Selasa, 30 Julai 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Jakim: Civil law needed to curb gay marriage

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 12:59 PM PDT

Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha. 

(The Star) - Othman said that what the LGBT community champions as basic human rights will act as a "cancer" to society.

The possible legalisation of same-sex marriages in neighbouring Thailand is worrying as it can indirectly impact Malaysia, says Malaysia Department of Islamic Development (Jakim).

In a written response, Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha told The Star Online that the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry should take stern action and share their views on curbing the problem by "creating a specific civil law" on the matter.

When asked about Jakim's stand on gay marriages among Malaysian homosexuals in other countries, he said such matters were difficult to control and detect.

"Although Malaysia does not recognise same-sex marriages, we are unable to stop it from spreading, especially when there is no specific law inclusive of all races and religions to address this," he said.

In Thailand, a draft law seeking to offer lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples is reportedly being readied.

"In other countries such as Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia, this issue has gained a footing. These communities have made efforts and provocations to obtain recognition under the banner of 'basic human rights' and their movements are very detailed," he claimed.

Although Malaysia cannot interfere in the affairs of foreign countries, Othman said that what the LGBT community champions as basic human rights will act as a "cancer" to society.

"Malaysia does not recognise LGBT. Its practitioners are committing a serious offence as stated in the Syariah Law in various states," he said.

He said Jakim had made many efforts since 2011 to bring religion to these groups, including mukhayyam (camping trips), iftar (breaking of fast), religious classes, and counselling."These people are also looking for a way out, so we have non-governmental organisations conducting therapy and counselling for their troubles. The solution is to return to the teachings of Islam," he added.   

Submarine Furor Returns to Malaysia

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 12:31 PM PDT 

Good news, Jasbir says it wasn't me 

Chahl's credibility has been damaged further by the fact that he was ousted from Perimekar early on in the negotiations himself. In several memos found during the DCN investigation, Chahl demanded a full fourth of Perimekar's total €114.96 million as a finder's fee. 

John Berthelsen, Asia Sentinel

Central figure in bribe case seeks to paint company at center of the scandal as legitimate

A central figure in the massive bribery case of Malaysian officials for the purchase of submarines from a subsidiary of the French defense contractor DCN has caused a furor in Malaysia with an exclusive interview with the Kuala Lumpur-based political party broadsheet New Straits Times.

In the interview, Jasbir Singh Chahl told the newspaper, which is owned by the United Malays National Organization, the country's biggest political party, that the murdered Mongolian party girl and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu had never acted as a translator in the affair. He also said Perimekar Sdn Bhd., then a wholly owned subsidiary of a company owned by one of then-Defense Minister Najib Tun Razak's best friends, actually had done legitimate work to earn a €114.96 "commission" that has been characterized as a bribe by French officials.

In the wake of Chahl's remarks, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi has threatened the leaders of Suaram, the human rights NGO that took allegations of the affair to French authorities, with sedition. The Registrar of Societies has also threatened to take away Suaram's certification as an NGO.

No one outside of the New Straits Times, the UMNO mouthpiece, has been allowed to interview Jasbir Singh Chahl. If neutral journalists had been allowed, they could have brought up the 135 French documents that question Perimekar's role in the purchase, and prove that Altantuya had visited Paris in the company of Perimekar's boss, Abdul Razak Baginda. They could also have brought up a mysterious payment of €36 million from a DCN offshoot to Terasasi (Hong Kong) Ltd, a mysterious company whose only directors are Razak Baginda and his father.

Read more at: 

Saya Tiada Niat Hina Islam, Orang Melayu Terlebih Sensitif

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 12:20 PM PDT


Saya takde niat pun hina Islam sebaliknya video itu adalah pada mulanya saya memang buat suka-suka tapi alang-alang baik saya 'educate' orang di luar mengenai penjagaan anjing dan kebersihan


Itulah kata-kata yang diungkapkan oleh pembikin video yang kini menjadi viral di laman sosial Facebook, Chetz Yusof, yang merupakan seorang penganut Islam.

Menurut wanita berusia 38 tahun ini, tujuannya memuat naik video itu adalah untuk memberikan pendidikan kepada masyarakat di luar sana mengenai penjagaan anjing seperti mana yang dilakukannya.

"Saya takde niat pun hina Islam sebaliknya video itu adalah pada mulanya saya memang buat suka-suka tapi alang-alang baik saya 'educate' orang di luar mengenai penjagaan anjing dan kebersihan," katanya eksklusif ketika dihubungi Mynewshub sebentar tadi.

Selain itu, Chetz yang merupakan seorang jurutera, turut berasa pelik apabila video yang sudah lama dimuat naik sejak 2010 itu, hanya kini hendak diperkatakan.

"Benda ni dah lama kenapa dia (video) timbul sekarang? Orang Melayu terlebih sensitif," katanya yang memiliki lapan ekor anjing yang semuanya merupakan anjing jalanan.

Chetz turut menyatakan tujuan video itu direkod adalah untuk menunjukkan kebersihan dalam menjaga haiwan peliharaan selain menyatakan anjing itu tidak haram untuk dibela.

Anjing-anjing yang dibela itu kesemuanya merupakan anjing terbiar dan dibuang di jalanan malah ada di antaranya yang buta serta pernah dilanggar orang.

"(Bela) Anjing ini tak haram, kalau basah, kita samak," katanya lagi.

Ketika ditanya tidakkah dia takut sekiranya pihak berkuasa bakal mengambil tindakan terhadapnya, Chetz mengatakan, "saya risau ambil masa saya, buat report polis, kena buat 'statement' kepada polis, itu yang saya risau sebab ia mengambil masa saya". 

Read more at: 

Debate: Harimau Malaya vs Harimau Malaysia

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 11:58 AM PDT 

We have to understand that nicknames serves the purpose of national pride and unity.

Keeshaanan Sundaresan,

A lot has been said and done about the nickname of the Malaysian national football team, but the issue continues to linger around the local football scene

Just a week ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop, wondering about what 'Arrested Development' was all about, I overheard a conversation, which later turned into a debate about the nickname of our Malaysian national team. I had always thought that this was no longer an issue, but it appears that the matter is still being discussed by people in this nation. 

In 2011, right after Ong Kim Swee inspired his men to the Southeast Asian games title, a debate was sparked in the online world with regards to the nickname of our national football team. We have always been known as the Malayan Tigers, and this apparently did not bode well with people from East Malaysia.

