A View From The Window

I took this snapshots from my window an hour ago. Too beautiful not to share.

There may be many things not right in this world, and that could stress you out, but in the midst of all the ugliness , God shines the light of true beauty.

I’m thankful for the sights I see. Hope you are too.

Simply Heavenly

Some things just gives you that pure, unalloyed joy, something profoundly beautiful yet so simple that it leaves you breathless.

This is one such experience.

I’m certainly not plugging Haagen Dazs, but the ad resonates with me because every scoop of my favourite flavour, takes me to the heavens. The ad says what I feel. The ad is honest.

Goodbye, May 13

Today: Wednesday, May 13, 2008, marks the 39th anniversary of a black day in Malaysia’s young history as a sovereign nation.

Have we come a long way to distance ourselves from the bloody nightmare of 1969? I believe that we have. Why? Because on March 8, Malaysians took a bold step away from the status quo.

Reverberations from what local pundits love to to call a political tsunami are still being heard. The full compendium of effects is yet, i’m sure, to be seen.

The balance of political power is rather precarious right now. However, this has not translated into the angst among a certain race or another.

Malaysians are gradually stepping beyond racial and religious demarcation and towards common ground. I see this a lot. The only ones who are left behind are the race-based political parties and the petri dish of segregation that the civil service (with its largely Malay population).

Lessons learnt? We have to embrace each other as Malaysians. We have to learn about each other’s norms and sensitivities. Learn to respect these differences. It is usually the minorities that learn these things in order to assimilate and survive.

Maybe it is time that the majority learnt to, as well.

Last night I talked to my Malay housemate B about respecting another’s sensitivities. I told her that my other housemate AL and me made a point of not having pork or other non halal stuff in the house so that she (B) can cook and eat with us.

I said she could return the understanding by not cooking beef in the house, which I don’t touch. She didn’t know these stuff. I told her and she took it very well.

Maybe our eventual cohesion as Bangsa Malaysia may not come as easily….but it will have to start with mutual understanding and respect.

But I have great hopes.

And for those who gave their lives in the May 13 bloodbath, may their souls rest in peace.


Let There Be Light


Pix from a talented Flicker member.

Tomorrow, Malaysians celebrate Deepavali, or these days, increasingly called Diwali.

Here’s the generally accepted rationale for this festival that Hindus around the world celebrate.As a Malaysian though, my Deepavali wish would be to bring the light to this country and its people.

The light of knowledge to the ignorant who continuously allow the unscrupulous to pillage the country.

The light of fairness and justice to prevail despite many attempts to ignore it.

The light of magnanimity so we can forgive the the ones who wronged us.

The light of realisation so that the sinners who manipulate Malaysia and Malaysians for their own gain would know what they have done.

The light of foresight that allows the powers that be to ensure long term plans that benefit the country.

The light of humanity to ensure kindness doesn’t become extinct and needless suffering is a thing of the past.

The light of patriotism that keeps the passion and love for this country alive in all Malaysians.

The light of unity that bring Malaysians of all colours, faiths, cultures together as one entity.

And most of all…THE LIGHT OF LOVE… so we Malaysians see and love each other as brothers of the same motherland.Happy Deepavali to all. Om Shanti !  


Syed Hamid does the dance

This must the conversational version of St Vitus’ Dance. Or is it a politician’s? Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar was char-grilled by BBC’s Sarah Montague on Hardtalk. I’m kinda late in tuning in, since I didn’t watch the programme, but I managed to catch this online

You wanna listen, go here . Thanks to Wahlau, I get part of the transcript. Thank you…man. Having heard it all, I do have some questions.

 “The economic growth of the non-malays is faster after the New Economy Policy than before. The share of the economy cake is bigger deeper wider than before. …. Even the Indians have got better household income than the Malays.”

Really, Mr Syed Hamid? The growth of all racial groups were better after the NEP because there was more economic activity, not because of the prescriptions of the NEP. Same goes with the cake. And btw, where did he get the statistics to boldly say that the Indians have got better household income than the Malays. I really would be interested in that information.

“We need to overcome the problem of sensitivities. We wanted to establish the integrated school, where everyone study the language, study the medium of instruction under one school. But here in the particular case, the Chinese does not want. They want a separate school of their own. So now what we have done, in the national school, we have brought in, you can study Chinese, you can study Tamil, you can study other ethnic (languages), you can’t get that in other places. I think we recognize their problems and it is not a problem that we cannot overcome.”

Yes. There is a certain degree of freedom when it comes to learning the major ethnic group’s own languages, in Malaysia. I have to concede that. Malaysia allows that freedom to embrace one’s own culture to an extent that is not enjoyed by some other countries. America tried to “Americanise” all its migrant communities to have a single national identity. Malaysia never tried to homogenise its people, thank God.

Sarah: “Lina Joy, she tried to convert to Christianity but was not allowed to”)

Syed Hamid: “no no no… I think you have made the whole thing turn into something that is negative. Lina Joy wanted to change her name. She was never not allowed to convert to Christianity, or what ever religion she has chosen. But, the person is born with the identity card. That is a system that we have in Malaysia, the ID. And that ID she wants to change, that creates the problem. It has nothing to do with the fact, that no body has arrested her, and forced her to become a Muslim. To come back to convert back to as Muslim. But the court decided on the basis that you cannot change your name in the ID. But she has got her own choice, she has made her own choice, in wanting to be what she has chosen. I don’t think we stop that. ”

Syed Hamid does St Vitus Dance on this again…rather more jerkily. What do you mean she just wants to change her name? That is just the legal reminder that she is Muslim on paper. You know Mr Syed Hamid that what you answered was rhetoric, and you are lucky to get away with someone rather unfamiliar with most of her questions’ context in Sarah Montague.

