The cheek and chicanery of Shahrizat Jalil

Much has been written about the mismanagement of National Feedlot Corporation that most of you have already heard the gory details.

But let’s bring some perspective into this issue. Let’s remember  how we first heard about this issue.

It was the Auditor General’s report, not Pakatan Rakyat politicians who first highlighted this issue, calling the project a mess. Read more here.

Remember that the PKR folks just followed the dirt trail after that. And you know where it led; to luxury condos and luxury cars and whatnot.

When addressing the Wanita Umno hordes earlier this week, its chief Shahrizat Jalil was vociferous in her anger against those she said were attacking Wanita Umno.

Mistake #1. Who’s attacking Wanita Umno? It is you Shahrizat, whose conduct is in question here. You and your family. You say you are innocent of what is going on in NFC because that is your husband’s business and not yours? You must think we are all cows, with cowdung for brains.

So all the sleeve-pulling, angry rhetorics and this whole wanking exercise that was Shahrizat’s speech did not address the fundamental issue; How come her family got the project in the first place?

Mistake #2. Noh Omar, Muhyiddin Yassin and Khairy Jamaluddin all rushed to her defence, but not one of them addressed the question above.

Mistake #3. The cops, almost immediately after MACC passed the baton to them(saying this was not a graft issue), stated that  preliminary investigations showed there was no element of Criminal Breach of Trust.

But who’s going to answer these fundamental questions?

1) Under what criteria did Shahrizat’s family get the contract?

2) Who approved it and when? Was it when Muhyiddin was Agriculture Minister?

3) Why the purchase of a luxury condo in Bangsar, and the luxury car?

4) The RM83 million soft loan…who signed off on it and what was it meant for?

5) From where did the money come (83 million)?

6) Seeing that it is some kind of government allocation, are they allowed to spend the money on purchases totally unrelated to the cow business?

7) Is it the policy of the BN government to allow Ministers’ families to benefit from national projects?

8) If the National Feedlot project is a national project, then why is it allegedly supplying meat to fancy restaurants owned by Shahrizat’s family?

Why aren’t they addressing these questions? Even within Umno there is already discord over this matter. That means even to them, this issue is indefensible.

Without addressing these questions, I daresay Shahrizat is a liability come GE13. Already a backdoor Minister, it is unlikely that she will win at any seat she contests in.



Consider Yourself Warned

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F Kennedy.

The Malaysian PM says Egypt style power grab will not work here. Duh.

Of course not. How can we? I’m told that the FRU folks have become quite proficient with their tear-gassing and water canon exploits. Do we blame them? After all, for the past 4 years or so, those folks have been brought out by the dozens everytime there is the slightest hint of a protest.

The last major one was an irony in itself. Imagine this headline. WATER CANON WELCOME FOR PROTES AIR DEMONSTRATORS. Yeah that really happened, and while I could write various permutations of that headline (after all I do that for a living), it just ain’t very funny when you think about it.

The ex-PKR dude Ezam “Ihaveboxesofevidence” Md Nor also said its absurd to compare Egypt and Malaysia because of the wide income disparity.

FYI dude, there are similarities. Egyptians were  oppressed by the many years of near despotic rule by Mubarak. It’s just that the tipping points were different.

A lot of Malaysians are not hungry enough perhaps. Or perhaps we have collectively been cowed or shall I say “diperlembukan” by years of master-slave conditioning. Or maybe there was an epidemic of TIDAK APA-THY gripping the nation.

Notice that I said WAS. Yeah, past tense.

Someday, perhaps soon, the day will arrive. And when it does, the folks in power will find the present too, tense. They are working their way towards it steadily themselves. Here’s how it goes…

You remember the saying “Nine Meals from Anarchy”? Well basically the premise is, you miss three days’ meals and the situation is ripe for anarchy.

You could argue that Malaysia is not some dirt poor third world outpost. We have a much better economy than most of our third world cousins, we don’t go hungry, yada yada yada…

But this is a country where the middle class is beginning to be stifled by a rising cost of living, steadily increasing prices of essential goods and the imminent introduction of the GST.

