30 days Nurin went missing. I do remember radio dee jays and announcers informing and updating listeners on Nurin. But that was about all there was.

So, how about working on something like AMBER Alert, adapting it to Malaysia.

I know one thing - Nurin's senseless murder was not the first in Malaysia. We should (try our best to) make it the last.

Passing The Buck......

I don't know about you but I think trying to make a case against Nurin Jazlin's parents is really going too too too far. Taking this blame game, if ever there is one, way too far.
That's what the Inspector-General of Police is doing right now.
He said Nurin's parents can be charged for negligence under the Child Protection Act.
Yes.... I am very very sure that they very well can be.
Heck.... why don't we just stack the full force of the law against them. Let's punish Nurin's parents, why don't we, because they deserved to be punished!

That can be done.
But should it be?

Here's the mSTAR online story:

PUTRAJAYA: Baru beberapa jam selesai mengkebumikan jenazah anak mereka yang meninggal dunia akibat deraan seksual, Jazimin Abdul Jalil dan isterinya Norazian Bistaman kini menghadapi kemungkinan didakwa kerana cuai.

Ketua Polis Negara Tan Sri Musa Hassan berkata polis kini sedang menyiapkan laporan kes berkenaan dan jika mendapati terdapat elemen cuai sehingga menjurus kepada penculikan Nurin Jazlin, ibu bapa mangsa boleh diambil tindakan undang-undang bawah Akta Perlindungan Kanak-kanak.

“Jika ada kecuaian, kita akan cadangkan kepada Peguam Negara agar tindakan undang-undang diambil ke atas mereka,” katanya kepada pemberita selepas menghadiri mesyuarat Suruhanjaya Polis yang dipengerusikan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi di Kementerian Keselamatan Dalam Negeri hari ini.

Musa berkata, peruntukan undang-undang terhadap ibu bapa yang cuai menjaga keselamatan anak mereka telah lama wujud, tetapi belum pernah dikuatkuasakan selama ini.

“Saya rasa sudah sampai masanya untuk kita kuatkuasakan peruntukan itu,” tambahnya.

Beliau juga berkata polis telah membatalkan rancangan mengadakan ujian DNA kali kedua setelah ibu bapa Nurin menerima keputusan ujian pertama semalam yang mengesahkan mayat di dalam beg sukan yang ditemui di Petaling Jaya pada Isnin lalu adalah anak mereka yang hilang selama sebulan.

Jazimin Abdul Jalil and Norazian Bistaman have suffered enough. And are coming to terms and dealing with the brutal murder of their eight year-old child.
They are grieving. Nurin is not coming back.
Yes, we all at some point after Nurin's disappearance must have wondered how and why she was allowed out on her own.
Perhaps a little angry with her parents.
But we stopped short of whacking them for being negligent because we know what they must be going through.

What is the point of taking court action against Jazimin and Norazian? To send a message to parents? To society?


Why don't we ask whether there was any effort at all by the police to investigate her disappearance?

Now, if you see any child walking to school unaccompanied, stop him/her and ask where his/her parents are, who they are and then we can take the child to the police station and lodge a report of negligence against his/her parents.
After all, that can be done.

I think the IGP has shown a total lack of compassion and decency. Just because you can throw the book on them does not mean you should.
I hope the Attorney-General will throw out the police recommendation to charge Nurin's parents in court for negligence.
It is an outrage.

What is wrong with us?

So, can we take action against anyone for being negligent in investigating Nurin's disappearance?

Meanwhile, can we go hunt for the killer(s)? Please?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Get Nurin's Killer(s)!


Allahyarhamah Nurin Jazlin is to be buried today after Friday prayers.
This is from

Due to the overwhelming scientific evidence produced, the parents of Nurin Jazlin have decided to accept the body they inspected as of their daughter's.

The body will be claimed this morning and funeral (burial) would probably be held after Friday prayers today.

My earlier posting:

Looks like a controversy is emerging from the case of the murdered little girl who was stuffed in a sports bag.
DNA tests have confirmed that little Miss Jane Doe is Nurin Jazlin, the eight year-old who had been missing since Aug 20.
But her parents have denied that that the girl in the bag is Nurin.
Jazimin Abdul Jalil and Norazian Bistamin have insisted that the dead child is not their daughter because of some physical differences between the two children -- teeth and hair and the absence of a scar (on the dead girl's body).

Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan has said that little Miss Jane Doe will remain "unidentified" pending further DNA tests to confirm her identity.

You know what...... okay, by all means, yes, do another DNA test. We need some kind of closure for the parents. The parents need it.
If it is indeed Nurin, then Jazimin and Norazian will be able to come to terms with the fact that their daughter is not out there somewhere. That she is no longer with them and they will be able to "doa" for Nurin.
It is painful. No parent should be going through this.
And our hearts go out to you both.
Al Fatihah to dear Nurin and may she rest in peace...

But if it is not Nurin...well then, who is this poor child and where is Nurin?
The police have to make these cases a priority -- a murdered child and another, a missing child.
The crime committed against the dead girl is very heinous, horrific, brutal and despicable, necessitating the highest urgency from the police.

Whether or not the child is little Nurin, the fact remains that a child had been brutalised and murdered by a person or persons.

The fact remains that the beast(s) is/are still out there.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Farewell, Nurin....

