Post-GE2011: Where are my real Malay-Muslim leaders?

A member of the infamous million-strong PAP Makcik Batallion. How can the opposition win them over? (Image credit)

So GE2011 wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I am not happy with the results. To be frank, I was hoping that Tin Pei Ling and the whole of PAP Marine Parade team to succumb under the pressure of NSP and Nicole Seah, but let’s focus on the Malay issues.

Did the bulk of Malay-Muslim voters still side with PAP? Let’s see.

A day after polling day, hey-Muslims-be-less-strict-lah LKY and his dutiful son LHL came out a day just to rub a bucketful of salt and sand into the gaping wound. The former insisting that his comments didn’t affect Malay votes (link), and the in latter’s exact words: “I believe that the Malay votes were with us in this general election. I think Yaacob (Ibrahim) would confirm that.” (link)

I take it their electoral analysts have really managed to narrow down the vote patterns based on the ballot boxes. So do the Malays really forgive that fast?

Then two days later I found myself having teh tarik with some friends, and naturally GE hogged the conversation.

“You know,” said a friend. “I think the reason the opposition failed to get more seats was because of their weakest link.”

“Weakest link? You mean Chiam See Tong?” said another who’s more concerned with emotional articulation than substance. Fair point though given he’s one of those first-time voter.

“No, not him. I mean, the Malays in the opposition lah,” the friend quipped.

True enough, I thought.

To be honest, I cannot even name more than two of the Malay opposition candidates correctly. And the one I can name correctly is because I know he looks very familiar – which I found out later he’s a friend’s acquaintance.

Most of us followed the frantic 9 days of campaigning. But can you recall a time where a Malay opposition candidate was singled out because of merit? Not once. Heck, even TPL garnered more publicity than any of the Malay opposition candidates. Granted for the wrong reason, but still, why is there no prominent Malay opposition candidate?

I know of so-called up-and-coming Malay professionals who claimed they were courted to join the PAP, invitied to one of those tea parties, and even interviewed. But none of them were even appraoched by the opposition parties. I know the opposition lack resources and funds, but they really gotta work the ground. And if they are really serious about getting Malay votes, the have got to find the right Malay candidates.

For me, I like the opposition not because of their Malay candidates, but because of their manifestos and policies. Really, it’s a world apart from the pro-corporatist PAP which doens’t sem care if the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. It’s like the freaking GDP is their holy grail, and if they get that, all other problems are magically solved.

But somehow, it seems to me that a bulk of the Malays are not able to process anything beyond the candidates personality or qualifications. Of course, the extra cash ala Grow and Share helps too, especially to those who are cash-strapped and regard the handout as a literallifesaver.

Yet this particular Malay demography do raise a pertinent point for the opposition parties to ponder; they don’t want some Amat, Mamat or Rahmat to represent them in parliament. Read again: these electorate don’t care about policies. They see themselves in a weak state, and they want someone highly qualified to be their voice in parliament because of that feel-good factor. I know how irrelevant a Malay PAP Member of Parliament is for the Malay-Muslim cause, but again it seems that to this particular demography, it doesn’t matter. So read this again: Choosing between some Malay diploma holder or obscure businessman or financial consultant, I really believe they will instead pick someone with a “Dr” behind their name. See their logic? Irrational as it is, you gotta whink like one to win their hearts.

And then comes the next issue, and here’s my personal grouse. The Malay-Muslim Singaporeans – in general – should better position themselves in politics in order to ensure that they stand a chance to actually shape the direction of Singapore. Look, I’m not saying we go about doing some covert ultra-right-wing nationalist underground clan, but the own community should make sure that they are represented in parliament with good, strong Malay-Muslim individuals.

Look at the other minority, the Indians. We have a whole lot to learn from them in politics. Be it in the PAP or opposition, they have really capable people represented there. Look at the likes of Pritam Singh, or Vincent WijeySingha, or even the Singaporean-celup Janil Puthucheary. It’s not hard to imagine one of them to be appointed as ministers. But do we have Malay candidates who shine like that? Where are our real Malay candidates? When will we ever have our own Rajaratnam or Dhanabalan?