You add that to a government that doesn’t seem to have words like accountability, responsibility and transparency in its vocabulary, and you have some of the basic ingredients for cauldron mass disenchantment.

I have not even begun to talk about the other incendiary spices like racism, supremacist overtures, bigotry, religious intolerance. These too exist under the bright facade of our 1Malaysia. Let’s not kid ourselves there.

Malaysians have already started to show their displeasure, first on the Net, then in the streets and more eloquently, in the ballot box on March 8, 2008. But a regime that has been in power for too long, thinks that power is its birthright and will have no qualms about making a mockery of the democratic process to hold on to power.

This too the public knows, just as it knows that the police are thugs, the military is just like the civil service, full of corrupt, thieving folks. The judiciary is emasculated, the Dewan Negara a stamping board, the Dewan Rakyat a tragicomedy, the leading media filled with cari makan sycophantic Datuks.

I hope the public will stand up and answer the PM’s insult of their collective intelligence at the ballot box when the time comes.

But then who knows, some folks might have lost heart seeing all the rampant cheating, gerrymandering, corruption and start thinking the only way out of this bleak mire of hopelessness is the French way. They still celebrate Bastille Day over there, I hear.

But I fear that Najib is right. Egypt style standoff will not work here. Simply cos most of you can’t see beyond your noses. Most of you are just willfully dumb, don’t-rock-the-boat, Stockholm-syndrome sufferers who love your oppressors.

Never mind if they rob, rape and beat you until you expire from that unique Malaysian “sudden death” syndrome.


Undilah Dacing…Hidup Malaysia.

One Morning in Bukit Aman

The story is simple. The story is not new. The only thing new is that some of the protagonists are new. Selvach Santhiran Krishnan is a witness in a death in custody case of R.Gunasegaran.

Gunasegaran died on the same day Teoh Beng Hock died last year, but because of the public outcry over Beng Hock’s suspicious death, Guna’s death was overlooked by everybody, except his sister.

Here she tells her story.

Earlier this week, the inquest into his death concluded in an open verdict, despite Selvach Santhiran’s testimony that he saw a policeman kick Gunasegaran in the lock up. Gunasegaran was later found dead.

His body was kept in horrid conditions and by the time a second autopsy was ordered, his remains were so decomposed that nothing conclusive could be derived.

But that story is not over. Selvach Santhiran, the witness, was allegedly beaten viciously in front of his family by a bunch of policemen before being taken away.

The public, outraged by this gross abuse of power by the police, turned up today at the police headquarters in Bukit Aman to demand his whereabouts and release. Here’s the story.

Below are the pictures of the morning gathering.

Today, after waiting awhile and being given the runaround, we were told that Selvach Santhiran was held under the Sec 39 B Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures).

human rights lawyer N. Surendran.

Selvach Santhiran’s wife, crying for her husband, while the police told us to disperse.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya demanded to know the cop in charge’s name and was told it is one ACP Kang or Khang.

Several MPs also turned up, including PAS’s Khalid Samad (Shah Alam), Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor) , PKR’s Sivarasa Rasiah (Subang) and Charles Santiago (Klang).

Film maker Fahmi Reza with his own placard.

A hundred odd people turned up in support of the memorandum to the police today. Thanks guys, for turning up. It was a multi coloured turnout, and that alone gives me hope that someday, we will be Malaysians first and turn up whenever a brother Malaysian is facing injustice.

A mammoth tower that makes Malaysians “bebel”

The Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Ng Yen Yen says the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka building will be a catalyst for spurring tourism growth.

I’m not sure what she’s smoking, but if it gave her that kinda rose-tinted outlook, I want some of that. There are very few things that one reads in the Malaysian media these days that give one a good feeling.

Forgive the high cynicism, but what the hell was the PM thinking when he announced this?

For readers who are familiar with Kuala Lumpur, the proposed site of the development alone would be cause for alarm.

