Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oh the Weather!

The weather has been killingly hot these days. I just cannot wait to dive into an air-conditioned building or switch on the air-conditioner in my bedroom before I sleep. No wonder the shopping malls are packed because people just want to get away from the heat.

Just as we are being fried by the heat there are those in the northern hemisphere who are stuck in freezing cold unseen in years and some have been literally frozen to death. The weather extremes may be symptoms of global warming that is becoming critical.

Whatever is becoming to the global climate? I dread to see the day when people really drop dead from heat stroke although it has happened before in India, but on a larger scale, in places where they cannot escape into a manmade insulated environment.

Don't Be a Fool

This happens to be the title of this morning's sermon taken from the scripture text of Luke 12: 16-21. I am sharing this as it has enlightened me to the urgency of how we must live before our time on earth is over.

Luke 12 writes of the parable of the rich fool. A rich man became very rich and decides to invest his wealth on worldly pleasures. But God warned him not to be greedy and selfish but to invest in the life hereafter by being rich toward God.

Three warnings were given:

1. Do not be spiritually negligent. All of us are spiritual beings and we must be connected to our Creator. Being spiritually poor, ignorant and negligent can have eternal consequences. Know your Creator and be prepared to face Him one day for whatever you do in this earthly life.

2. Be careful of your earthly pursuits. Not all earthly pursuits are bad but becoming overly indulgent and passionate for the sake of self glorification can land us in dire straits. Be careful that spending too much and too much time on leisure, appearance, wealth creation and materialism can make you disorientate to your spiritual calling. Your earthly pursuits can be a cause of separation from your creator God whom you will hold an account to one day.

3. Be wise in how you invest your time and resources. We need to invest our time with God whom we will meet one day, invest in the Bible that God gave to us as His word for this life, and invest in serving others in greater needs than us through sharing our faith and meeting their material needs through charity. For example, the Haitians are in great physical needs after their recent earthquake. How did we help?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Introducing Andrew

This is Andrew my latest (4th) grandchild. Isn't he cute and serene?

Not Your Regular Mickey

It isn't a mouse, for mice are adorable and nice to hold. Even kids love them. But this mickey is a rat and is a pest. It defecate all over and dirty the compound. Yesterday evening my wife spotted a large shadow scampering along our backyard and guessed correctly that a large mickey has been visiting us lately. So we did what we did - set a bait in a trap, and waited. We tried the same trick on mickey's distant cousin, a squirrel, that also visited us nightly and leave fruit waste, dirty footprints, and faeces for my wife to clean up. But this bushy tailed cousin of mickey was very smart. The trap failed to entice it although we've placed fruits it would have loved to nibble on. We gave up after several days of fruitless efforts.

This morning mickey found itself 'housed'. It was about 5 inches long, minus the tail which would have added another 5-6 inches. As a rodent we have to do what is expected. We 'demised' it and later committed it to the waste ground.

My wife said that as mickey may have a family we can expect more 'victories' so we will provide more 'welcoming' gifts for them. We are superstitious in not speaking out about our plans in case mickey can hear us, so we whisper or use coded words. You may think it is silly but we think for added success it is safer to take this precaution.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Fragmented Politics

Malaysian politics is in a sorry state and voters are greatly disappointed at what transpired in the past 2 years. We are nowhere nearer to a viable 2 party system than when Pakatan Rakyat gave Barisan Nasional a sound thrashing at the March 8, 2008's 12th general election when the former won about 40% of the total electoral votes. But today Pakatan Rakyat is fragmented with internal strives. Barisan is similarly fragmented with broiling issues and scandals amongst its component parties.

The voters are annoyed, angry, frustrated, cheezed off and distrusting. They hated the Hobson choice dilemma. Where can they find good leadership to take the nation into the new decade? We feel envious of good leadership in other developed nations. It is not that we don't have qualified people. It is that Malaysian politics is being made dirty and corrupt that the best people hate to become involved. It is an accepted fact that Malaysian politicians are not exactly there to serve for the good of the nation.

Why are there trivial politics than is uniquely Malaysian? We seems to be knocking our heads against the walls for the smallest of issues rather than seeing them in perspective and solving them. It is so Malaysian to beat about the bush, speak ambiguously, stay non-committal, brandish our might and raise our voice at meetings, announce expensive development projects and put on impressive roadshows and publish data and reports to boast of our achievements while ignoring the encircling fire that threatens to devour us. We do have the ostrich mentality.

Malaysia, you have to act fast before something acts on you. We may not want to achieve Vision 2020 but settle for a more important issue of being a united Malaysia against the world.

Blissfully Insignificant Day

We don't need significant days any more than insignificant ones, and today I'm glad it is insignificant, after the significance of my baby grandson Andrew saw the light of day 2 days ago. He looked blissfully handsome and undisturbed by the world around him when I gazed at his lovely face this afternoon. He and I, we just want the world and our time to pass by insignificantly without nothing major to remember, for this is the joy and the peace of being alive and safe.

You know, although we often fight to be recognized as more important than others, insisting our rights to be met, and protecting our turfs, we can become animals in the process, like what some people are becoming now, baring their teeth and showing their ugliness and selfishness. Why do we need to demonstrate our superiority when we can live alongside in peace as we have been doing for over half a century? Has the earth grown overcrowded? Are we suffering from poverty? Somehow there are a group of dissatisfied people wanting to stir up emotions and lit little fires of dissent rather than boosting our strength and goodwill. It is a bad time to become significant for the wrong reason for the world is watching, and comparing.

Self centredness is definitely a poor characteristic to field when staying focus and united for a greater cause is more beneficial for everyone. If we have no news to read of because we are in a boring day of peace it will be more acceptable than to feel fear and insecurity of impending trouble. A united family breeds prosperity. A united nation likewise. This I believe is what the true spirit of 1Malaysia is about, but some are just blind or unwilling to share the vision and collaborate. Sad isn't it? They would just let pride destroy us.

I wish Malaysia many days of boringly insignificance where we can go about doing our things without becoming over concerned of our future. We certainly don't need to headline ourselves but rather lie low and be an insignificant but successful nation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Welcome Baby Andrew

The world population increased by one this evening when baby Andrew was born to my elder daughter. At 3.45kg he is a handsome guy. Much later when he learns to discern his family around him he will realise that he is much loved by his parents, sister Ling, grandparents, cousins and many uncles and aunties.

The coming weeks will be interesting with some adaption to make, especially for Ling who is slowly understanding that she is going to share all of us with Andrew. For my wife and I, another occasion to care for a newborn grandchild, perhaps the last one as it is really a tough job!

Snapshot, 9.45am

I am not privy to any information to explain the recent fall in the Bursa Malaysia stock index which crossed briefly over 1300 points about a week ago but then slided to about 1265 this morning. The maxim 'what goes up must come down' is as obvious as the law of gravity. Pity those who bought high in the hope it will go higher and then sell. I have been bitten before by an over adventurous spirit and a little greed thrown in. I've learned a lesson and have disposed those underperforming stocks to concentrate on those that have stronger business foundations.

Having said this I'm not so sure that even these can be trusted in the long run. Investing in stocks is not without risks. For example, if the fragile race-religion factor is rocked further the tremour will sure reach the stock market and depending on the power on the Richter scale can cause it to collapse when investors flee, especially foreign fund managers. So far the government seems to be managing it well but the case is not closed. With people like THIS politician driving the issue to greater emotional height there is nothing to assure the stock market that the issue is resolved.

Anyway playing stocks is out of question in such turbulent times. I just hope any slide will be minor and not painful. Reminds me of the 'Jack and Jill' nursery rhyme.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Day When Man Lived to a 1000 Years

When I first read the book of Genesis in the Bible I was amazed that the first man created by God, Adam, had lived to 930 years before he died. His son, Seth, lived to 912 years. Seth's son, Enosh lived to 905 years. Enosh's son, Kenan, lived for 910 years. Kenan's son, Mahalalel lived for 895 years. Mahalalel's son, Jared lived for 962 years. Jared's son, Enoch lived for 365 years before he died. Enoch's son, Methuselah, lived 969 years. Methuselah's son, Lamech survived 777 years. And Lamech's son, Noah (famed for the Noah's ark) lived 950 years.

I assume that the measurement of time then was the same as now and if this is so it can be safely concluded that human mortality has been declining eversince. Up to the time of Abraham and Sarah, the founding parents of modern Israel, the mortality dropped drastically. Sarah lived just 127 years, Abraham lived till till 175 years. Moses, the great deliverer of the Hebrews from Egypt, lived 120 years and his brother, Aaron lived 123 years.