It got to start from now. At least to look after our own interests, we should have good, solid, people throughout. We gotta stop thinking short-term and make sure that we are prepared when the next wave comes by the next general election. Maybe it will take another 2-3 terms to see the opposition breaking the two-thirds majority. And that means we have between 5-15 years to groom some solid Malay-Muslim politicians. One who is strongly rooted in the community, with excellent qualifications and experience, and most importantly born with titanium backbones. For own our sake.

And by we, I’m looking you, opposition parties.

PS: Even the semi-foul-mouthed Tuan Johari Awang is looking at these issues closely. He had a blast with his first piece, and has agreed to contribute more to this blog. So keep on a lookout for him in future postings, which will be categorized under “Johari Awang.”



Woi Vote Betul2 La!

(Image credit)

Presenting our special guest writer today: Johan bin Haji Awang

“Melayu takde bodek!

Bila time berbual, satu2 macam betul je kutuk PAP itu lah, ini lah, harga HDB mahal nak mampos, harga bas/MRT asik naik even though tiap2 tahun untung ratus2 juta. Harga barang kat pasar naik pasal government pilih landlord ikut harga supermarket, harga hospital naik, obat naik, klinik naik, semua naik. Gaji je tak naik2. Kalau naik pon very pathetic.

Dah tu duit CPF sendiri, da lah kena paksa simpan tiap2 bulan, dah tua belum tahu dapat keluarkan. Suka aku ah nak buat beli kereta ke nak pegi haji ke nak bukak bisnes goreng pisang. Duit aku apa! Tiap2 bulan aku simpan! Da lah kau makan duit bunga dia puluh2 tahun tak kenyang2 ke?

Abistu orang melayu masuk army pangkat tinggi2 pon jadi apa? Berhenti masok Ass-tar? Pilot cume boleh bawak cargo plane je. Navy? Hahaha jangan buat kelakar sini ok aku serious.

Apa Singapore takde corruption? Takde nepotism? Kau tengok sape pegang post paling tinggi? Anak dia jadi apa skarang? Anak dia nye bini kerja mana? Gaji brape? Apa takde orang lain ke boleh buat kerja2 tu semua?

Please ah. Ada banyak lagi. Orang luar datang belajar ada scholarship, da tu dapat PR senang2. Gaji pon muai, NS tak kena. Sini punye policy semua pasal duit aje. Duit duit duit. Takde duit pegi mampos. Kau tengok casino. Kena pelawa mcm anak dara. Kompeni2 semua lagi precious dari orang. Ugama jangan cakap, aku tanya ustat2 aku, diorang pon tak tahu apa direction skarang.

Aku da give up. Ramai orang da give up.

Cuma yang aku tak paham, lepas ye2 berbual2 macam gini, aku tanye orang diorang nak vote sape, satu2 takot nak jawab. Bukan pasal secret, tapi pasal diorang takot kalau diorang vote PAP nanti tak dapat beli rumah, kena target pat kerja, hidop susah lah.

COME ON LAH!! Korang dah kenapa??! Berapa ramai orang vote PAP pon susah dapat rumah jugak, bodoh. Nak bet? Kau tanye makcik2 pengampu PAP yang selalu pakai baju putih, rebut2 salam cium tangan dengan MP PAP semua. Kau tanye diorang anak diorang senang dapat rumah tak? Kau tanye diorang time diorang bayar bill api air ada dapat special “Pembodek PAP Discount” tak? Ke diorang ada special EZ-link card bila naik MRT jadi orang cacat nak kena kasi diorang tempat duduk?

