Friday, July 31, 2009

Penang State Assemblyman Dies

Pas Permatang Pasir (Penang) state assemblymasn Datuk Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman passed away at the National Heart Institute this morning.
Al Fatihah.

Another by-election?

Is Six Lashes For Drinking Beer A Quranic Injunction?

By Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

ON July 20, the Pahang Syariah High Court sentenced part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor, 32, to a RM5,000 fine and six lashes of the rotan for drinking beer.

No doubt the court has the jurisdiction to impose such a sentence as provided by the law.

Some have questioned the appropriateness of the sentence of whipping given that the court has discretion to impose a mixture of fine, imprisonment and binding Kartika over for good behaviour for a certain period, or just admonish her.

Others have questioned the appropriateness based on the legitimate argument that the Syariah holds Muslims responsible for their actions that result in negative opinions of Islam.

A news item like this certainly presents Islam and Malaysia negatively on the international stage.

But I would urge the Malaysian Syariah authorities to seriously reconsider the Syariah basis of this law on the following Syariah grounds:

Neither the Quran nor the Hadith invokes a penalty for alcohol consumption. The sin of consuming alcohol is described in the Quran in the mildest language of prohibition.

When it comes to dietary laws, the Quran commands the believers in Sura 5:3: "forbidden (hurrimat) to you is the dead animal, loose blood, and the flesh of the pig".

The 90th verse of the same Sura cautions the believers that "wine, gambling, etc, are an impurity so avoid them (fa-jtanibuh)".

Some legal scholars suggest that the divine command ijtinab, to avoid something, is milder language than tahrim, prohibition.

A Muslim consuming a glass of wine with a pork chop commits a more serious offence in eating pork; yet as there is no Quran or Hadith penalty for consuming pork, there is also none for alcohol consumption.

The question then is how did the penalty for alcohol consumption come about?

It occurred during the time of the second Caliph Umar b. al-Khattab. There was a companion of the Prophet (sahabi) who had fought on the Prophet's side in his battles.

A heavy drinker, he would walk the streets of Madina drunk at night and loudly shout scandalous things about people. The inhabitants of Madina complained, and Umar formed a committee to decide what to do.

Imam Ali, based on the man having committed slander, suggested the penalty for slander, whose maximum penalty is 80 lashes.

Since that time, this has been considered the maximum penalty for alcohol consumption, based on utilising the Syariah concept of ta`zir (deterrence).

I disagree with this being the mandatory sentence for the offence of wine consumption, because it is the maximum sentence for another, separate offence - slander - albeit committed under the influence of alcohol.

Had the man just fallen on the street in a stupor and suffered a terrible hangover without having hurt anyone, no punishment would have been established.

Had cars existed then and had he run his car over some pedestrians and killed them, should we invoke ta`zir now and have a penalty for alcohol consumption equal to that of accidental manslaughter?

There are additional arguments we can marshal from the Quran and Hadith. The Quran repeatedly urges Muslims to forgive those who wrong them, even for slander and manslaughter!

When the Prophet Mohamed's wife Aisha was wrongly accused of having committed adultery, her father Abu Bakr sought to have the penalty of libel meted against one of his employees who had slandered her.

God then revealed verse 24:22, urging the believers to pardon and forgive those who have wronged them, so that God would forgive them their own sins.

But I see no evidence that Kartika wronged anybody after drinking beer.

Verse 4:92 gives the penalty for a Muslim accidentally killing another as freeing a slave and paying compensation to the victim's family - unless the family forgoes compensation and forgives the offender.

And if the defendant can't afford to pay, then he should fast for two consecutive months. Accidental homicide is a much greater sin than alcohol consumption; yet the Quran suggests that the victim's family would do well to forgive the offender, and the penalty here is not jail time or corporal punishment, but a two-month fast.

The Quranic and Prophetic teachings are about forgiveness, compassion and positive personal transformation. Sura 48:29 describes Prophet Mohamed's companions as "firm against unbelievers and compassionate to themselves", and this is what I urge the Malaysian authorities to exemplify: show compassion to Kartika and forgive her.

But if the Pahang Syariah court insists on establishing a penalty for the mere consumption of alcohol, why not replace the current law - a maximum penalty of a RM5,000 fine and six lashes of the rotan - with spending RM5,000 on feeding the poor and fasting for six days?