Go now, beautiful soul,
Go now, innocent soul,
Go now where the angels await you

Go play in that garden
by the dazzling stream
pluck the juicest grape

Go now
Can you not hear their
gentle whispers
beckoning you

Fare thee well now, little angel

Nurin Jazlin is not coming home. But she is now in a far better place. Better than the hell she was in days before she died.
Nurin is not coming home because she is that dead little girl stuffed in the gym bag that was dumped at a shoplot in Petaling Jaya.

Police have confirmed that the body is that of eight year-old Nurin, based on DNA tests.

Read it here and here.
Blogger Pasquale has his take on Nurin's abduction, sexual abuse and death. He thinks it is more sinister than we can ever imagine. Read it here.

May Allah bless her sweet little soul. And may she rest in peace.
Sleep well now, Nurin. Al Fatihah.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rock-a-bye Baby....

I cannot begin to describe my feelings when I heard the news of a dead little girl in a bag dumped at a shoplot in Petaling Jaya. The circumstances of her death were too horrific beyond belief. She was sexually and brutally assaulted.
The news came in the wake of a report about eight year-old Nurin Jazlin who has been missing since Aug 20.
Could the little girl in the bag be Nurin? It was a heartwrenching thought.

This morning, I saw the dead little girl's picture on the front page of the NST. A picture of her in death.
I know that as a rule, newspapers refrain from using, much less playing up, pictures of murdered victims. Especially that of a child.
But the case of little Miss Jane Doe must have been, well, special. She was someone's child. She had a name and an identity.

This time I did not turn away. This time I stared hard at the page one photo of a dead child. I was so so sad.
Click here for the story because I just cannot make myself repeat the details.

"Do you know her?" -- the headline asked.
No, I don't. And I am glad I don't. I am glad she is not known to me. I am glad I don't have to go through the pain of having to deal with such tragedy.
I am already shocked and outraged, as it is. Just like the rest of you out there.

I am relieved it is not Nurin Jazlin. I am relieved it is not any child I know.
But it does not make me feel any better that a child had died that way.

I think of my nieces -- Sarah, Sofia, Soraya and Sonia -- who are all below 12. My daughter, Shaira is 15.

Sex crime perpetrators make no distinction. Infants, children or older females. Adults too. They are all fair game.

I worry. Unimaginably.

Take care of your kids.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where is Nurin?

Nurin Jazlin, eight, went missing on Aug 20 after going to her neighbourhood pasar malam.
My heart goes out to her parents, Jazimin Abdul Jalil and Norazian Bistaman who are praying that their child is still alive.
I pray that she is alive and safe.
We all have children, nephews, nieces or/and younger siblings.
We know the pain Jazimin and Norazian are going through.

Her uncle, Jasni AJ, has set up a blog, which he says is "dedicated to our continuing search for Nurin Jazlin".
"It is hoped that by having this blog, it could reach out to a wider audience and hopefully someone would be able to let us know the whereabouts of the missing girl."

Let's do all we can to help find Nurin.......

Tuesdays With Bapak

Journalism and Merdeka - September 18 2007
One day sometime this year in Bapak's room, Bapak and I got chatting about journalism and Merdeka which seemed to be intertwined those early years.
I know it is already September and Aug 31 is past but we are still in our 50th Merdeka anniversary. So here's the casual conversation we had.
Just reflecting on a very very distant past.

Me: What really got you into journalism? The love of writing?

Bapak: That and colonialism. My father was fighting for Merdeka. He was in Kesatuan Melayu Singapura. He was very active in the nationalist movement. He wrote anti-colonialist articles for Warta Malaya. Dia bantai orang putih. He was very much a nationalist. So was my mother, in her own way.
We were fighting for Merdeka.

Me: You went along with him?

Bapak: He expected me to follow him. I was willing-lah. It was something new. I was very young.... maybe 18.
Gaji surat khabar tak banyak so you would need the blessing of your father to be a journalist. As a nationalist, what pay did you get? Nothing. I already felt the need to fight for independence. I joined the newspaper when I was 16. I already knew what I had to do. I wrote articles... bantai orang putih.
My father was a fierce man. He was already in the nationalist movement to membela orang Melayu. He was active in education, very well-known as a religiouis scholar, a headmaster. Even the police respected him.

Me: In your youthful mind at that time, what was your perception of the orang putih?

Bapak: They wanted to keep the government in their hands. They did not want to share the wealth.

Me: How strong was the anti-colonialist movement?

Bapak: The situation was such that orang takut kena tangkap. I was called by the Special Branch. But aaah, I told them **** you.

Me: You did not fear them?

Bapak: We had the people behind us. Utusan Melayu was a popular paper. It became powerful.
In my case, I had the backing of the political parties. Tak ada takut.
We were confident because the papers were controlled by the Malays. Rahim Kajai was editor of Utusan Melayu. He was in full support of our struggle. He also happened to be a good friend of my father's.

Me: How did you raise the semangat kemerdekaan?

Bapak: We didn't just sit around and talk about it. We went around talking to people.
We knew people supported us. We had so many visitors to our office. They showed support.
Ishak Haji Muhammad (Pak Sako) all congregated at Utusan Melayu.
We felt we had to do something at whatever cost.
Without Utusan Melayu, independence can be achieved but much slower.
Kajai took a big risk --- because the owners (of Utusan Melayu) might just, right in the middle of our struggle, get cold feet.

Me: Did they?

Bapak: No.

Me: Do you consider yourself brave?

