F***ing B****

March 22, 2015

I hope you’ll pardon the French. Those were some choice words a netizen used to describe a young woman who had done something stupid and angered a lot of people. Here are a few more:

“If that was my wife, I will be in jail for Whacking her until that bitch knows how to behave like a girl.”

“kita perlukan ramai lady seperti ini untuk dihantar ke gaza”

“lucky 4 her it was not me…mesti bash her ugly face kau kau”

“Wow I wanna beat her if I saw her”

“Macam lahanat la mulut kau betina. Please kill yourself”

“Better you suck my cock”

“Shut the hell up and pergi terjun bangunan sekarang”

“Betul2 pelacur”

“She deserves a smash to the skull with her own steering lock”

I guess that last one gave it away. No, these have nothing to do with the Aisyah Tajuddin BFM Hudud controversy. Instead, they are just some of the comments you can find on Youtube for a video showing a now infamous road rage incident from  last year.

The strange thing is that as I recall, nobody back then came forward to lodge police reports about threats to the woman. Nobody wrote articles questioning whether Malaysia was still safe for young people (the disgusting part of which was the author insinuating that threatening behaviour somehow had something to do with being Malay). And if I remember correctly, no Syerleena popping up blaming everything on mysoginy.

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Raging at Straw Men

February 17, 2015

I just thought I’d expand on the topic of the recent attacks on a sermon by JAIS by DAP leaders Chong Eng and Syerleena Abdul Rashid that I touched on in my last post. What I’m thinking of doing here is to go through Chong Eng’s statement first and add my comments, then maybe do the same with Syerleena’s article. To be fair to Chong Eng, her response seems a bit more measured compared to Syerleena’s hysterics (I know it sounds sexist, but if you read her article, I think you’d agree). There’s a lot I’d like to say, so perhap I’ll do it in parts, bit by bit. We’ll see how it goes.

So let’s start at the beginning:

JAIS’s Friday sermon message on “Tutup Aurat” gives misleading information on rape, smacks of victim-blaming, and shows male bias in religious leadership

Last Friday 6th February 2015, Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) delivered a sermon titled “Aurat: Antara Kebebasan dan Maruah Diri.”1 In the sermon, JAIS said that Muslim women should cover up their ‘aurat’ to prevent “being harrassed physically or mentally… to prevent false accusations (fitnah), evil gazes (pandangan yang jahat) and bad incidents (perkara yang buruk berlaku)… Negative incidents such as rape, illicit sex, and incest (rogol, zina, sumbang mahram) can be avoided.”

Now, this is where she builds her straw man. You see those ellipses? You might think they’re there to keep things short, to leave out parts that are not relevant. If you did, well, you’d probably be wrong. I think they’re there to leave out parts that are inconvenient to her argument. Look back at my previous post to see what was actually in the text. A more accurate translation would be

Actually, perfectly covering the aurat, specifically for women, can prevent harassment physically and mentally. Indirectly, clothes that cover the aurat and are modest are among the ways to prevent fitnah, evil gazes and bad incidents. Paths to negative symptoms such as rape, illicit sex and incest can be blocked.

Don’t you think that by leaving out the highlighted words, the message changes somewhat? With those words there, one cannot claim that the sermon is saying that all rapes can be prevented by only covering the aurat or that the connection between dress and rape has to be a direct one (i.e. what the victim was wearing at the time caused her rape). If you read the rest of Chong Eng’s statement, I hope you’ll see that it is on just such a claim that many of her arguments against JAIS hang.

Now, do you think it’s a coincidence that those words were left out? If you don’t, then what does that tell you about Chong Eng’s honesty and her intentions in issuing the statement?

Well, that’s it for now, I’m afraid. Sorry to be so abrupt. I’ll expand on this point by looking at specific examples in Chong Eng’s statement at another time. Been keeping late nights recently and it’s starting to show at work. Stay tuned.

And the Reviews Are In….

February 13, 2015

khutbah_jais - Copy

In red above are some of the choice words used by Chong Eng and Syerleena Abdul Rashid to describe a recent Friday Sermon by JAIS. Apparently, the little snippet shown is the bit that raised their ire, which they took as JAIS blaming rapes on women not covering their aurat instead of the men who actually perpetrate the act.

Me, I don’t see how they could make that leap from enjoining to blaming. If you follow their logic, then any advice given to help prevent people from becoming victims must also be seen as “victim-blaming”. Don’t let your kids talk to strangers, don’t leave your laptop in your car, don’t accept drinks from strangers, ignore any emails that say you’ve won a million dollars – how are these any different?