Wouldn't that be more in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Quran and the Prophetic Sunnah?

Were this the case, I have a hunch that many Malaysians who imbibe may voluntarily mete such a "penalty" on themselves - to the benefit of the poor, to the benefit of their own spiritual progress and standing before God on Judgment Day, and to the benefit of the Malaysian Syariah Court's, Islam's and Malaysia's image on the international stage.

(This article is also on Star Online)

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, an international organisation devoted to improving West-Muslim world relations, and author of "Islam, A Sacred Law, What Every Muslim Should know about the Shariah".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

H1N1 On The Rise (Update)

More universities and schools had to be closed due to detection of the virus in these places.

Here's the Bernama report:

Two tertiary institutions, one faculty of a third, two secondary schools, seven industrial training institutes and a National Service Training Centre throughout the country were closed Wednesday and yesterday due to the detection of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) there.

The affected institutions, which will remain closed for one week, were the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in Tanjung Malim, Perak, the Engineering Faculty of the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Nibong Tebal, Penang and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Jit San (A) in Bukit Mertajam, Penang which were all ordered closed for a week beginning today

In Kuantan, Pahang, the Kolej Yayasan Profesional Mara was also closed for a week beginning yesterday.

In PERAK, the 14,000 students of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in Tanjung Malim were ordered to return home after 435 students were reported to be suffering from ILI.

The Health Ministry ordered the campus closed for a week beginning today until Aug 3. Only about 4,000 students of the university were staying in the hostels while the rest were staying outside the campus.

A spokesman from the Operations Room of the Perak Health Department said the department was awaiting the full report from the District Health Office to determine the number of students affected and whether there was any increase in the number of cases.

"Currently, we are still investigating the blood samples taken from the affected students to determine whether they were positive of influenza A (H1N1)," he told Bernama when contacted Wednesday.


Teoh's Family Insists On Royal Commission Of Inquiry.....


SHAH ALAM, July 29 -- The family of Teoh Beng Hock insists that the royal commission to be set up should also determine the cause of death of the Selangor political aide and not merely scrutinise the mode of questioning employed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Teoh's sister, Lee Lan, said the family expressed appreciation to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for having met Teoh's family members and explained the setting up of the royal commission of inquiry but felt that the cause of her brother's death should be determined by the royal commission.

Teoh, 30, political aide to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16 on the fifth floor corridor of Plaza Masalam here after having given a statement as a witness to the MACC over allegations of misuse of funds by Selangor state executive councillors. The MACC office is located on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam.

On July 22, Najib announced that an inquest would be held to determine the cause of Teoh's death. He also said that a royal commission of inquiry would be set up to determine the standard operating procedure of questioning of witnesses and suspects by the MACC.

Lee Lan spoke to reporters outside the magistrate's court here where the inquest into Teoh's death began Monday. Teoh's father Leong Hwee, elder brother Beng Kee and fiancee Soh Cher Wei also attended the hearing today.

Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas adjourned hearing to next Wednesday to enable counsel holding watching brief for the relevant parties to scrutinise the documents made available to the court today.

Inquest Adjourned And DNA Of Unidentified Man Found...


SHAH ALAM, July 29 -- The inquest into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock has been adjourned to Aug 5.

Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas adjourned the hearing to enable lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, representing Teoh's family, lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar (representing the Selangor government) and the Bar Council to study the new documents submitted this morning by lawyer Tan Hock Chuan, who is assisting the inquest.


the inquest was told that DNA trace of an unidentified man was found on the back of the blazer and belt of political aide Teoh Beng Hock.

Government-appointed lawyer Tan Hock Chuan, who is assisting the inquest conducted by coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas, told the court the "mystery man" had yet to be identified although samples of DNA were taken by the Chemistry Department from 102 individuals.

Tan said that besides the DNA trace of the "mystery man", Teoh's DNA trace was also found on the blazer and belt.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

H1N1 On The Rise

You can't stop it. So, you need to take precautions, and BETTER care. This is important.

The 42-yr-old Malaysian who died yesterday evening is the country's third H1N1 death, as 95 new cases are reported, all local transmission.