Now to understand their point of view, one must initially remember the history of Malaysia. When the nation gained its independence in 1957, it was known as Malaya, and was only converted to Malaysia when Sarawak and Sabah joined the nation later in 1963. Thus, referring to the national football team as the 'Malayan' Tigers appears to them as being 'non-inclusive'.

Some might lament that this is after all, just a nickname. Why debate over it? But when it comes to sports, and particularly football, nicknames do mean an awful lot. It represents the masses, it symbolises national pride, but most importantly, it provides a sense of belonging.

So which is a better nickname for the national team? Malayan Tigers or Malaysian Tigers? Here we go!


Arguing on the side of Malayan Tigers 

The Malayan Tiger, as of 2008, is an endangered species (Photo: Wikimedia)

Changing the nickname of the national team is really quite pointless on two substantives. First, the national team's name was not derived with the intention of being non-inclusive, and this is a fact that people have to fathom. Our national team's nickname was derived from the species of Tiger called Panthera tigris jacksoni, or better known as the Malayan Tiger. The Malayan Tiger is known to be a pretty ferocious species, and it was meant to represent the spirit within the national football team.

Secondly, This nickname has been part of our traditions for ages now, since the glory days of Mokhtar Dahari and Datuk Soh Chin Aun, and traditions are meant to be preserved. We saw the backlash in Cardiff City FC when Tan Sri Vincent Tan changed the colours of their emblem and kit to red, despite them being known as the 'Bluebirds' all these years. We also saw how the Newcastle United faithfuls reacted when the St. James' Park Stadium was renamed as the Sports Direct Arena temporarily, all in the name of commercialization. 

When questions were raised in Benin, on the nickname of their national football team (which is Squirrels), quite a number of supporters were against it, claiming that their nickname should be honoured while suggesting that more attention should be paid towards the performance of the team instead. This is precisely the spirit that we should uphold in Malaysia. 


Arguing on the side of Malaysian Tigers 

The Football Association of Malaysia's logo depicts a Malayan Tiger (Photo: 

We have to understand that nicknames serves the purpose of national pride and unity. That being said, everything is understood about the origins of the Malayan Tigers nickname. However, there appears to be no real harm in changing the nickname to Malaysian Tigers either.

Read more at:

The challenges of talking about race

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 11:56 AM PDT 

In order to have a conversation about race, we have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we sometimes make assumptions about people based on how they look. 

Harvey Young, Al Jazeera 

Race is a topic that most people would prefer not to address. The widespread reluctance to talk about race frequently stems from the anxieties and stress that occur with the admission (or confession) that we not only perceive differences in complexion as well as cultural and religious practices but also apply meaning to them.

To enter such a difficult dialogue would threaten our credentials as twenty-first century thinkers who have advanced beyond last century's logic of the "colour line" and possess the capacity to see beyond the rigidly defined racial categories of the past.

To talk about race feels dangerous. There is the possibility of slippage, a verbal gaffe or, perhaps worse, a sincere and honest opinion that does not jibe with contemporary group think. Will we say something that may evidence that we may not be as enlightened as we imagine ourselves to be? Will a slip of the tongue accidentally give both credence and a sense of materiality to a concept (race) that we know does not really exist and is simply a fiction invented to divide people?

The verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, the defendant who had admitted to killing an unarmed black teenager and was found not guilty of committing murder and manslaughter, created a forum in which people could talk about the operation of race and racism in America.

Although the conversation centred on the case, expressions of shock, outrage, and dismay over the verdict were not really about the legality of the decision. It's pretty easy to see how a degree of reasonable doubt could creep into a case in which the only eyewitness was a defendant who insists that he acted in self-defence.

The outcry targeted an immoral act that went unpunished: a man killed an unarmed teenager - especially after being told by the police not to engage the youth - and was allowed to walk free.

Moral outrage morphs into expressions of racial concern when a person questions whether negative stereotypes that associate black people with violence and criminality played a role in either Zimmerman's actions or the jury's acceptance of the defendant's self-defence assertion. Would Trayvon Martin still be alive if he were not black?

The racial concern arrives when a person looks at history and remembers past moments in American history when entire communities would gather to participate as witnesses in the lynching of black men and women and not a single person would be charged for the murder.

Of course, the challenge in talking about race is that the conversation, inevitably, can make people feel defensive - as if they're somehow responsible for the actions and beliefs of their ancestors or even of their neighbours. It almost demands a person to assert, "I don't see colour" or to name differently complexioned friends and prom dates as evidence of one's race blindness. It certainly can lead to frustration, anger, and exhaustion.

Read more at: 

Why the beauty contest is important

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 11:49 AM PDT 

If we give in to this, we will eventually have to give in to even more outrageous things for we will have lost the moral courage to stand up for what is right. 

Zaid Ibrahim, The Malaysian Insider 

The Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) has made its final decision that the four Muslim girls are prohibited from participating in the Miss Malaysia World 2013 beauty contest.

There's nothing surprising about this considering the condemnation unleashed by Muslim leaders on the poor girls before the decision was made.

If it's any help, I want to express my support for these brave young Malaysians. They should not feel ashamed of what they have done or what they dream of doing. They were not trying to cheat anyone or plunder the nation's wealth. They were just trying to maximise their talents and find a good career, perhaps in modelling or acting.

They want to, and should, maximise their talents. There is nothing shameful in trying to better oneself in an open competition. They must feel gutted for having been denied a golden opportunity perhaps to improve their professional development. They have been denied this by people who have no regard for their welfare.

I am disappointed not just for the girls. I am disappointed with the organisers who "chickened out". I am disappointed with the Bar Council, with Anwar Ibrahim the liberal Islamist, the DAP and those out there who always talk about freedom and living in a free country, but who do nothing and say nothing about defending a very simple principle.

That principle is this: Malaysia is a democracy. It is a country founded on freedom and liberty. If people have forgotten, they should go back to the Proclamation of Independence of our truly great leader Tunku Abdul Rahman.

This issue is not about the beauty contest per se, nor is it about morality and religious values.

It's about living in a society that cherishes personal freedom and liberty. "Freedom has its limits", of course, but those limits must themselves be limited by laws passed by Parliament.

No one else should be allowed to regulate the lives of the people, Muslims included, for to allow this would be to make a mockery of the legislative process and the representatives of the Rakyat. Don't think that advocates of freedom ignore morality, because we value good morality. What is offensive is authoritarian rule exerted under the veneer of religion.