In fact, if they had deigned to follow the khutbah a little further, they would have found that it very clearly puts the blame on the men:

Wanita hendaklah menutup aurat supaya terhindar daripada gangguan seksual dan penganiayaan oleh lelaki yang tidak bermaruah dan bermoral

In any case, it seems that Chong and Syerleena feel so strongly about this that they needed to tell the whole world by issuing press statements and writing articles. So let’s give them a helping hand by letting your friends, especially the Muslim ones, know.

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ

February 12, 2015

My sincerest condolences to the family of Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat. May Allah place him among the Salihin.

Making a mockery of the national language

November 22, 2014

Co-President of the Centre For A Better Tomorrow (CENBET), Gan Ping Sieu, has issued a statement asking state authorities to “review the ban on non-Muslims using words related to Islam”. He says such a ban “makes a mockery of our national and Arabic languages” and makes it difficult for non-Muslims to converse in Malay. I would tend to agree with him, if only there really was such a ban in the first place.

Poor Mr Gan. I admire his concern for our national language, but it seems using it has left him dazed and confused. He is clearly having difficulty conversing in our national language, but I don’t think it is because of any ban on using some words. More likely it is because he doesn’t properly understand it. If he did understand it, then he would have known from reading the relevant states’ laws that they clearly do not prohibit non Muslims from using words related to Islam.

For example, section 9 of Kedah’s ENAKMEN KAWALAN DAN SEKATAN PENGEMBANGAN AGAMA BUKAN ISLAM 1988 states:

“(1) Seseorang adalah melakukan kesalahan jika ia, dalam apa-apa tulisan yang diterbitkan, atau dalam apa-apa ucapan awam atau pernyataan atau dalam apa-apa ucapan atau pernyataan yang ditujukan kepada suatu perhimpunan orang yang dirancang, atau dalam apa-apa ucapan atau pernyataan yang diterbit atau disiarkan dan yang pada masa ucapan atau pernyataan itu dibuat ia tahu, atau pada munasabahnya patut tahu akan diterbit atau disiarkan, menggunakan mana-mana perkataan yang disenaraikan dalam Jadual, atau apa-apa terbitan atau virasinya, untuk menyatakan atau memperihalkan sesuatu fakta, kepercayaan, idea, konsep, perbuatan, aktiviti, perkara atau hal mengenai atau berkaitan dengan sesuatu agama bukan Islam.

Now, anyone who is the least bit proficient in our national language can see that this does not mean what Mr. Gan thinks it means. This law prohibits the words from being used in a non-Muslim context and does not prohibit them from being used by non-Muslims at all. Take  for example the word “Syariah”. What is not allowed is to use “Syariah” to refer to, say, Christian law. No one is stopping any non-Muslim from saying “Mahkamah Syariah” to refer to Islamic courts, for instance. There is a practical purpose to this. When someone says a product is “Syariah compliant” we assume immediately that it means that the product conforms to Islamic law because that is what everyone understands the term to mean. Would it not be confusing, not to say dishonest, if someone were to use the same term  for a product that conforms to some other religion and not Islam?

And what is so shocking about these laws anyway? These kinds of prohibitions have been routinely applied all over the world in many areas of life. Chinese sinsehs and Malay bomohs aren’t allowed to call themselves doctors, but you don’t see anyone protesting, do you? In Europe, you can’t call a cheese “Parmesan” unless it comes from a specific region near Parma Italy, even if your cheese smells, tastes and has the exact same chemical composition as the Italian one. So you have the strange situation where German cheese makers who have been using the word “Parmesan” for decades have had to call their cheese something else when selling them at home, but continue to use “Parmesan” when selling them to the rest of the world. Sure those Germans are not happy about it because their livelihoods are affected, but they’re not screaming bloody murder as if some fundamental right has been denied them. Unlike some folks here.

The “Wisdom” of Zaid Ibrahim

November 22, 2014

It seems Zaid Ibrahim has a beef with Information minister Shabery Cheek for saying that the Penang Government is racist for neglecting low cost housing for the mainly Malay poor in the state. So he writes this angry article titled “Where are the facts?” berating Shabery for being “incapable of discussing urban housing needs based on reality and facts”.

Do please note the title of the article, because in it he goes on to drop this gem:

“I am not convinced DAP is a stupid organisation. Penang Malays currently comprise 40% of the vote and Malay men can marry four wives, which mean future demographics will favour the Malays in the medium and long term.” 

So Zaid, polygamy is the reason the Malay population is growing? No other explanation? And you have the cheek to call someone else out for talking nonsense?

Condolence

April 17, 2014

YB Karpal Singh passed away in a car accident this morning. My condolences to his loved ones.

Fear Mongering

March 5, 2014

TMI reports that participants at a forum called “Time to Reform the Police Force” were told that Malaysians no longer feel safe. Apparently to back the claim that crime was rampant, R Sanjeevan, the chairman of so-called crime watchdog, MyWatch, produced figures that showed that “67 murders were reported in the first two months of the year while more than 6,000 motorcycle thefts and over 900 cases of criminal intimidation were also reported in the same period“.