More and more schools have been forced to close.

The situation is getting worse.

So, if you fall ill, and appear to have the symptoms, get treatment swiftly and, do the necessary.


THE Inquest Begins Tomorrow

In case you haven't been keeping up with the news....

Tomorrow, the inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock, the political secretary of a Selangor state executive councillor, begins.

It will be in the Shah Alam magistrate's court to determine the cause of death.

Teoh, 30, political aide of Selangor State Executive Councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16 on the fifth floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam.

He had been questioned as a witness by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) between 5pm on July 15 and 3.45am the following day on the allegations of misuse of Selangor state government allocations, at the MACC office located on the 14th floor of the same building.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, for Teoh's family, when contacted by Bernama said he would make an appliction to get several documents including the post-mortem report before the inquest proceedings begin.

Statements from 77 people questioned will be the focus. Azmil Muntapha Abas is expected to act as coroner.

Among those expected to be called are 28 MACC officers, chemists and pathologists and several of Teoh's close friends.

On July 22, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced that an inquest headed by a magistrate would be held into Teoh's death.

Besides Gobind, Teoh's family is also represented by lawyer Karpal Singh, while lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar would be an observer for the Selangor state government.

The Attorney-General's Chambers is still keeping mum on who would handle the case but it is believed that it will be an experienced Deputy Public Prosecutor.

Shah Alam Magistrate Court 5 is being prepared for the proceedings. Several workers were busy installing three screens to display the proceedings for the duration of the inquest.

Media persons are expected to be at the court as early as 6am to get seats in the public gallery as the court can only hold 60 persons.

(source: Bernama)

Opposition Parties Want To Meet Najib

Leaders of the opposition parties want to have a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak immediately to discuss several pressing matters including the role of the Royal Commission to investigate the death of a political aide to a Selangor State Executive Councillor, Teoh Beng Hock.

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said the opposition pact wanted the scope of the commission to be widened and not confined to the investigation process only.

"We want the commission to also investigate the cause of Teoh's death," the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor told reporters after chairing a meeting of the Pakatan Rakyat Leadership Council at the Parliament House, in Kuala Lumpur today..

Anwar said the meeting also hoped to get Najib's views so that he would agree to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA).


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Al-Fatihah : Yasmin Ahmad

I just got word, confirmation thatYasmin Ahmad just passed away.


May Allah bless her soul. Amin Amin Amin....

***Yasmin, 51, was laid to rest this afternoon (12.40pm, Sunday July 26), at USJ23, Subang Jaya cemetery.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Yasmin - Update

The latest is that Yasmin's condition is not improving. But we pray that it will.

(NST online) :
Her family has informed that her condition today has deteriorated.
She remains on life support at the intensive care unit in Damansara Specialist Hospital in Petaling Jaya.

The family has requested that no visitors congregate at the hospital.

Yasmin, 51, collapsed on Thursday while making a presentation at Sri Pentas, headquarters of the TV3 television station, and was rushed to the hospital.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yasmin -- Update

Yasmin Ahmad is still in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery for bleeding in the brain, said her younger brother Muzaffar Shah.

“It’s good news that she’s not getting worse. We will not know until 48 to 72 hours after surgery. The doctor will check on her again to see if there’s any change and will let us know,” he said.

Drainage of fluid was being carried out to reduce the pressure on Yasmin’s brain, which was swollen, said Muzaffar, 38.

“One of the vessels burst due to high blood pressure, causing the stroke. Right now it depends on how she reacts to the medication.”

Muzaffar said his sister was on oxygen support, instead of life support, contrary to some reports. He also refuted reports claiming that this was her second stroke. (star online)


At 5pm yesterday, Yasmin underwent a neurosurgical procedure at Damansara Specialist Hospital after suffering a stroke at Sri Pentas TV3 here.
The operation was completed at 7.30pm and she was reported to be in a stable but critical condition.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Film Director Yasmin Ahmad In A Coma

Critically-acclaimed movie and TV commercial director Yasmin Ahmad is in a coma after having collapsed during a presentation she was giving at TV3.

She has been taken to the Intensive Care Unit at the Damansara Specialist Hospital, where doctors are trying to revive her.