Ok ok…i’m overwhelmed by sheer disbelief, and so many questions assail me at this point.

Let me start with Yen Yen’s contention first. She said it is good for tourism and domestic trade sector. Tell me, how many people come to Malaysia just to look at our skyscrapers, for us to justify spending RM5 billion on yet another one?

Malaysia is still (despite unbridled development) one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. How many countries on the Equatorial belt can boast that?

Culture, food and our rainforests (not necessarily in that order of importance) will continue to be the bigger crowd puller. The proposed new tower will not work its magic and and bring billions tourism dollars. It doesn’t really work that way.

In fact, Malaysians too travel globally with increased frequency, even more so with the coming of Air Asia. Tell me, would the Burj Khalifa in Dubai or the Taipei 101 tower be the major reason for you to travel there?

These are just concrete edifices that stand as a symbol of mankind’s ambition.

Petronas Twin Towers

Make no mistake though. I am mighty proud of the beautiful Petronas Twin Towers. I have taken numerous photos of it and whenever I come back from KLIA, the sight of the Twin Towers tells me “hey, you are back home.”

In the 10 years,  it has become an icon of modern Malaysia and a defining part of the Kuala Lumpur cityscape. But the  highest I have been in that building, is level 42, where the Malaysian Petroleum Club is. Most Malaysians only get to look at it from afar.

In fact, post construction, I think the highest anyone has gotten in that building were “Spiderman” Alain Robert and bunch of BASE jumpers before and after him.

Despite my fondness for the Petronas Twin Towers, I can’t summon the same kind of hope, optimism and positive vibe when it comes to the proposed Warisan Merdeka development, the centrepiece of which is this much-talked about 100 storey tower.

Need for such a project.

Many are jittery about this project, witnessed by some cautious statements in the media.

From the real estate standpoint:

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia (Rehda) deputy president Datuk FD Iskandar Mohamed Mansor said the plan for the potentially high-impact commercial development must take into consideration demand and supply of office space in the capital city.

He said such a massive project should be approached with caution and proper feasibility studies before proceeding.

“Kuala Lumpur already has a focal point – the Petronas Twin Towers – and the question is whether it is necessary to have another one. Moreover, there is enough office space in the city. Additional space from the Warisan Merdeka and other projects, including the RM26bil Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD), may result in an oversupply of commercial property space,” Iskandar said. – from The Star Business. Read the full story here.

Pic from the Star.

Click the pic for a closer look. The proposed site is adjacent to both Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara.

The fears of a commercial property glut is not a new one. As far back as May, even without a hint of this latest mega project, OSK Research had already painted a gloomy forecast a space glut.

Traffic Nightmare

Has anyone noticed where the site of this proposed project is? The access/exit involve such such areas as Petaling Street, Jalan Kinabalu/Maharajalela and Jalan Hang Tuah, the last of which is not free from jams even after the opening of the elevated bypass.

Even from the construction stage, the traffic impact conjures up a nightmarish image.

But never mind that. We KL-ites have endured such things as the Monorail, LRT and KLCC construction before, not to mention the AKLEH elevated highway project.

In a Utopian scenario, this building would be filled with tenants. Let’s say even 80% of the building is occupied. Now, imagine the number of cars freshly introduced to the surrounding traffic grid. Can tahan meh?

One of the very few decisions of Dr M administration that  I  agreed with, was the removing of the civil service out of Kuala Lumpur.

That decision alone took out thousands of cars out of the immediate Kuala Lumpur traffic grid. That was a good thing to de-congest KL. Of course in the decade or so since, the corporates have moved in.

In 10 years time, this mega project alone will contribute thousands more cars (If point to point integrated public transport is not in place by then).

We could be looking at a dystopia worse than Mid Valley here.

And how is that good for business, or living ?

P.S. I know that the PM also announced the Greater KL MRT project expected to cost a mindblowing RM36 billion.

But then talk about integrating public transport has been around for a better part of two decades now, and such was red tape that the two LRT concessionaires could not even seamlessly link the what was (in pre-Syarikat Prasarana Negara times) known as the Putra and Star LRT lines.