Takde dok! Semua sama je. Ni semua dalam kepala otak kita je. Aku baru baca pat suratkhabar hari ni, ada opposition punye orang dia dulu2 pon vote for opposition, padahal dia keje civil servant siak. Lepas tu dia masih dapat promoted macam biasa. Kawan2 aku vote opposition pon masih sama je. Pakcik makcik aku vote opposition pon lepas tu dapat promotion boleh tinggal bungalow some more!


Pasal vote tu secret. Diorang tak boleh track. Blog agaknya orang boleh track, tapi vote tak boleh.

Memang voting card ada serial number, tapi tu untuk make sure yang that the card is authentic. Lepas tu kau tengok cara the vote is collected, dalam kotak, diorang longgokkan semua, dengan kehadiran (kan aku da pakai proper Malay word) opposition party members, it is impossible to know who voted for whom exactly. Kalau kau rajen sket pegi baca la pasal ni (link 1, 2). Jangan jadi pengecut tak tentu pasal! Macam mana Melayu nak maju gini?

Jadi kau, orang Melayu, yang konon2 berani, jiwa pendekar, cucu Hang Tuah, sepupu Badang, and most importantly orang yang ada agama. Kau tahu apa yang betul, apa yang salah. Kalau kau hidup bawah Fir’aun yang zalim, lepas tu Fir’aun intimidate/bayar kau untuk pilih dia jadi raja lagi, padahal kau tak agree dengan dia, AND kau ada choice lain. Tapi kau still vote for Fir’aun. Kau rasa what does that say about you?

Bodoh, focus sikit boleh tak. Walaupon PAP macam Fir’aun, aku tak cakap yang opposition tu Nabi Musa. Aku tanya, kau punye punye prinsip harga brapa? $600? $800? $1000? Atau the perception yang hidup kau akan susah?

Nanti lain kali kalau kau kene make hard choices, kau cuma nak pilih yang hidup senang dapat duit je? Kalau gitu, kau memang patot jadi PAP supporter sampai mampos.”


Tattoo Madness

A piece of gem by Art Fazil, originally published in the local Malay daily.

Original article was in Malay. Below is my horrible attempt at its English translation.

A press report here discussing the spread of tattoo reminds me of an experience by a relative who once managed the burial of a tattooed Malay/Muslim man.

According to him, after the body was prepared for burial, there was a strange occurrence.

When the deceased was placed on his side inside the grave [as per Islamic rite], it would sprawl on its back, as if something was preventing it [from being placed on its side].

All those present at the funeral were shocked and felt uneasy.

After failing the third time to place the deceased on his side, all parties, including family members, agreed to bury the body in supine.

When I relate the story to my friends, they only shake their heads while lamenting on tattoo’s rampancy here.

In my observation, the tattoo trend began to spread some 10 years ago. Apart from tattoos representing the seal of criminal gangs, ultimately I connect tattoos with the influence of entertainment and sports celebrities.

Celebrities are the current media icons, and thus a measure of what is considered cool.

Commonly, adolescents tend to be keen in the latest trends. The Internet has facilitated access to latest information. What exploded onto the international scene simultaneously spread here. This is the effect of globalization.

When I type in “Celebrity Tattoos” in the Google search engine, I was directed to a website displaying tattooed celebrities.

The madness of Gangsta rap music has elevated artists most covered in tattoos such as Lil’ Wayne, 50 cents, Eminem, Soulja Boy and Snoop Doggy Dog. Among pop and rock singers are Justin Timberlake, Robbie Williams and Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit), while female singers such as Rihanna, Pink and Beyonce are no exception. Hollywood A-Listers who have casted tattoos on their bodies, including Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansen, Megan Fox and Pamela Anderson.

Weirdly, only Madonna use henna tattoos.

Among the famous athletes, David Beckham led the list. His body is ‘almost completely’ tattooed – from the neck, left arm and right from top to bottom, back and even down to the feet. There are not less than 100 tattoos on Beckham, coloring his body dark blue. His wife, Victoria Beckham, who is also tattooed, once said in a UK magazine that “…I will continue to pray that he does not add his tattoos…”.

