Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ramadhan, the Month of Spiritual Cleansing

To many Muslims, Ramadhan is just a month of fasting. No food or drinks in the day,no untoward behavior. Actually it's a month of spiritual cleansing when all acts of subservience to Allah and subjugation to His teachings and the Sunnah ( the acts and utterances of Prophet Mohammad), will be rewarded many times more than such acts of supplication performed in other months. Allah's blessings are unlimited in Ramadhan, the hands of Syaitan (Satan) are bound, and the doors of Heaven are opened wide.

The Madrasahs and Mosques are crowded both at prayer times in the day and until late at night. We have the Majlis Buka Puasa ( breaking the fast), Sembahyang Tarawih and Witir ( 11 or 23 Rakaats), the Moreh ( Quran recitals) and Kiamullail ( special events). In the kampungs in old times, it's a month of religious gatherings and feasting, where one had the chance to enjoy all the types of food and delicacies that an average family may not ordinarily enjoy. Now you can, of course, buy almost anything that you like to eat at the Pasar Ramadhan, if you have the money.

Lat has already depicted many of the rib-tickling scenes that Ramadhan can offer in his Kampung Boy and other cartoons. But as a naughty kampung boy before I had experienced and seen more. There's the case of doing a survey on who cooks what for Buka Puasa. If you're not breakfasting in the Madrasah or Mosque, you can break the fast quickly at one place and rush to another house offering something more scrumptuous. Everyone welcomes visitors for breaking the fast. In the kampung you cannot enjoy chicken or beef curry everyday. So my group of 'tukang sapu' will always klnow where to go for a 'jamu selera'.

The menfolks were not without their own antics. During Tarawih prayer, someone might place a banana where the man in the front row will sit in between 'sujud' (prostration). When he sits, even those in deep concentration will have to suppress a laughter. There'll of course be some heated argument after the prayer but when the foul act is claimed as a test of weather the victim was really concentrating ( khuyuk) in his prayer, he would normally say that he didn't quite realize that the banana was there.

But what is seen no more in the Ramadhan of today, is the habit of families exchanging food and delicacies among themselves. Back then a family needs only to prepare one or two types of food or delicacies, making sure that there's quite a lot of it. A helping can then be distributed to neighbours who will usually offer something else in return. The surprise and excitement of the taste-bud that one gets with each unexpected return offering, is most memorable. .It goes far in terms of promoting cordial relationship in the kampung. When the food exchange is done between boy and girl, a new dimension in human relatinship surely develops, I guess that is now replaced by a chance meeting between neighbours at the Pasar Malam or Bazaar Ramadhan and comparing what one has bought for buka puasa.

Well, things have changed. The young ones now prefer to break their fast at Bistroes and Cafes. Only those without 'special friends' may go to the Madrasahs and Mosques, to escape the boredom at home. Can't blame them but one thing is certain. You may have thousands of friends out there but the one that remains inside of you is the truest. Love Him, remember Him and talk to Him often, and you'll never be alone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Permatang Pasir

The outcome of the by-election was almost predictable because of the blemish on the BN candidate's name. While PAS's candidate also suffered an attack, it came much later as if to counter the allegation already made on the former. Why BN or UMNO couln't come with a clean and more innocent looking candidate, only God knows. Certainly BN/UMNO must change its campaign strategy. Stop harping on what it has done in the last 52 years for there were as many things not done or even undone. Also stop announcing a long list of what it'll immediately do if victorious, like promising the bridge in Permatang Pauh or giving more funds for development. The rakyat knows what had been slated for them as a responsibility of the government and not as a bonus or a favour like offering a piece of candy to a kid.

Even the tactic of buying votes would not work now since voters can accept the money and yet vote the way they want. Who can do anything to them, even if found out? The rakyat needs new faces, clean and innocent of what BN has been doing all these years, professionals who are even critical of the party's past attitude and proclivities, to the point of disagreeing with some high-powered but anachronistics leaders. Only through a show of honest self-criticism, determination to 'kick-out' the 'fat' and 'dirty' old boys and start a new tradition of efficiency and service-to- the-needy, not to friends and bottom-fanners ( tukang kipas), can a new confidence be installed.

As even the young boys and girls now say, the dirty names and faces must go. Especially those who have already made their fortunes through the party and the office(s) they have held for years.

A very sickening phenomenon is when a once powerful figure who had lost the confidence of the people continues to hold several important posts in the party, as if there's no one else who can do the work. Or when a big-wig who had been found guilty of money politics or misdemeanor by the party disciplinary board continues to wield considerable power as if the offence is only a temporary blackhead on the face. What's the difference between offering money for support or for services. Isn't it the same as promoting corruption or prostitution? Punishing the takers of the money would not stop the malaise.

There certainly will be more by-elections before the GE. BN/UMNO must by now know what the people want to see and hear before offering their votes. When you have to vote between a
shrewd 'devil' and a weaker but more trustworthy candidate, don't be surprised if people go for the latter. I'd even trust a poorer candidate than a richer one. In the worst scenario the former will only want to overcome his poverty. The latter will want to be richer than everyone else without regard to how it can be done, even by putting his people and country to ransom.

Monday, August 17, 2009

No Response from Politicians!

