Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Gracious Erykah Badu - Did We Overreact?

I know Pas Youth is very happy with the cancellation of Erykah Badu's concert which was to have been on last night. They said so.
Along with some Muslims intolerant of anything they deem to insult their faith, even if it is not so.

Pas secretary Khairil Faizi Ahmad Kamil thanked Information, Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim for "his concern and immediate action in cancelling the concert".

Khairul Faizi and five other delegates had submitted a protest memorandum against the concert.

On Tuesday, Rais announced the government's decision to cancel the concert (scheduled to be held on Wednesday Feb 29 at KLCC) by the 41 year-old grammy-winning soul artiste.

The cancellation was on the grounds of national security, religious sensitivity and public order.

He said the rules and requirements by the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal) were breached.

Basically, the concert was banned because of Erykah's promo photo that appeared in The Star (section 2) which showed her bare shoulders and several "tattoos" two of which were the Arabic words "Allah". The "tattoos" appeared on the far front right and left side below her shoulders.

Erykah told a press conference on Wednesday that the images were NOT tattooes but body art and were not permanent

Before this, I don't think anyone knew that she had those images on her body.

Had she insulted Islam? Or Allah SWT? I don't think she had. And if she appeared to have, it was unintentional.

In the eyes of Pas Youth and other Muslims, she certainly had.

How intolerant we are.

Erykah, at the press conference, apologized for the image and said it was unfortunate that it was used by the newspaper as a publicity photo.

She said the photo was from a photo shoot and was inspired by her "fave film maker", Alejandro Jodorowsky and his movie called The Holy Mountain in the 70s.

"One of his characters is called the painted lady. She wore all symbols and names of God on her body. I posed as her in a photo shoot for New Am pt2. This idea embodies who we All are...One."

When people tattoo or paint images on their body, they usually admire, love, like...have all those positive things of/for the image they want to have imprinted or painted on their bodies.

Rightly or wrongly -- Erykah did it. But that's her body and that's her choice. No one was harmed .
And it was a photo -- and one that was used (bad choice by the newspaper, they have admitted and for which they have apologized) in the newspaper report.

Erykah was not going to insult Islam and sing songs insulting Muslims in her concert.

Rais, in his statement referred to the images and said that it was "an insult to Islam and regarded as a serious offence".

"This has raised objections from the community which can threaten national security and have a negative impact on the government's image," he said.

The decision to cancel the concert was based on the views the Home Ministry, Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and Royal Malaysia Police.

"With the graphic exhibition of "Allah" on the body of the singer, it is sufficient to warrant irrefutable religious controversies 0from among Muslims who disdain such practice.

" The Puspal committee's decision to disallow the entertainer to perform publicly is in our view justified.

"To proceed with such public performance would only attract bigger and more cascading
difficulties the likes of which we cannot afford to have under the present circumstances.

"Symbolism of Allah and Prophet Muhammad in the realm of exhibitive entertainment is not in the order Muslims'acceptance," said Rais.

Wow - you'd think that Erykah was an anti-Islam activist whose performance was going to cause a riot of such magnitude?

In fact, there was no public uproar. Just protests (typically) from our moral custodian Pas Youth and a few in the Muslim community.

And I seriously doubt that there would be mayhem outside the concert hall if the show had gone on as scheduled. A few Pas Youth members and supporters wasting their Wednesday evening making noise outside the venue, perhaps. Certainly nothing our police could not handle.

I understand Pas Youth sentiments because they are Pas Youth -- but they would really be deserving of contempt and odium from Malaysians - Muslims and non-Muslims - alike if they behaved like mad rabid dogs protesting the concert.

So, no...we should not have cancelled the concert. We overreacted, as we always do for our inability to do better in such circumstances and instances. I say we -- although I was in no way party to that decision -- because that decision reflects all of us. That we are a bunch of intolerant hypocrites.

Well, typical, isn't it? So easy to ban, ban, ban....books. concerts, films....

Read THIS too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Satu Lagi kena Tipu...

Here's something I don't understand. Don't these women read newspapers or portals or something?
Do they live in a cave?
There have been so many cases of this kind of scam.

I'd like to say: " serves them right"...

According to the NST today, a 46-year-old office clerk was conned of RM75,000 by her boyfriend whom she had met through a social networking site.

The woman, from Kampung Sungai Merab Hulu in Kajang, lodged a police report on Wednesday, saying her boyfriend, who introduced himself as Chris Joshwen from the United Kingdom, had told her that he would be coming down to Malaysia to visit her on Valentine's Day.