In addition, the web site YouTube also has a special channel for the Reality TV series Miami Ink which records a variety of events occurring in a tattoo shop in Miami Beach, Florida.

Tattoo means ‘mark’ in Tahiti.

Romans tattoo themselves to signify a person who originates from slaves. The Maori tribe in New Zealand ink spiral-shaped tattoos on their faces and bodies as a sign of good lineage. In Solomon Islands, tattoos are carved on women’s faces as a ritual to mark a new stage in their lives.

What are the reasons for Malay kids to tattoo?

Because of style. Oh, so trivial.

According to Imam Al-Nawawi (rahimahullah), tattoo is defined as inserting tattoo needle or the likes into the back of the hand, wrist, lips, or other parts of the body until blood flows.

The area is then filled with kohl [celak] or quicklime (calcium oxide) until it becomes green.

We already know the views of Islamic scholars according to Qur’an and Hadith on the issues of tattoo, including a chapter on the ablution of a tattooed person.

What surprises me is when I found similar opinion by the Christians on this issue. Verse 19:28 from Leviticus in the Bible commands that followers of the religion should not get tattooed: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos.”

Specialists reveal that tattoo application may expose a person to infections such as Hepatitis B and C and also HIV. The Hepatitis C virus may cause fatal Hepatocellular cancer death due to heart function failure. Pamela Anderson had admitted that she was infected with Hepatitis C because of needle-sharing with her former husband, Tommy Lee, a Motley Crue drummer.

Psychologically, some experts categorize tattoos as self-mutilation – harming oneself. According to two German psychologists, Aglaja Stirn and Andreas Hinz, who did a study for a tattoo magazine, Taetowiermagazin, “Tattoos are an easy way to reveal the internal effects of individual psychology.”

A woman who uses the pen name Mismimichi wrote in her blog, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing that tattoo ink is like black heroin. “Like heroin, it makes me feel beautiful and mighty.” After a few sessions of getting tattoos, she became an addict – once tried, she wants more.

In the meantime, Counseling Program lecturer of Faculty of Leadership and Management, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM), Associate Professor Dr Sapora Sipon said: “Some tattooed women psychologically feel that symbols on their body gives satisfaction. In addition, they feel strong facing everyday life, apart from the uniqueness of their personality identity.”

Is life in Singapore is so difficult that adolescents today experience painful emotional stress?

What is it that causes them to feel angry with themselves, their family and the community that they would want to harm their bodies with tattoo needles?

Are their pain as great as the difficulties faced by our brothers in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Xinjiang?

A friend who cannot stand the behavior of “mat tattoo” said: “David Beckham has tattoos, but he’s very rich. Our kids have tattoos, but they steal handphones!”

Another friend said: “What good is there following Mat Saleh (Westerners) when your English language is all over?”

Among my friends, Malays who were born and raised in London, not one is tattooed.

What is more disturbing is its impact on the next generation.

A friend of mine, a primary school teacher, found one of his students penning his hand with marker. When investigated, it was found discovered that the mother is tattooed. Similarly, another student who drew on his hand with a pen – the mother and father are tattooed. According to him, generally the same situation is happening in other schools. This is a disconcerting trend.

Just like the majority of us who are not happy with air pollution when exposed to cigarette smoke (passive smoking), tattoos should be regarded as “visual pollution.” Like passive smoking, visual pollution can spread negative effects if it goes unnoticed.

From the eyes down to the heart, from the heart down to the skin. If regularly exposed to the habit of tattooing, this generation will become numb. Their skin has the potential to canvas the tattooer’s needle.

Many developed countries have strict laws on tattooing. In Australia, a tattoo studio must get written consent from the parents or guardian before tattooing or piercing teens under the age of 18. In California, as in the United Kingdom, it is an offence to tattoo youths under the age of 18.