She is believed to have suffered a cardiac arrest and is in critical condition. Doctors are trying to revive her at this time.

Yasmin, 51, the director of Sepet, is particularly well known for the community message commercials she directed for Petronas.

She began her career in advertising as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, eventually rising to creative director at Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur.

Her movies have won many international awards and have been screened at the Berlin, San Francisco, Singapore and Cannes international film festivals.

Last November, she was inducted into the inaugural Malaysian Advertising Hall of Fame by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia. - (The Star online)

She has a blog:Yasmin Ahmad's blog

First H1N1-Related Death In Malaysia

A 30-year-old Indonesian student became the first Influenza A(H1N1) related fatality in Malaysia, although the cause of death was not the disease itself.

The student, from the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance in Kuala Lumpur, died from cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said on today. - (The Star online)

...And a vaccine soon ...

Australia has begun its world-first human trials of a vaccine for this deadly flu.

According to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), Australian bio-pharmaceutical company CSL, the makers of the vaccine, believe it will protect against the H1N1 virus.

Yesterday, some 240 adults were injected with the vaccine at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in trials.
A further trial of the vaccine on 400 children will begin on August 4.
So far, Australia recorded more than 40 deaths.

Quoting CSL's research and development director Andrew Cuthbertson, AAP reported that said the vaccine should be proven by late September.

The (Australian) federal government has already ordered 21 million doses of the vaccine.

"As soon as I have confirmation that the vaccine is safe and effective, I will ensure it can be rolled out to the community," federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said yesterday.

The adult trials, to take six weeks to complete, are testing the appropriate dose of the vaccine.

UPDATE: Royal Commission Of Inquiry, Inquest..

I'm sorry, folks.

My earlier posting was -- as I had indicated -- from Malaysiakini's initial report.

Here's the story:

PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet will form a royal commission to scrutinise the mode of questioning employed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to determine whether human rights have been violated during the questioning of a Selangor political aide who was found dead subsequently.

The Cabinet, at its meeting today, also decided that an inquest be held next week to determine the cause of death of the political aide, Teoh Beng Hock, whose body was found on Thursday on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, which houses the MACC office on the 14th floor.

These details were announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who also said that the Home Ministry and the police had been instructed to complete investigations into the case as soon as possible, and that a report on the matter would be made public.

The death of Teoh, 30, who was the political aide to Selangor New Village Development and Illegal Factory Task Force Committee chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah, raised public outcry after he was found dead at a corridor of the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam on Thursday following questioning as a witness by the MACC over alleged misuse of funds by Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state executive councillors.

Najib told reporters the Cabinet decisions were prompted by the desire to conduct a thorough investigation to find out the cause of the incident. (NST online)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Royal Commission Of Inquiry Into Teoh's Death To Be Formed

The government today agreed to form a royal commission of inquiry to look into the sudden death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock while under the watch of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission last Thursday.

The decision to form the royal commission was made at the weekly cabinet meeting today.

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

The inquiry is expected to determine the cause of Teoh's death.


Kartika Is ready To Be Caned...

But there appears to be a "snag"...

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno is set to become the first woman in the country to be caned under the syariah after she decided not to appeal against her sentence.

Kartika, 32,, was sentenced on Monday to six strokes of the rotan and a fine for drinking beer at a nightclub in Cherating, pahang, last year

The part-time model who is a mother of two from Sungai Siput, Perak, is married to a Singaporean.

Lawyer Mohd Zuki Che Muhamad Ghani said his client wanted the sentence to be carried out as soon as possible to allow her to continue with her life.

He said her decision was conveyed to the court when he turned up to pay the RM5,000 fine on her behalf yesterday.

However, Kartika's readiness to be the first Muslim woman to be caned under Section 136 of the Pahang Islamic and Malay Traditional Practices Enactment 1982 (amendment 1987) posed a dilemma for the authorities tasked with carrying it out.

Judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Yunus, who had handed down the sentence on Kartika, had said the caning would be carried out by the federal prison authorities.

Zuki said the prison authorities could not carry it out as the judgment did not include a jail term.

However, following a meeting with the judge and syariah deputy prosecutor Saiful Idhan Sahimi, Zuki said the court would issue a special warrant to detain Kartika.

