Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Let’s Look into the Mirror when Driving

Lets look into the mirror when driving.

Malaysian traffic is my nemesis -
avoiding potholes, motorists refusing to give way, dodging motorcycles and 16-wheel lorries alike..
after a few hours on the road I find myself exhausted not only physically, mentally and emotionally, but also spiritually.
No joke - in this month of Ramadhan, driving in Malaysia is truly a test of sabr and iman.

Let’s look into the mirror when driving.

Yet, after a while, it dawned on me that I am committing the same mistakes as the drivers around me - if not worse.
I too cut lines, block others from joining the lane, park inappropriately.
What was it which prevented me from being aware of my own mistakes in the first place?
A sense of entitlement?
A sort of superiority complex?
Perhaps the main issue is not actually the misdemeanour of other drivers; rather it is my reaction towards them.
In that sense my fellow motorists are a mirror, reflecting the diseases of my own heart.

Let’s look into the mirror when driving.

In this new Malaysia there is a new confidence among Malaysians to ‘muhasabah’ those in authority - ie to hold them to account for their wrongdoings. Such confidence is indeed a positive change for this country.
But let us remember that muhasabah first and foremost is to be directed towards oneself - towards one’s own heart and actions.

Let’s look into the mirror when driving.
Not only on Malaysian roads, but in life in general.

#ramadhanmubarak #malaysiabaru #malaysiamenujunegararahmah

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Malaysian Spring

SubhanAllah walhamdulillah wastaghfirullah..
Malaysian grew up before our eyes yesterday!

But the journey is far from over..and even in our celebration, we can take steps towards a more mature democracy.

Despite the historic nature of this election, it cannot be denied that it was (and still is) marred by the same diseases of the past:
petty name-calling and labelling, racism, an inability to agree to disagree - just to name a few.
No side in this election was immune from such diseases.

We as a people have to strive for an Independence, a Merdeka, from such characteristics;
to have adaab (etiquette) in democracy.

A good place to start would be to distance ourselves from blind partisanship; meaning, that the party I support  is absolutely right and everybody else is absolutely wrong.

Let us instead recognise that in this new Malaysian Spring, the flowers which will bloom shall be in the form of diverse political views - often in competition and disagreement, but altogether a sign of a healthy garden.

Let those flowers bloom, do not crush them.
We may disagree with the views of other Malaysians - find them repulsive, even stupid.
But it is only if we can agree to disagree in a mature manner, to respect others’ right to hold an opinion we don’t agree with, that this new Malaysia can be a better one.
Let us realise that those you disagree with are fellow Malaysians. Often, family and friends. Accept them as human beings, and treat them as you expect to be treated.

This doesn’t mean you should keep your views quietly to yourself. The freedom to express one’s views, after all, is a sign of a healthy democracy.
So go ahead and try to convince others. Discuss. Debate, even.
But realise that the worst argument is to tell others, emotionally, to “shut up”;
that just shows how weak your own stand is.

Stay cool.
Show good akhlaq.
Have adaab.

P.s. Congratulations, Malaysia.
Truly I am especially proud today to be Malaysian. If one day I am blessed to have children and grandchildren, I will surely tell them of the day our country achieved her 2nd Merdeka, InsyaAllah!


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Dear sir

Dear sir,

I am a Malaysian citizen studying in the UK. I have lived here for 6 years now.

In that time, I have voted 3 times here - because Commonwealth citizens are allowed to vote in UK elections, and it is good citizenship to exercise the right to vote.
So far in the UK I have voted in a city council election, an European Parliament election and the Brexit referendum.

I am registered to vote as a postal voter for the Malaysian GE14. But it is the 8th of May and my ballot paper has yet to arrive.

Dear sir,

Isn’t it tragic that I, a citizen of Malaysia, finds it much easier to exercise my RIGHT to vote in a FOREIGN land than in my own country?

Dear sir,

Isn’t it tragic that the best case scenario is that the Election Commission is just too incompetent to allow postal voters to vote,
and that the worst case scenario is that the EC is in some way or other purposely denying us the Malaysian diaspora our right?

And isn’t it tragic, dear sir, that when these concerns are brought to you, you answer with a reply so dismissive that it borders on the idiotic?
That you tell us to not “get excited”, with the justification that we are too insignificant in number to decide this election?

That you have missed the point entirely?
That the question at hand, sir, is NOT our “insignificant numbers”, rather it is our RIGHT to take part in our democracy. 