Our ministers and members of parliament must hasten to deal with the tattoo issue. A new law should be proposed. Just like the sale of cigarettes, tattoo studios should only allowed to tattoo customers aged 18 and above. Even better if it is raised to the age of 21 years – the eligible voting age.

Tattoo is just a trend that’s being followed. With age limits, it can prevent young people from being influenced by the temporary craze.

What will happen to them after the tattoo trend is gone, after a new genre of music takes over, after youth has passed and skin sags?

They will be left with the memory of the stale stupid age, marred on their skin for life.

The next generation does not have to stare hard at a body full of tattoos sprawled supine in the grave to realize that “Tattoos Are Not Cool.”

I cannot agree more.


To speak English or cakap Melayu?*

*cakap Melayu = speak Malay

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“I feel disgusted with these types of people,” the Malay pakcik (uncle) lashed out. “Especially the girls… Those girls from universities. What, just because they’re in universities, they can’t speak Malay?”

I was in a cab, and the conversation was naturally in Malay. Amidst his tirade, the driver may have a point when he implied that higher-educated Malays are getting more alien to their native language (I’m not sure about the female comment). His concern is not isolated; for quite some time now in the Malay news, there have been debates over the decline of Malay usage among Malays, and the general perception is that the higher-educated Malays are the main culprit. It comes to no surprise though, as the same issue is also faced by the Chinese community in Singapore.

Initially, I’ve never thought that of language to be that much of an issue. I’ve always regarded language as a mere medium of expression; so whichever one you choose, as long as the intended objective is achieved it doesn’t matter. To me what mattered most is how a person acts. So in our Malay-Muslim society, religion is more of a priority than language.

To me, a good Muslim is better than anything, no matter what the language spoken. It’s a no-brainer if you have to choose, for instance, between Malay gangsters who know their language, or pious Malay doctors who don’t know Malay.

So I didn’t really care about the “great Malay language debate”, until more recently. I had an encounter with two young tertiary-educated Malay ladies near a restaurant. They were complaining about something in English – boys, I think. I cannot recall the exact conversation, but weirdly enough, from the way they are dressed and they way they talk, the imagery that immediately comes to mind is that of American college girls that you often see negatively depicted on TV. Only this time it’s the Malay version.

At that very moment, I actually felt disgusted.

Proud to sound and act like ang moh

The thing about language is that one does not only learn how to say/read/write only, but the associated culture as well. Understandably when learning English, one has access to English movies, music, news, information, and many more. Unfortunately, most of these are popularized by the media through pure sensationalism.

What bugs me is when Malays – or Asians for that matter – subsume negative Western culture as their own. If it’s positive, I’m all for it. But the negative ones, such as immodest attires and uninhibited social norms, are those which directly undermine our own cultural values.

In this respect, Malay language has provided a layer of protection against the barrage of foreign values. Of course in this day and age, it is impossible to survive solely on the Malay language, as English is the established medium for work and school. So a healthy balance needs to be struck. Malay language still play a vital role as a conduit of  good Malay/Asian culture, one that instills emphasis on respect and the traditional family structure, to temper against the overwhelming Western norms that most blindly adhere to.

Best of both worlds

Not only culture is under siege, but also religious principles. Here in Singapore, English is used the very moment you step out of the house. Schools and workplaces are not exempt from this, though mosques and Islamic institutions generally still use Malay language in daily affairs. At the same time, while there are increasingly more sermons and religious lectures being delivered in English, here in Southeast Asia, Malay remains to be an indispensable language to study the religion. Structured religious education provided by major local Islamic institutions such as Pergas and Perdaus is still being delivered in Malay (correct me if I’m wrong). Even less structured lectures in mosques is generally delivered in Malay.

As religious values should be inculcated from a young and tender age, especially with the weekly dose of Friday sermons, it is worrying if our future generation cannot appreciate its content. And since Friday sermons provide the window of opportunity to ditch or bridge the connection with those who rarely step foot in the mosque, the understanding of Malay is – the way I see it – synonymous with the introduction of religious guidance.