I know some lawyers who will tell you that the Federal Court in the Sulaiman Takrib case ruled that a fatwa is "delegated legislation" and therefore it can be issued by the National Fatwa Committee on a wide range of issues.

I say that the Federal Court is wrong - absolutely wrong - because it did not have the benefit of fuller and more detailed arguments. It did not reflect and contemplate on larger issues. It did not fully consider the legal and constitutional ramifications of its decision.

Read more at: 

Insulting Islam will create tension in the country: DPM

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 11:43 AM PDT 

(Bernama) - "This shows that there is no deep understanding within society. Muslims do not insult the religion of non-Muslims such as Christianity and Hinduism."

Action that touch Muslim sensitivities must stop or else it will create tension just like what is happening in other Muslim countries.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the action by certain quarters should not happen in a country that is enjoying the peace.

"This shows that there is no deep understanding within society. Muslims do not insult the religion of non-Muslims such as Christianity and Hinduism.

"But non-Muslims are insulting our religion," he said at the breaking of fast with orphans of Rumah Amal Kasih Bestari here yesterday.

The Deputy Prime Minister called for stern action to be taken against the culprits for tarnishing the image and sanctity of Islam.

"The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Home Ministry must act fast to prevent a recurrence."

At the function organised by Eden Inc Berhad, Muhyiddin presented donation to 70 orphans. Also present was his wife, Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman. 

Cops gun down ex-EO detainee

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 11:40 AM PDT

Santhana was shot while driving in Bukit Mertajam. 

(The Malay Mail) - When a policeman asked him for his identity card, the hardcore criminal whipped out a semi-automatic gun and fired three shots at the policeman. "Luckily, none of the shots hit the policeman," Mohmad said. 

At the age of eight, he was hauled up by police and given counselling for juvenile misdemeanours.

Soon, he led a life of a gangster and got involved in petty crimes such as motorcycle thefts.

Seven years later, at the age of 15, he was spending time in lock-up for petty crimes.

By the time he turned 30, he had been in and out of the Simpang Rengam detention centre five times under the Emergency Ordinance.

Yesterday morning, the career criminal was involved in the 15th shooting incident in recent weeks and ended up being shot dead by the police.

City police chief Datuk Mohmad Salleh said the man, aged 35, was stopped at a roadblock at 2am near Desa Kepong while driving a stolen Toyota Vios.

When a policeman asked him for his identity card, the hardcore criminal whipped out a semi-automatic gun and fired three shots at the policeman.

"Luckily, none of the shots hit the policeman," Mohmad said. 

The man sped off for at least 50 metres before he stopped and attempted to hijack a parked van.

"The driver of the van, a contractor, was taking a nap by the roadside. The other police officers, who were manning the roadblock, chased and opened fire at the man three times, hitting him in his leg, shoulder and stomach," Mohmad said.

He collapsed to the ground and was taken to Selayang Hospital where he died at 2.45pm.

Mohmad said the man had 15 criminal records for offences such as robberies, use of firearms, theft and drug-related cases.

The vehicle used by him bore a fake registration number. Checks later revealed the car was stolen in Bukit Mertajam earlier this year.

Police also recovered six ski-masks and a fake pistol in the vehicle.

"Initial investigations reveal  he could have been involved in several house robberies where the victims were tied up while the suspect and his accomplice ransacked the house," Mohmad said. 

Police are tracking down the man's accomplices.  

Rafidah says Utusan Malaysia was out of line with, “Apa lagi Cina mahu”

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 11:37 AM PDT 

(The Malaysian Insider) - Former Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz yesterday revealed that she too was offended by the editorial direction taken by Umno-backed newspaper Utusan Malaysia, which has been stridently critical of the Chinese community for strongly backing the opposition.

She told The Malaysian Insider that she disapproved of the provocative front page headline published after the general election, "Apa lagi Cina mahu?" (What more do the Chinese want?)

"That was very wrong... it was totally not right to put it that way. I was shocked.

"It is not a 'healthy' remark, to be put simply," the former Kuala Kangsar MP said while recounting her own experience canvassing votes for the Barisan Nasional (BN) in a multiracial setting.

Rafidah said she had always enjoyed the company of all, regardless of whether they were Malays, Indians or Chinese, adding that she was well received by non-Malays.

"We have to be welcoming first and the rest will see and realise it. We have to open up our arms and treat everyone equally ... you cannot just utter something like 'apa lagi Cina mahu' and be done with it."

Read more at: 

IGP says Sanjeevan’s friends shot him

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 02:16 AM PDT

(TMI) - The suspects behind the attempted murder of MyWatch chairman R Sri Sanjeevan could have been his own friends.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said initial investigations had led police to this startling revelation.

Khalid declined to elaborate further as investigations led by Federal CID director Datuk Hadi Ho Abdullah were still on-going, a news portal reported.

Sanjeevan was driving a silver BMW in Jempol when two men on a motorcycle approached his vehicle before firing a shot at him.

He is currently warded in Serdang hospital where he is reported to be in stable condition.


‘Cover modelling industry too’

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 02:03 AM PDT

(The Sun) - The organiser of the Miss Malaysia World 2013 pageant, which saw the exit of four Muslim contestants, feels that the fatwa that prevented their participation should apply equally to the modelling industry.

Datuk Anna Lim told the theSun today that fashion modelling and beauty pageants are on the same court of presentation.

"As I am not a Muslim, I would not like to comment on the fatwa itself but fashion modelling and beauty pageants are similar and the same rules should apply," she said.

Lim said the four contestants who had been disqualified have been invited as guests for the final event on Friday at the Corus Hotel.

"They have not been involved with the pageant in any way," she said when asked to comment on a statement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that the National Fatwa Council will address the issue of Muslim women in the modelling industry later.

Miera Sheikh, one of the four girls disqualified from the competition, said she will be at the finals as she wishes to support "my friends". She said she wants to develop her career as a model while keeping to religious sentiments and law.


The future of political Islam

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 01:59 AM PDT

The Egyptian crisis raises deeper questions about religious politics and the nature of an Islamist democracy, writes Farish Noor

The toppling of president Mohamed Morsi and his Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt has raised a host of deep and difficult questions about the future of politicised religion in general, and political Islam in particular.