Why was it that man could live live to almost 1000 years but today we can barely reach 100? The Bible counted a man to be blessed when he can live to 70 years yet today many people succumb at 60 or even less. Sort of makes me feel that I am in the lineup to be called home anytime!

We want to live as long as possible. Barring untoward incidents like accidents, terminal diseases or genetic predisposition to early death, we hope that by eating healthy, avoiding unsafe habits like taking drugs, smoking and drinking excessively, and exercising well, we can add extra years. These are all medically proven to be the advisable steps but much need to be done.

I believe a happy disposition and positive outlook provide a head start. Being spiritual and able to calm oneself through prayers and meditation help enormously. Family plays a vital role in extending one's longevity. Family members who love and support each other are powerful reasons in enhancing one's motivation to stay alive. And to be able to identify the reason for our existence help guide us along life's path because it gives meaning and purpose in all we do.

The society we live in are not conducive to secured living. An intolerant and selfish community discourage a close social networking environment, forcing each member to avoid group gatherings. The pressure towards securing a better future dictates how we spend time, mostly towards self and family and less towards community.

Earlier I wrote about the 'demise' of the earth and mankind. I guess declining mortality is a sign of what is to come although medical sciences are making strides to prolong our lifespan, much of which are by artificial means. It would be great if we can return to nature,. That was where we first came from. Imagine the days of Adam and Eve, the first humans, who lived in a 100% natural environment free from any pollution and stress. Such a scenario is no longer possible today. In our limited ways we try to emulate and hopefully extend our life by a few more years.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ready for New Addition

The day is coming for us to welcome another member of the family. My elder daughter is geared to deliver her 2nd child, a boy, and my 4th grandchild, within the next 3 days. I thank God that throughout the past 9 months both mother and foetus have been most accommodating to each other and he is already 'locked' in position for normal delivery. I just pray that the entire delivery experience will be a joyful one for my daughter, hubby and little Ling, soon to be promoted to be an older sister. We will of course be sensitive to her 'loss' of full privileges but she has been a marvelous child who accepts little baby Andrew with grace. I suppose being psychologically prepared is important for a 2+ year old kid so she will not be traumatised. I should think that we should give her even more love in the coming months to show her that baby Andrew has not 'dethroned' her from our hearts. More updates when the good news arrives.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Earth, Car and Man

Everything breaks down in time. Cars get scrapped when the body rusted and engine failed. Human body gets diseased, degenerated and died. What about the earth? In the law of nature I believe earth will go the same way although not in visible timespan that we can measure but over million of years rather than hundreds or thousands.

We are a generation of human beings witnessing the rapid 'demise' of Mother Earth and alarming calls were made to arrest global warming and environmental destruction. Experts even project that we don't do enough now in 40 years time we will not be able to save earth anymore. I am not optimistic that it can be done because I believe in the theory that everything in creation decays and this process is irreversible. Chemical reactions around us ravage all our attempts to keep things as they were. We repaint our house new and 5 years later rusts take over and we have to restore the 'newness'. Our bodies also take their toll from the effect of UV irradiation, dust and chemical pollutants we breathe in. And earth is not spared as it has to absorb the effluents discharged from industrial and domestic processes that failed to be given adequate treatments. Rivers, land, lakes and our air gets contaminated with by-products of our lifestyle. Basically we excrete onto the very earth we depend upon for clean and healthy living. And increasing population just make the problem larger. Just yesterday I watched in horror from my office windows the dusty air that flew outside and the thick layer of dust that clinged to my car washed barely 24 hours earlier. Wherever we live we are no longer safe from pollutions of any form and this will affect our health and our longevity.

Of course we try our best to combat the ill effects of our irresponsible and careless actions to our environment. Although some of us may pro-actively do our part to preserve our environment, sadly for every 1 caring human, 10 or more could not care less or push the work to the government or their neighbours.

Believe me, the earth is dying just like you and I. It may not die like we do, breathe our last, but the earth will slowly but surely become less and less habitable. The next generation of humans will face hotter weather, unpredictable climatic changes, more natural disaster like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis and severe contamination of our grounds and air. As more efforts and costs will be put in to protect ourselves from harmful elements, we may even have to wear masks and stay within safe zones to stay alive longer. Going outdoor may not be a healthy option except in selected places where less humans stay. The rich will buy up such places or book them for holidays. As urban areas become congested and polluted more people will value what use to be taken for granted. Clean air and clean water.

The options for healthy living are dwindling and in 50 or 100 years I believe living well will belong to the privileged. As the earth dies gradually so will mankind start perishing, if it has not perished ahead of earth.

Another Powerful Thunderstorm

I was fortunately at home when another thunderstorm struck at 6.15pm. Not taking any chances I disconnected the power sockets to my PC, TVs, refrigerator and other small appliances. I also disconnected the phone lines. 30 minutes later when the storm died down I discovered the voice segment of the phone line down but Internet accessible. Nothing major is affected except for the gas cooker which the gas lighter that runs off the mains fail to ignite.

I have just made an insurance claim for the damages I suffered on Jan 11 and I certainly hate to be making another claim on a similar incident. On the safe side I need to instal surge protectors to major equipment at home. The monsoon season is still unabated although we are heading into the seasonal dry spell at the beginning of every year.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reactions to Land Scams

Further to my post HERE I am collecting some reactions that condemns the original judgment, some of which are rather amusing.

TheStar carried its report HERE.

Some public reactions below, names deleted.

The perverted decision of the Adorna Properties Sdn Bhd vs Boonsom Boonyanit case caused much dismay among landowners. Essentially, it meant that anybody who buys stolen land gets to keep it and the real landowner loses the right to his land. The buyer only has to claim that he bought in good faith.Corrupted judges can cause so much damage to this nation. Shouldn't these scum be brought to book?

I, too, had a bone to pick with him (Penang High Court judge Vincent Ng) because he granted an injunction and refused to write his grounds until after two years, by which time my business was killed and buried. Now, I am pleased to know that the Federal Court has corrected this blatantly wrong decision on land transfer.I eventually got a judgment which vindicated me after six years. Justice will prevail eventually. Rotten judges, be warned.

That judgment was stupid. How can a stolen property be legalised through a sale to a third party? This is against all common sense.

If a property, registered to A is sold to B, then B gets an indefeasible title. But if B faked the documents to get A's title and sold it to C which subsequently sold to D, then D gets an indefeasible title. However, C's title should not be indefeasible because B was never the registered owner of that title.

Eusoff Chin's court ruled that C's title was also indefeasible and that encouraged land scams because those imposters could now sell land, which their customers could keep without the land being first transferred to them. A transfer would confer the evidence of ownership of B which an imposter might find it hard to fulfill.

Checks should now be made to find out if former top judge Eusoff Chin held any shares by proxy in Adorna Properties. Late, but still a great judgment in the interest of justice.

Maybe it is time to revisit all court cases judged by Eusoff Chin. What did Adorna do for Eusoff to give judgment in their favour when clearly a crime was committed by the land being acquired fraudulently? Let's hope he was not coincidentally on a holiday trip with some Adorna people. But you"ll never know.

And Eusoff Chin has still not been charged by the AG after the RCI ruled there were sufficient to conclude he had been involved in corrupt acts.!! It was Chin who made this "blatant and obvious" mistake in the Boonsak case that has caused so much havoc and injustice the last ten years. I suspect it was more than incompetence in this case as well.

Aiyo-yo, Eusoffe Chin again, alway in the lime light for the wrong reasons.

Even a 1st year law student knows that an owner can recover a loss property which was fraudulently transfered or stolen. Even an innocent buyer who acquired the property legally has no right to it if it can be proven that the property was stolen or obtained fraudently in the first place. God knows why Eusoff Chin intentionally made such a blunder?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Would Najib Not Be Touched?

Read THIS open letter to the prime minister. If I were Najib I would resign immediately. 9 months into his first year as PM we are as dark as darkness over what 1Malaysia is. All I see is how this idea is being prostituted in many billboards and advertisements. 1This and 1That. Or made fun of - 1Malaysia 2Systems, etc

Watch n Go

Malaysians are 'notorious' as 'kay po' otherwise busybodies. At the sight of some people gathering by the roadside, or a fallen motorcycle, or a smashed up vehicle, motorists would slow down and some even stop at any convenient spot to watch the incident thereby causing traffic jams, even contributing to new accidents. While this is not a healthy lifestyle it is helpful nonetheless. Granted that many of these kay pos are bystanders who would not lift a finger to help the victims, there are bound to be some Good Samaritans who would render assistance and such examples have made many visitors endeared to this noble Malaysian character.