Meanwhile, Pahang Syariah chief prosecutor Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said the caning would not cause physical injury as it was merely to make the offender feel repentant.

Luring Them To PKR.....

Good move by Parti Keadilan Rakyat to get some big names into the party. Lawyer and former Umno member/Cabinet Minister Zaid Ibrahim joined the party earlier this year.
A few days ago, (former) MCA stalwart Chua Jui Meng followed suit. Two MCA members tagged along.

Zaid has invited Umno veteran leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to join PKR. Ku Li has declined and explained so in his online response.

He said: "......I am not in Umno because I “harbour hope of saving Umno” in its present incarnation. I remain because the cause for which Umno was formed, and the principles which guided its promotion, has not gone away just because we have lost our way 60 years later, and they need to be upheld.

"A second reason I shall not be accepting Zaid’s kind offer is that things have deteriorated to the point that party affiliation is really not the issue anymore. The issue is how we are to save our country.
What we must do now goes beyond political parties. We need the rakyat to rise up to claim their institutions, and demand that our public institutions are answerable to them. We must wake up to our sovereignty as citizens, reclaim the constitution which constitutes us as a nation and guarantees our rights, and demand a comprehensively reformed government to restore public confidence. We must do this before it is too late".

Will Zaid take "no" for an answer?
Who else on PKR's list?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Woman Fined And To Be Whipped For Consuming Alcohol

This is, I am sure, the first case of its kind in Malaysia where a Muslim woman gets a syariah court conviction for consuming alcohol.

Thirty-two-year-old model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor wept after the Kuantan Syariah Court yesterday fined her RM5,000 and sentenced her to be whipped six times for the offence committed last year.
She had, earlier pleaded guilty to the charge committed at Cherating Bay Lounge, the Legend Hotel in Cherating, Pahang.

Kartika, from Sungai Siput, Perak, faces a three-year jail term if she fails to pay the fine.
She was charged under Section 136 of the Pahang Administration of the Islam Law and Malay Custom Enactment.

Kartika will be appealing the decision.

Here's another, er...interesting case (I heard this on the radio on my way to work):

A woman stabbed her husband for coming home late after watching the friendly match between Manchester United and the Malaysian team on Saturday night.

The woman, in her 20s, has been remanded for five days.

She had stabbed her 26-year-old husband in the chest. He is being treated at Kuala Lumpur Hospital and is said to be in stable condition.

According to police the woman was so angry with her husband for returning home late. He had promised to be home immediately after the football match on Saturday but, instead, got home in the wee hours next morning (2am, Sunday).

(It was a good game with our Malaysian national team beaten by MU satu gol sahaja. The score was 3-2. And for the record, in the friendly re-match at Bukit Jalil yesterday, MU got over their jetlag and our punishing humidity, storming swiftly with 2-0 win. Still, that's a great Malaysian team we have.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bon Voyage, Dear Captain...

Al Fatihah.

My cousin, Kamal or Atan as we fondly call him, was a good friend of Captain Yusof's (picture). Atan is a nautical or marine engineer or something. They met years ago, somewhere at sea, I presume.

Yesterday (Sunday) Atan called me to ask me whether it's true that Captain had passed away.

I happily told him: "Bukan dia, Ibu dia yang meninggal."

I was remembering Elviza's text message to me last Tuesday after she received mine telling her that Captain's mother had passed away.

Elviza saw the words "captain" and "passed away" but missed the word "mother". For a second, she thought the worst, that Captain Yusof had passed away. Her heart missed a beat. But she was so relieved after reading my message again.

We exchanged smiley smses, quietly laughed about it.
"No, Captain is fine..."

A while later after Atan's call (yesterday), I received a text message from Halimah Said, telling me that Captain had died.
Again, I "corrected" her to say that it was his mother....

Not a moment too soon, she called me to say that he had passed away in the night and as we were speaking his remains were being prepared to be taken to Seremban.

I was shocked. It must be a mistake.

"His mother just died....we just met him on Tuesday at the funeral...", I kept muttering...

Still refusing to believe, I did the darnest thing -- I called his number twice. Both times, I got the voicemail. I wished I had his wife's number or any of his children's.