On Feb 13, she received a call from a woman who claimed to be a Customs officer at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) that Joshwen had been detained by the authorities for failure to declare the items that he brought in.

The "officer" then told the victim that she had to pay RM75,000 for his release.

Without questioning much, the victim withdrew her money and banked in the amount in four transactions into three different accounts as instructed by the "officer".

The rest of the story HERE.

How many similar con cases like this have we read? Are they that naive, that vulnerable?

Whitney Houston Laid To Rest.....

WESTFIELD, N.J.— Whitney Houston was laid to rest Sunday at a brief private ceremony in New Jersey, the end of a weekend that saw the pop star's family and friends gather at a star-studded funeral to mourn her loss while celebrating her career.

Fans and onlookers gathered in several places along the route the motorcade took from the Newark funeral home to the cemetery about 20 miles away in Westfield, where Houston was buried next to her father, who died in 2003.

The 48-year-old singer died Feb. 11 in California, hours before she was to attend a pre-Grammy Awards party. No cause of death has been determined.

On Saturday, she was mourned at an invitation-only funeral at the church in Newark where she sang in the choir as a child. She was remembered by the biggest names in the music: Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys sang, and industry mogul Clive Davis was among those who spoke, as was Kevin Costner, Houston's co-star in "The Bodyguard."

The funeral was closed to fans, who were not allowed within blocks of the church. Still, many came to Newark to take part in what ways they could, some from as far as Miami and Washington, D.C.

Fans gathered again near the funeral home Sunday morning, and some even slowly ran alongside the hearse as it began the journey to Houston's gravesite. Several yelled out "We love you, Whitney" as the hearse, which had a black and white headshot of the star in a window, slowly drove away.-AP

Here's my piece on her that was published in the NST on Saturday, Feb 18.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bank Negara Clarifies On Forex Fatwa


KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia said yesterday that only licensed financial institutions and money changers are allowed to conduct foreign currency trading.

This statement came about after the National Fatwa Council's ruling on Wednesday that forex trading is forbidden for Muslims.

The Council's statement on it being permissible among banks and money changers was not prominently mentioned in the media, which created some confusion among the public.

BNM said licensed commercial banks, Islamic banks, investment banks and international Islamic banks are allowed to buy and sell foreign currency in Malaysia, as provided under the Exchange Control Act 1953.

And under the Money Services Business Act 2011, so too are licensed money services business providers or money changers.

"In addition, Shariah-compliant financial products, including foreign exchange related transactions, offered and transacted by licensed Islamic financial institutions are approved by Shariah Committee of the respective financial institutions with endorsement from the Shariah Advisory Council of BNM," said the central bank.

International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) head of Research Affairs, Dr Asyraf Wadji Dusuki when contacted, said he lauded the National Fatwa Council's decision as it is targeted at Muslim individuals who engage in forex trading via the Internet.

He said ISRA research on online forex trading raised a few concerns such as the leverage, rollover interest, the issues of qabd and qabl (status of ownership), and the element of gambling.

Asyraf said it is common from brokers to offer a loan in the form of leverage, which is against Islamic practice.

"For example, when an investor wants to have an open position worth US$1,000, the individual only needs to provide a capital of US$10 while the balance is offered by the broker in the form of a loan," he said.

This practice, he said, can lead to riba (interest), whereby the broker will profit through what is known as spread - the differences between the bid and ask prices where the broker sells the currency to the trader at a high price and buying it at a low price.

Dr Asyraf added that according to ISRA's study, almost all forex online platforms are operating without valid licences.

Meanwhile, National Fatwa Council chairman Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Abdul Shukor Husin clarified yesterday that not all the foreign exchange trading (forex trading) is forbidden to Muslims.

In a statement, he said the decision by the council on Wednesday was misreported in several media and explained that it was only referring to foreign currency scheme by individual spot forex through electronic platform.

He said the decision was taken as there were many doubts about the individual spot forex and it involves the trader to use the Internet, with uncertain outcomes.

“Such trading are against the Syarak laws and the Malaysian law,” he said in the statement.

However, he said the decision did not apply to other forms of trading in foreign currencies, such as by licensed money changers or between banks.

He said such trading are permissible as they do not involve currency speculation or uncertain outcomes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's Now Haram For MuslimsTo Trade in Forex

The National Fatwa Council yesterday made a ruling that foreign exchange (forex) is haram for Muslims.