I wish to observe that this noble watch n go character is going to be helpful in the current climate of 'mild tension' arising from attacks on houses of worship. The latest news is that 2 suraus have been vandalised in Muar (read HERE) bringing to date 11 churches, 1 sikh temple and 2 suraus. Except for a church the rest were minimally damaged which point to mischief makers instead of real arsonists who plan to create damages.

It is therefore an admirable thing that most Malaysians react with a watch and go attitude. Like, 'oh, another one ah?' and move on with life. It is good that we are not swayed or instigated to react wrongly by evil elements in our midst bent on stretching and breaking the racial and religious harmony among the various races. Over time we are given the opportunity to echo the slogan used by our tourism ministry - Malaysia, truly Asia.

As long as we do not react negatively I am sure the attacks will fizzle out in no time.

The Church Awakens

One can say that in good times there is no need to question the government nor hold a watchdog over it. One can also say that trust is a given thing in times of prosperity and one can be lenient and forgiving over small mistakes. So it has been this way since Independence until a few years ago when the Internet fueled stories about how badly our government and economy are faring. How corruption has eaten up much of our national wealth, how our civilisation plummetted in many areas, especially race relations, religious harmony, education standard, cost of living, security and law enforcement.

The Malaysian church is not insulated from these calamities and took steps to voice their concerns as well as pray for restoration of good governance, transparency and competitiveness of the nation as a whole. When the church respond, it does so with sensitivity and tact, through representation in dialogues and appeals. Throughout its history in Malaya and now Malaysia the churches have 'behaved' as good corporate citizens. Their concerns have been to provide spiritual nurture to their members and to be responsible citizens of the land. It is when the church finds their privileges and rights threatened that they start speaking out more forcefully and take the matter to higher levels. It is a natural reaction when one is 'cornered'. The issues of poor governance, corruption, intolerance and recently the encroachment into their use of 'Allah' has made the church rise up in one voice to seek an amicable solution. The Malaysian church is never known to use physical ways to prove her point but on persuasion and substantiating evidence. Most of all the church rely on the power of prayer to receive wisdom from on High to arrive at a 'good' conclusion to whatever dispute it faces. The manner the Metro Tabernacle Church responded to the fiery attack on its premise a fortnight ago is a good testimony that there is always a better way to resolve a dispute apart from threats, violence and destruction of properties. May this be the way we apply in overcoming our communal differences.

Are These For Real?

Many of us are sceptical over the trustworthiness of our judiciary system, in particular the appeal and federal courts which have a tendency of overruling the judgments of the high courts. Even in the most recent controversial high court ruling on 'Allah' that the Catholics have a right to use the name in its publications, many of us are resigned to the conclusion that the appeal against it by the Home Ministry is as good as done. It seems the appeal and federal courts have made and are making its rulings based on what are politically correct rather than constitutionally correct. As we all know political correctness today is anything but correct and many Malaysians are angered that judges, especially the senior ones, are 'playing politics' instead of dispensing justice. But THIS latest report (see also HERE) has given hope that the system has discovered a way to redeem itself. Although the plaintiff, a Thai national, has died, justice has been done albeit posthumously and this landmark judgment means that all landowners will be able to receive protection against fraudulent acquisition of their properties without their knowledge. After all how many landowners sit by or on their properties day and night, or visit them periodically, to make sure no one squat on them or steal them away to be sold, converted or developed?

Like it or not, some of us may see this reversal as a slap on the face of former chief justice Eusoff Chin who was implicated but got away (for now) in the high profile judiciary fixing case involving him and his lawyer friend VK Lingam, also called the 'Correct, Correct, Correct' case. Hopefully more of such unjust cases will be appealed and overturned. The people really need a redeeming judiciary to lift us out of this state of hopelessness that at the last mile the judges could not defend the victims of injustice.

In a latest development involving another land right issue, this time in Sarawak, the native Iban won a court victory (High Court) over Ladang Sawit Bintulu Sdn Bhd Tabung Haji (a major share-owner in the oil palm plantation) and the Sarawak government to reclaim their rights against development on their native land. More details can be read HERE and HERE. While I am sceptical both cases may be politically motivated to win back voters sympathy, I am prepared to give my benefit of doubts to the judges but a sure pattern must emerge for this doubt to be permanently removed.

If these 2 cases, and if the Home Ministry appeal fail on constitutional grounds, then we are really seeing a reversal of the sad state of affair in our courts which were once revered for their fearless stand against evil ways in our society. If this hold then we may yet see the police internalising their role as the enforcer, protector and defender of the laws.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Did WHO Cry Wolf?

According to THIS report, yes. It seems WHO over-reacted but who can blame them? Most of us would rather WHO err on the safe side. After all we are dealing with an unknown virus that can mutate into a form that is more potent, deadly and harder to contain. If WHO had been right no one would slap on its shoulder in praise, they are expected to predict accurately since they have all the resources available to take care of global health. Now that WHO is wrong, for now, critics start appearing.

In September when I came down with flu like symptoms I took all the recommended precautions and thankfully they were unrelated to A H1N1. A church member lost one of her family members due to delayed and flawed diagnosis, another had her symptoms correctly diagnosed and treated and she recovered. What I am saying is that A H1N1 is a deadly virus if untreated, or treated too late. When WHO suggested a pandemic alert it is taking a responsible decision that have saved several thousand deaths.

The A H1N1 wave is hardly over and northern hemisphere nations experiencing winter now are especially vulnerable to seeing a resurgence of this flu. I'd think WHO has done a great job in keeping the world on its toes and helping air travel sustain a decent traffic to keep the airlines stay afloat. In the meantime it is wise that the governments are still publicising warnings so the public stay alert and maintain good hygiene practice.

When You are Irrational Talk Less

When I read THIS report I don't know if I am losing my ability to reason or has Dr Mahathir become more irrational. This is what he said,

"The people must be prepared to pay higher prices for goods and services if they want to enjoy higher incomes under the proposed New Economic Model"

"Without the cost of living going up, you cannot have higher income"

"For the government, it is the question of increasing taxes and reducing subsidies. Then the government will also have the money to pay their staff higher wages"

This is absolutely rubbish. High income comes from higher productivity and market acceptance that your goods and services command a premium over the competitors. A hypothetical example using Dr M's argument is like saying that if you spend RM950 out of your RM1000 income, the New Economic Model that will cause you to spend RM 1200 will 'guarantee' you earn more to cover your higher expenses, that your pay will not be less than RM1200. From the last remark it appear the government will guarantee the civil servants higher wages to offset the higher costs. What about the rest of the country? The self-employed? Those who work in the private sectors? The retired? The unemployed and dependents?

The BN government should not play up the 'high income society' concept as if it can be achieved overnight. High income with a matching high cost of living is a senseless goal. I believe as long as Malaysia is still developing it cannot achieve high income. It is a lie to deceive those who live under this delusion that we can earn more without working harder and smarter. Until we achieve the goals of Vision 2020 and the people acquire competitive skills, knowledge and work aptitude to deliver world class products and services, forget about high income for now.

While we go about raising our GDP and per capita income the government should contain inflation by managing its subsidy policy delicately so as not to create a runaway inflation that will cause many families to fall into severe financial crisis. For now they must not remove the subsidies carelessly without consulting the experts.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Another Unpopular Move

The government is dead set to go ahead to overhaul the fuel subsidy come May 1 but is still unsure of the final mechanism. The gist of the revision is that lower capacity vehicles will receive the most subsidy while higher capacity vehicles will have to pay the full price. This is based on the premise of affordability: poorer people can only afford smaller vehicles. Reading behind this plan is the populist strategy to gain support from the average Joe. The government also plans to put a limit to how much a qualified vehicle owner can buy subsidised fuel in a month to stop abuse where cheap fuel are bought and resold.

Read HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for latest news, views and concerns on this issue.

The exercise is to deny those who do not qualify from enjoying the fuel subsidy. The question is who are those who do not qualify? If it is foreign owned vehicles then I believe all Malaysians will agree on the sound principle that only Malaysians should enjoy subsidies. Just as in healthcare, foreigners pay full rates at government hospitals.

But to differentiate Malaysians into rich and poor to determine who gets the subsidy is unjust and highly discriminatory. Pensioners drive their old faithfuls they have kept for years so are they classified as wealthy to be discriminated against? Rich families with compact cars to drive to market and visiting friends also get to enjoy subsidies meant for the poor?