I had to rely on our friends for confirmation.

I am still so sad. We will miss him dearly and especially on Tuesdays when a few of us meet for mee rebus at Kak Ton's.

He was a wonderful listener. I love his swashbuckling tales of the sea....his sometimes ribald jokes.

I would send him a text message Monday evenings to remind him about mee rebus. He'd never fail to give a prompt response -- "okay, see you there" or "sorry, I am still in.....".

Last week he responded, a little late: "Sorry, won't be able to make it today, because my mother passed away."

So we went to Seremban late Tuesday morning to pay our respects.
We got to meet his wife and children as well as his close relatives.
Captain was chatty, telling us about how his mother had not been well and he had been travelling to Serermban for her.
We told him that we never knew he still had his mother around given that all of us younger ones had lost ours years ago...
He spoke about how his mom's house would now be empty because all the kids had left the nest, and there'd be no one around.
He told us about his son's wedding. "You bloggers are invited," he said with a grin.

His final words to us before we took our leave: "See you next week for mee rebus...."

Bon voyage, dear Captain. It was your time. To Him you came and to Him you return.
May you rest in peace. We will miss you. And I will miss reading updates of your postings in your blog which I so enjoy reading.

Al Fatihah.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

America's Iconic News Anchor Walter Cronkite Dies

Walter Cronkite, America's preeminent television journalist of the 1960s and 1970s who as anchor and managing editor of "CBS Evening News" played a primary role in establishing television as the dominant national news medium of that era, died last night at age 92.

CBS Vice President Linda Mason said Cronkite died at 7:42 p.m. with his family by his side at his home in New York after a long illness. He had been suffering from cerebrovascular disease, his family said recently.

Cronkite's career reflected the arc of journalism in the mid-20th century. He was a wire service reporter covering major campaigns of World War II before working in radio and then joining a pioneering TV news venture at the CBS affiliate in Washington. Later in New York, he anchored the network's nightly news program from 1962 to 1981, a period in which television established itself as the principal source of information on current events for most Americans. -- from the Washington Post

A New Journey For (Former) MCA Stalwart Chua Jui Meng

Former Health minister Chua Jui Meng today quit MCA and announced that he is joining the opposition -- Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Chua said he was taking a "new journey, a journey of change".

"I'm convinced that today I'm standing on the right side of history, especially at this defining moment of history, I'm joining this party," he told a crowd of some 800.

He was with PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim at the PKR's 'The Truth Behind the Scandals: Perak, PKFZ and the BN Conspiracy' forum in Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa.

Chua said he decided to join PKR because the country's two-coalition political system was being undermined by Umno.

The death of Teoh Beng Hock, the political aide of Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was the “tipping point” in his decision to defect to the opposition, he added.

On Thursday, Teoh's body was found sprawled on the roof of an adjacent building after he had undergone questioning late into the night at the offices of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

H1N1 Influenza : UiTM In Malacca Closed

The Ministry of Health has ordered the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) campus in Lendu, Alor Gajah to temporarily stop classes after several more students contracted Influenza A(H1N1) on Thursday.

Some estimated 5,000 students were informed by university officials late Thursday evening that they would be given a nine-day break from classes until July 24 in an attempt to prevent further infections.


Higher Taxi And Bus Fares

From Aug 1, fares for all public transport services in the country will be increased.

The biggest hike will be fares for taxi and school buses.

Passengers will have to pay RM3 (currently RM2) for the first three minutes and 10 sen for every 115 metres travelled while parents will fork out 30 per cent more per child.

But those above 60 years old and those considered needy will benefit from the hike. They will receive 25 per cent discount despite the hike of two sen for every kilometre travelled in an express bus.

The government also announced a slew of measures to keep track of bad drivers and operators.


Manik Urai

The outcome of the Tuesday's Manik Urai by-election was a complete surprise to many of us.

If you believe the Pas hype -- the party had in its hands 2,000 votes (majority) an hour before polling ended -- you'd think Pas would be romping home with a big win.

On Umno's side, grassroots leaders talked of "reduced majority", although top party leaders indicated that it had a 'good chance' of winning. Nobody quite believed that. And if you did, you'd be disappointed simply because you'd wish that Umno could've done a little better, and win.