For starters, it has posed us with the singular query: if the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt now feels that the democratic path is not the means to attain state capture, would this induce some of them to abandon the democratic process altogether and opt for other, perhaps extra-constitutional, means to come to power?

One is reminded of the thesis of Olivier Roy, who has written extensively about the future of political Islam. His argument, developed in the late 1990s, was that religio-political movements such as the Ikhwan'ul Muslimin would eventually learn to moderate and compromise if they were allowed to become part of the democratic process.

The belief then was that the arena of politics was like a structured mould that would shape and form all movements that entered its normative space. The assumption underlying this argument is that religio-political movements were the "soft" human component that entered the "hard" structure of states and institutions, and that such institutions – by virtue of their capacity to maintain and reproduce structured norms of behaviour – would tame the belligerent forces that would otherwise have tried to capture the state and turn it into something else.

For a while, the thesis struck a resonant chord among many analysts and scholars; and there was ample evidence from all over the Muslim world that Islamist parties and movements would conform to the pattern of behaviour Roy had predicted.

Even Islamist thinkers like Rashid Ghannouchi had stated, before the 1990s, that the Islamist movements of North Africa would have to learn to play by the rules of democracy and that if they wanted to come to power, it had to be via the ballot box. Related to this was the other caveat that such movements would also have to accept the will of the majority and accept the possibility that they may also be voted out of power.

The experiment with Islamist democracy was, therefore, not unique to Egypt, for we have seen the same taking place in countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In Southeast Asia, we are also presented with several Islamist parties that have likewise committed themselves to the democratic process.

By and large, Roy's argument seems to have been correct, for we have seen how the Islamist parties of Turkey and Indonesia have adapted themselves to the realities of modern states and modern democratic processes. This has not simply meant the change to their outward appearance in terms of their sartorial choices and the shift from robes and turbans to business suits and iPads.

It has also meant that many of these religio-political parties have begun to speak the language of democracy as well, and have to take into account serious challenges such as the accommodation of religious and cultural pluralism in the countries they wish to govern.

Morsi has been accused of being too strong-minded, autocratic and even borderline dictatorial.

The manner in which the new Egyptian constitution was ramrodded without the visible support and cooperation of other parties in the country was a poor starting point that eroded his claim that he would abide by the norms of democratic consensus and consultation.

So were the many less important policies that were pushed through, which had more to do with cosmetic forms of religious politics than a genuine shift in terms of the ethical prerogatives of the state.

But the toppling of Morsi is also something that has serious repercussions in the short and long term for Egypt and the Muslim world at large.



DAP to hold emergency CEC meeting following ROS announcement

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 01:55 AM PDT

(The Star) - DAP will hold an emergency central executive committee (CEC) meeting Wednesday night to discuss its next course of action following the Registrar of Societies' (ROS) announcement that the party will need to conduct fresh polls.

In calling for all members and supporters to remain calm, secretary-general Lim Guan Eng maintained that the party had yet to be officially informed, either verbally or in writing, of the directive to hold fresh elections.

He said when national organising secretary Anthony Loke was informed that the letter supposed to convey the ROS decision was "not ready".

"As this is a clear act of political vengeance and an illegal abuse of power, the DAP CEC shall consider all options as provided for under the Societies Act, after receiving the written directive from ROS," said Lim in a statement.

ROS has been investigating complaints of electoral fraud in the DAP CEC election last December.

The issue cropped up when a recalculation revealed that Lim's political secretary Zairil Khir Johari, who had initially received 305 votes, clinched 803 votes.

On Monday night, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying that DAP needs to reconvene its internal elections.

Lim said he was shocked at Ahmad Zahid's pronouncement, and that DAP was never informed of the decision.


Najib the best man to unite Malaysia, says Zaid Ibrahim

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 01:51 AM PDT

Syed Jaymal Zahiid, MM

Despite persistent criticism at his purported lack of political willpower, Datuk Seri Najib Razak remains the best bet to unite a racially polarised Malaysia, former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said today.

The prime minister had been severely criticised for his controversial statement blaming the Chinese community for the ruling coalition's dismal electoral showing but according to Zaid (picture), Najib has not shown any bias towards any particular race amid escalating tension between Malaysia's two biggest ethnicity.

The former Umno man, who defected to opposition party PKR and left after a fallout with its leadership, also noted that Najib had displayed a balanced performance and moderate politics, citing as example his "tempered" handling of ultra-Malay groups like Perkasa despite leading Umno, a party with a conservative Malay powerbase.

"PM moderate in his conduct and remarks, and even his dealing with Perkasa tempered. You must remember he is in Umno so he has to please other factions too," Zaid said in a brief interview with The Malay Mail Online.

"The subject of racial polarisation is quite a serious subject, a challenge we have to take. I still think he is the best person to deal with this subject.

"Judging from how he handled issues in the past, his temperament, he is more suited," he added.

Earlier today the former Umno law minister made his view on the subject public, posting on Twitter about how he felt Najib was still the most suited person to help bring the country together.

Zaid's posting followed Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's statement that Malaysia is becoming increasingly polarised and accused Chinese educationists Dong Zong of racialising Putrajaya's Education Development Master Plan (PIPP) 2013-2025.

Zaid immediately criticised Muhyiddin for the statement, suggesting that the deputy prime minister was not helping defuse the existing racial tension by accusing the non-Malays of racism.

"@zaidibrahim: The Deputy Prime Minister is concerned about racial polarization. Yet he seems to blame non Malays/non Muslims for this," he said on his Twitter posting today.

The former law minister then said an open debate on the issue would help address the debacle. Since a debate is unlikely to happen, Najib is and must be the person to initiate reconciliation.

"@zaidibrahim: Prime Minister, present and future, must deal with causes of polarization. Not taking side. If only we can have open debate on this

"@zaidibrahim: in the absence of open debate my gut feel is that the present PM is more suited to fight racial polarization," he said.

Racial polarisation in Malaysia has worsened in recent years and analysts have linked this to the ruling coalition's struggle to avert a stronger opposition by exploiting racial issues.

Tension heightened after Najib's Barisan Nasional (BN) failed to win a parliamentary supermajority and lost the popular votes in Election 2013 as Umno's far right blamed the coalition's record losses on the Chinese.

Najib had recently said he would embark on a national reconciliation programme but the idea has been met with much scepticism in light of the continued attacks on the Chinese community.