National news agency (Bernama) quoted council chairman Dr Abdul Shukor Husin as having said that forex trading is against Islamic law because involves currency speculation.

Also that it creates confusion among Muslims.

He said this to reporters after chairing the Council's 98th conference in Kota Baru.

He said Muslims should not engage in forex trading as there are many doubts about it and it involves individuals using the internet, with uncertain outcomes.

But other forms of trading in foreign currencies, such as by money changers or between banks, are permissible, as they do not involve currency speculation or uncertain outcomes..

Dr Abdul Shukor said the council also ruled that it is permissible for Muslims to invest or save in the Premium Saving Certificate scheme managed by Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN).
The decision was reached after a briefing by the Bank Negara syariah panel on the scheme's implementation.

"At first we had doubts about the scheme's implementation, but we were satisfied after the trading system was changed into the Islamic concept of Mudharabah," he said.

Read the rest of the article here.

To be honest, I have no knowledge of how forex works, so I won't know whether or not the council's decision is right, if you know what I mean.

A fatwa has been issued, be that as it may. So, how will this impact forex trading? Will Muslims heed the fatwa - although I'm not sure of the number of Muslims who trade in forex ? I guess there must be sizeable number because the council had to look into it.
And, will there be any action against Muslims who continue to trade in forex, although a fatwa is not legally binding?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Just One Too Many...

Too many drowning cases
Too many fatal accidents in factories
Too many deaths on the road
Babies' deaths in nurseries...

Are we okay with that?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston RIP (1963 - 2012)

Pop legend, songbird, actress -- Whitney died yesterday (Saturday) at 3.55pm (LA time) at the Beverley Hilton.

She was 48. Causes of her death are still unknown.

So tragic. So sad. Such an incredible talent. Her sudden death was so unbelievable, I know. I was shocked when I got the news, but not entirely surprised because I know that she had not been that well and was battling "demons"....

Only last night I was watching the Michael Jackson Tribute Concert and the rerun of Michael Jackson: This Is It.

And now, news of Whitney's death. Gone too soon. Tragic...

Outpouring of love for this sweet soul in twitter....#Whitney.

We can never forget you...

We will always love you....

May you rest in peace.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In the End -- Its' Really About Love and Relationships

This was written by a nurse in palliative care.

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.

I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

PAS Youth and Valentine's Day

Let me try to get this right -- PAS Youth is not against people celebrating Valentine's Day. Except Muslims..

PAS Youth is against Muslims celebrating Valentine's Day because it is against Islamic "syariat" as it is of Christian origin . It believes that celebrating this day of love and romance can lead to widespread immoral activities such as premarital and unlawful sex.

Because just making noise about it does not seem to have much effect on young Muslims, PAS Youth now wants the government to use its power over the mainstream media to broadcast anti-Valentine's day ads and messages to dissuade Muslims from celebrating it.

The movement is against the widespread media coverage and promotion of Valentine's Day.

PAS Youth says while Malaysia is diverse, Muslims make up 60 per cent of the population and should be subject to Islamic laws and regulations.

Also, it points out that in 2005, the National Fatwa Council declared that Islam does not encourage the celebration of Valentine's Day as it is associated with Christian elements.

So tomorrow morning, the movement will submit a memorandum to Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim at his office.

It seems to be its practice of late - just ahead of Valentine's Day, PAS Youth sends out this message or rather warning. Non-Muslim bodies, including political parties will respond by reminding the movement about the non-Muslims in the country who have the right to celebrate Valentine's Day.

PAS Youth will clarify that it understands the sentiments but is doing all this because it does not want this to be a trend among Muslims.

Besides, Muslims the world over are against this celebration.

However, PAS Youth insists that it is not trying to be the moral police or enforcers.

Last year, ahead of Valentine's Day, JAKIM launched a campaign "Mind the Valentine's Day Trap. On the day, religious enforcement officers launched co-ordinated raids, targeting budget hotels and public parks in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

In Selangor alone, officials said 80 people were detained for khalwat or close proximity. In KL, there were raids as well. Overall, some 100 people were caught.

So, come Feb 14, we'll expect raids on budget hotels.

But you know, that's not how Valentine's Day is celebrated. You raid budget and six-star hotels today, you're bound to nab people - young or/and old - doing what they're not supposed to be doing.