The results -- Pas won BUT by a miserable 65-vote majority.

( Pas candidate Mohd Fauzi Abdullah obtained 5,348 votes while Barisan Nasional's Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat, 5,283. In last year's general election, Pas' Ismail Yaakob defeated Mohamed Zulkifli Omar of the Barisan Nasional (BN) with a majority of 1,352 votes.)

How bad is it for Pas?

Pas spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat is not about to be pushed to a corner and take the blame. A little responsibility, perhaps, but not sole blame.

He is blaming it on Umno' money politics.
If that is so, then, the voters are a very corrupt lot too. I'm not inclined to believe that they are.

In this round, I'd have to disagree with Nik Aziz.
Or, was it wrong for the voters to have been convinced by Umno that it could help change their lives for the better?

If it were money politics, as described by the Tok Guru, Umno would have been slaughtered. No mercy.

You cannot deny Umno's markedly improved performance. And credit MUST surely go to Mustapa Mohamad, Kelantan Umno chief.

Pas has a lot of work to do now. A lot of cleaning up.
And it's really not complicated to understand what happened and why. But Pas must accept the reality, the truth, no matter how ugly and how brutal. the sooner it works to mend fences and rectify the situation, the better it is for the party.

A combination of factors - Pas' "unholy marriage" with DAP is not going down well among many Malays; as well as the infighting and rift in the party. And of course, Tok Pa.

That said, Umno must get over the high, the jubilation. And quickly. Yes, it is a moral victory. Still a defeat.

Whether this is a signal of what's to come remains to be seen and depends on how Pas overcomes whatever shortcomings.

Besides, nothing is permanent.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Buy Nothing Day.....

There' s never a day that I've stayed away from the shops. Except when I'm ill and bed-ridden, which is hardly.

There's always something to buy.
That doesn't mean that I'm a shopaholic, incapable of being thrifty.

I used to not think about this very normal thing we do. And recently, when the economic crunch hit us all, I started thinking about my neighbourhood shops.
Already, they're competing with the big boys. With this downturn, they're barely surviving. So, i do whatever I can.
And I am a supporter of local small traders.

So how can I not go to Ah Leong's shop or buy Kak Limah's nasi lemak tomorrow? What if everyone decides not to buy anything tomorrow?
Won't that hurt the small businesses? Even for that one day?

I believe that we all should be thrifty, to not overspend or be extravagant in these hard times. But, I also believe that we should help keep our economy alive, in whatever way we can, no matter how small.

So you see, it is difficult for me to join in and celebrate not buying anything.

And, oh...tell do you assess the success of "Buy Nothing Day"?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pas Wins Manik Urai, But....

only just. In fact, by the skin of its teeth.

Can't be a victory, if you ask me.

Consider the fact that in today's by-election, Pas candidate Mohd Fauzi Abdullah won by only 65 votes.
(Of course, that means Barisan Nasional's Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat was defeated.)

And the fact that in the last year's general election, Pas' Ismail Yaakob defeated Mohamed Zulkifli Omar of the Barisan Nasional (BN) with a majority of 1,352 votes.

That is severe.

The Manik Urai seat fell vacant following Ismail's death on May 22.
Ismail, who was deputy head of the Pas Kuala Krai Division, won the Manik Urai state seat in the general election in 1985 and had been the elected representative there for five terms.

Manik Urai is one of the four state seats in the Kuala Krai parliamentary constituency, the others being Dabung, Guchil and Mengkembang.

A win is a win, even by one vote. Sure, sure. That's democracy.

Let's get real here. ONLY 65 votes, in your own fortress, your stronghold for the six terms.

A defeat, in my book. And Pas too, I am sure.

Pas knows what went wrong.

And if it does not get its act together, it will continue to lose its loyal Malay votes.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Policy Reversal On PPSMI

There's no point hiding the fact that the government will be reversing its policy on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English.

The story's been leaked. "Everyone"s talking about it.
Today Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will be announcing that the government has no choice but to revert to teaching the two subjects in Bahasa Malaysia.

The PPSMI issue sparked so much controversy among teachers, parents, Malay writers, Chinese educationists and, of course, politicians.

A harsh critic for a policy reversal is former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who detailed why PPSMI should be retained.