Fitch cuts M'sia outlook on worsening reform prospects

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 08:47 PM PDT

( - "Prospects for budgetary reform and fiscal consolidation to address weaknesses in the public finances have worsened since the government's weak showing in the May 2013 general elections," Fitch said in a statement.

Ratings agency Fitch cut its outlook on Malaysia's sovereign debt to negative on Tuesday, citing gloomier prospects for reforms to tackle the Southeast Asian country's rising debt burden following a divisive election result this year.
The revision from a stable outlook adds to concerns over Malaysia's high debt pile at a time when the currency has been pressured by bond fund outflows and talk of the U.S. Federal Reserve ending its easy monetary policy.
Rival ratings agencies Standard and Poor's and Moody's both have a "stable" rating on Malaysia's sovereign debt.
"Prospects for budgetary reform and fiscal consolidation to address weaknesses in the public finances have worsened since the government's weak showing in the May 2013 general elections," Fitch said in a statement.
"Malaysia's public finances are its key rating weakness."
The long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition retained power in May elections, but saw its parliamentary majority weakened in a vote that exacerbated racial divisions in the multi-ethnic country.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who could face a ruling party leadership challenge in October, has anounced no fresh steps to cut the fiscal deficit, such as a long-anticipated consumption tax or a reduction in the government's heavy subsidies for fuel and food.



Between faith and farce

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 05:00 PM PDT

One reason for this is that in the West the church and the state have been separated whereas in the Muslim world, at least for quite a number of Muslim countries, there is no separation of church and state. Back in the days when there was also no separation of church and state, Christendom was no different from the Muslim world.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Are Muslims so weak willed and easily led astray? What does that say about the faith and Muslims in general?

If the truth be known, the strict controls on Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia, has nothing to do with faith; but has everything to do with control. Umno-Baru will use religion and a few well-chosen muftis to impose its will and its Umno-Baru style of Islam.

It knows that Muslims would not dare contradict the word of these muftis. No one wants to be seen to go against the word of God. Does the Umno-Baru government suspect that large numbers of Muslims wish to reject the religion?

Few Muslims would dare question these muftis, despite their incorrect interpretations, because the hassle they receive is not worth it. Anyone who speaks out is deemed seditious. They are arrested, charged and jailed. With this culture of fear, the rakyat is easily cowed into submission. (Mariam Mokhtar, FMT, 29 July 2013)



Mariam Mokhtar's opinion piece regarding Islam being about control and not about faith is both correct and incorrect. I say this because this criticism should not be targeted just at Islam in particular (or at the Muslims) but to the Abrahamic faiths in general.

I have, in fact, written about this issue more than once and, of course, the Christians as well as the Muslims attack me. I suppose for once the Christians and Muslims are united in their views.

Christians will argue that this may have been true once-upon-a-time but it is no longer so in Christendom. Muslims, however, argue these people, are still stuck in the rut that Christianity was in, say, up to 200 years ago.

If we compare Islam, today, with Christianity of the 1800s, that argument would probably be true. But if we compare Islam and Christianity of, say, 1500, you would find very little difference between the two other than in matters of dogma.

In other words, Islam and Christianity are both about control and domination, as was Judaism at the time of Christ -- which was why the Jews opposed Christ: because Jesus fought against this control and domination.

Some may argue that Judaism and Christianity moved on, they modernised, they changed with the times, whereas Islam is still stuck in the past.

That is one way of looking at it -- the libertarian or liberalist way of looking at things. However, the fundamentalist would not agree with this view. The fundamentalist would argue that the Jews and Christians have deviated from their religion whereas the Muslims still hold true to Islam.

In other words, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all the same. The only thing is the Muslims still follow the true teachings of Islam whereas not many Jews and Christians still follow the true teachings of Judaism and Christianity.

This point, of course, is subject to interpretation and disagreement. Not all Jews and Christians agree with the modern approach (meaning the liberal approach) to their religion. Many are still fundamentalists at heart. But then they are the minority and in western societies where the majority rules the minority has no voice.

One reason for this is that in the West the church and the state have been separated whereas in the Muslim world, at least for quite a number of Muslim countries, there is no separation of church and state. Back in the days when there was also no separation of church and state, Christendom was no different from the Muslim world.

A Kwailo friend and his Chinese wife dropped in over the weekend and amongst the issues we debated were the 'problems' facing the Muslim world (meaning violence, intolerance, extremism, etc.). His prognosis of the problem is that the Muslims are less educated and have less access to, for example, the Internet. Hence the Muslims are less informed and hence also the problems that we see.

I disagreed with this prognosis and spoke about the Judeo-Christian and Islam divide.

All three religions are classified as the Abrahamic faiths. And this is because all three religions accept Abraham as the patriarch. However, the Jews and Christians consider Isaac as the legitimate heir to Abraham whilst the Muslims consider Ishmael as the legitimate heir.

Now, according to Islam, Isaac, the son of Abraham's wife Sarah, was born after Ishmael, the son of Abraham's 'second wife' Hagar. Hence, although Isaac is the son of the first wife, Ishmael is the elder brother.

But then Sarah is Abraham's 'legitimate' wife while Hagar is their slave. Therefore, although Ishmael may be the elder brother to Isaac, he is Abraham's bastard or illegitimate son.

Seen in the context of today, that would most probably be true. But then seen in the context of the time of Abraham, a slave is the property of the master and sex between master and slave is legal and hence the children would also be legal and not considered bastards or illegitimate.

Today, slavery is not allowed. And if you have sex with your slave that would be sex out of wedlock and the children would be considered bastards. But that is today. We are talking about maybe 5,000 years or so ago. Values and standards then were different from that of today.

And this is where the divide between Judeo-Christianity and Islam begins. All three follow Abraham. But two follow one of the sons of Abraham and another the other son. And since the Bible tells one story and the Qur'an another, and since all consider their respective holy books the word of God, this matter can never be resolved till the end of time.

So the birth of Islam starts with a disagreement on which of the two sons of Abraham is the true 'leader' of the religion. And since Muslims believe that Abraham and Ishmael both built the holiest shrine in Islam, the Kaaba, there would be no way this can be resolved. To reject Ishmael would mean they would also have to reject the Kaaba.

Now, the prognosis of my Kwailo friend that the problems facing the Muslim world is because the Muslims lack education and do not have access to, say, the Internet, is a myth, at least as far as Malaysia and the Malays are concerned.