And until today, there is still failure to provide point to point feeder bus service. This is crucial if you want people to leave their cars at home. If this was adequately handled, do you think we will need this RM36 billion “solution”?

Think about it.

Malaysia calling Interpol!

Yes, the Malaysian Police is very efficient, and superbly networked, internationally.

Crime fighting in Malaysia is a serious business. Our crime-busting rate is wondrous, to say the least.

All those reports you read about police shooting dead robbery/drug trafficking suspects must be very comforting especially the following line, “with the shooting of these suspects the police said they have solved the case/crippled the ring.”

Our boys in blue must be commended for their exemplary conduct in maintaining law and order without fear or favour. Criminals must pay, even if it means branding them with hot metals and beating them to death in custody.

bentcoppic stolen from here

Criminals must pay, even if one of them is a loony. They deserve the shot to the forehead. Hell, some had worse fates, like being blown up with C4.

Oh, and if those riff raff chose to protest it by asking people to wear a black shirt to mourn the death of justice and democracy, pick them up and make them a guest of the friendly neighbourhood police lock up.

If their friends protest their arrest with a candlelight vigil, hell, arrest them, and their lawyers too.

If they choose to go on a hunger strike, screw it, haul them all off to the lock up and give them nasi lemak and KFC.

Dissent must NOT be tolerated. What would the foreigners say? What would the investors say? Tsk tsk.

And who the hell does this impertinent RPK think he is, digging up dirt and slandering of all people…the Prime Minister. Can’t he take care of his own family?

This is Malaysia. According to the Information bla bla bla Minister, all this show of dissent is not our culture. I wonder what is our culture? Jadi Pak Turut?

Now the “coward” RPK has run away and still delivering hurtful salvos from beyond our shores. Such a pain in the ass, this guy. How can one guy give so many people in authority a painful case of hernia at the same time?

rpkMob1900 punya gambaq

He needs to be found! Even if you have to cari dia sampai lubang cacing. Never mind if the lubang cacing is on the Gold Coast…way down under.

Interpol kan ada. Let’s activate the network. Bring him back. After all, we have an extradition treaty with Australia, don’t we?

Let’s hope the Aussies turn a blind eye to the contents of the treaty, especially this part…



1. Extradition shall not be granted in any of the following circumstances:

(b) if there are substantial grounds for believing that a request for extradition for an ordinary criminal offence has been made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing a person on account of that person’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political opinion or other status, or that that person’s position may be prejudiced for any of those reasons;

Small matter isn’t it? After all, our cops and the Attorney General who lost us Batu Putih are such experts in their jobs, aren’t they?

Good luck fellas, as you look for RPK. Don’t worry, we won’t bother you with the small details like multiple murders by junkies, missing and brutally murdered children. Ini cerita biasa..kan?

And while you cops are at it with the Interpol folks, can you get them to get that Hilmi fella to come back from Indonesia? His assistance is needed in the Elizabeth Wong picture distribution case.

And don’t forget Mr Double SD and Disappear Bala, who is apparently on extended holiday in India.

The Great Malaysian Cover-Up… almost complete.

Look at this picture. (borrowed without permission from The Star)


The High Court today sentenced the two Special Ops cops from Unit Tindakan Khas (UTK) to hang for the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shariibuu,The Star reports.

Does it surprise you? No? Same here. But this is a case that has shaken the nation. Even as the two cops are sentenced, there are many burning questions that remain unanswered.

Firstly, motive.

Azilah who started his testimony on Jan 15 stated that he had no motive to kill or destroy the woman and instead he only met Altantuya to advise her politely not to harass Abdul Razak or create a ruckus outside the latter’s home.

Azilah also told the court that he was ordered by a superior, DSP Musa Safri to help Abdul Razak and thus he would not have done something stupid like killing and what more when he was a policeman.

While defending himself Sirul Azhar broke down a few times and related to the court that he has been made the ‘sacrificial lamb’ in the murder. – The Star.