It is a tragedy compounded with irony when an official ELECTED through a democratic process doesn’t seem to understand the basics of democracy.
What’s more a member of cabinet, a DEPUTY MINISTER? 

Dear sir,

Your advice to us postal voters to not “get excited” has been duly noted.
In reply I advice you to not “get excited” for a post in the Cabinet post-GE 14.

The insignificant 0.1%


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Islam and Politics

There are two extreme ends of the spectrum when it comes to the role of Islam in politics:

On one extreme is the view that Islam and politics must be kept entirely separate.
As a result, the principles of Islam are not allowed to contribute to the discourse of ethics in administration, good governance, adaab in democracy.
This leads to dichotomy, and a road to ruin.

On the other extreme is the view that Islam in its entirety is political in nature.
As a result the health of the spiritual heart is overlooked, akhlaq (character) deteriorates, those who do not agree with my political stance is ‘less Muslim’.
This leads to disunity, and a road to ruin.

It is better, in my humble opinion, to take the middle path;
to learn that Islam and politics is inseparable, but Islam rises ABOVE politics - and encompasses so much more as a way of life.
That there is room for not just a Muslim voice in politics, but there should be room for multiple Muslim voices to exist - offering differing solutions to political issues, and room for discussion in a climate of maturity.

Shall we not take that path?


Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Democracy in it’s Infancy

At a voter registration centre in Afghanistan today, a bomb went off; among those killed, children.
It is a symbolic situation - a democracy in its infancy struggling to mature in a climate of violence.

In Malaysia, Alhamdulillah, we have been spared such violence - but our democracy has also seemed to find it hard to mature.

I have been warned by those around me to be careful when talking about politics.
To not criticise those in power too openly.
After all, I am a government-sponsored student -
not the wisest thing to do, is it, to bite the hand which feeds you?

Largely this advice has come from well-meaning people, from family and friends.

But with all due respect, and with no intention to shame or embarrass, I humbly assert that it is this very mindset which has held democracy back in Malaysia.
An unwillingness to challenge authority in fear of the ‘bad things’ which can happen to ME, is the very thing that has led to ‘bad things’ happening to ALL OF US -
the kleptocratic mess we find our country in today.

This self-censorship kills the freedom of expression necessary to hold our representatives in government to account.

And yes - they are OUR representatives. They work for us, NOT the other way around.

The allowance I receive is from the PEOPLE of Malaysia, NOT the government’s.
Is it not, then, even more of a responsibility for me to speak out against a government oppressing my people?
Is it not selfish of me to sit down quietly and let the corruption of my government be?

Yes, I realise that in saying this I may come across as a naively idealistic young kid.
But perhaps it is because I am young that I have so much to lose with a corrupt government in power.
It is because I’m so idealistic that I can speak with a clear conscience, no strings attached.

So I shall speak.
And in my own small insignificant way, I shall hold to account those in power.

As Afghans die in a bomb blast seeking their democracy,
we in Malaysia cannot let our democracy die quietly.

Rise up and speak.

P.s. if you are afraid of speaking up because of the government, perhaps its time you get a new government.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Saad and Ayyan

Two 10-year-old boys meekly approached me, wearing sheepish grins. 
“We want to apologise about yesterday..”

Yesterday as the two boys entered the masjid, they saw me and whispered (audibly) to each other: 
“Chang Ching Chong is here” 
- alluding to my Oriental appearance.

Fighting the temptation to give them a piece of my mind there and then, I instead kept my cool and approached the man who brought the two boys to the masjid.
I asked him who they were - he said they were his son and nephew. Aged 10.
I told him what they called me, and reminded him that racism is wrong in Islam.
Visibly embarrassed, he told me he will handle it.
I asked him not to scold them - they are only young and didn’t know better. But they DO need to be told that what they did was wrong.

After salah, I approached the family of three as they were leaving the masjid.

“I just want to say that what you did today was very brave - apologising.
Not many grown-ups are able to do that.”

They grinned. A bit more proudly this time.

Saad and Ayyan, you are growing up in a world full of prejudice and hate. Already some of it has tainted you.
But as long as you retain the courage to admit your mistakes and apologise, there still is hope.

(And we adults can learn a thing or two on that too)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The people’s ‘tidak kisah’ attitude 
       leads to 


which provides fertile ground for
            cronyism, and 
blind fanaticism.

the apathy of the rakyat = the corruption of her politicians