The scheme as mooted by the Domestic Trade Minister is impractical and almost impossible to implement while causing inconvenience and creating more problems than solution. Using MyKad as identification to receive subsidies is neither foolproof nor effective. Plus how do you link the owner to his car through MyKad? The chip technology has not been built in yet so hoping to introduce this concept in 3 months is like asking for the stars. Plus restraining the limit of subsized fuel per month per vehicle is an enormous exercise that is highly dependent on a faultless centralised database system. Rather than overhauling the existing practice the government should apply the GST to fuel as well as this concept is just. My suggestion is this:

1. Keep fuel subsidy intact.
2. Introduce GST at the pump.
3. Smaller and more fuel efficient cars will use less fuel and pay less GST as compared to bigger and less fuel efficient vehicles.
4. This proposal is fair to those who use their vehicles infrequently.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Death in Haiti

As if we don't have enough troubles already, barely 2 weeks into the new year on January 13 we are jolted with news of a strong earthquake in the tiny island of Haiti which is sandwiched between Cuba and Peurto Rico in the Carribean Sea. The earthquake destroyed buildings and took away thousands of lives. 4 days after the quake the number of dead is unknown but estimated to be as high as 200,000 or more. Pictures tell a thousand tales and this this photoblog have many graphic pictures that make even a hard hearted person winced in pain and sorrow. Viewer discretion advised if you cannot bear to see pictures of sufferings and corpse.

Malaysians generally ought to learn from this tragedy and be grateful we have been spared of such disasters and be wise to overlook trivias that seek to disunite but focus on living and working in harmony with one another. In such times we need to show our humanitarian side and lend a helping hand by donating to the rehabilitation of a destroyed nation. The Haitians need all the help we can provide.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Questionable Solution

This CONCESSION by the government to allow Christians in Sabah and Sarawak to continue using 'Allah' in their worship as well as in print (that means Bible, publications, song books and all other devotional materials) but prohibiting Sabah and Sarawak Christians who are residing in Peninsular Malaysia from doing so is creating more and more confusion and inconsistencies that will drive the people up against the wall. It is a solution that creates more questions. I wonder if Nazri, the minister who made this pronouncement, did so as the official stand of the government or was it his personal opinion? Will we get the DPM or the PM who are both overseas currently to come forth with their own clarifications? What will the sultans and Islamic religious councils have to say? What about the pending appeal process? Is there going to be 2 sets of laws for East and Peninsular Malaysia? Will movement of Christian books between East and Peninsular be regulated more stringently? Churches with congregations in East and Peninsular will now have to publish 2 versions to comply with this 'latest' ruling that may not see finality?

The concession appear as an appeasement to contain displeasure that may affect the government's popularity there. Nazri's solution will no doubt create further uproar and I am quite sure this will not be the last word from him on the 'Allah' issue. We may yet read of other concessions. In time like now it is best for politicians to keep their mouth shut and let the due process of law take its course.

An interesting comment I captured from the news portal:

Interesting. Does that mean a Christian travelling from Sabah to KL must leave their BM copy of the Bible at home? Or what if they have a electronic version of the BM Bible in their I-Phone. Do they commit an offence by bringing that into a Federal Territory? The government fails to build consensus, so it starts to promise different laws to different people. We'll end up with customs posts between each state, or maybe each city, with different laws as to what you can eat, drink, read, wear or think in each different area. 1Malaysia again?

What Goes Up ...

Out of the top 10 losers in the Bursa Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange) at 11.10am this morning, 8 are from the ruber gloves industry, which is not surprising since stocks from this sector had been over-traded in recent weeks due to speculative interest arising out of the A H1N1 scare, much like the AIDS scare 20 years ago. This is not to say that glove stocks are not profitable as the companies have been making good monies but a heightened drive towards unrealistic prices does not augur well for both the investors and the companies. In any public stock too volatile a trade will means some will lose at the expense of those who gain. Of course the remisers and stockbrokers welcome active trading to earn fees for every transaction. I am all for some excitement in 'playing' stocks but after awhile I am more comfortable if my stocks are not played speculatively as it then become some form of legalised gambling.

Updated: 3.45pm

Updated: 9.30pm

Thursday, January 14, 2010

'Allah' Issue to be Censored?

If I read this REPORT correctly, the DPM would not want to see this issue see daylight again. Buried. Hidden away. Snuffed out. Capped under pressure. Censored. By whatever means it should not be in public eyes or discussed in blogs and news portals. The government will dictate how the various communities shall live.

It is the very reason that 'Allah' was denied public dialog that the matter has come to a head and I am sad the DPM has not learned a lesson from the event of the past week. It is only via public forums that people get to read the various views, concerns, expectations, fears, etc of all parties involved as well as understand each other's religion. Many readers fail to understand what Islam and Christianity means and what are the differences and out of such ignorance come forth wrong conclusions and misinterpretations, some of which can have dangerous consequences.

'Allah' cannot be capped if there is to be harmony and tolerance among all races in the country. It is time the government allow free and uncensored public discourse on the subjects of religion. Have no fear. Malaysians are more matured than some government leaders think.

A New Public Holiday

Today is a new public holiday for the state of Negeri Sembilan to celebrate the 62nd birthday of the newly installed head of state, Tuanku Muhriz, who succeeded his late uncle, Tuanku Ja'afar, last year. Previously it was celebrated on July 19. You can read more about the Tuanku HERE.

To the public a public holiday is usually spent doing anything but celebrate the reason for it. I have never gotten up close to the new ruler of my state but I will get the chance this Saturday (Jan 16) when His Royal Highness as royal patron officiates the groundbreaking ceremony of the main block of the Negeri Sembilan Chinese Maternity Hospital & Medical Centre that has been trying to raise public donations to cover the cost of major renovations to make this medical facility up to date and affordable to the poorer people in the state. Read about this community project HERE and HERE. If you can please help this worthy cause. as there are a sizeable population of low income residents in the state in need of quality but affordable healthcare.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ignorance is NOT Bliss

Dangerously for us to think that not understanding the core principles or doctrines of the faiths of our neighbors is OK so long as we don't step on each other's toes. However, the dispute over the use of 'Allah' that led to some churches being attacked over the past week has brought up many commentaries and opinions that reflect both knowledge and ignorance. And there are people who made decisions or acted irrationally out of ignorance. One comment goes this way:

"so what you are trying to say is the God in the Jewish and Christian faiths are the same (as opposed to their understanding of God) but of the Muslim faith is different? All three talk of the same God. Only their understanding of Him differs. God is God."

In THIS Malaysiakini article the writer suggested the Christians compromised by using an alternative name for God in their Bible. He suggested using 'Elohim' one of the many names of God. Elohim is a Hebrew word. The suggestion has merit but failed to take into consideration how the indigenous Christians in Sabah and Sarawak and pockets of Peninsular Malaysia who had been using 'Allah' and no other name to call their God. I guess it is possible for their priests or pastors to explain the necessity and to introduce the 'new' name for God into their services, prayers, songs and of course, Bible and devotional books. Today we call this conceding our right, not glorifying God, emboldening the Muslims to take away more of our rights to use symbols, names or even attire that can be 'confusing'. I guess such fear lend justification for the Catholic Church to claim its right to use 'Allah' from the context that 'Allah' was never a name created for Islam and by Islam. However 'Allah' is highly prized and revered by the Muslims that any misuse or abuse will draw sharp reactions. The Muslims have a relationship with 'Allah' akin to someone in deep love with a girl whom he defends with his life. Thus we have the present dispute.

Is the Muslim 'Allah' same as the Christian 'Allah'? My answer is No.

The Muslim 'Allah' is One, period. The Christian 'Allah' on the other hand is the Holy Trinity. The Christian 'Allah' can be God the Father (conceptionally same as the Muslim 'Allah') or God the Son, Jesus Christ, or God the Holy Spirit, God's presence with us in the world. Praying to God the Father, to Jesus Christ or to the Holy Spirit is praying to the same Christian God.