So, the prosecution used both the guys testimony to tie a noose long enough to hang them both. But what was the motive? This is not serial killing.

Certainly not a crime of passion. Because Altantuya’s entry records and the two cops’ travel records would help to preclude that they even knew the victim. Entry records erased, you say? Oops…but that’s another story.

I reiterate, why is the most obvious question not answered? Motive?

You can narrow it down to two things.

1) Following a direct order from a superior.

2) Money.

Where is the money? I’ve said this again and again. These two convicted killers probably was approached for a reason, and the reason was not their typing skills, that’s for sure.

The chain that’s supposed to link Azilah/Sirul to Altantuya has another link. Without this link, the whole case is questionable. Yet, in Malaysia it happens. Kudos to Bolehland.

What about the private investigator Bala who made two Satutory Declarations that contradicted each other, and then disappeared? The judge didn’t think there was anything here?

Another thing, you guys think these two cops are really gonna hang for their crimes? I’m skeptical.Why?

1) In Malaysia we don’t have public hangings, so we can’t witness it happen.

2) Does anyone know how these fellas looked like? Since they were arrested until today, they have turned up with their faces covered.

How’s this story. They are properly sentenced and all today. They await the hangman. Justice is seen to be done. Then months down the line, they are spirited from the prison, given new IDs and packed to some foreign soil, with some money for their trouble.

Come hanging day, they will just announce that so and so were hanged for their crime. They bodies buried in such and such place. Whose bodies? Your guess is as good as mine.

Too much spy novels, you say. You forget that art imitates life actually.

After all, a Mongolian national being shot twice by cops and then blown up with C4, a military grade explosive does sound like a something straight out of a spy thriller, don’t you think?

So, pardon my 10 cent-conspiracy-theory. That’s what most cynical, jaded, lie-weary Malaysians are thinking these days.

And why not? This is a country where the custodians of law, public order, governance, justice and freedom can be summed up as “Harapkan Pagar, Pagar Makan Padi”.

Our cops are bent,  trigger happy murderers.

Our prosecutors are mostly evil puppets of the Attorney General, who in turn has been shown to be both inept and a puppet himself.

Our judges have mostly been castrated or they too are bent. The few who are principled, their days are numbered under One Malaysia, believe me.

Our media has been gagged too long that, their collective balls shrank and that fine thing called investigative reporting has died.

Our laws are meant to suppress the people.

And our only hope is through the ballot.

If we don’t change this, you and I have a good chance of becoming another Altantuya, Kugan, or the Kulim six.

PS. DSP Musa Safri….You can sleep easy tonight. And Razak Baginda, good luck at Oxford.

We’re with you Eli!

They say you must walk a mile in a person’s shoes before criticising or judging him. I’d like to say the same to Khir Toyo, who is demanding the resignation of Bukit Lanjan Assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong.

On Facebook yesterday, I joined a group that was set up to support Eli. A friend of mine asked me if i could send the copy or link to the compromising photos that led to her tearful resignation. This friend of mine also said she sympathised with Eli’s plight.

I asked myself then, wouldn’t it be compounding the problem if I were to respond to accede to that request.

What if it was your photo that was making the rounds? Wouldn’t it make u feel worse if your friends and family saw it, rather than total strangers?

Let’s respect the privacy of Elizabeth Wong, who was the victim of a crime of malicious intent. The woman has already been betrayed by someone close. Must we, in our basest voyeuristic curiosity, perpetuate the violation again and again?

Why are those pictures still around? Can’t the police crack down on this website?

And to Khir Toyo and all those sanctimonious asses out there, why don’t you pay attention to those tudung-clad Malaysian chicks who are gleefully showing off their exhibitionistic tendencies for the world to see, doing it in offices and X-ray rooms, obviously aware of the video camera.

Eli’s pictures on the contrary, were taken and uploaded online without her knowledge or consent.

Last I checked, pornography was a crime in this country.

Tempe Kena Tangkap!

