Friday, August 22, 2014


To: Muhammad Lam

This was your earlier question, paraphrased:

"So you don't care about those people who died on that plane lah..
even though they're Malaysian, closer to you?
You only care about your 'Muslim brothers and sisters' in Gaza lah..??"

After years having not spoken to you,
I've forgotten that you were, and still are,
the lovable pessimist;
my eternal debate teammate/opponent

And put on the spot very suddenly by your accusation/query,
I answered "Yes" (big mistake)
Followed later by my awkward statement
"Muslim doesn't have to mean Al-Qaeda lah.."

Yup. Obviously not the best answer.
(Kalau debate, confirm I have to answer a lot of POIs at this point)

I know writing this after hours of thinking it over is kinda cheating
(confirm cannot do in an actual debate).
But your question was a very good one;
definitely worthy of a better answer than the one I gave.

So here is my 'scripted', but HONEST answer:

I still remember the morning after MH17 crashed.
Eating sahur with my family I was silent as always,
but on that day not because I was sleepy;
it was because I felt that I've just had a brush with death.

Because the route MH17 flew, over Ukraine,
is most probably the exact same route which I took
when I myself flew to the UK two years ago
(my transit was at Amsterdam).

That morning, in my mind,
I was wondering if any of my friends were on MH17,
and also I was thinking:
"It could have been me on that plane"

So your statement is correct, Lam:
in a sense, those people who died on MH17
ARE closer to me than those in Gaza are.


But the next part of your statement
is also spot on:
I DO care very much about my brothers and sisters in Gaza.

And yes,
a large part of that care comes from the fact
that they are fellow Muslims.

I am not ashamed to admit that.

But allow me to quote the cliche:
"You don't have to be Muslim
to care about Palestine.
You just have to be human."

(Saja quote a cliche..I know cliches get on your nerves) ;)

Point is, the fact that so many non-Muslims
are so aware of the Gaza crisis
is because it is a HUMANITARIAN crisis.


Of course I am affected by the loss of Malaysian lives,
and the grief of Malaysian family members.
People who talk and look like me.
Because I am Malaysian.

I am also not ashamed to admit that.


But as I write this
so many people are living continuously in Gaza
in conditions worst
than those who died instantly on MH17.


Both incidents tug on my heartstrings.
Because both are tragedies.
Both lives ruined by injustice.

So today I join the rest of my country
in remembering those who were lost on MH17.
But I don't apologise
for also remembering my brothers and sisters in Gaza.

I am Muslim first.
That doesn't make me any less Malaysian.

With love,
The lovable optimist;
your eternal debate teammate/opponent

P.S. see you at dinner tomorrow, insyaAllah. I kinda miss our conversations, believe it or not