I understand that statistics have proven that PPSMI is simply not working well for our students, mainly rural Malays.

I do understand, and I believe all this is due largely to a very flawed education system. I'm no education expert but, a good look at my children's text books and a bit of grilling on how these subjects are being taught by their teachers tell me that all is not well at all in our public schools.

If school kids NEED tuition for almost every subject, including Sejarah -- then, there is something really wrong with how teachers are teaching. Don't tell me that I have NO time to teach my kids. Truth is, I'm not qualified to teach maths -- and even BM, according to today's syllabuses.

I know that even our politicians and some very important people send their kids to private schools -- here or abroad. Either because 1. they can afford it. 2. they can afford it and they don't have faith in our public schools.

This "final decision" of the government to reverse its policy is, of course, disappointing. Howver, I am encouraged, a little by the fact that the government will be putting into place some strong measures to uplift the teaching of English by increasing the teaching hours and re-introducing English literature. The government will be getting teachers, including retired ones, locally, and from abroad.

The good thing is that (I've been made to understand), the reversal will not be immediate.

My open support of PPSMI has not been received well by several quarters who, of course, accused me of not being a patriot, anti-BM and so forth.

I've explained my stand. Supporting PPSMI does not make me less of a Malay, nor a Malaysian.
I'd even go far to say that an overhaul of the teaching of BM (including its syllabus at every level) should be undertaken to encourage people to LOVE the language, not to fear it.

With its decision, the government needs now to plan well. Holes and weaknesses should have been plugged and rectified years ago. It is, of course, as cliches go, not and never too late.

Education policies have always been dictated by political expediency, needs and interest. That is the reality.

So, let's hope the reality now is to produce a new generation of literate Malaysians who are educated, intelligent, competitive and resourceful who are a vital capital to the country.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Service To The Country....

When the Government first launched Khidmat Negara or National Service (thank God it's not called Servis Nasional), I must tell you that I was a critic. Harsh but honest.

I liked the whole idea, basically but I felt the Government's readiness did not match it's commitment. The programme itself was deficient in its design and content. Implementation left much to be desired.
Worse, facilites for recruits, in most instances, were so bad, due to, as we all found out, sub-standard contractors.

In short, it was generally poorly-run and administered. Some horror camp stories did not help better our perception of NS.

But we are all clever critics, aren't we?

It dawned on us all that National Service was here to stay. Deal with it.

Some people, of course, could not. Read HERE.

However, it was also clear that efforts were being made to improve the programme, including the facilities provided in the camps nationwide.

Over time, I believe, things improved.

My eldest, Adel Hakim was not selected for National Service after he finished school in 2007. He was pretty nonchalant about it.

Like "okay if I'm selected, okay if I'm not".

As for my youngest, Shaira who is in Form Five, the horror camp stories about abuse and death scared her no end.

I knew that there was always a chance that she would be selected, just as other students. So, I tried to mentally prepare her for that eventuality, telling her that things have improved and that it is a good programme where she'd meet lots of people. In short, that she would love it.

Yesterday, she called me to say that she had been selected. (No mention of where the camp will be, though).

She was not ecstatic. But not overly downcast.

"Tahniah. Anda di pilih......" -- said the message.

Why was she being congratulated for being selected to three months of physical training, she wondered?

Well, I said....because it would be just too bad if you weren't selected to join this damn good summer camp.

I know I will be in deep trouble if everything turns out otherwise.

Shaira is a little reticent and not prone to making friends. So, she'd have no choice but to make friends.

Besides, she'd come home, fit and trim. This seems to cheer her up a little.

I'm hoping that she'll really come to terms with the whole NS thing.

Meanwhile, Shaira is hoping, wishing, praying......that at least the camp toilets are clean.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Good To Be Back?

I'm talking about me.

Today is my first day (back) at work at NST. Homecoming, in a manner of speaking. "Sirih pulang ke gagang", some friends echoed.

First day after three years "in absentia". I won't go into detail of my leaving NST in March 2006.

A coincidence. I first joined the newspaper in July 1978 as a cadet reporter.

Never thought I'd go back to NST, to be honest. Never thought about it.

So. Good to be back?

Ask me in two weeks.