Bapak: You have to take everything in your stride. Don't panic. Do whatever you can, try to win the people's support. Win their heart and mind to be on your side.
We made use of the paper. I wrote articles and editorials.
You don't ask the Malays to fight. You raise theirs sense of nationalism, their pride.

Me: Just the Malays?

Bapak: Utusan Melayu had the support of the Chinese as well, and other races. I remember meeting people, ordinary people, students, clerks. Malays and Chinese. Others. Utusan Melayu was respected by the Chinese.

Me: You were with the Merdeka Mission to London. How was it?

Bapak: I was in London for about a month. They consulted me on stories. The British gave us due respect.
Yes, it was thrilling. We were not full of anticipation because we were confident of Merdeka. The stage was already set. The trend was there. The British were not about to go back on their word. It was as good as done.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reaching Out

Morning at 11. Fourth day of Ramadhan, sans maid and I have done the household chores except cooking.
Time to put my feet up. Relax. Read the news.
There's a world outside and I have to know what's going on.
Good news, bad news.
Sigh. I can't change the world. Heck, I can't change things in my own country.

I am reminded that Raja Zarith Sofia Idris writes a column, "Mind Over Matters", in The Sunday Star.
I like her and I like what she writes. And she writes, from where she is standing, about her life's experience, her point of view about issues that touch her.
You'd expect some la-di-da tone or that patronizing and condescending note in her writing.
If you really did, then Raja Zarith Sofia is a disappointment because you can't detect all that.
She is so down to earth and I do believe that she writes from the heart.

In her column about "Separate Realities" today Raja Zarith Sofia comes to the realisation, like the rest of us, that it is not possible to help the thousands of poor and underprivileged people across the globe. So, we do what we can, when we can to help change the life of people we know. In her case, she is set to help an old lady, Aminah Mohd Tahir, perform her pilgrimage.

She writes:

Earlier, my younger son had just told me about an old lady, Aminah Mohd Tahir, whom he had met that afternoon; she was born without hands and feet. He showed me the book “Catatan Dari Syurga” (Notes from Heaven) that had been written about her life by Rohani Deraman.

Aminah was married, first to a man who deserted her after she bore him a child, and then to another whom her parents did not approve of because he was not a Malay. But for some years, they did have a happy marriage during which she bore him six children. He died of asthma and she, as a single mother and physically handicapped, had to feed and clothe her six children. She did so by working for other families, by looking after their children or washing clothes.

Her youngest son Jaleel recalled how, as children, they ate rice mixed with salted water. There was nothing else for them to eat.

Aminah’s dream is to be able to perform the haj. We were wondering how best to help her make her dream come true when news about the earthquake diverted our attention for a while. My son said Aminah was crying at a ceremony where she and about 100 poor and single mothers were given food items for Ramadan.

While there will be international and local coverage on TV about the earthquake in Sumatra and the victims, there will be none on Aminah. So, in the end, there remains just a few of us who will know about Aminah’s plight and desire to go for pilgrimage.

Perhaps, instead of trying to save the whole world, I can start with just this one person who lives not far from us. She is now part of my reality. The voice of guilt has become louder. It tells me I must try to make her dream come true. I hope I can.

During our 50th year of Merdeka, I know that there’ll be many Malaysians who will be generous and caring enough to help make Aminah’s wish become a much longed-for reality. Inshallah.

I know many people would turn a blind eye or simply turn the other way to the plight of the poor and underprivileged.

I suppose it is easier to do that.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dog Catching Competition in Selayang Scrapped

In case you'd like to know, the Selayang Muncipal Council (MPS) has scrapped the controversial dog-catching competition which offered residents up to RM15,000 in prize money.

The MPS' decision was due to public outcry over the issue.

According to the Star, State executive councillor Datuk Tang See Hang said the authorities would be working closely with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and other animal rights groups to ensure that the animals were handled and caught only by trained personnel.

The decision also had to do with safety concerns expressed by various groups that both the public and the strays could get injured if the competition went ahead.

Well, what can I say but -- didn't we all tell them so?
That aside, I am just so glad the MPS decided to call off the competition and to address the problem in the most practical and professional way.

Kudos to them!
Click here for the rest of the story.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

And Dr M's Walking About....

Oh...I love good news.
First I heard that Khairy and Nori are now proud parents.

At IJN, Bernama has an update on our former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is recovering from a second coronary bypass operation.

Here's the story:

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, recovering from a heart bypass operation, was Thursday (Sept 13) transferred to the Bunga Raya Ward from the Intensive Care Unit of the National Heart Institute (IJN).
The former prime minister is now able to walk unaided, is consuming normal diet and is doing more vigorous chest and mobility exercises, the IJN said in a statement.
It said Dr Mahathir was moved to the normal ward at 11am but visitation remains limited to only immediate family members.
The IJN noted that nine days into his post-bypass surgery, doctors were happy that the 81-year-old former prime minister had made good progress while in the ICU.
Dr Mahathir successfully underwent his second coronary bypass surgery on Sept 4. His first was on Jan 24, 1989 following a heart attack.

Baby Boy For Khairy & Nori

Nori Abdullah delivered a baby boy this afternoon. Nori is the daughter of the Prime Minister and wife of Khairy Jamaluddin, the Umno Youth deputy chief.

Congratulations to the couple who must be so thrilled.
And it's a Ramadhan baby.