What makes the Christian God different from the Muslim God or the Jewish God? In the Gospel of John chapter 14 verse 6, it is written:

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

The Muslims would find this claim blasphemous. And if their 'Allah' is the same as God the Father of the Christians then there would indeed be much confusion. But because both faiths have been using 'Allah' for centuries without any misunderstanding it has now become one when the Malaysian Muslims claim that since they have no other name for Allah but 'Allah' the Christians ought to give way and choose other names among the many other names the Hebrews used to call God, such as Elohim or Yahweh. Is this an acceptable compromise? How would the Christian God want the dispute resolved? I urge the Christian community to pray for an answer. There is power in collective prayer for God answers those who pray in earnest for the goodwill of mankind.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Saucy News of the Day

Too much of the same news about politics, religion, recession, unemployment, stock market, corruption, etc can drive us crazy (oops, this is the second time today that I've used this word. I hope I am not becoming one) so we need something now and then to humour us and distract us from what are serious to what are preposterous, unbelievable or plain stupid. For this I welcome theStar from picking up some juicy news from other tabloids to share with its readers. Today I saw THIS one and I thought the lady must be either stupid (she's not young, she's 24 years old) or placed under a spell (a real possibility). I thought she deserved what she got.

If you have similar or more atrocious stories to share please do.

Crazy Thunderstorm

A powerful lightning struck my area and knock down several equipment yesterday afternoon: 2 DVD players, a television, an electric clock and the satellite TV decoder. The telephone voice line was also brought down but the data line was OK. Fortunately I have had my computer and modem fully disconnected from both power and phone lines so they are safe.

Tropical storms are hazardous that no lightning arrestors or surge protectors can insulate expensive appliances from harm. Fortunately the less than a year old LCD TV was unharmed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Look What's In the Potty!

As I was writing my previous post locked in my home office my little grand-daughter Ling (who is about to turn 2 years 4 months) came knocking on the door carrying her potty which contained her first urine that she successfully passed into it instead of in the diaper. I could see the wide grin on her face. It said, 'I've made it!' and both my wife and I cheered her. Today is the beginning of declining usage of the Mamy Poko and Petpet diapers she has been using for the past 2 years. Any excess inventory will be used by her little brother who should be saying 'Hello World' in about a fortnight's time.

Threats Continue ...

As reported HERE, HERE and HERE, another church has come under attack, making it the 8th. Whether it is part of a syndicated attack or carried out by pranksters out to have fun at the expense of national security the police is as yet clueless and sadly evasive. It is just 72 hours since the first attack took place in the early hours of last Friday, Jan 8, and we are no nearer to finding any culprits. Opposition leaders have already begun having meetings with church leaders to defuse the tension but the government is just planning to do so. The longer this issue stays unresolved the greater the anxieties the citizens will face. The government must fast track all efforts to restore harmony that is being tested by this very contentious and sensitive issue.

(Photo Credit: the MalaysianInsider)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Troublemakers Spoiling Conciliatory Efforts

As I blog this 7 churches have fallen victims of blotched attacks. So far only the Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati, Kuala Lumpur was badly damaged by explosives. Thank God that so far there has been no injuries nor deaths. I shudder to think how further damages will cause the trouble to get out of control. In spite of efforts at the top to mend the rift, troubles created at the grassroots who refuse to listen will continue to cause anxieties to remain with us until a compromise solution is arrived at. A suggestion was given HERE but several commentors disagree. The proposal is:

"The idea is that the Catholic church drop plans to use Allah in the Peninsular Malaysian edition notwithstanding the use of the Malay language in prayer, service, worship and the Bible. However, the caveat here is that Sabahans and Sarawakians in Peninsular Malaysia should be allowed to buy the East Malaysian edition of the Herald using the term Allah for God in the Malay pages".

As government, opposition parties, police, NGOs and individuals organise dialogs and hold meetings or events to create an atmosphere of trust and acceptance of each other, nagging feelings that troublemakers in our midst can derail all these efforts unless the police move in quickly to search and arrest the culprits and put them in jail. It is a very sensitive state we are in now and the coming week will be a testbed for the prospering of good sense and goodwill. We need to come to a quick solution and I see the dialog between Christian and Muslim leaders as a rational move to defuse the crisis.

I pray for God's protection of all churches and her members throughout Malaysia and for them to always react in love and forgiveness. I appeal to all Christians worldwide to pray for restoration of peace and mutual understanding for Malaysia.

Cooling Period

In the 48 hours period after 1 church was arsoned and 3 others lobbed with home made explosives that did not ignite, Malaysians rallied in unison condemning the atrocious acts that reeked of ulterior motives. Were they the actions of ultra Muslims or those of vandals who took advantage of the religious discords to create further misunderstandings? No one know but fingers were pointed to UMNO and the prime minister as being the cause of it all, which the PM vehemently and angrily denied. Benefits of doubt are given as I don't believe they dared play with this fire that can easily grow out of control and damage all the good we have achieved since May 13, 1969 when racial riots created fear and distrust. The 40 years since had been an unsuccessful attempt of relations building of which I am sure we have to make UMNO take the major blame as it was the controlling political party that set the tone of the nation building policies. Now they have to huddle to find new ways to restore the peace that had evaded us all these years.

Did the church attack brought a sense of sanity and goodness? Some say no but the optimists say yes. I am hopeful that the optimists are correct but this cannot be just a feel good period of restoring goodwill as reported HERE. Although we all wanted peaceful co-existence, and conciliatory moves are being made in its aftermath, as reported HERE, much more need to be done to sustain the momentum. For examples:

Churches need to explain their stance in the usage of 'Allah' and why it did not and will never threaten the Muslim community, and will not use it to 'confuse' or evangelise to them.

Mosques must open up its premises to non-Muslims and hold regular dialog at all levels to understand one another. Not just with the Christians but all the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Sikhs and other minority religions. The use of 'Allah' should be allowed as the indigenous Malaysians had been using them for generations.

The government must spend more time and resources to heal the rift between the Muslims and non-Muslims instead of fighting the Oppositions or bring them to courts for the slightest instigation. There are larger and more critical issues besides the economy to address. And the 1Malaysia policy must be seen in action in every area of our national life.

All faith teaches respect for mankind and nature so when deviants destroy that teachings they must be strongly condemned by their own members. The Jan 8 incident must go down the annal of the nation's history as a failed plot that 99% Malaysians cheered.

May this be the only bad news for the new year.

(Photo Credit: theStar)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Is 'Allah' Theologically Necessary for Christians?

This is a question begged by THIS writer to Malaysiakini who wrote on 'Compromise for Allah'. He wrote that ego played a big role on both sides. He said that while the church may be constitutionally right in claiming the use of 'Allah', it may be theologically wrong to insist on it since in so doing there may be civil unrest. Would giving up 'Allah' help restore peace we all long for? I extract part of his letter below.

The court's ruling is a victory only in the sense that the constitution and our rights for freedom of religion in Malaysia are protected. But if it leads to disharmony between us on theological grounds, then all us Malaysians lose. Not just because Mahathir is right (and he is). But because there can never be compromise between two vastly different platforms of debate. Constitutionally, the Catholic church might 'win'. But the real reason why people are against the ruling is on theological grounds. In all real practical terms, everyone loses.

It's easy and tempting for our egos to take over when it comes to evaluating how we should react to such a ruling. We want to feel right. We want to feel justified. We do not want others to 'win' or have dominion over us in any way. And I observe that the main reason why there is so much dissent to, and how all this happened in the first place, is also because of our massive egos taking charge. And I'm not just pointing my finger at the Islamic groups who are so adamantly against the ruling - I'm pointing at the Catholic Church too.

Both sides have blindly pursued the issue for the agenda of feeling 'justified'. That is something both sides have in common. Both have been blind to what really matters at the end of the day. And what does matter at the end of the day? Look within the theology of both faiths for the answer. Clearly, it's not about the word 'Allah'. It's about the God that the word points to. And also, look at what that God teaches - peace, love, harmony. Does fighting for or against the use of the word 'Allah' make us more peaceful and loving? The answer to this is obvious.

"But we should have the right to use the word 'Allah'! Why should only one group have a monopoly of the word?" rings the constitutional argument again. "But Allah only refers to the Islamic God! Another religion has no right to use this term!" counters the theological argument. There can be no compromise between these two attempts at feeling justified because they are talking about two different things.

So, you might wonder - who's side am I on? Frankly, I think that one religion trying to control another's practice of a different religion is a recipe for disaster and screams of paranoia. It is an indication of fear - fear that something another religion does is going to take away from my own faith. And when the masses act out of such a fear, history and a little common sense will tell us that bad things tend to happen. Personally, I think that the Islamic groups who are so against the court's ruling need to examine their faith and their selves, and get to the root of their paranoia and fear.

There is no real reason why they should live in fear of us Catholics, or anyone else for that matter, taking something away from their own practice of faith. Especially since we are not intending to use the term 'Allah' to convert them (or 'trick' them, as the paranoid person would claim), but only for our own personal practice of our own faith.