As highlighted in a recent newspaper commentary, a writer at first thought that – based on facial expressions – the young participants in a religious talk were engrossed by the speaker who delivered in Malay. But later when he spoke to them, he found out that while they were indeed impressed by the speaker, they were also confused by the Malay terms being used.

This is something that deserves attention. On a larger scale, limited comprehension of the language may affect the understanding of religious instructions. If Malay language understanding continues to deteriorate, the impact in the future may not only be cultural, but also a religious one.

Why oh why?

Perhaps more pertinent to the discussion is the “why” behind it. Why do Malays not want to speak Malay? Based on my expertly-derived rocking-armchair analysis, it boils down to two factors. Firstly and bluntly, English-speaking Malays are intentionally suffering from post-colonialism inferiority complex, symptoms of which include the delusion that speaking English means that you are clever, and speaking Malay means that you are stupid and of some lower caste. This is further compounded with what the “new Malays” perceive as Malay being the exclusive language of the mats and minahs; by conversing in English, not only are they “proving” that they are “successful,” but that they have “broken out” of the “Malay stigma.”

In refutation of this, I have to say that “high education” compares zilch to good upbringing. Just because one speaks English peppered with six-syllable words doesn’t mean he’s “better” or “smarter”. They’ve quickly and conveniently forgotten the MBA holders who are responsible for the global finance calamity. Yet I must admit, our education system is one that we can be proud of. A system which, against all odds, has successfully produced minahs who spew English expletives amidst their Queen’s English over a cuppa. Seriously, go to Starbucks and you’ll know what I mean.

Malay at home ≠ Failure at school

The second one is more easily digestible: parents want their kids to excel in school. But in order to do so, they believe that their English must be honed at home. Initially I was supportive of this, as I thought the Malay student may have an advantage over his peers if his English is good. But then looking at many many examples around me, of those who manage to read, write, and speak English well, they were mostly brought up in Malay-speaking home environment. Yes, even those so-called “new Malays”, we all know they grew up in Malay-speaking households too.

Then I realize how many people that I personally see and know, who were brought up in Malay-speaking homes. They went to Malay-speaking schools, studied in foreign universities which doesn’t use English, and yet are proficiently fluent in English. Some are even – while admittedly verbose – established English orators. At the same time, they are also able to seamlessly switch between the two languages fluently.

So why the need to speak English at home?

Speaking Malay at home

Thus far, I have decided that my home will be a Malay-speaking one.

Our kids will speak English almost every second when he’s out of the house. So it’s unfounded to worry about him not learning English, the worry should be placed on him growing to be a person who’s not proud of his background.

We should aim for that balance to allow Malay to blossom in the house. Not through corny Malay TV dramas, but through conversations, newspapers, and good books. Doing so will protect our precious cultural, and as a bonus, religious values.

There’s nothing to lose; your kids will still do well in school, and when he’s all grown up, he’ll still remember to kiss the back of your hand.

Nota: Bagi mereka yang bertanya kenapa blog ini tidak ditulis dalam bahasa Melayu, ini adalah kerana blog ini ingin ditujukan kepada mereka yang tidak berbahasa Melayu.


Why pick on only Indian accent for cheap laughs on radio?

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A complaint from the national daily:

I WOULD like to hear from Harvey Norman, the sponsors of the traffic update on the English-language radio station Class 95FM, about what it thinks of yesterday morning’s deejays reading a large portion of traffic news just before 10am in a mock-Indian accent.

The deejays seemed to find it very funny to mimic the way Indians speak. And they have done it lots of times.

In fact, for most of Singapore’s modern history, radio deejays who are not of Indian descent have enjoyed doing mock-Indian accents on English radio.

…As someone interested in media, I also listen to Chinese, Malay and Tamil stations, and I am grateful to the deejays on Chinese and Malay stations for avoiding this easy path to cheap laughs.