Here's the Bernama story:

Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Nori Abdullah became proud parents of a baby boy on the first day of Ramadan today (Thursday, Sept 13).
Nori, who is the daughter of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, delivered the baby weighing 3.3kg at the Pantai Medical Centre at 1.25 pm.
"Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah) for delivering us a healthy baby in this holy month of Ramadan. Both mother and child are healthy and doing well," Khairy told Bernama.
He thanked the management and staff of Pantai Medical Centre, especially Dr Premitha Damodaran, for the excellent care that they have provided Nori and the baby."
"Nori and I are also very grateful for all the phone calls and text messages that we have received from everyone," he said.
On the name of the baby, Khairy said: "We have a very short short-list. It will be decided very soon."
Commenting on whom the baby looked like, Khairy quipped, "Thank God, my son looks like his Mama and not like me."

Earthquake Hits Sumatera

Last evening as I was driving home from Bangsar, I heard a tsunami alert for the coastal areas of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak, announced over the radio.
This followed an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 in southern Sumatera.

My heart missed a bit.
It was reported that states along the west coast of the peninsula felt the tremors from the quake which occurred at 155km southwest of Bengkulu in southern Sumatera and 718 southwest of Johor Bahru at 7.10pm.

People were told to stay away from the shoreline because an earthquake of this magnitude had the potential to generate a widespread tsunami that could affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean.
But the alert was later withdrawn.

Then, early this morning, another powerful earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the south Sumateran province.

The second quake occurred 575km southwest of Johor Bahru.
According to Bernama, there were reports of tremors being felt in the west coast of the peninsula.
But no tsunami alert has been issued.

So far, no casualties have been reported in the country, But in Sumatera, at least 3 people were reported killed in Padang, West Sumatera while eight others were believed burned alive under the rubble of a collapsed 3-storey building.

Many shops, houses and other buildings there were reported to have collapsed following the earthquake.
Hundreds of people living along the coast have fled heir homes for fear of a tsunami.

All Malaysians students in Indonesia have been confirmed safe, according to Bernama, quoting Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Zainal Abidin Mohamed Zin.
There are no Malaysians studying in Bengkulu.

I pray that the situation does not get any worse in the Sumateran province.

I remember the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.
I was always working on Dec 26 every year of my working life since becoming an editor for the very simple reason that Christmas holidays are for my Christian colleagues. So I and my non-Christian colleagues would take turns to work during the Christmas holidays.
I don't quite remember any exciting thing ever happening on Boxing Day before 2004. Or perhaps, that tragedy eclipsed every other reported on every Dec 26 before 2004. I don't know.

It was a quiet and, as we say a "dry" morning that Dec 26 of 2004,
But, I did not have to wait long for some excitement and drama.
I was on 8am duty. The first call came early from a very worried reader who was forced to evacuate her apartment unit in a high-rise block with the other residents after the building literally shook.
Now, what was that about? Couldn't pooh-pooh her. Her apartment building shook, for goodness sake.
Let's check with the crime desk. Nothing.
But there must be something if hundreds of people felt their apartment block shake.
Made several calls. Checked Bernama and other wire service agencies. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing official.
And then....nothing could prepare us all for what was to follow.
First from Penang. Nothing serious but potentially alarming.
Before we knew it, calls and info about tidal waves across the Indian Ocean came like an unstoppable avalanche. And deaths. And deaths. Almost everywhere.
The sense of unpreparedness, hopelessness.
The death toll was astounding. More than 225,000 people dead and missing. With a magnitude of 9.1 to 9.3, it was the second largest earthquake ever recorded.

No, I don't want to remember that tsunami of 2004.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Everything has a springtime, and the springtime of the Qur'an is the month of Ramadhan." - Imam Muhammad al-Baqir

Tomorrow, Muslims begin observing the blessed month of Ramadhan, a special time for them.

Everyday of the holy Ramadhan, Muslims (those physcially able) fast from dawn to dusk.

It is a time of prayer, reading the Quran, reflection and charity.

Ramadhan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is special for Muslims because it was during Ramadhan that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

It is also a time when we are encouraged to refrain from feeling or doing anything that can mar the purity of spirit we are trying to achieve.

I wish my Muslim brothers and sisters Selamat Berpuasa and have a happy and blessed Ramadhan!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

Postcards From Bapak - Sept 11 2007

These days, people hardly send postcards. People hardly write letters, even. Ask your kid to pen a letter and he/she will probably pull a face before giving you a weird look as though you're not from this planet.

The letters I have been receiving are from the banks, the clubs and the telcos. You have to read them just so you don't overlook any warning that you have been negligent in your payment.

Friends don't write me letters. They send SMSes and emails. Okay, so I know we are living in this century. Sometimes I forget that.
I think I've been revelling too much in the past.

The internet, of course, is amazing, An incredible "invention". Out of this world. It takes us anywhere in an instant.
You get to send emails. Communication across the oceans in real time.
But, you know, I don't like sending emails. I know it is an effective form of communication.
I don't know why but I always sound so impersonal in my emails. And I often seem to want to get it over and done with. I don't enjoy writing emails.
But who writes letters these days, anyway?
Well, I do... just give me a pen and a paper. Ok, ok... just my notebook and I can "write and write". And I will make a print-out of the letter to be put in an envelope, stamped and posted. Very old-fashioned. Very satisfying.

So, postcards? I can count the number I have received from anyone the last five years. Ten years even.
Gone are those days.
I know Rocky sends postcards to friends whenever he is overseas.
The last one I received from him was when he was in Sardinia. That was cool.
I got another from my dear friend, Shamsul Akmar, just after he arrived in the UK late last year.