To add to the shock value, he claimed these figures were “leaked” to him, which I suppose is meant to imply that this is something that the government doesn’t want people to know about.

The numbers do look big, don’t they? Of course,  1 murder is 1 too many, but do the numbers really show that crime in Malaysia is now out of control as the article suggests?  Let’s compare the figures with statistics from other countries and also with how Malaysia has done in the past. Since international statistics on motorcycle theft and criminal intimidation are rather hard to come by, let’s look at the number for murders.

If we extrapolate the figures for the first 2 months to the whole year, we would expect to end up with 67 murders * 365 days / 59 days = 414.5 murders for the whole year. Usually statistics for the murder rate are expressed in number of murders per 100,000 people per year. Malaysia’s population just turned 30 million, so 414.5 murders per year would give us a murder rate of:

(414.5 murders  * 100,000 people) / 30,000,000 people

=   1.38 murders per 100,000 people per year

So, how are we doing compared to other countries? This site has a nice convenient table that ranks countries by the rate of murder  (or “intentional homicide” as the UN calls it).

1.38 would put us at 151st place out of 190 countries (1 being the country with the highest murder rate and 190 having the lowest). Certainly not the best, but respectable nonetheless. We are quite a way off the likes of Japan (0.4) and Singapore (0.31) but still much better than the USA (4.75) and neighbours Indonesia (8.07), Thailand (4.76) and the Philippines (5.39).

What is more interesting, though, is that 1.38 would be significantly better  than our own 2006 figure of 2.27. In fact, the rate would be lower than every year for which the UN has data:

Country or Area Year Count Rate Source Source Type
Malaysia 2006 604 2.3 CTS CJ
Malaysia 2005 497 1.9 CTS CJ
Malaysia 2000 551 2.4 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1999 588 2.6 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1998 629 2.8 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1997 540 2.5 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1996 447 2.1 CTS CJ
Malaysia 1995 396 1.9 CTS CJ

As for more recent years, official figures show that there were 602 murders in 2012 and 478 for the first 9 months of 2013. Again, the projected 414.5 would be an improvement on these years as well.

The numbers, at least for murder, do not indicate that violent crime is getting much worse, if at all. So why do Malaysians feel less safe these days? Perhaps people like Mr Sanjeevan should look in the mirror to find the answer.

Quoting the Bible

March 4, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim has been defending his recent visit to the Holy Family Church in Kajang.  Below is an excerpt from the TMI report:

Anwar who had quoted from the Quran while talking at the Holy Family Church, tonight quoted from the bible to drive home his point on religious tolerance.

Anwar quoted from the bible saying: “‘You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me: every tongue will acknowledge God‘,” Anwar read.

He said with the message that he had just sent, the public should stop judging one another and work towards understanding each other

It is clear that in this case, Anwar was talking about relations between Christians and Muslims. Anwar was speaking to a group of Muslims, so the “brother or sister” in the above quote would refer to the Christians.  Now, I find Anwar’s choice of biblical verses to quote from quite interesting. The verses are Romans 14:10 and 14:11.

The Epistle to the Romans was written by the apostle Paul and this particular chapter dealt with the tensions that had arisen in Rome at the time between the Jewish Christian converts and the Gentiles. The Jewish converts insisted on observing Jewish dietary customs and holy days which the Gentiles and Paul himself felt were no longer required by  their new faith. For this, the Gentiles had viewed them with contempt, and on their part, the Jewish converts judged the Gentiles for not keeping to the old laws.  Although Paul did not agree with the Jewish converts, he did not view them as being wrong because they were sincere in their belief. Essentially, what Paul was saying is that differences in things like food or sacred days were not important but their shared conviction in Jesus as their Lord and saviour was.

So, why would Anwar think that these verses are relevant to Muslim-Christian relations in Malaysia?  Does he liken today’s Christians and Muslims to the Jewish converts and the Gentiles that Paul was referring to?  Does he mean to say that the differences between Muslims and Christians are similarly inconsequential, and that what matters is their shared belief in the same God? Sure sounds like it to me.

You know what else it sounds like? Take a look at the definition below:

Religious pluralism generally refers to the belief in two or more religious worldviews as being equally valid or acceptable. More than mere tolerance, religious pluralism accepts multiple paths to God or gods as a possibility and is usually used in contrast with “exclusivism,” the idea that there is only one true religion or way to know God.

Jangan tertipu lagi, Najib

February 23, 2014

PM Najib has advised the rakyat not to be taken in again by the sweet nothings whispered by the opposition. You can read about it here. Of course, it isn’t  just the rakyat who have been  tertipu lately:

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I think Najib would do well to heed his own advice.