Auld Lang Syne – Old Long Since – Bye 2007

As the year is coming to an end, I would like to post a music video of a song that is customary to be sung at year end party… Auld Land Syne.

 This is the rendition by Kenny G, so listen to it while you are waiting for the count down. And May all our friendship and relationship be cherished and remembered always.

for those of you who wish to sing along but have forgotten the lyrics, I will post yet another video of a very old but very moving movie ” Waterloo Bridge” here. This movie is about  love, and it is one of those great movies that is really timeless. The movie  starred the great Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor and was madelong before I was born, but I saw it during one of the reruns in my childhood. Lyrics are posted on the video and you can sing along like a karaoke.

Wishes that did not come true

Time flies. An eventful year is coming to an end.

What a year!! On 2nd January 2007, I wrote a post on my wishes for 2007. These were the 10 wishes that I wished for in the beginning of the year:

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10 New Year wishes at the beginning of this year 2007:

1. Economy improves – achieving at least 7% growth 2007. (ADB target is 5%)

2. Inflation be controlled – hopefully, inflation rate can be capped at about 2.5%. (official estimate 3.5 -4%)

3. Abolish NEP ( or at least fine tuning it to remove the distortion it causes our economy)

4. Set up an ACAC or IPCMC.

5. UMNO consults more often the other Barisan parties in formulating policies.

6. Education be revamped to produce far sighted, liberal, knowledgeable, thinking persons. (present graduates often know very little stuff compared to those produced in the 60s and early 70s)

7. Civil service be opened to other races and promotion based on merits and good records. This applies to army as well as police.

8. No more natural disasters such as Tsunami or floods. Anyway, we must have better coordinated and more efficient disaster response teams. It is better to be ready for any eventuality than be caught flat footed like in this flood.

9. Petronas earnings be used more productively, like setting up companies, factories or even buying over well managed companies at reasonable prices so that there will be constant returns even when the oil fields cease to produce petroleum.

10. Good health and prosperity for everybody

Except for wish No 8. and maybe wish No 10, the rest of the wishes were really wistful thinking. IPCMC ? Not even something that comes close to that.

Good economy? sluggish is more appropriate.

Low Inflation? a bowl of mee went up from $3.50 to $3.80, what more you want!

Umno consults its brother parties more often? One UMNO vice-president asked a component party to leave the coalition during a State convention. What consultation?

Civil service–sigh……….

NEP……another sigh………

Education? Graduates studying masters or Ph.D employing others to do dissertation and course work. What is the difference between paying someone to do homework for you and buying the degree? I have never imagine our institution of higher learning can go down to such level………

 So most of my wishes have not come true. I am not disappointed; I am only sad.

A non Malaysian Muslim’s view

 I will post a very good article from a Non Malaysian Muslim . This was published in Worldfuture website.  Like all religious issues, tolerance and mutual understanding is of utmost importance.

Allah or Yahve did not die on the cross

Written by Kazi Mahmood
Saturday, 29 December 2007
In Mauritius, where I come from, a teacher accused the Muslims of being terrorists. This is a first in the peaceful country. The teacher, a Chinese lady, said to my nephew Ishtiak (his name) that terrorism was written on the faces of all Muslims. This caused an outcry and the end of the story came when the teacher had to apologize in public over her remarks.

The recent wave of protest amid the banning of the controversial use of the word ‘Allah’ in a Christian publication in Malaysia raises several pertinent questions. First of all, why the use of the word Allah in a publication that would definitely associate the Creator to a ‘son of God’ and the holy trinity when Allah Himself rejects this concept?

The Malaysian government has simply banned the publication from using the world Allah and this has raised the ire and anger of the Church and of news editors and bloggers who are struggling for ‘freedom of expression’ in the country. There was a thin line between total freedom of expression and the possible anger of Muslims against the publication. Had this issue gone out of hand, there could have been further divide between the ethnic groups and their religious beliefs.

While it is true to say that the Christians (many church leaders and bloggers stated so) had the right to use the word Allah, the truth is far from this reality however. I lived with a Christian family when I first came to Malaysia some 15 years ago. The members of the family, to whom I salute my reverence and gratitude until today, were never offensive towards Islam. They never used the word Allah when they spoke about ‘God’ and they never suggested anything that could disturb the religious belief of their guests. They had more than one guest at a time living with them in their rented home in Gombak.