I make a point of sending postcards to my children whenever I am abroad. The last were from Holland and Pakistan.
Sometimes I don't have to be that faraway to want to send people postcards, like from Penang or Terengganu.
I love the postcards in Sabah and Sarawak.

Postcards give you a sense of being wherever you are. Usually far away.
I suppose in this day and age, we are made to remember that it is a borderless world. Nowhere is too far away.

Bapak used to send us postcards those days when he was a journalist covering overseas assignments in the 60s.

I know I have them stored safely somewhere in my trove of treasures. One day, I will take them out and read them, one by one which really is not hard to do because Bapak wrote simple one-liner or two.

He would send one each to Kak Olin, Kak Eda and I. Sometimes, he'd send to Azah and Kamal too.

When he was in Africa covering the Non-Aligned Movement conferences, we'd get postcards from faraway places.

In big scripts, Bapak would write -- "Olin, Cairo is very historical. Bapak".

Or from Sudan: "Ena, It is hot in Khartoum. Bapak"

Of course, sometimes he'd send to "Olin, Eda & Ena, It is cold in Sarajevo. Beautiful country. Bapak".

Everytime Bapak went abroad, we'd wait anxiously for postcards from him.

I'd rush into the house after school to check for any post card from him.
We'd all be so excited.
And oh! Just to look at the pictures on the postcards!

I remember the postcard from Khartoum. It showed a picture of a woman clad in Sudanese attire with a traditional headwear.
I kept on looking at the picture.
Yes, I remember my young mind thinking -- Bapak is in a strange land far far away.

When I first went overseas (not counting Singapore) and arrived in London in 1979, the first thing I did was to buy postcards to be sent to family and friends.

I think I have not stopped doing that. Like I said, even when I am somewhere not faraway, I'd be thinking about sending a postcard.

But I wonder whether Adel and Shaira have kept the postcards I sent them, as I have kept the ones Bapak sent me.

I have never asked them. I don't think I will.

Monday, September 10, 2007

At The Multi-Faith "Doa Selamat"

I have never attended a multi-faith "doa selamat" before.
I know more or less how followers of other faiths worhip. But, except for Church services -- Catholic, Protestant or other denominations - I have never attended a Hindu, Buddhist or Taoist prayer.
So I was looking forward to attend the multi-faith prayers last evening (Sunday, Sept 9) at Blog House in Bukit Damansara held for former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is recuperating from a second coronary bypass operation at IJN.

Alhamdulillah, Dr M is recovering well and getting better.
His daughter, Marina who hosted the event said he was already able to have meals and she quoted his doctors as saying that "the numbers are good".
Speaking in a choked voice, Marina thanked well-wishers of all faiths. She was touched by the great number of messages, SMSes and emails she and her siblings received from people from all walks of life and the different faiths who had wished and prayed for her father's recovery.

"Clearly, it shows that my father's heart belongs to all Malaysians," she said.

Marina said it was Dr Mahathir's decision to undergo the operation which was, of course, risky considering his age, 82.
Her family was wrought with concern, she said, her voice breaking and her eyes glistening with tears.

Maghrib prayers were held first with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf leading the prayers.

After Maghrib, leaders of the other faiths -- Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Baha'ii and Catholicism -- offered their prayers.

Rocky, who is National Association of Bloggers (All-Blogs) president, vice-president Jeff Ooi, treasurer Tony Yew and other committee members Zorro, Galadriel, Rajahram and Husna were there.

Pokku, Ancient Mariner, Big Dog, A Voice, Chris, RPK and wife, Marina, were there as were NGO representatives, among whom was Ivy Josiah.
I met Zuliana, a media coordinator and designer. She knew about the event from the many blogs.
There was a lot of food so she helped pack the rice, meehoon and the other dishes for everyone there and also to be distributed to "others in need".
Thanks Zuli. Hope to see you again at Blog House!

See Marina's, Rocky's, Jeff's and Pokku's.

Tagged: All-Fives

Another tag. Sigh sigh sigh. This time it's from my blog sister, Wanshana. She is so sweet and lovely and is married to Ayah and has three wonderful kids that I cannot refuse her and turn down the tag.

The tag is another one of those that demands you to reveal a little bit of yourself. Man, this is one kay-poh tag. It's quite personal and private really.You have to tell your blog readers 5 items/things that can be found in 5 "intimate" places, including two that are in your heart and mind.
(Now, this is the time that I am tempted to lie. But I am a believer of the principle that Rocky has drumned into me -- bloggers don't lie.)

So, here goes:

5 things in my handbag/bag

my bulky purse
my cellphone
my mini hairbrush
my mini make-up kit plus tissue papers
my reading glasses

5 things in my purse :

my driver's licence
my bank ATM cards/credit card
my club membership cards

5 favourite things in my favourite room (my bedroom):

bottles of perfume
my bed

5 things I would like/love to do :

ski in Switzerland or some great spots in North America
go to biblical places in the Middle-East
go back to studying - maybe another degree in something exciting
Learn Arabic
Perform the Hajj

5 things I'm currently doing :

trying to be supermum (in the absence of a maid)
worrying over Adel's and Shaira's exams
planning for today -- what to eat etc
planning for Ramadhan
applying for a new maid

Ok.. so that wasn't too hard. I supppose I have to tag 5 other people.
I shall tag Zai, Galadriel, Fauziah, Laychin and Eva.