The defining factor is that I have never heard radio deejays on English stations mock Chinese or Malay accents.

Is it that they think people of ethnic Chinese and Malay descent have less of a sense of humour than those of Indian descent?

Perhaps the reason to solely mimicking the Indian accent is more primitive than racism. Indian accents are seemingly one of the easiest to replicate, and the local deejays simply do not have the talent capacity to mimic other accents. In addition to the fake Westernized accents which they talk in, Chinese accent will only sound boringly similar Singlish (maybe Hongkong accent will more entertaining), and Malay accent is too difficult.

Maybe they can learn a thing or two from this French guy. I can vouch for his Arabic and Indonesian Malay, and it’s total nonsense. But the accent is perfect. In the video, he also attempted to fake Hebrew, Cantonese, and Japanese, among others.


Earthquakes and Porn Videos

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Recently, the local Muslim Singaporeans were treated to a news regarding a group of people following a so-called ustaz (religious teacher). Apparently, the so-called ustaz had told his followers that Singapore faced an impending cataclysmic earthquake measuring more than 7.0 on the Richter scale, which were to occur on a certain date – 29th or 31st January 2010.

Fearing the worst, the group of followers, said to be around 30 families, packed their bags and traveled to Malaysia to escape the quake. Of course, the quake didn’t happen, as life went on for people on the lil’ red dot.

Then news spread the follower’s trip and the reason behind it, and people chastised them for being so gullible, and also for the so-called ustaz to be reprimanded.

Apparently from sources that I have access to (correct me if I’m wrong here), this ustaz apparently received the “news” of an “impending quake” from the above. In this day and age, one can only be extra careful to say the least, especially with regards to rumors coming from possibly shady people, and of course Fox News. Here are some points I’d like to raise:

1. Obviously, news like these should be inspected and  sieved carefully; one can only assume the character of the teacher – pious or otherwise. But in this day and age, as much as I like see myself as a religious believer, I am usually more than skeptical about those who claim to profess ilham (inspiration) from Allah. While I must note that ilham is still a rare possibility, the followers must practice their due diligence and not follow it blindly.

2. One of the tell-tale signs of a suspicious teacher may be his request for exclusivity and secrecy of his teachings. This is apparent in many cults, be it Western-based or otherwise, and it doesn’t take common sense to figure that good science – or knowledge for that matter – is one which is able to stand the criticism, openness, and debate. That is why in the Arabic countries for instance, there is this culture of their religious leaders attending the lectures of their peers. Sadly one which is lacking here, I say.

3. At least, verify any questionable issues raised by your religious teacher (a warning of an impending quake is definitely one of them) with established religious lecturers, not some taxi driver with no formal religious education training, and especially not the kakis you meet over your teh/kopi session.

4. By any means, please do not just forward any news/SMS/email you receive without checking its sources. Even if the source is verified, do not forward it if it brings no one any good. This, as well as common sense,  is one of the good practices when dealing with new technology. Among these good practices is also not to use the video recording technology like a 6-year-old would; recording everything in his path. Especially not coitus.

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5. Do not have sex before marriage. Do not have premarital sex and record it. Even if you are married, do not record sex. Men, regardless of their charm and seeming innocence, shouldn’t be trusted with really sensitive materials, and aren’t grown up until they reach circa 60 years of age. So if you do receive potentially damaging items of other people, do not forward it to anyone else. See #4.

6. If you spread damaging materials of other people, and they kill themselves because of it, are you partially responsible for it then? Please do what is right. Let the mind triumph over temptation, for once.

A stranger called me out of the blue pleading for my help. He wants to know if there is any way in which I could assist to purge copies of a file that has been circulating on the Internet. The file in question is actually a 3-minute pornographic video clip of a Singaporean Malay girl.

Apparently, the video is that of his 22-year old niece. The 3GP file allegedly shows her in full nudity while engaging in various sexual activities with her ex-boyfriend. Spiteful after being told to end the relationship, the revengeful lover purportedly gave the file away to several of his friends.