But I also think that The Herald and other Christian publications can do whatever is it that they are tasked to do without using the term 'Allah'.

"But we should have the right... No one faith has a monopoly of a word..." rings again. That's your ego talking - that part of you that doesn't want to feel like you, or your faith has lost something, and that wants you to feel justified in some way. But if the Catholic Church feeling or being justified on this point means civil unrest and disharmony, then the easier 'solution', given the lack of necessity for us to use the term, becomes apparent to all.

"But we should fight for our faith! We can't let people come in and dictate the way we practice our faith! We can't let others push us around when it comes to theological matters!" My ego agrees with you. Gandhi once said 'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind'. If we can't see past the struggle or keep our eyes on the prize, then I fear we will miss out on what matters at the end of the day. Love. Peace. Harmony. Community. Companionship. Respect. Trust. If us not using the term 'Allah' makes it easier for these things to become a reality, then I say go for it. Do we really imagine that Jesus would do otherwise? To not choose sacrifice for the greater good?

Clearly, the courts cannot and will not be able to bring about a peaceful resolution to this. A constitutional resolution, yes. But one that brings about peace? No. Ideally, I think that the elimination of paranoia and fear of 'Muslims getting confused' is the best way to bring about a peaceful solution. But we do not live in an ideal world. Practically, the only party that actually has a say to how all this ends is the Catholic Church. The ball really is in their court.

Will the Church swallow it's pride and it's ego of wanting to feel right or justified and act out of respect for the Muslim's request for us not to use the term 'Allah'? Did the Church not decide on no longer using term 'Yahweh' for God out of respect for our Jewish brothers? Can we not do the same for the term 'Allah' for our Muslim brothers? If the answer to that is 'no', then we're probably in for a rough ride.

One commentor, in disagreement, wrote:

Get off your high horse and come to East Malaysia where Church services are conducted in Malay and Allah has been used all along and in the Bible that’s in Malay/Indonesian as well. What are the consequences if the ban that the Umnoputras demand is imposed? There’s more to it than meets the eye. Wake up.

Another commentor said:

I agree with the writer that the Catholic Church has little to lose by not using the word "Allah" for the sake of peace. But are we sure that if the Church gives in today, it will be the end of this issue and we will live happily after? Or will there be other issues such as the use of the word "Tuhan" or the display of the cross in a church building tomorrow.

I wonder how God is speaking to the Christians to the correct response to this sensitive issue.

Church Attacks Drew Negative Coverage

Certainly not the sort of publicity the BN government wants in the wake of its push to bring the various races together under its 1Malaysia concept. The attacks on 3 churches over the last 24 hours, which the government denies any involvement, may be by a group of angry people but they have hurt our international reputation, and may even discourage the tourism industry and foreign investments if the problem is not quickly nipped in the bud. Unless the government start using the big stick to whack the dissidents into order such problems will remain with us for awhile. Meanwhile churches and Christians live through anxious days ahead.

Read the latest foreign reports here:

Wall Street Journal
Al Jazeera
CBC News
Taiwan News
Times Online

Testing Muslim's Faith

A Muslim writer wrote THIS. So has many fair-minded Muslims who see the present 'quarrel' as petty and immature. Yet sound reasoning may not get into the heads of those who are set NOT to share the name of 'Allah' even if you can bring in containerloads of evidence to justify why 'Allah' is not owned by a select community. They are angry that 'Allah' has been usurped and they want 'justice', their 'justice' at whatever cost. This is surely a dangerous situation for we are not dealing with one, ten or even a hundred angry Muslims. We are dealing with the pysche of those who are slowly convinced that Islam is Allah, and Allah is Islam, and that the rest of the world is wrong, that they are right. The issue may be seen as testing how real is the faith of these Muslims to their Allah God, and whether an 'imitation' Allah used by other religions will actually confuse them into knowing who their Allah actually is.

We can get all the experts and theologians from other Islamic nations to share their thoughts but the ultimate position among Malaysian Muslims will still be that they will not give way to share 'Allah' with the Christians. It may even be said that they will turn ugly if the Appeal Court do not rule in their favour. The answer is therefore obvious.

Let it be. Let it be. Let it be. As John Lennon of the Beatles sang in his 1960s hit song. There will be an answer, let it be.

Churches Attacked

This is a bad start to a new year, a new decade. I am dismayed by this dangerous development. 2 churches are reported under attack, one successful, the other not. Read HERE. Is this the beginning of more troubles? Has the government started something that they cannot now control? How should the Christians respond? If this 'Allah' issue is not resolved satisfactorily I'm afraid the Malaysian Christians will come under further persecution by those Muslims who felt nobody except them can utter the name of 'Allah'. I say so be it as I don't believe God cares. He who knows his real Heavenly Father in his heart can call Him by the name that suits him.
Read my previous post on this concern HERE.

(Photo credit: TheMalaysianInsider)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Protests over 'Allah' Ruling Embarassing

I wish to reproduce the entire letter from in THIS Malaysiakini report which encapsulate popular reactions to the'Allah' issue which seems to have been blown out of proportion:

Protests over 'Allah' ruling embarrassing

A Rahman Jan 6, 106:31pm

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Home Ministry applies for stay on 'Allah' ruling.

I fail to understand the logic of some of my fellow Muslims protesting in Penang and the federal government's (our prime minister, the Prime Minister's Department, the home minister and home ministry) stand to appeal over the High Court's decision over this issue. Why should Muslims get 'heated up' ?

The reasons given were:

1. As quoted by Syed Hassan Syed Ali, secretary-general of Malay rights group Pribumi Perkasa: 'We fear that the court victory will mean that Christian missionaries will now use the word, confusing (the identity of) Muslims and undermining religious harmony.' This is the 'confusion theory' that has been given as a reason. There is also a claim by the federal government that it will threaten national security.

2. Due to this 'confusion', it seems we Muslims are not able to distinguish between the 'Allah' of the Christians or that of the Muslims.
Now, when we debate this matter, it has to be done with a sound mind and a clear understanding of whether the ban on the term 'Allah' was done fairly to us Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Consider the facts :

1. The word 'Allah' has been used by pre-Islamic Arabs for God. There is evidence that the word 'Allah' existed before the birth of Muhammad (PBUH) for thousands of years. It is probably the oldest name man used to call God. Prophet Muhammad's father's name was Abdullah (The slave of Allah). This name was common among the Arab pagans and Jews. Abdullah bin Salam was one of the first Jews to convert to Islam in Medina.

2. We know for a fact that the Arabic Christians still use the term 'Allah' for their God. The word Allah is used in all Arabic translations of the Bible.

3. Our Sarawak and Sabah non-Muslim indigenous people have been using the word 'Allah' for God since the 1800s. I have seen, via the Internet, an 1818 version of the Christian bible, with the words 'Allah'. I am not sure of its origins though but it makes use of the word 'Allah'.

4. Other religions too do make mention of 'Allah' as their God.

a. 'Allah' in Sikhismis one of the names by which Gurunanak Sahib refers to God.
b. 'Allah' in Hinduism

i. 'Allah' in Rigveda Book 2 Hymn 1 Verse 2. Even in the Rigveda which is the most sacred scripture of the Hindus, one of the attributes given to God Almighty in Book No 2 Hymn No 1 verse II, is 'Ila' which if pronounced properly is the same as 'Allah'.
ii. Allo Upanishad. Amongst the various Upanishads, one is named as 'Allo' Upanishad in which God is referred to as 'Allah' several times.

5. I remember too that in the Quran, it states that the Christians do call their God as 'Allah', This in Al-Qur'an 5:72-73.

I am not an Islamic scholar but claiming that the use of the word 'Allah' would confuse us Muslims is really rubbish and to go beyond to claim that it will threaten national security is preposterous. Are we so weak in our faith that we cannot differentiate and we would turn apostates easily just because of the works of some Christian missionaries using this word?

Do Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak get confused? Come on, this is an insult to us Muslims. Are we saying we do not have depth in our faith that we can simply convert out of Islam just because of this? Does our Islamic faith carry such teachings? Is this more of the work of Man rather than of Allah?

We do not need Islamic scholars to tell us this. True Muslims do not need the government and self-proclaimed champions such as these Muslim groups to protest on our behalf. Their very act of claiming to protect our faith shows how shallow-minded these people are - both the protestors and the government.

They seem to capitalise on the political aspect of the situation rather than championing for the true cause of Islam. I'm not sure whether these protestors themselves understand the logic of why they are protesting. This is embarrassing us Muslims - not protecting our Islamic interests.