I hope they are as sporting as I am (ahem!). Peace, sisters!
A Lover's Call

By Kahlil Gibran

Where are you, my beloved? Are you in that little
Paradise, watering the flowers who look upon you
As infants look upon the breast of their mothers?

Or are you in your chamber where the shrine of
Virtue has been placed in your honor, and upon
Which you offer my heart and soul as sacrifice?

Or amongst the books, seeking human knowledge,
While you are replete with heavenly wisdom?

Oh companion of my soul, where are you? Are you
Praying in the temple? Or calling Nature in the
Field, haven of your dreams?

Are you in the huts of the poor, consoling the
Broken-hearted with the sweetness of your soul, and
Filling their hands with your bounty?

You are God's spirit everywhere;
You are stronger than the ages.

Do you have memory of the day we met, when the halo of
You spirit surrounded us, and the Angels of Love
Floated about, singing the praise of the soul's deed?

Do you recollect our sitting in the shade of the
Branches, sheltering ourselves from Humanity, as the ribs
Protect the divine secret of the heart from injury?

Remember you the trails and forest we walked, with hands
Joined, and our heads leaning against each other, as if
We were hiding ourselves within ourselves?

Recall you the hour I bade you farewell,
And the Maritime kiss you placed on my lips?
That kiss taught me that joining of lips in Love
Reveals heavenly secrets which the tongue cannot utter!

That kiss was introduction to a great sigh,
Like the Almighty's breath that turned earth into man.

That sigh led my way into the spiritual world,
Announcing the glory of my soul; and there
It shall perpetuate until again we meet.

I remember when you kissed me and kissed me,
With tears coursing your cheeks, and you said,
"Earthly bodies must often separate for earthly purpose,
And must live apart impelled by worldly intent.

"But the spirit remains joined safely in the hands of
Love, until death arrives and takes joined souls to God.

"Go, my beloved; Love has chosen you her delegate;
Over her, for she is Beauty who offers to her follower
The cup of the sweetness of life.
As for my own empty arms, your love shall remain my
Comforting groom; your memory, my Eternal wedding."

Where are you now, my other self? Are you awake in
The silence of the night? Let the clean breeze convey
To you my heart's every beat and affection.

Are you fondling my face in your memory? That image
Is no longer my own, for Sorrow has dropped his
Shadow on my happy countenance of the past.

Sobs have withered my eyes which reflected your beauty
And dried my lips which you sweetened with kisses.

Where are you, my beloved? Do you hear my weeping
From beyond the ocean? Do you understand my need?
Do you know the greatness of my patience?

Is there any spirit in the air capable of conveying
To you the breath of this dying youth? Is there any
Secret communication between angels that will carry to
You my complaint?

Where are you, my beautiful star? The obscurity of life
Has cast me upon its bosom; sorrow has conquered me.

Sail your smile into the air; it will reach and enliven me!
Breathe your fragrance into the air; it will sustain me!

Where are you, me beloved?
Oh, how great is Love!
And how little am I!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Multi-faith Doa Selamat for Dr M

Multi-faith prayers will be held for Dr Mahathir Mohamad from 7pm tomorrow (Sunday Sept 9) at Bloghouse 66 Lorong Setiabistari 2, Bukit Damansara.
Marina Mahathir is organising the event so that non-Muslims can hold prayers for her father who is recuperating from a second coronary bypass operation.

Last evening, Dr Mahathir's family held a reading of the Yassin, a doa selamat and solat hajat the Federal Territory Mosque at Jalan Duta.
Marina felt that as non-Muslim well-wishers were not able to join in last evening's prayers at the mosque, a multi-faith session would allow them to hold their prayers.
According to Marina, so far, Archbishop Murphy Packiam representing the Christian community and His Holiness Swami Samyam Ananda representing the Hindu community have confirmed they will recite their respective prayers.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will lead Maghrib prayers at 7.15pm.
At 7.30pm, representatives of Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Baha'i faiths will begin taking turns to lead their prayers.
Dinner will be served at 8.15pm.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Only 14 died in NS, not 20

That's what the DPM Najib Razak said.
Thank you for clarifying that ONLY 14 have died since the NS programme was implemented in 2004, and not 20 as reported.

We are all so relieved, aren't we that ONLY 14 trainees have died. They're not your kids or mine. Some other people's. So, who cares?
Aaah. Only 14. And we can all sleep well tonight.

The story is here. Let's hope that it was not him who said ONLY.

Doa Selamat and Solat Hajat for Dr M

This is from Bernama:

The family of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will hold a reading of the Yassin, "doa selamat" and "solat hajat" (special prayer for a wish) following his successful second coronary bypass operation on Tuesday.

Through a statement issued in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 6, Dr Mahathir's family is inviting Muslims to join the session at the Federal Territory Mosque in Jalan Duta here, beginning with maghrib prayer and ending with isya' prayer.

Asked on the latest development, Dr Mahathir's daughter Datin Paduka Marina said he was in stable condition since this morning.

"What makes us even happier is that he is able to eat some food although in liquid form," she said when met at the lobby of the National Heart Institute in Jalan Tun Razak here tonight (Sept 6).

Meanwhile, the doctors and nurses are keeping a close watch on Dr Mahathir although he has been put on a liquid diet.

Asked whether the public could visit Dr Mahathir, Marina said for now only close family families were allowed to do so.