Yes, this chubby critter who was the Selangor MB in his past life, got picked up by the cops a couple of hours ago in an aborted public demonstration by Umno Youth in Georgetown, Penang.

That was according to Malaysiakini.

Apa rasanya kena turun balai?

This is the guy who prompted a friend to coin this saying Hidung Tak Mancung, Pipi TerBotox-Botox.

Rabble rouser extrodinaire who went to Penang to “mempertahankan kedaulatan Raja Raja”, calling for action to be taken against Karpal Singh.

Come one, dude, many many people feel the same way as Karpal. Check out this report.

Umno Youth can go to hell la. Malaysians are not idiots. The seething people of Perak will be heard. They will be heard in Bukit Gantang.

The Bukit Selambau by-election will be a referendum on the rest of Malaysia’s sentiments.

I pity Najib for thinking he has scored a coup de grace. Short-sighted fella. And this guy is gonna head UMNO and the country.

Even Ku Li is saying Umno is beyond redemption. I really pity Umno and BN now. In the eyes of most Malaysians, they can do no right.

Heh Heh!

Media Crackdown Imminent?

I’ll bet my favourite nasi lemak bungkus that it happens.

This is February 2009.

In March, there is a power handover that signals the end of the Abdullah administration.

The “heir apparent” has has already sharpened his claws and is now straining the leash.

From what I hear, editors were told in no uncertain terms that their coverage of Kuala Terengganu elections would be monitored, and to expect payback if they “transgressed”.

Media coverage of even bread and butter issues in Pakatan Rakyat states are difficult because the powers that be objects to any positive coverage given the reps of the incumbent government.

Petty. Childish. Best ignored.

And yet such pettiness and childishness from those at the top of the power heap, can signal much anguish for the people. Not to mention the future of the country.

Tian Chua warns of a new media crackdown. Not surprising considering the rest of what’s written here.

For now the Home Ministry is concentrating on the Opposition rags. Never mind the equally mind-numbing, racist, rabble-rousing garbage written in the likes of Berita Hairan and Utusan Meloya.

Not long before the crackdown extends to the rest. The Star represents an interesting conundrum though.

On one hand it is ruling coalition-owned. On the other hand, MCA post-March 8 is a different animal altogether. Add to that the fact that it is headed by a former party outsider who has been putting his own praetorian guard in place.

Ong Tee Keat and the new MCA may not be on the same page as BN on all issues. This is sure to give The Star’s editorial policymakers a tough time.

What I’m trying to say is, The Star is not above a KDN warning. A painful Ops Lalang more than 2 decades ago is still not forgotten. Which is a sad predicament for the paper to be in. Because in the aftermath of last year’s election disaster, this was one paper that had tried to change and be more objective.

The Sun? I don’t know. I’m not so sure about this paper that tries so much to please the people but somehow sounds dodgy after a while. Some issues raised are valid, true enough, but the elements of “masuk bakul, angkat sendiri” is unbecoming of a news rag, know what I mean?

NST? Don’t read it enough to form an opinion.

Malay Mail is lost. Enough said.

Malaysiakini? Come on. This net paper is the opposite side to the mainstream media. The slant here is obvious.

Far less obvious is the business weekly’s The Edge slant, though I know which way they are inclined. Entertaining, insightful pieces are found here though.

Malaysia Insider tries outwardly to be objective, despite the initial “pro-Khairy” bad mouthing it suffer. The Nut Graph shows some effort, but suffers still from anonymity in a world dominated by giants like Malaysia Today, which is more of a news/view/gossip portal for every political goings on in the country.

I don’t read Mandarin or Tamil, so I can’t say much about Sin Chew, Nanyang, Tamil Nesan and the rest, but I don’t think any of them mentioned above can be assured of immunity from government persecution in the months to come.

This is a government that has long forgotten that it owes a duty of accountability to the people who elected it to power. Even March 8, 2008 have not cured them of their arrogance, the recent Perak ugliness suggests.