I shared this news with a few of my old Muslim friends overseas in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia and Jordan via e-mail. They could not even believe me when I told them that the Malaysian government bans the use of this word and that some Islamic groups protested in support. They thought I was joking!

We should observe fair administration due to the fact that many of our ministers and department heads are Muslims. We should have treated the non-Muslims fairly as well. The government has confiscated 15,000 Malay bibles of the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak even though the word 'Allah' has been in use since 1800s.

This news has been published throughout the world. We impose and claim exclusiveness on the word 'Allah' when such as act is not even found in our Islamic faith while our Holy Quran even says that Christians do, in fact, use the word 'Allah'. Is this how Muslim leaders act? Is this called fairness to the peoples of other faiths?

You know what is the talk of the town now? That the court of appeal will override the high court decision. This is already expected by the man-on-the-street. So predictable that many of my non-Muslim friends are betting on the odds that it will be overturned. This makes our court of appeal a 'kangaroo court'. Is this how the people should think of our government - of which the majority of leaders are Muslims ?

We talk so much about this '1Malaysia' and 'People First' (Rakyat di Dahulukan). Looks like this is just more empty talk. We are back to square one as far as the man on the street is concerned .

The Muslim leaders in the government and some self-proclaimed 'champions of Islam' are the ones giving Islam a bad name, sad to say.

All I am saying is let us put this issue to rest with the high court's decision and let us move on as Malaysians. If this issue of using the word 'Allah' by any other religion is not prohibited by any our Islamic teachings as spelled out in the Holy Quran and the Hadith, then what is the fuss by some misinformed Muslims?

Further appeals and counter-appeals would do more damage to the nation's reputation in the eyes of the international community and to the unity of the various races of different creed within Malaysia. To the prime minister and the home minister, shouldn't the government act like true and just Muslim leaders and spend more time rectifying the economic situation rather than appealing over this issue?

Where is the Leadership?

In the latest development to the Allah issue, Malaysiakini reports that:

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today said that the government cannot stop people from gathering at mosques tomorrow to protest against a court decision which had allowed the Christian publication Herald to use to term 'Allah'.

But wasn't there a stay of execution of the court's decision? Why the need to protest? As PM I would have expected better statement than what was reported. As PM he ought to advise the Muslims to refrain from doing anything to jeopardise the appeal process. Surely his advice will be taken seriously.

As PM I expect him to stay above the fray. The issue is not about politics but on difference of opinions and interpretation of usage of 'Allah'. The PM should play a conciliatory role to unite the Muslims and Christians by staying neutral. In not doing so he gave the impression that he is supporting the protests. He has to decide what he wants: to please those who demand the exclusive use of 'Allah' by the Muslims only (and I believe not every Muslim agree to it) or to be steadfast in following what our Constitution provides as well as allowing past practices to continue. I believe only in Malaysia are some Muslims clamouring to deny the Christians the right to use 'Allah' and this must not upset what is internationally practised. So until the court settles the issues, no protests please.

The PM need to be decisive and strong to gain the respect and acceptance of more Malaysians. Until he does he will be viewed as weak and afraid to confront what he think is wrong by hiding behind some excuses.

Compare to the reaction of Anwar Ibrahim in another Malaysiakini report:

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today discouraged Pakatan Rakyat supporters from joining in the protests organised for tomorrow against a court decision that allowed a Catholic publication to use the term "Allah".

He said that while he will not stop Pakatan supporters, he nevertheless advised them to stay away.

"I certainly discourage them as my view is that you must discuss on this matter as it is a very serious and contentious issue involving the Muslim and Christian faith. It is important for them to forge better understanding and not to spread rankle and enmity between the two groups."

This is what I call LEADERSHIP. Grapple the issue and lead his people.

1Malaysia Clinics Launched

PM Najib launched his branchild yesterday. Extract from Malaysiakini states:

1Malaysia clinic

Earlier, Najib told a crowd of 200 people at the function that the 43 1Malaysia clinics launched today was due to public request.

"Why 1Malaysia clinics? It is because all Malaysians are entitled to equitable and accessible healthcare," he said.

Najib said that RM10 million was allocated in Budget 2010 for 50 such clinics, located in urban areas nationwide, and it was implemented within a week of the new year.

On criticisms by the Malaysian Medical Association, Najib said there was no need for private doctors to worry about 1Malaysia clinics.

He said 1Malaysia clinics will act as referrers for patients to private and government medical institutions.

The 1Malaysia clinic provides basic treatments for flu, follow-up treatments for diabetes, hypertension, basic first aid and health awareness campaigns.

If anything, the 1Malaysia clinics were designed to brand Najib's propaganda since the government already have health clinics in every towns so the duplication is uncalled for. In Seremban we have Klinik Kesihatan Seremban where I had my treatments. A new Klinik Kesihatan Senawang was recently built and I am sure there are many such government clinics all over the country. Such clinics offer a broad range of services far beter than the 1Malaysia clinics. It is therefore a waste of funds (RM10 million for 50 clinics) to duplicate facilities that are already in place.

I cannot blame private practitioners, especially the GPs, who feel their practices are being destroyed by such clinics since who would go to them when there are the 1Malaysia clinics a few doors away charging just RM1 as compared to what the GP charge (I'm not sure the current rate but I guess in the region of RM30 for consulation and simple prescriptions like panadol and cough mixture)?

Looks like the government is again politicising an essential service. I wonder what will happen when Najib's political career ends? Will these clinics be disbanded as well by the next PM?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Bad Hair Day

I've never had a good head of hair. They were rather thick and hard to press down, like my character, so I had to use hair cream. In my youth I used Tancho hair pomade made by the Japanese (read one of my posts in the 1960s). I also don't have thick hair so as I grow older the density tends to lessen but I am not the baldy type, just that the hairs are sparse. Some will say it is like the Chinaman type of hair, by which I take it to mean 'unmanageable', 'thick and wiry' or 'pokey'.

Today I decided to visit my barber as the hair is becoming clumsy. But my regular barber is still out of action - he is recovering from a bad leg fracture months ago, and the senior barber who did my hair 'understood' how an older person like him should have my hair done, he was not in.

The barber in attendance was a young Indian boy. I call him boy because he appeared 18 or so, wore ear ring and does not speak much Malay, so he may be a foreigner. Never mind, some young barbers I fell under did know how an older person's hair ought to look like, so I gave him the benefit of my doubt. I have never put greater faith in another human: sometimes I wonder when my barber puts the razor blade on me, what if he suddenly turn crazy??

Anyway I watched in horror as my hair clipping fall like snowflakes on the gown and my heart sank. I resigned to how I am getting a new look in the new year, but I also think that since I am no longer in the gunning for a sweet thing, there is no need to look extra good.

15 minutes later I peered out of my glass at my new head and regretted visiting my barber today. Oh well, damage is done but my hair will grow back.

Meanwhile please don't laugh. Only my wife and kids are privileged to enjoy me at this moment.

Note: pix is not me but short hair is about like it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Looking for a Win-Win Solution

Neither side wished to be viewed as conceding their stand on the 'Allah' debate. The government had appealed the High Court decision and whatever the outcome the new ruling must satisfy both parties and it will be the government's desire to see that its 1Malaysia policy will not be derailed by this face-off. A nice overview HERE give answers in an FAQ style. Any concession on the part of the Muslim community is likely to be on a very restricted usage of the term 'Allah' such as what is proposed by popular Islamic scholar Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin HERE. Will the Christians accept it or assert their right to freedom of worship as guaranteed by the Constitution? I believe cool heads should prevail in such situations and both sides should look at the larger picture instead of being pegged down by the name issue.

Monday, January 04, 2010

An 'Engineered' Solution

In THIS Malaysiakini report the AG has solved the missing jet engines case. He said they were stolen by low ranking air force personnel and they are now in Uruguay. Case solved. No need for the MACC to be involved. Don't we just love the speed and efficiency of crime busting here? However I'm sure not everyone is convinced this is the real truth and this will surely hurt the credibility of the government even more.

The problem we face is the lack of gut to come down hard on the real culprits but get scapegoats to take the heat instead. In so doing we are breeding a culture of lawlessness. No wonder we are been compared to the like of Zimbabwe. And we have 10 years left to Mahathir's dream.

Struggling to Awake Early

Today is just about the right day to be blogging this topic. Today schools in Malaysia reopen for the first semester of the year and every parents with school-going children had to set their alarm clocks to be up at 6am, some even earlier, to get their children ready for school.