Dr Mahathir had his first bypass operation on Jan 24, 1989.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Catch Stray Dogs and Win (a lot of) Cash in Selayang

Are you game on winning RM15,000. Maybe RM13,000 or, okay, RM11,000?
Just catch about 150 stray dogs within six months, bring them ALIVE to the Selayang Municipal Council and you stand to receive the cash.

Read here for the Star story.

It is a competition, for crying out loud!
The people at the council (MPS) can't seem to solve the stray dogs problem in the area and are wooing residents with cash to catch the canines.

The RM15K is the first prize; RM13K is second and RM11K is the third prize.

My niece, Jehan, sent me an SMS this morning about the competition.
"I think it is cruel and a waste of public funds," she said.
I agree.
I am sure Jehan, an animal lover who used to work with WWF, is now really angry.

I do believe the MPS has run out of ideas on ways to solve the stray dogs problem. I find that quite strange because I can think of better ways of dealing with the problem.
First and foremost, that's a lot in prize money which can be used to hire professionals to catch the dogs.

When you have such a competition, you can be sure that there will be people who will employ some of the most cruel and inhumane ways of catching the dogs.

Dog catching is fun for money?

Looks like MPS believes that the means justifies the end.

I certainly don't.

(Photo shows a humane way of catching dogs. Click here.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

Coming To Malaya - Sept 4 2007

I don't remember much about our packing up and coming to Malaya.
I suppose at three years old, leaving home held little significance. After all, home is where your parents and siblings are and you're happy anywhere with them.

We came to Malayan shores in early 1959 after Bapak was assigned to start the Berita Harian operations in Kuala Lumpur. Berita Harian was a new Malay language daily launched by the Straits Times in Singapore two years earlier.
Bapak had left Utusan Melayu about the same time after returning from his Jakarta sojourn, by which time his relationship with his boss, Yusof Ishak had soured, and with Lee Kuan Yew, had deteriorated.

Here is a bit from "A Samad Ismail - Journalism & Politics". Former Berita Harian group editor Ahmad Sebi wrote on the topic, "Samad's Influence":

By this time Alex Josey*, was already somewhat a Lee confidante, and the Malay in A Samad Ismail was becoming too strong for Lee's comfort. At the beginning of 1956, he was "assigned" to Jakarta because in the words of Yusof Ishak, "a senior member of our staff should be available in Indonesia to serve our paper".

Samad was due back in Singapore by November 1957 but Yusof's letter, dated November 26, 1957, further instructed him to continue his stay in Indonesia for an indefinite period!

By that time, the general election was over, Lee Kuan Yew had been sworn in as Singapore's first Premier with Yusof Ishak as the republic's President. Malaya too had achieved independence. The turn of events came rather swiftly but A Samad Ismail had known all along that his beautiful affair with Utusan Melayu and Singapore would have to end.

While in Jakarta, he had contemplated leaving Utusan Melayu.

But where could he go? He was too far in love and deeply entrenched in the Malay language press, and there was no other like the Utusan Melayu.

But, God, they say, moves in mysterious ways.

On July 1, 1957, a new Malay language daily, the Berita Harian was born in the Straits Times stable. In April 1958, A Samad Ismail became the de facto editor of the fledgling Berita Harian.

A letter from L.C Hoffman, editor-in-chief, The Straits Times group, dated 8 April, spelt out his duties in the group's newspapers. Hoffman said: "Firstly, you will have to consider yourself employed by the Group rather than by any particular paper in the Group. The fact that most of your work will be for Berita Harian should not prevent you from contributing your knowledge and experience to The Straits Times or The Sunday Times. You may be asked from time to time to write in English for these publications or you may be asked to advise us on the policy we should adopt on a particular issue.

"Your work on the Berita Harian will in the first instance be directed to raising the present standard of translation of articles and news items, standardising the spelling and improving the content of the paper".

Thus began a new chapter in his role as a nationalist freedom fighter. But the imminent question about his new task was, could he fall as tempestously in love the second time around? Was this not a betrayal of nationalism at its worst?

Mercurial A Samad Ismail seemed to have prepared himself for the challenge, First, he drew key journalists and literary figures like Mazlan Nordin, Samani Mohd Amin, Salim Kajai and Samad Said and placed them in key positions for the task of gradually building the image of the Berita Harian as a vehemently nationalistic newspaper of post-Merdeka in a manner not very different from what he had done for the Utusan Melayu.

Well, as they say -- the rest is history.

And so, there we were in Kawasan Melayu, Petaling Jaya, all ready to start a new life in Malaya.

Bapak brought Mak, Kak Olin, Kak Eda, Azah and I. Kak Piah, Kak Ton and Abang Med remained in Singapore as they were still schooling. But Bapak made preparations for Kak Ton and Abang Med to join us at the end of the year.
Kak Piah, however, remained in Singapore because Nenek would not let her go. She was raised by Nenek and there was no way Bapak could have taken her to live with us.

Kak Piah however came to live with us in 1964 because Bapak felt that while he loved his mother, it was in Kak Piah's best interest that she continued her studies in Petaling Jaya, seeing that she was spoilt rotten by Nenek and everyone else back in Singapore.
After Kak Piah's departure from Kampung Melayu, Nenek was heart-broken. She died soon after.
And Bapak never forgave himself.

We lived at Jalan Sentosa, in Kawasan Melayu until, I think, 1962, when we moved to Jalan Lembah in Section 5, Petaling Jaya.