To me, it just reinforces the popular view that Umno and Barisan Nasional is a corrupt, evil caucus that has outlived its usefulness.

I’ll best another nasi lemak bungkus, that any candidate fielded by Pakatan Rakyat in the coming by-elections in Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang will win.

Simply because Umno is being Mugabe.

Paternalism. How far do we go?

This is a question I cannot answer even today.

Paternalism has always been present in governance and indeed, philosophy, since the early days of civilisation.

However, the idea that the government decides what is good for me or not, certainly gives me the creeps, not because I am a rebellious sort, but simply because governments are often seperti ketam mengajar anaknya berjalan lurus.

The government takes the role of our parents in telling us what’s supposed to be good for us and not. They make it into law and hey, it becomes and offence….provided you are caught doing it.

Which brings into discussion the issue of enforcement, and enforceability of such laws. I mean, any type of gambling is not allowed for Muslims in this country. That means they can be charged. But they still do it, despite the signs at your neighbourhood Kuda Toto Magnum shops that say Muslims and those under 18 cannot buy the numbers.

Now, looking at it from the paternal point of view, gambling benefits few. And the cost, both in money and social terms, is quite disproportionately high.

There is an urban legend that goes around saying how the hotel windows in Genting Highlands can only be opened a few inches, because in the past, too many losers threw themselves out the window after saying bye bye to all their money and sometimes their shirt.

I don’t know how much of this is true, but gambling has a serious social cost that leads to broken families, poverty, suicides and crime.

Hey, even those folks at Genting recognise it. You must have passed the lightboxes in the casinos advertising their gamblers’ helpline some time. I saw them. So it is clearly a concern.

So, gambling is supposed to be bad for society. Yet, a large part of Malaysian society wants the choice to go destroy itself. And the government allows it. It doesn’t want to be paternal here because I guess, of the potential political fallout.

Choice. You as an individual, say that the authorities do not have a right to dictate how you live your life. That’s your own bloody business, you say.

But no, that is no longer quite true. Unless you live in a cave, alone, with no ties to the outside world whatsoever, you are deemed as a cog in the huge wheel called society. Whatever the choices you make in your daily life, it will have some effect on your surrounding. Remember the Butterfly Effect?

So, the question is more, like the title of this post suggests, how far do we go, who should be bound by the rules dictated by this school of thought and, most importantly, WHO SHOULD DICTATE THE TERMS?

Like Jesus suggested, none of us have clean hands, for us to cast the first stone of righteous punishment or sanction. In fact, most of our so-called society and political elders have dirty, even bloody, hands.

In a plural society that often is part of the same political unit, imposition of rules that affect all must get the consensus of the majority. If it doesn’t, you get at best disenchanted grumbles and at worst riots and even civil war.

Take the much-talked about yoga fatwa for instance. The fatwa looks to me like the Muslim elder statesmen in this country telling their brethren that it is against the tenets of Islam to practice yoga and hence, Muslims who do, should stop it.

Whether they are right or wrong to impose the ruling is a question for the Muslims in this country to discuss or argue.

So I feel that in this case, Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Vaithilingam’s saying the Hindu community is hurt is somewhat misplaced. His statement takes the issue on a different trajectory of how the minority groups are often trampled when policies are declared for the majority. Business as usual in Malaysia, but that is not the point here.

In any case, today, all this is moot because the fatwa is “overruled”. The Prime Minister stepped in and basically said

“I wish to state that a physical regime with no elements of worship can continue, meaning, it is not banned. I believe that Muslims are not easily swayed into polytheism,” he said when contacted by Bernama here.

And then the Royals came into the picture and reminded the National Fatwa Council of its place in the pecking order.

Here’s a sample.

The Regent of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah has again reminded the National Fatwa Council that its primary role is to decide and issue a fatwa or edicts after referring them to the Con­ference of Rulers. — reported here

Here’s another

The Regent of Negri Sembilan has joined his royal brothers in Perak and Selangor in proposing the National Fatwa Council consult the Conference of Rulers before issuing edicts in future. reported here

The Sultan of Selangor too made his stand clear on this issue.