You will find that in Malaysia the rural Malays are not so intolerant and more accommodating than their counterparts in the urban areas. The farmers and fishermen are actually quite easygoing and if you have ever lived in, say, Terengganu and Kelantan, you will be aware of this.

Those professional and more highly educated Malays, however, are the opposite. They are less tolerant and more uncompromising. You hear and read about Malays (meaning Muslims) saying this, that and the other and give an impression that they are quite 'militant'. But who are these people? Are these people fishermen and farmers?

Certainly not! They are people who have gone to college or university and some even to overseas universities. Whether it is people like Ibrahim Ali, Zul Noordin or whatever, these are all people who have received an education and some of them are lawyers, engineers, doctors, and whatnot. And many are quite wealthy.

If lack of education or no access to the Internet which is the problem, then it should be the fisherman and farmers who are frothing at the mouth and not those from the higher rung of society who have received a university education.

Let's talk about suicide bombers as an example. Are you aware that some of these suicide bombers are very intelligent and highly educated people? They are not fishermen and farmers. Some, in fact, can even fly planes. And these are the people who perpetuate violence in the name of God.

Whether it is Judaism, Christianity or Islam, all three are about control. In the west, the people have managed to remove the control that the church had over them. But this was achieved through bloody revolutions at the loss of many lives. The Muslim world will need to go through this same process, which is going to take a long time.

So it is going to get worse before it gets better, just like it did in the west. And when eventually religion becomes a personal thing and not a matter of state, like in the west, we may begin to see changes in the Muslim world.

But don't hold your breath just yet.


It’s an ‘us and them’ fight

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 03:39 PM PDT

So in the meantime, the siege mentality has burst out on many fronts with the pervasive who's-right-who's-wrong frenzy hell bent on race and religion. The "us and them" mindset has come to a point where everything controversial is either politicised or spun out of context, leading some people to believe they are really under siege.

Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, MM

Looks like national reconciliation, the Race Relations Act and the National Unity Consultative Council could be doomed to remain just what they are in the present Malaysian context — a load of meaningless polysyllables and a mouthful of tongue-twisters.

Against a backdrop of caustic name-calling, abrasive communal-centric behaviour and hopeless insecurity in our midst, we wonder whether anyone is actually following up on the prime minister's call for national reconciliation that came on the night the results of GE13 were known nearly three months ago.

On top of that, the proposed National Unity Consultative Council seems to be taking forever to come into shape, let alone function, while the once intense Race Relations Act is stillborn.

And most significantly where is the Rukunegara?

This very foundation of national philosophy is lost, its coded concept seldom uttered even in schools and the spirit buried.

So in the meantime, the siege mentality has burst out on many fronts with the pervasive who's-right-who's-wrong frenzy hell bent on race and religion.

Don't believe? Get into the social media whirl.

The "us and them" mindset has come to a point where everything controversial is either politicised or spun out of context, leading some people to believe they are really under siege.

The fiasco that perpetuated from a makeshift canteen at a shower room in Sekolah Sri Pristana, Sungai Buloh has degenerated into a tinderbox of a race-religion issue waiting to explode.

Similarly, the move by the education authorities to introduce Islamic and Asian Civilisation (TITAS) as a subject in schools is read by some quarters as a step towards indoctrinating non-Muslims, again the race-religion factor coming into play.

There are so many other issues flaring up the same way of late — the one surrounding the intake of students into universities, complaints of racist doctors in Penang, deaths in police lockups, inefficient delivery system in the civil service, etc. Even court verdicts have been turned into racial subjects.

It does not help, of course, when once in a while we do have stupid people committing stupid acts or nutty politicians blurting out senseless statements that could trigger nasty reactions.

Everyone has become very sensitive and death threats have surfaced regularly. If you notice, even offers of apology have been deemed inadequate on most occasions.

Given the scenario, there has to be a real desire by the people in power to check the rising temperature.

The national reconciliation proposal, for instance, has not moved an inch despite the initial heat.

On the contrary, blame is heaped on everybody else for the flop (and this makes it worse).

There has to be a remedy. The country went through an uglier episode in 1969 but the recovery was swift, mainly due to sincere efforts to mend fences.

The authorities played a major role, of course.

There was the National Consultative Council, set up specifically to deal with divisive issues.

It worked wonders because the spirit for unity was sown in.

The buzzword at that time was "muhibbah" which in the context then meant more than goodwill.

It signified a real urge to work towards better race relations.

There were regular muhibbah gatherings, muhibbah durian parties and even the "muhibbah" song became a big hit.

Sadly, the spirit is gone and efforts to bridge the race-religion gap today would, in many cases, be met with scepticism that breeds questions like "why are we giving too much face to them?" or "they want to persecute us and deny our rights". Classic cases of distrust.

The Rukunegara that came into being post-1969 does not come with a shelf life deadline.

So why not live its spirit?

For the benefit of those who have forgotten, the Rukunegara declares these principles:

● Belief in God

● Loyalty to King and country

● Upholding the Constitution

● Rule of Law

● Good behaviour and morality.


Ridhuan Tee blames the “ultra kiasu” for Seri Pristana furore

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 03:28 PM PDT

Ranjit Singh, TMI

Controversial columnist Professor Ridhuan Tee Abdullah has blamed the "ultra kiasu" for highlighting the SK Seri Pristana recess in a shower-changing room issue, saying there have been no complaints about eating in hotel changing rooms.

Saying that the issue has been blown out of proportions, the Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) lecturer said all quarters from the Education Ministry to parents and the "ultra kiasu", his euphemism for the opposition, had reacted without any investigation.

He also took the school's Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) to task for not defending headmaster Mohamad Nasir Mohd Noor, whom he said had the children's interests at heart.

In his opinion piece published yesterday in his blog, Tee said when he first heard that the students in SK Seri Pristana were made to have their meals in the toilet, his immediate reaction was "what a terrible school".

But when investigations revealed that it was a changing room and not the toilet, he realised that it was the reaction of the ultra kiasu.

Adding that he often stayed in hotels, Ridhuan pointed out that it was common to find changing rooms with sinks for people to eat and drink there.

"In some cases, these changing rooms were not separated from the toilets. Is this wrong? Is there no smell. How come there is no protest against this?" he questioned.

He went on.

"Why didn't the Tourism Ministry order the hotels to separate the changing room from the toilets? Just because it follows Western style, it was agreeable, but when the school did it for a temporary period, it was as though the country was near its doom," Ridhuan said in his opinion piece.