At Jalan Sentosa, we lived in the middle unit of a three-linked double-storey houses. You know, instead of a semi-detached, there was an added unit. Ours was the middle one.
There were no fences separating the units. The three linked houses shared a huge fenced compound. The original gated community, I imagine. But minus the security guards, and the gate was, of course, always opened.

I remember many happy moments there. I remember walking to the nearby kedai kopi with our (maternal) grandfather whom we called, Ompong, having kopi susu and roti bakar with dollops of kaya. I remember always drinking the hot coffee from the saucer because I was so impatient and couldn't wait for it to cool.
And oh, the old kedai kopi Chinese man in singlet and shorts who always served us our kopi and roti talking shop with Ompong as we enjoyed our food.

I remember watching movies at the Majestic cinema. I remember the market and nearby toy shops.
I remember many friends.

Mak never minded if we wanted to walk to the shops to buy sweets. How safe the streets were.

The only time we were asked to quickly get into our homes was when a "deranged" man came by.
I remember the neighbourhood children shouting : "Orang gila datang, orang gila datang."
We were so scared that we all ran into our houses.

It turned out that this man was not "gila". Bapak found out that the man had gone over the edge after he lost the love of his life. A broken romance. A broken love affair.
A heart-broken man who never got over the pain and ache of being left by the woman he loved.
I didn't understand it then.

For years after that, I wondered about him. I was so young but I remember the story, year in, year out.
How could I not? He was a familiar sight on the streets of Petaling Jaya.
He must have walked the streets for years, looking scruffy, unkempt, dirty and wearing torn and filthy clothes.

I never avoided him whenever I saw him, usually on my way to and back from school in State (PJ new town), or accompanying Bapak to the market.
Don't know why, but I always looked at him and I could see the emptiness in his eyes. Yes. I was always that near to him.
I could not forget this man. I wondered whether he could feel the hardship of his life at all.

One day I realised that he never showed up anywhere. He just disappeared.
I learnt about broken hearts when I was very very young.
"People can go crazy when their mata ayer** leave them?", I had often asked, bewildered.

Bapak enrolled Kak Eda and I in Yong kindergarten which was run by a Chinese couple.
It was too late for Kak Olin to start kindergarten and too early for her to begin primary school. So she waited until the next year to be enrolled in standard one at Assunta Primary School.

Yong kindergarten was a very good school. We were taught to read and write. We learnt artihmetics. We had tests and had positions in class. Just like a "real" school.

I think that gave me an edge when I was in standard one.
On the first (or second) day in standard one, our teacher gave us a test. Then, she called seven names, including mine, and we were sent to another class to join other girls. It was called standard one express.
We were doing standard two work and the next year, I went to standard three.
I was in Assunta Primary (one) and Kak Eda was in Assunta Primary (two).
Two different sessions run by different teaching staff and headed by different principals.
But in 1966, Bapak decided that it was only practical that Kak Eda and I were in the same sessions so I was enrolled in school two. Kak Eda and I were in the same class throughout until we were in Form One.
The kids and teachers thought we were twins.

There were times, in our adult years, that we asked each other what would have become of us if we had remained in Singapore.

If Bapak had "played politics" and had not fallen out with Lee Kuan Yew, he would have been President of Singapore, for sure. Not Yusof Ishak.
But, knowing Bapak, he would not play politics so he would have become LKY's political foe numero uno and would therefore be detained without trial. He would be the longest-serving living political detainee, surpassing Said Zahari.

As being children of a political detainee in Singapore seemed to be the most logical outcome, then I reckoned we would have turned out very differently.

So, indeed, God moves in mysterious ways. How wonderful that is.

"These struggling tides of life that seem
In wayward, aimless course to tend
Are eddies of the mighty stream
That rolls to its appointed end".

And in Malaya, now Malaysia, we have remained.

* a journalist with the English language Press.
** girlfriend/boyfriend

Monday, September 03, 2007

National Service Trainee Dies

I heard over the radio this morning that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak has ordered an investigation into the death of 18 year-old National Service trainee Mohd Rafee Amir.
Mohd Rafee who died on Saturday night was an orphan but he had an older sister who must be so overcome with grief because it was to her that he informed of his fever that developed after his leg swelled following a fall during training at the Cheneh Cemerlang Camp in Kemaman.
Jubaidah was quoted by Bernama to have said that Mohd Rafee told her last Saturday that his leg had been swollen for a week.
She contacted the camp authorities but they more or less told her to buzz off because they knew better.
On Saturday (Sept 1) night she called the camp but was told that he had already been sent to the hospital.
Mohd Rafee died on the way to the hospital.
Read her story here.

I don't know what to say.
Another death?
Are we to expect that during every National Service session?
One, two or three death(s)?
Do statistics matter?

What are we sending our kids to?

Mohd Rafee had no parents. He had an older sister and four other siblings who are living with their uncle in Kuala Selangor.

Let's not pretend. If we had our way, we'd NOT send our kids to the NS camps.
I used to believe that there was good in this training because ......well because...

I'd really like to know if any of our national/political/high-flying leaders -- present and now - had their kids or grandkids sent to the NS camps since the programme started.

I bristle just knowing that some of our leaders send their kids to expensive exclusive boarding schools abroad.
I think they ought to be admonished!

Anyway, let's see what comes out of the invesitgations into Mohd Rafee's death.