However, it had more to do with jurisdictional authority over Muslim matters than the applicability, relevance or whether it was the right thing to do.

All the brouhaha over the yoga fatwa made me look closer at fatwas in general. I was struck by this article .

Zainah Anwar writes..

A young friend googled fatwa and found in every piece of writing she read that fatwa is an advisory opinion only; how has it come about in Malay­sia that it becomes a criminal offence to violate a fatwa that has been gazetted, she questioned?

This echoes my own uneasy realisation that here in Malaysia, the NFC can issue an edict that becomes law. That means the NFC is a law-making body, making rules that don’t need debate and discussion before it is gazetted to become law.

That means, my friends, you have laws being created with impunity, that you or your elected rep wasn’t consulted on, which will and does affect you.

Don’t you want to know about it?

Granted, as a non-Muslim, it will not apply to me, but it alarms me that most of my Muslim friends are not aware of the equal enforceability of fatwas.

Here’s more cause for concern, from the same article..

As early as 1997, Sisters in Islam (SIS) submitted a memorandum to the then Prime Minister about the shocking provisions in the Syariah Criminal Offences Act (SCOA), many of which have no precedence in Islamic legal history and practice, violate constitutional provisions on fundamental liberties and conflict or overlap with the Penal Code.

Among the most outrageous are two provisions which state it is a criminal offence to defy, disobey or dispute a fatwa, or to give, propagate or disseminate any opinion contrary to any fatwa that is in force! This really tantamounts to thought policing that criminalises differences of opinion! Not even Saudi Arabia makes it a crime to violate or dispute a fatwa.

Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamed ordered the Attorney-General’s Chambers to review the SCOA. But we don’t know the outcome of that process, or if it ever took place.

SIS commissioned two research papers examining the SCOA on constitutional and Islamic juristic grounds. Both experts concluded that the SCOA is a deeply flawed piece of legislation. We have submitted our report to the Govern­ment.

The late Tan Sri Harun Hashim who sat on the Syariah Technical Committee said he had recommended to the committee that criminal law be taken out of syariah jurisdiction and all criminal matters should come under the Penal Code. That was why the SCOA was not submitted for review in the government exercise to establish uniformity of all state Islamic laws in the late 1990s.

But it is obvious that over the past few years, the strategy is to expand syariah jurisdiction, not limit it according to law.

I think Muslims in this country should sit up and take notice. They should have a serious look at this trend of banning this and that without reason.

Most of my Muslim friends, I know, are confident enough in their faith without having to ikut telunjuk some myopic elders. This is a case of paternalism taking an ugly turn.

Not so long ago, Foreign Minister Datuk Rais Yatim, an intelligent man who is somehow, inexplicably, prone to spew some really idiotic stuff, said that young single girls should not travel overseas.

Sure, it was in response to so many young Malaysian women becoming drug mules and ending up behind bars in foreign countries, but isn’t it rather shortsighted of Rais to say that?

Censoring the Internet was mulled in its early days. Hell, our own Mat Tyson was a proponent. Of course, some 10, 12 years later, it was the blogs they wanted to censor because it is deemed to incite people to be anti-government.

I was laughing to myself when the powers that be, in its worst imitation of paternalism, blocked public access to Malaysia Today. Then it occurred to me, paternalism in Malaysia is just an extension and a tool of political expediency.

I mean, they always mess with the likes of Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today, but ain’t it funny that no one bothers to block access to porn sites?

Alternative political views are more evil compared to pornography. Go on…snigger away. It is true, in Malaysia at any rate.

Why not a fatwa against domestic violence? A fatwa on violence against women and children? A fatwa against Muslim men who abandon their wives and kids and don’t pay alimony?

Kak Zaharah whose husband abandoned her with six kids to raise on her own (she was heavily pregnant with the last one when he left) would appreciate a fatwa like that. Paternalism would have helped there.

But then in Bolehland, bullshit walks proud while reason suffers terminal weariness.