If Lina Joy/Azlina Jailani had gone the smae way as Revathi, then think I guess she would have gone through the same “rehabilitation” process. Of course she soesn’t want that.

Now I wonder, what if each time some person professing a certain religion in Malaysia, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, or a philosophical way of life a la Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism Bahai teachings etc…want to convert out of it, they are to be given a chance at “rehabilitation” by the religious authorities of his/her existing faith. That would be fair? No. I don’t think so either. Because that kind of a ruling undermines a very fundamental right; an individual’s right to profess and practice his/her religion is between him/her and God.

Now I have always admired the structure and beauty of Islam as a religion. But the way it is politicised and used as a tool for division by short-sighted and bigoted people is not only alarming, but hateful.

We in Malaysia could have (still could if ask me) served as a model nation for racial and religious harmony. I’m not talking tolerance, but harmony. More than a week ago, Bloghouse in Damansara hosted a group of religious figures from different faiths (Taoist monk, Buddhist monks, A Muslim cleric, Christian priest, Hindu priest, a Bahai preacher)to a session of prayers for the health of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was also there.

It was beautiful being part of that occasion where mutual respect and love was so evident. There is no talk of TOLERANCE…only respect and undertanding.

Tolerance, in the words of Nuraina Samad, smacks of tolerating, like…ok laa I wil let you do this or that…cos I can take it. She doesn’t tolerate, she EMBRACES her fellow Malaysians, whatever faith, race, colour…

That kind of coming together can happen on a national scale, if there is no fear-mongering among us the Malaysian public and if there are more people like Nuraina out there.

Being Malaysian means tolerating all this shit?

The hype and hoopla in the run up to the 50th anniversary of our independence is all over the place. TV, radio, newspapers, online media and private blogs.

I have refrained thus far from giving my take, simply because my love for this country has never and will never hinge on what my peers say.

This country is very close to my heart. Something I can’t divorce myself from even if one day I leave this country in search of fortune and knowledge.

My heart is here. My soul is Malaysian. Tanah tumpah darah means something deep to me. Loving your country means loving it warts and all.

My Malaysia is flawed is some ways. Lots of opportunistic vermin are bleeding it dry. Read Aisehman for some disgusting details. The guy has a knack for putting things in perspective.

My Malaysia is where people dig up the same stretch of the road at least three times a year, for different reasons. The people in governance is shortsighted and lackadaisical. Can’t see even a year down the line. No planning.

My Malaysian government can deny oil rights that is supposed to be for the state of Terengganu, and disguise it later as Wang Ehsan. Politics first, screw the people of Terengganu, who hail from a state that gives the federal coffers half of its petroleum revenue.

My Malaysian judges can get away with not writing judgments. Pretty unheard of globally, but here Malaysia Boleh.

My Malaysia is where a lovers’ dispute can turn into an international diplomatic incident. Here is where our guys in uniform can be ordered to kill a defenseless civilian AND blow her up.

My Malaysia is where the government announce three mega ambitious infrastructure projects in 10 days, and in the next month, proceed to give a US1 billion dollar soft loan package to bail out the Port Klang FTZ. One billion dollars, and that’s called a soft loan.

My Malaysia is where enforcement is lax enough that dozens of people have to die in three consecutive bus accidents in three weeks before JPJ and the police get off their collective ass and take some semblance of work.

My Malaysia?….I know things can be worse else where…but I wish things could be better in here. This is where I hope to die someday.

Misery begets Genius?

Well, it does apparently, in some long-winded way. So I found out today over my Sunday breakfast with a copy of The Star. Read this thought-provoking piece by A.Asohan, an individual I had the good fortune of having had some chats with, and much admire still.

 The good in hurting talks about how one needs pain, anxiety and the whole works (perhaps) in order to function as one’s self. He quotes Nietzsche as saying, “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star”

Makes a lot of sense to me. I often do my most impassioned work when besieged by profound feelings, of sadness, grief, anger, disillusionment, love. Not that I’m some great author on the cusp of Salman Rushdie-like works of divine beauty. Still, I work in an area where creative output is a pre-requisite.

The creative juices however, is not something that you pay subscription for and have it piped in to your tap, like that Shah of Blah in Haroun and the Sea of Stories. How I wish it was though. Every single original thought in my head has, unfortunately, come inadvertently. Fleshing it out is one hell of a bleeder. And each time that I finish, there is this drained feeling, like when I just get off the Stairmaster at the gym, but minus the feel-good shot of endorphins.

I agree that the pain and suffering makes us, well, us. Take that away and I might feel like I’ve lost something. Just imagine 10 years of your memory is totally wiped out….like something out of Michel Gondry’s  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Painful as a lot of my past has been, there were still profound moments of joy, of love, of learning and realisation that I will not trade them even for ownership of a library the size of The White House (and that thought I consider the height of enticement).

There’s a guy I know who said once, “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I’m used to taking pain.” Now that I think of it, I believe that he not only thrives on pain and hardship, but if you take that away from him, he might seem less a man in his own estimation.

Now, I know what happens when a person of standards falls in his own estimation. Not a nice thought…that.