He added that despite the school explaining the matter, some quarters were not happy and were making demands for the headmaster to be suspended or transferred.

Tee further questioned the lack of fuss against water being brought into the toilet for drinking after a massage or sauna at the spa.



The clash between liberty and morality in Malaysia

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 03:21 PM PDT

Of late, the clash between morality and liberty in Malaysia has intensified. Morality has always reigned supreme ever since the rapid Islamisation of Malaysia. However, the bastion of morality is facing a sustained assault by the forces of liberty.

Aerie Rahman, TMI

The train of modernisation is accelerating at breakneck speed, without an end point. Concomitants to modernisation such as urbanisation, individualisation, liberalisation and secularisation transform the world as we know it. A consequence to these "-isations" is a rupture to much cherished traditional social arrangements.

Every society is touched by modernisation. Resistance is a natural reaction. But what makes a society genuinely progressive is not modernisation per se. Its how they choose to deal with the side effects of modernisation is what makes the progress sustainable.

Of late, the clash between morality and liberty in Malaysia has intensified. Morality has always reigned supreme ever since the rapid Islamisation of Malaysia. However, the bastion of morality is facing a sustained assault by the forces of liberty.

Female Malay Muslims are forbidden to enter beauty pageants while their Muslim counterparts in Indonesia are allowed to do so. The Shiite sect is proscribed. The tentacles of moral policing are far reaching.

Khalwat raids are pervasive, victimising Malay Muslims. Malay Muslims are forbidden to consume alcohol. Malay Muslims are punished if they gamble. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is compulsory for Malay Muslims.

The religious authorities mete out punitive measures - with state backing - to victimless crimes. Hardly any third party is directly harmed as a result of these so called "immoral activities" - yet they are punished for their different standards of morality. These punishments would surprise anyone from any liberal democracy, infused with enlightenment values.

The screws of repression are being tightened by the self-appointed custodians of morality.

Why do these conflicts happen? Why do religious moralisers seek to impose their will upon another human being? Shouldn't people deserve to do whatever they want as long as they don't harm others?

The evolution of morality

The cultural and moral strains that Malay Muslims are facing do not happen without a cause. Structural forces determine how we behave. Our circumstances and social situations are major influences that condition our behaviour. We act and react in response to the surroundings and environment we are in. Cultures around the world are different because they encounter different social problems and solve them in numerous ways.

The rapid modernisation that Malaysia is facing is changing the moral and social landscape that we are in. As Karl Marx pointed out, the base (economy) determines the superstructure (laws, behaviour, religion etc). Economic development in Malaysia empowers the individual. Malay Muslims interact and are able to relate with ideas that celebrate liberty, egalitarianism, rationality, relativism, utilitarianism and the right to be left alone.

These ideas might originate from the West, but it doesn't mean that they are exclusively applicable to the West. An idea's origins will have universal application if it passes the litmus test of rationality. After all, aren't the origins of Islamic values, which are deemed universal, from the deserts of the Middle East?

Most Malay Muslims go through a partial transvaluation of values. For most, Islam is still their religion. But they go through re-interpretations and process of rationalisations of Islam, accepting some beliefs but suspending beliefs in some. Call it cognitive dissonance, if you want.

We are all aware of that Malay Muslim friend who "drinks and parties but would never consume pork while prays 5 times a day." Or the Malay Muslim who will commit all sins in the present but will repent after marriage or hajj, sometime in the future.

In short, the changing social milieu is changing the habits and behaviours of Malay Muslims - especially among the urban, Western educated, English speaking and bourgeois.

For every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction

Malay Muslims who are embedded in traditional beliefs react differently to the changing social landscape. They feel that the traditional social arrangements are collapsing in front of them. Public morality is being upended by liberty. Thus they appoint themselves as sanctimonious moral guardians - in charge of preserving the sanctity of morality.



Are criminals bolder because of lax laws, or crooked cops?

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 03:16 PM PDT


The government may ignore and rubbish statements by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng and Rafizi Ramli as opposition talk but when the man who used to command the 100,000 police force speaks about corrupt cops behind a brazen murder attempt, it is no longer an option to shrug shoulders and offer pitiful answers.

Nice try, but the average Malaysian is a lot smarter than the people who occupy positions of power. Unfortunate but true.
And that means that subterfuge and spin cobbled together in Putrajaya can be recognised at first glance for what it is: subterfuge and spin.

Before the general elections, mainstream media editors were told by Putrajaya to play down crime; at least take it off the front pages and bury it in the bowels of the paper.

The reason: the government wanted to support its election narrative that crime was down and Malaysians were safer now.

Today, the New Straits Times, the barometer of the Najib administration's thinking, and other mainstream media splashes the murder of Arab-Malaysian Development Bank founder and other killings that took place in the last 48 hours on its main pages.

The reason: the government wants public support for its effort to bring back laws which allow for preventive detention. What better way than to allow this image to take root in the minds of Malaysians, of a country where gangsters, mostly Indians, are running around with nary a care.

So expect the likes of Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and others to slip in the view that only a new slew of tough laws can bring back some semblance of sanity to life in Malaysia.

The one gaping hole in this schizophrenic narrative is the attempted murder of anti-crime campaigner R Sri Sanjeevan on Saturday.

No less than the country's top cop Musa Hassan said that the shooting was linked to Sanjeevan's move to expose corrupt cops. Not Indian gangsters. Underworld figures. Botak Chin. Kalimuthu.

Corrupt cops

The government may ignore and rubbish statements by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng and Rafizi Ramli as opposition talk but when the man who used to command the 100,000 police force speaks about corrupt cops behind a brazen murder attempt, it is no longer an option to shrug shoulders and offer pitiful answers.

In the scheme of things, this is as serious an allegation as judicial appointments being "fixed", foreign spies infiltrating the government service or political involvement in the murder of a model.



Police have failed to tackle issue of rising crime

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 03:12 PM PDT

Ranjit Singh, TMI

Three shootings yesterday showed that police have failed to tackle the issue of rising crime in the country, said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng who added that using the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance as a reason for this is unacceptable.

The shooting of Arab-Malaysian Development Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi is proof that the escalating crime was not due to gangland murders as claimed by police.

"Blaming the abolition of the EO as the main reason for the increased crimes and gangland murders was not acceptable as yesterday's murder of the prominent banker proved otherwise.