There seemed to be no response from politicians on the MACC Chief Investigation Officer's statement that there would be no more investigation on politicians suspected of corruption. They must be thoroughly amused ( or relieved?). But alas, for only a day. The MACC Chief himself says that investigations will go on as usual, countermanding his subordinate's decision. How can this happen in an agency, beats me.

The trouble in investigating a politician, especially one holding a high public office, is that he (or she) has all the freedom to influence potential informers and gather support to uphold his innocence. Even official records could be tempered with and incriminating evidence destroyed. Hence MACC's practice of confiscating all files, closing premises, and bringing suspects or potential witnesses to the MACC hq for questioning. Now, the procedure itself is under probe as a result of Teoh Beng Hock's tragic death.

There should an immediate action to protect all potential witnesses to any corruption case. How the interviews are conducted to extract vital info from suspects and witnesses has always been a contoversial and suspicious matter. Only the use of one-way mirrors to enable independent observers to witness the interrogations, can remove any suspicion of unfair coercion. Even video tapes of the interrogation can be suspected.

This way the MACC's claim that suspects and witnesses are interrogated in the same manner whether they are in the government or in the opposition, can be easily proven. Why not let technology help us all to ensure fairness and justice since human beings can always be suspect. The Commission to inquire into the ways MACC conduct its investigations and interrogations will surely not be able to cover all the methods that modern criminal investigation techniques have developed.
Tell all and the techniques will become useless.

Well, let's see what the Commission will come up with. If the results of the Inquest on Beng Hock's death prove inconclusive, the Commission might just have to cover the grounds again.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

MACC Will Stop Investigaing Politician Indefinitely...

What a tragic situation? Or is that a joyful victory for the politicians?

The statement by the MACC investigation chief, Datuk Shukjri Abdul, that MACC will henceforth stop investigating politicians because of the badgering they give the commission, is most startling. The suggestion that a different body investigates cases involving politicians would open the way to different standards, procedures etc etc.(NST Sunday,August 16).

Can a Commission appointed by law, do this? Hasn't it all the power to carry on with its duties and responsibilities without fear or favor, protect itself from possible threats and persecution by other agents, legal or otherwise, including powerful politicians, and
bring people suspected of corruption to the court for a fair trial?

There cannot be a case of public officials getting fed up with the charges, blames and accusations thrown at them. They should be adequately protected by the laws of the country. If they are fed up with the antiques of the politicians, the law should see to it that officers of the MACC are not in anyway hampered by the politicians. To ensure that there's fairness in dealing with politicians from the government and the opposition, representatives of the opposition should be in the body that investigates politicians in the government and vice-versa. investigtions must be carried out by a team comprosing both professional officers and the political representives themselves. One must employ the wisdom of the saying: it takes a thief to catch a thief.

Whatever the government chooses to do now, dropping all investigations on politicians will be like giving coorruption among politicians an open acceptance. We will revert to the days when only the tiny fries will be caught while the sharks and whales can roam the open seas.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cheer Up, Malaysians.

Having followed the writings of bloggers for a long, long while, I find that we Malaysians are rather short on temper and long on apprehension. We tend to be rather too critical and apprehensive, morose and even morbid ( except for the jokers who specialize in tickling our funnybones and the lady bloggers with a lot of jazz). Our political analysts seldom make us smile, except cynically.

Oooh, I do long for some fresh views presenting the more exciting and wonderous aspects of life in our beloved country. Many things seem to be woefully bad and frustrating according to the political and economic bloggers. But when I look around at the food stalls, the cafes and restaurants, especially at recreational centres such as the bowling alleys, I see Malaysians talking and laughing their hearts out, enjoying life without a care in the world. And they are from all races - talking in English and Bahasa.

That's my Malaysia, I'd say to myself.

I wish our shutterbug bloggers would go round snapping the images of Malaysians enjoying themselves, laughing their heads off, cuddling their loved ones ( no smooching in public though), enjoying their teh tarik and roti canai, or their booze ( non-Muslim only!), or doing things that show us up as fun-loving as the next guy. The writings in the blogs (including some pictures) often conjure up a picture of bellyaching or constipated Malaysians vilifying the people they hate with Kenny Sia as a possible exception ( Thanks for the pic, Kenny). Che Det gives a good smile in his website but the talk is different. Always angry or cynical though very informative.Kadir Jasin has a picture that suggests an attitude towards his readers. (Jangan mara, ha!) ...

Malaysia certainly needs more optimism, faith- and hope-restorers and peace-makers rather than the prophets of doom, pessimists, skulkers,cynics and the ' I-told-you-sos'. We have to be a cheerful lot if we're to attract the toursits into this country. C'mon. Even the sharpest criticism can be delivered with some humor and a smile - and that may just be more effective than an uncouth lashing out. Let's keep the tradition that we are nice people, hospitable and friendly.

Yes, we all have our grudges, frustrations and misgivings. But will they all go away by filling in the webpages with abuse, invectives and boisterous vilifications. Let's give Malaysians some cause to smile and enjoy life while following the alternative source of information which the website presents. Fill them in with the 'truths' but don't deprive them of the fun aspects of Malaysian life. I think we still have a lot of it.