The video has since been making its round on local pornographic forums and file sharing networks. According to the uncle, the file is so widespread that it ended up in the hands of the family’s relatives who often teased her during the last Hari Raya visits.

Drowned in humiliation, she committed suicide about a month ago by leaping from her bedroom window. According to the uncle, her body was so mangled that they had to keep the “kain kafan” (burial shroud) sealed throughout the eerily somber funeral ceremony.

The 40-day anniversary of her death is approaching soon and her family members and close friends are thinking of holding a gathering at her parents’ flat to offer prayers for her soul. The Malays call it a “kenduri” and it is largely believed to offer some reprise for the dead. Besides, it is an opportunity for the family to gain closure over the tragedy.

But before the prayers, the family is appealing to all those who are having the file to delete and cease it from distribution. With a heavy heart, I had to explain to the uncle that it is not possible to simply “purge” a file on a sex forum without the intervention of the site’s owners.

I pray that her soul will finally be at peace.



Further reading:


The Sad Stage of the Malay Idol

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Unfortunately, if you happen to switch on to the free-to-air channels, you just cannot escape the constant annoyance that is the Singapore Idol.

Somehow it even manage to have slot inside the nightly news, much to me and the madame’s great distress. Inescapably, my realm of knowledge now involuntarily covers the fact of one of the two finalists for this singing contest, one of them is a Malay.

This is the third season for the show; bear in mind that both the first and second seasons’ winners are also of Malay ethnicity (or at least have Malay names).

Now, lurking in local internet forums, I have the impression most of the local internet community seemingly expect a Malay winner for the third season.

An insecure clan

Personally, I think it is a surprise. I previously thought the makciks, Malay teachers, students, and almost everyone else have spent a considerable amount to secure the triumph of the previous winners. Apparently I am mistaken. They are willing to spend a lot more to have the third one too.

To be frank, I am really worried about the state of the Malays. Singapore Idol is just one in a long list of entertainment-based channels which our youngsters are so desperately trying to conquer.

Sometime May this year, Suria, the local Malay TV channel, hosted a tryouts for the Malay talent show Anugerah. I was told the eager participants queued up as early as 4:30am to get in line. Switched on the TV on New Year’s event or some F1 party or National Day concert, and I can see that the majority of the crowd are Malays – at least those in front of the camera. (But hey, just how many camera views can you dominate?)

Even more so, try the Hari Raya season. Most do their visits in  throngs, kids in tow, late at night. It is good to visit relatives and friends, but I draw the line when the kid has school the next day, even more so if exams are looming around the corner.

The ones with common sense will plan their excursion and excuse themselves early for the sake of the child’s education. Unfortunately, it is also common to hear the justification “it’s only one day of school”. Seemingly, there is just no emphasis on the importance of education. So what if Hari Raya is just once a year? Family excursions can always be scheduled to another time.

While I agree that Singapore Idol is culturally divisive (we need to ban clan-like behaviors), the sad root of the matter is that culturally, Malays (1) do not place lack emphasis on education, and thus, (2) will almost always gain ethnic support if it involves entertainment.

Please, think of the children!

Perhaps the widely-circulated Straits’ Times op-ed got it right; Malays see themselves as being the least favourite child, and are doing anything they can to gain some sort of recognition.

But Singapore Idol is not the type of recognition we’re looking for. Rarely do we see the same fervour and support being there where education is involved.

For the greater good, please show the young ones that a singer is not what we Malays need right now. We need more doctors, engineers, lawyers, economists, and scientists. We need to stop being a perpetual slave to the entertainment industry and at least have a collective consciousness that realizes the need to churn out knowledgeable people. To show our kids that not only can they achieve anything if they work hard, but also, telling them to make the right decisions.

And to start doing that, please don’t vote for another Malay Idol. We don’t need us another entertainer.

For the greater good.