I don't have to do that as I don't have school-going kids. Call it a privilege if you will but not having to wake early has built into my system a sort of laziness to a point that to be able to awake earlier than usual I need to set my alarm clock. I would need to do that on Sundays to be in church on time. I reflected the holidays when I had to be up at 6am to be at the hotel lobby at 7am to leave for the local tour, and I would have no problem with that.

I normally get to bed at midnight +/- 30 minutes and would usually fall asleep within 15 minutes. I would get between 7 - 8 hours sleep every night to feel 'satisfied' which includes 2-4 'interruptions' to empty my bladder. My usual wake-up time is between 7.30 and 8.00am and any time earlier than that I have to alarm myself up. I am amazed by many friends of my age who can do with 6 hours of sleep and get up at 6am normally. I simply can't. It has been that way since I was young so I guess it is in me.

However I believe not able to wake up regularly at 7am has to do with my present lifestyle. With no responsibility to be up early my body has lapsed into a state of laziness. Disciplining it to change routine is an effort. Makes me wonder if I do go for the next coach holiday will I miss it or be blamed for delaying its departure? I read somewhere that when you are ANTICIPATING something your body will be able to respond accordingly.

I believe lack of exercise plays a role in my poor get-up routine. OK my achy back is no help either but the major excuse is I have no need to be up early. That's it. Eureka! So I have to discover a really good reason that I can adhere to to be up early. It may have to do with losing my weight I think as I am getting rounder, and rounder. Like the double zeros of 2010.

My pastor used to remind his flock to be up early to read the Bible and meditate on it. I excuse myself that I can't or I can do it any time of the day, but that any time would soon be intercepted by the computer or my grand-daughter or the Tele. Setting a new resolution to unchange my routine is like pulling a rock uphill, and I've stopped resolving the impossible long ago. But I accede to the argument that waking early and do light exercise is a healthy routine. Sometimes I know what is good but lacks the will to put it to practice. I think I am not alone. However I will resolve to set it as my 2010 resolution and if I am 20% successful it will be a good improvement. If this is maintained for 5 years I believe I will be able to arise at 7am daily without my alarm clock.

Some interesting sleep articles I found:

Unhealthy Downsides of Oversleeping
Sleep Better for Faster Weight Loss
Physical Side Effects of Over-Sleeping

God Has Many Names

It is truly grieving that reactions from some of the Muslims has bordered on threatening public order when the High Court judge ruled in favor of the Catholic Church in Malaysia on their constitutional right to use the name 'Allah' in the Bahasa Malaysia section of their newsletter. Perhaps only in Malaysia are court decisions disrespected and the government has to come forward to appease their anger. We need to dig up when this issue of preventing Christians from using the name 'Allah' in their worship services because it is only very recently that I heard of this restriction. Is it the work of politicians to divide and rule? If so it was a very dangerous move as it has created a domino effect and burned the bridge of real reconciliation between believers of the 2 faiths.

Giving the Christians 'victory' will result in outcomes that may result in property damages, or even injuries or loss of lives. This is a fearful scenario no one wants to see happen. Giving the Muslims 'victory' will frustrate the Christians, especially those who are used to calling their God 'Allah' by that name. Some Christians I spoke to were adamant that we must not be restricted to use 'Allah' as the Constitution never restrict us. Their rationale is 'Why must I stop calling my God by that name when I had been doing so, and so have my parents and forefathers been doing so without any issues? Why now?' They too have their point, because they understand that the 'Allah' they refer to is the Father of Jesus Christ. This is different from the 'Allah' of the Muslims who do not recognise the diety of Jesus Christ whom they consider as a mere prophet, most certainly not the Son of God, for to them Prophet Mohammad is greater. Therefore the 2 'Allahs' are distinct and different, not as many misunderstood to be the same.

So we have an uncomfortable confrontation. Theologians can provide evidence as to their right of 'ownership' of the name of 'Allah' and there will always be a 'victor' and a 'vanquished' in this matter. The reality is there will be no peace either way and one side must concede. Who should then concede?

Conceding is not a sign of weakness nor failure, but that of grace and peacekeeping. God has many names and the Christian God, if I may boldly speak on His behalf, will not want His people suffer all because of the usage of a name. Can the indigenious Christians who use Bahasa Malaysia to pray, sing and preach be willing to change the addressing of God from 'Allah' to 'Tuhan' or some other names? Conceding is a sign of being gracious and seeing the larger vision of their faith.

As a Christian I of course want my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to be free to call our God by any name of their choice, and if they have been calling Him 'Allah' that choice should not be removed. But we are living in a country with a majority Muslim population. Like the early Christians living in Rome, they too have to be subject to local customs and laws and did not have the full liberty to practice their faith publicly the way the wished. But nothing can stop the indigenious Christians here from praying in their hearts to their 'Allah', it is only the publications the government objects to in its usage.

So I call to my fellow Christians not to dismay nor to react ungraciously. The appeal against the High Court judgment ought to succeed for the privilege of living peacefully in this land we have called our home. If it failed it will not be an easy time for us. I believe God is not 'small hearted' to insist on being called 'Allah' but it is the real faith in and love for Him that matters. Let us look towards the larger picture and let the name be resolved peacefully. The final winner may yet be us. May God be glorified and grant us wisdom in overcoming this thorny issue.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Passing of Augustine Paul

Who is Augustine Paul? That infamous judge whose judgement against Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy trial sent the latter to jail for 6 years and tranformed the political landscape of Malaysia forever.

From this stirring article let me extract the following passages that many Malaysians can identify with:

So where does this sadness come from? It burns from my inability to reconcile myself to him because of what he did as a judge. It festers because, for me, he refused to redeem himself as a judge by doing justice in his final act as one. If he had written one powerful dissent despite its futility in one of those crucial cases, that would suffice to celebrate Augustine Paul the judge. If he did one heroic act of justice like lodge a police report revealing the corrupt acts that have gone or are going on in the judiciary before he left us all, we would not simply mourn Augustine Paul the judge, but the man as well. But he did nothing.

And this brings me to the part I cannot understand. Why do people blessed with such power, influence and such abilities to do great and good things to further the cause of justice do otherwise? Why do men so possessed of such wealth of intellect, eloquence and learning soil their entire familial heritage in the pursuit of mere money and superficial privilege?

Do they not see that they soil their own name when they do so? Do they not see that they disgrace the name of their fathers and mothers and their children’s as well (because their names are contained there)? Do they not see that all that money, title and things will eventually dissipate and the only good thing we can leave our name and the good we brought to others?

I have little knowledge of the man to feel any anger or hatred but that he could have helped improve our lot by judging bravely against wrongdoings and exposing the evil that he knew. Yet, perhaps through intimidation, through greed for power, position and reward, through succumbing to temptations, he failed to honour his pledge of

“I, …………., having been elected (or appointed) to the office of ……………………. do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge the duties of that office to the best of my ability, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia, and will preserve, protect and defend its Constitution.”

In life, our action or inaction, will change the course of history. Augustine Paul's inaction took the nation down the road of political corruption.

In reading the comments in the Malaysiakini's article HERE I am shocked by the abuse hurled at this man, some of which ought not to be published. But I picked 2 comments (name of authors omitted) as representative of the sentiments expressed:

Be careful, all the other judges who have sold their free will to Umno, you have also sold your souls to the devil. God is watching you! One day you'll have to meet your maker and be judged. When he sentenced Anwar, Augustine Paul said, "the Almighty will judge me". This shows clearly that he had no belief in God although he professed to be a Catholic. A. Paul loved what Umno could give him more than he feared God. Yes, he was promoted at unholy speed from judicial commissioner to HC judge to CoA to Federal Court but what a price to pay when people pour derision on his name and spit on his grave. He left a bitter legacy to his family and descendants which no money can compensate.

It is dreadful indeed -- in fact, terrifying even -- that a person can get so publicly condemned right after he's drawn his last breath. At this rate, it doesn't look like he'll rest in peace. And what of his family? How would they feel reading all these curses and invectives hurled at their departed loved one? There's certainly a cautionary tale here and all practising Malaysian judges might do well to learn from it -- judge justly lest ye be judged. For the remainder of your term on the bench and the lease on life you still have, do the right thing -- and you'll be all right, Jack.

I wonder how the current federal judges will deliver their verdicts after reading the vitriolic comments on their former colleague. It will not only be God they will answer to but the wrath of public opinions if they do not defend the Constitution in deliberating their cases.


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