Traditionally in modern times, people celebrate Valentine's Day by sending red roses to the ones they love. It used to be the guys sending the flowers. These days, girls send flowers too. You can't afford red roses (other kinds of flowers just won't do!) you send cards.

You can't afford cards or you just don't do cards in this digital age, there are just so many other ways of declaring your love ....

And then, of course, the Valentine's Day dinner. Anywhere is romantic.

Actually, that's all there is to the celebration. Now, those people who check into hotels -- well, they'd be doing it anyway. Valentine's Day is just an excuse.

All I can say is that Valentine's Day has become so commercial and commercialized. Florists make a killing, so do hotels and restaurants...I mean on that day or days before Valentine's Day, you can be sure the sales of chocolates and cards and God knows-what, shoot up.

Brisk business...

Anyway, I'd like to tell PAS Youth to chill out but I know that they have to do what they have to do. It's part of of their raison d'etre or it is their raison d'etre.

Now, let me get this right, PAS Youth is not trying to be the moral police. Right?

Thank goodness for that..

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

No To Skirts In Connecticut Catholic School

A Catholic school in Connecticut in the US is introducing a new dress code for its pupils -- from plaid skirts to khaki pants by fall.

This was decided after the school authorities found that the girls were rolling up their skirts to make them shorter than the required length...

Read the article HERE.

Shortlived KITA

It's true what they say -- so easy to form political parties, but ain't easy to keep them alive and going, and relevant to the population..

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad thinks the so-called third force in Malaysian politics are not serious politicians....

Celebrating Thaipusam...

It's Thaipusam today.

Happy holiday!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Selamat Menyambut Maulidul Rasul!

When I was small, I knew it as Maulud Nabi....

Whatever we call it, it is the day to mark the birth of Prophet Muhammad SAW.

Salam Maulidul Rasul!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Rocky's Defamation Case Concluded....Finally

(Thursday Feb 2 2012)

Rocky has something to say before he moves on...

Earlier posting:

Blogger Rocky AKA Ahirudin Attan, in a long-drawn (5 years) defamation case against him by Kalimullah Hassan and three other former New Straits Times Press executives -- finally had it settled amicably.

(The three are Syed Faisal Albar, Hishamuddin Aun and Brenden Pereira.)

Actually, the NSTP was also a plaintiff in the suit but withdrew it in 2010 -- A good thing too!

In a statement of settlement tendered Tuesday to the High Court by counsel for both parties, Rocky stated that he apologised for considerable distress, embarrassment and inconvenience caused to the four.

"I recognise, acknowledge and empathise with the considerable distress, embarrassment and inconvenience caused to the plaintiffs resulting from the publication of the statements."

In 2007, Kalimullah, then NSTP deputy chairman; Hishamuddin, then group editor-in-chief ; Syed Faisal Syed Albar, then director and CEO; and Brendan John Pereira, then group editor - filed the suit against Rocky over defamatory postings in his blog.

According to the statement of settlement, which was made available to the media, Rocky also expressed his sincere and utmost regret for the consequences caused to the plaintiffs.

He withdrew all allegations and imputations against the four and agreed not to further publish any similar allegations on his blog, Rocky's Bru, or other blogs or websites.

He was present in court yesterday with his lawyer, Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos.
Counsel Rishwant Singh appeared for the four plaintiffs.

High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad made no order as to costs.

Jahaberdeen said his client was also required to publish the statement of settlement on his blog.

They further alleged that the defamatory articles, which appeared on the blog, should be read alongside and when read as such, demonstrated a clear pattern of consistent and continuous conduct by the defendant to defame and injure the plaintiffs' personal and professional reputations, property, trade as well as goodwill.

Hell yeah, Rocky, you sure caused them a lot of distress and embarrassment....

And oh...I remember that night....

Also read The Mole, Rocky's Bru, BigDog's and Apanama

Here's an interesting read -- something on the US presidential race:

10 most Racist Moments of the GOP Primary (so far)

One cannot forget that the contemporary Republican Party was born with the Southern Strategy, winning over the former Jim Crow South to its side of the political aisle, and as a backlash against the civil rights movement. This is a formula for a politics of white grievance mongering and white victimology; a dreamworld where white conservatives are oppressed, their rights infringed upon by a tyrannical federal government and elite liberal media that are beholden to the interests of the “undeserving poor,” racial minorities, gays, and immigrants.

The rest of the article HERE