The reason they took me was the bond that existed between this family and myself and they truth is they were my very first family in this country. A Muslim living under the roof of a Christian family is rare in Malaysia but since I am from Mauritius, there was no problem for me to be under their care before I start my own life here.

Besides not using the word ‘Allah’, they also took the pains to ensure that my food was ‘halal’ and that I was comfortable during my 3 months stay in Gombak.

This is the story of how John Fernandez, Gertrude and their two wonderful children treated a foreign Muslim. The point is there was tolerance between them and their guests and as a Muslim I was protected, cherished and loved by this family. And I loved them the way humans, friends, brothers would love each other. The beauty of this story is that Gertrude even introduced me to a Malay lady to whom I am still married after 14 years.

There was never the question of what ‘God’ I was following or why I was Muslim and not even any attempts to introduce me with non-Muslim girls. This is the true Malaysian spirit that alas is slowly disappearing and the Muslims or the Christians are not the ones to blame totally for that.

In the first place, it is the war on terror and the support given to this anomaly of our times by the leaders of the world that has caused serious rifts among the communities and caused peace to fade and tolerance to be forgotten.

The other important lesson learned from this true story of my life in Malaysia is the very fact that not a single Muslim family offered to take me in for a month or two before I start my life here. Today it is even more desperate. I would bet my reputation on a dead horse to win a race if a Muslim family would want to take me, Kazi Mahmood, in their midst and feed me and tolerate me and treat me like an equal.

Though Allah or Yahve did not die on the cross, John Fernandez did not use the word Allah to either explain what his God was about or to impress me, a Muslim with the use of Allah. The word used always was God and the beliefs of the Fernandez were never in question nor were my beliefs during my stay under their care.

Why did I have to put up with them when I was already renting an apartment in Brickfields? Like I said, it was the bond that was built between us and the children paid a great role in building this bond. They were cheerful, happy and very interesting children and I know that they touched my heart and Allah will protect them where ever they are.

The question is not whether the publication is wrong or the Malaysian government is right in the issue of the use of the word Allah in the Christian magazine. The real issue is where has tolerance gone and why did the publication not go even further than using Allah in the articles? I would be too glad to write a story or two for the Christian publication on the real meaning of the name of Allah and why using his name would be wrong if Islam was not also explained by the editors of the publication.

The only way to resolve this conflict is to be tolerant. The publication must be tolerant to the views of the Muslims regarding Christianity and that would be the simple fact that the Quraan (Book of the Muslims) reveals that Allah does not have a son and Jesus, the prophet of Islam, did not die on the cross.

The war on terror has opened a gateway to hell and this has created dramatic issues like using the words Allah and Muhammad could bring violence and so on. If the word Allah was to be used freely by the publication, then the editors should go further by using the word Muhammad (Swallahu Alayhi Wassalaam) and Isa (AlayhisSalaam) rather than Mahomet or Jesus. No offense here since it will be wiser to explain to the non-Muslim world that Allah is the Arabic name of God but Allah has 99 names and many of these names are against the fundamentals of Christianity. They should also refrain from using Jesus because in the Malay language, Jesus is Isa. This would surely confuse the readers of the magazine.

On the other hand, the authorities must also show tolerance and instead of banning the use of the word Allah in the publication, they should have asked for the right to explain what the word meant and why the publication should resort to the use of Malay names for all the prophets too. Fair deal!

The Muslims would surely be offended if the publication said Allah and his son (or Allah dan Jesus, anak lelaki Tuhan). I would not be offended because I understand that many non-Muslims do not really understand Islam and its concept. The best way is to explain and the best way to explain is to dialogue but the most important is to be tolerant.

The Fernandez was tolerant and even brotherly. Had they criticized Islam while I was their guest, there would have been a dialogue and more tolerance. And the winner would have been the humans. The Muslims are as frightened as the non-Muslims of the impact of the war on terror and this war is to be blamed for the troubles we are witnessing.