"Police credibility had also plunged to new lows with the shooting of MyWatch chief R. Sri Sanjeevan after it was revealed of possible police links to the underworld," Lim said in a statement.

Yesterday alone, apart from Hussain, a security firm owner was shot and killed in Ipoh while another victim was shot as he was driving in Bukit Mertajam. He survived.

He said these recent cases clearly showed that police were more inclined to act against the political opponents of the Barisan Nasional rather than address the issue of escalating crime.

Lim who is also the Bagan MP pointed out that in a written reply to DAP MP for Kulai Teo Nie Ching in Parliament recently, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaid Hamidi had said that only 9 per cent of the entire police force comprising 112,583 police personnel, were directly involved in fighting crime.

The statistics showed that 10,150 (9 per cent) are in the Criminal Investigation Department,4,224 (3.8 percent) in the Narcotics Criminal Investigation and 1,663 (1.4 percent) in Commercial Crimes Investigation Department.

The Home Minister refused to mention how many police personnel were in the Special Branch.

Lim said that it was  unacceptable that only 9 per cent  are directly involved in fighting crime on the streets.



Where else can we ‘balik’ to? asks Wee

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 03:04 PM PDT

MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong urges educators to be mindful of sensitivities and refrain from using derogatory statements against students.

G Lavendran, FMT

MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong today accused educators of fueling the fires of racial bigotry in the country.

He was referring to the principal of SM Alam Megah in Section 27, Shah Alam who had allegedly uttered derogatory instructions against her students, telling them to "…balik India dan China".

This incident came less than a week after the SK Seri Pristina school issue was resolved.

"When will it all end? We are patriotic and loyal Malaysian citizens, and Malaysia is our home. Where else can we 'balik' to?" asked Wee today.

Wee said that while the rakyat are constantly advocating for a more harmonised and less racially-divided society, the educators themselves are fueling the fires of racial bigotry.

"This recurring theme of targeting students who are not of the same ethnicity is disappointing, even more so when schools are expected to inculcate mutual respect for one another.

"Rather than to polarise friendships as not only students are offended, the multiracial teachers too are likewise affected," said the Ayer Itam MP.

No need to spew racial comments

FMT reported yesterday that the principal of SM Alam Megah scolded her students and told them to 'balik India dan China' for not paying attention to her during during assembly.

Wee, a former deputy education minister, said that there was no need to spew racially motivated comments in order for a group of teenagers to quiet down.



‘Society has become too sensitive’

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 02:29 PM PDT

Dhong Zong's objection to the education masterplan saw a disappointed Education Minister advise Muslims to prioritise unity and cordial ties against rising racial polarization.

(Bernama) - He said Dhong Zhong viewed the government's good intention as racist although it took almost two years to gather input on PIPP to be in line with the Education Act and the education philosophy.

The United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia's (Dhong Zong) decision to object to the Education Development Master Plan (PIPP) 2013-2025 has  disappointed Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who sees it as the latest trend in polarization especially in the context of race relations.

He said today's society has become too sensitive that well planned efforts by the government is considered as negative and turned into racial issues as has happened to the PIPP.

Muhyiddin who is also Education Minister said the trend is not helping to foster the spirit of unity among all races.

"I was informed that the Dhong Zhong gathering yesterday (Sunday) issued a resolution to stop what we are doing in PIPP, formed to develop the education sector.

"It was designed with good intentions, however, it is seen as racist…13 years (execution of PIPP) is seen as an effort to abolish their mother tongue," he said at a 'buka puasa' function at the official residence of Menteri Besar Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir here last night.

He said Dhong Zhong viewed the government's good intention as racist although it took almost two years to gather input on PIPP to be in line with the Education Act and the education philosophy.

Against this rising race polarization and great challenges ahead, he urged Muslims to prioritise unity and cordial ties.

"In this environment, the Muslim community will need to strengthen unity as some people assume that we are not strong leading them to question the rights contained in the constitution, religion and the rulers," he said.

At the event, Muhyiddin presented dates zam zam water, sarong and robes to the chairman and committee members of district mosques in the state.

He then joined Muslims in 'maghrib', 'isyak' and 'tarawih' prayers led by Sheikh Osama Mohammad Iqbal, the Al-Quran teacher at Masjidil Haram in Makkah.


Why ultra-Orthodox men wearing 'modesty glasses' is a fabulous idea

Posted: 29 Jul 2013 02:24 PM PDT!/image/346396213.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_640/346396213.jpg

A Haredi man gazing at the Jerusalem skyline. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

If you step into the extremist ultra-Orthodox mindset for a moment, there is indeed a problem - haredi men must move around in the world to a certain extent - if only to travel to and from yeshiva and run their errands. But in this wider world there are women. Let's accept the premise that any glimpse of any woman awakens base instincts that they have absolutely no control over. It's an absurd premise, but I'll accept it for the sake of argument.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

At first it sounded like just another distasteful manifestation of extremism among ultra-Orthodox Jews. Modesty glasses.

Just when we thought things couldn't get more ridiculous, we learned that the latest trend for those men who will do anything to avoid any contact with women, lest they awaken forbidden sexual urges, are stickers that they can plaster onto their eyeglasses. According to the Associated Press:

The ultra-Orthodox community's unofficial "modesty patrols" are selling glasses with special blur-inducing stickers on their lenses. The glasses provide clear vision for up to a few meters so as not to impede movement, but anything beyond that gets blurry – including women. It's not known how many have been sold.

For men forced to venture outside their insular communities, hoods and shields that block peripheral vision are also being offered.

The glasses are going for the "modest" price of $6.

Naturally, since the story falls into the category of 'what will those nutty Israelis do next,' it has been spread wide, in media outlets as diverse as National Public Radio which called it "a novel solution to an age-old conflict" (inaccurate, since the extreme modesty obsession is a recent development) to a newspaper in North Carolina which said the report was "so crazy that you might think the story is a joke."

At first, a modern woman's knee-jerk reaction to news of the glasses is to reflexively protest against it vociferously. Just like gender-segregated buses, the removal of women's images from billboards, the blurring of little girl's faces in Purim ads, signs requiring women to dress 'modestly' in certain neighborhoods, keeping their voices off of radio broadcasts, and forcing women to switch seats on airplanes so as not to sit next to the men, it all appears to be part of the same package that oppresses women by putting them in the category of 'forbidden fruit' that cannot be seen or heard on any way.

But then I decided to rethink the issue.



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