In Mauritius, where I come from, a teacher accused the Muslims of being terrorists. This is a first in the peaceful country. The teacher, a Chinese lady, said to my nephew Ishtiak (his name) that terrorism was written on the faces of all Muslims. This caused an outcry and the end of the story came when the teacher had to apologize in public over her remarks.

We should not go down that road, the road that people like George Bush and Tony Blair has led us to for the past 8 years. We should learn from history and Malaysia will gain if everybody decides to be tolerant and not to offend the faith of others.

About the author:
Born in the tiny Island of Mauritius, Kazi Mahmood who lives in Malaysia, left behind a few good years of journalism in Africa. His days as a BBC reporter in Mauritius were exciting since he was also contributing to several London based African magazines, including the popular African Business.

Energy crisis? Not to worry

Energy cost going up and up? Not to worry!

carcart.jpg

the good old friend of mankind is back again to provide the horsepower to our cars.

cook-sausage.jpg

cooking sausages using the heat from “car-ven” (car oven). Not really a bad idea!

 macdonald.jpg

Macdonald’s is always MacDonald’s. With energy crisis,, it provides a “ride-in”.

carlorry.jpg

who needs a lorry? This is cost effective.

horsecar.jpg

who needs petrol?

Do Malaysian Muslims understand what ‘Allah’ means? by Dr Farish Noor

Imagine what will happen if President George Bush of USA decides to ban all American non-Christians from using the word “God” in their English publication?

I would like to post Dr Farish Noor’s article on this issue:

Do Malaysian Muslims understand what ‘Allah’ means? by Dr Farish A Noor

At the time of writing this, I am in Cairo in the company of my Egyptian friends who are Muslims, Catholics and Copts. Eid has passed and I attended several dinners and celebrations where Muslims and Copts celebrated together, visiting each others’ homes and ate til we could not eat any further. What is worse, Christmas is upon us and so once again Muslims, Catholics and Copts will be heading for the communal table for the communal feast and there will be much licking of chops, munching of bread, gobbling of sweet deserts and drinking for everyone. It is all simply too pleasant to belive, yet it is real and this is what life is like for many in Cairo, the ‘Mother of civilisation’ and home to more than twenty million Egyptians from all walks of life.

What is most striking to the outside observer like me – though rather banal for the Egyptians themselves – is the fact that in all these celebrations ranging from Eid for the Muslims to Christmas for the Catholics and Copts the word ‘Allah’ is used to denote that supreme and singular divinity, God. Catholics and Copts alike exclaim ‘Masha-allah’, ‘Wallahi’, ‘ya-Rabbi’, ‘Wallah-u allam’, and of course ‘Allahuakbar’ day in, day out, everywhere they go. The coptic taxi driver blares out ‘By Allah, cant you see where you are parking??” as he dodges the obstable ahead. The Catholic shopkeeper bemoans “Ya Allah, ya Allah! You can only offer me two pounds for the scarf? Wallahi, my mother would die if she heard that! Ya-Rabbi, ya-Rabbi!”

Yet in Malaysia at the moment yet another non-issue has been brewed to a scandal for no reason: The Malaysian Catholic Herald, a publication by and for Catholics in the country, has been told that it can no longer publish its Malaysian language edition if it continues to use the word “Allah” to mean God. Worse still, the country’s Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum recently stated that “Only Muslims can use the word Allah” ostensibly on the grounds that “Allah” is a Muslim word. The mind boggles at the confounding logic of such a non-argument, which speaks volumes about the individual’s own ignorance of Muslim culture, history and the fundamental tenets of Islam itself.
For a start, the word ‘Allah’ predates the revelation to the Prophet Muhammad and goes way back to the pre-Islamic era. Christians had been using the word long before there were any Muslims, in fact. Furthermore the word is Arabic, and is thus common to all the peoples, cultures and societies where Arabic – in all its dialects – is spoken, and is understood by millions of Arabic speakers to mean God, and little else. One could also add that as “Allah” is an Arabic word it therefore has more to do with the development and evolution of Arabic language and culture, and less to do with Islam. It is hard to understand how any religion can have a language to call its own, for languages emerge from a societal context and not a belief system. If one were to abide by the skewered logic of the Minister concerned, then presumably the language of Christianity (if it had one) would be Aramaic, or perhaps Latin.

The Minister’s remark not only demonstrated his shallow understanding of Muslim culture and the clear distinction between Arab ulture and Muslim theology, but it also demonstrated his own lack of understanding of the history of the Malays, who, like many non-Arabs, only converted to Islam much later from the 13th century onwards. Among the earliest pieces of evidence to indicate Islam’s arrival to the Malay archipelago are the stone inscriptions found in Malay states like Pahang where the idea of God is described in the sanskrit words ‘Dewata Mulia Raya’. As no Malay spoke or even understood Arabic then, it was natural for the earliest Malay-Muslims to continue using the Sanskrit-inspired language they spoke then. Surely this does not make them lesser Muslims as a result?

The ruckus that has resulted thanks to the threat not to allow the publication of the Malaysian language edition of the Christian Herald therefore forces observers to ask the simple question: Why has this issue erupted all of a sudden, when the word Allah was used for so long with narry a protest in sight? At a time when the Malaysian government is already getting flak as a result of the protests by Malaysian Hindus who insist that they remain at the bottom of the economic ladder despite fifty years of independence, now it would appear as if the Malaysian government cannot get enough bad publicity.

The administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi came to power on the promise that it would promote its own brand of moderate Islam that was pluralist and respectful of other cultures and religions. But time and again the Malaysian public – first Hindus and now Christians – have felt necessary to protest over what they regard as unfair, biased treatment and the furthering of an exclusive brand of Islam that is communitarian and divisive. The latest fiasco over the non-issue that is the name of God would suggest that Prime Minister’s Badawi’s grand vision of a moderate Islam has hit the rocks, and is now floundering. Just how the ministers and elite of this government is to regain their course is open to question, but what is clear is that some Ministers should get their basic knowledge of their own religion in order first.

Dr. Farish A Noor is a political scientist and historian at the Zentrum
Moderner Orient and guest Professor at Sunan Kalijaga Islamic University,
Jogjakarta. He is also one of the founders of the research site
http://www.othermalaysia.org.

Dr Farish is also a frequent contributor to media including Malaysiakini . The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of this forum.

Beware of the strong urban wind

Talked to many Indian friends and they are almost unanimous in their support for Hindraf. Many of them also have started reading Malaysiakini on a regular basis.

In elections, when strong “wind” blows, it can sometimes create a lot of unexpected defeats and victories. 

With this type of sentiments prevailing, a lot of urban seats will be in trouble for the ruling BN.

Granted that there is no parliamentary seats where Indians are  the majority, there are many seats in which their sizeable presence often tilts the balance and decides the result, especially in the so-called mixed seats.

Let us take an hypothetical urban parliament seat X. Let ‘s  say that there are 60000 registered voters, with 50% Chinese, 35% Malay, and 15% Indians. Let ‘s say that the ruling party’s margin of winning was 10,000 votes in the last election.

It needs to have a swing of 5001 votes over the other side to change the result. 15% of Indian votes translates to  9,000 voters, and if 80% of these votes change side, the election results will be changed.

There are about 50 Parliamentary seats with more than 10% fo Indian votes based on the latest electoral roll.

In Kuala Lumpur, Segambut has about 12% of Indian voters, Batu about 14.3% and Lembah Pantai about 18% , based on the latest roll.

In Penang, Batu Kawan has about 22% Indian voters, Bagan 13% and Nibong Tebal about 14%.

In Perak, Teluk Intan and Tapah has about 19% Indian voters, Beruas about 13.7%, Ipoh Barat and Sungei Siput more than 20%, Taiping about 13%, and many other seats with more than 10% Indian voters.

In all these areas, winning the indian votes will be crucial to win the seats. This is especially important for the Non-Malay component parties of BN, which are given most of these seats to contest.

For UMNO, the rural seats are still a safe bet. For the sake of the other component parties, perhaps UMNO and some of the UMNO’s leaders should adopt more conciliatory policies towards the urban non-Malay voters.

My earlier post after Ijok, “how to win back the Chinese votes”, can perhaps be applied to the Indians as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

This blog is back again.

Before I blog anything, I would like to wish all the Christian readers a belated “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

After a few days at the beach and the sea, I am not only tanned but also feeling my skin burning.

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