These are just plain opinions; they can be rejected, refuted, argued against or accepted. These words are not meant to impose my ideals upon anybody , and they are not going against the law of the diversity of thoughts~~

Sunday, 7 December 2014

When economists in cosy seats plan for the poor

Among the job of an economist is to gather economic data of the population in the past and present such as income, capital and population growth, and explain the conditions of the people.

He explains whether the income distribution is equal, whether the prices have risen or fallen in real terms, and so on.

A timeline analysis would show in gross terms whether the quality of life has increased or not, as he makes comparison between the living conditions of the present and the past.

My grandfather was a poor man with 8 children, and he worked as a trishaw peddler. My uncles who wanted a bicycle to go to school used to scavenge dumpsites to search for bike parts, and construct a working bicycle from scraps.

Meanwhile, his grandchildren is currently studying overseas using loads of taxpayer’s money and wasting every penny. Relatively, I would infer that living standards have clearly risen to unthinkable levels.

But it is not enough, and it is not fair for economists to compare living standards simply by such narrow and simplified examples; there are many other questions to be asked.

For example, is the increase in living standards the same across the region? What about Sabah and Sarawak? Have they been able to enjoy the same prosperity? While we amuse ourselves with skyscrapers in the capital, and scatter railways all over the west coast, there are still villages without electricity and water, not to mention internet or the obligatory bridges present in every by-election.

Is the living standard the same among the races, and between the states? Have the children of other families receive the same opportunities that I have gratefully received, and were 
they subjected with the same judgement over their merits and achievements?

It is true that economists and policymakers in the capital, in the cosy Prime Minister’s Office and Bank Negara, do their jobs real good, that they can be textbook examples.

According to the textbook, of course, oil subsidy is something irrational. It is not something a homo economicus would choose in an economy. Rather than waste taxpayer’s money, with the subsidy which pays even the rich, it is better to give people direct cash handouts, or so they said.

Of course, it’s true, because in the economics textbook it clearly shows in the graphs that subsidies cost much more than cash handouts, although both ultimately bring the same effect.

But surely, surely these economists should have realised the effect of oil prices on the prices of pretty much everything else- or are they living in a different world?

It is inevitable that GST is a better system than the SST, because nobody ever will be able 
to avoid paying tax. Previously, only the rich paid the tax, and now, as a sign of equality, even the poor in slums have to pay too. We supporters of equality must submit to  the system.

It is not enough an explanation when you tax people, that GST is a better system simply because hundreds other nations use this system. It is also not an acceptable reason to say that GST is a system that makes it easier for the government to collect tax.

Who gives a damn about that? The government is adding to the burden of the people, and we should accept it, because GST makes it easier to make people suffer more?

These policies are made by rich economists, the urban rich, the bourgeoisie, industrial capitalists for their brethren, and other rich capitalists.

Sprawled in the backseats of luxury cars, in black suits and leather shoes, in this suffocating hot tropical country, they are truly living in another dimension. They are unable to see how different are the living standards, even between urban citizens, not to mention the ones across the Titiwangsa mountains.

It is unconceivable that these policies would be agreed upon if policymakers truly live among the masses and understand the  struggles people made to make ends meet.

Have they been representatives who are more than VIPs in public ceremonies and random faces on Eid banners, I wonder what kind of country would we be now.

If only they could see how the economy treats people as commodity, and when the capitalists deem labour as useless, they are thrown away to starve. 

When these rejected people who can’t afford houses due the high rent, they seek the streets and under the bridges as their beds, but even then, in the lowest of honour, they are caught and put in jail.

Because they are poor, because they are homeless, and because it is an eyesore for the urban rich to see people sleeping under the bridges.

It should not be a surprise when some people think it appropriate to slap the PM’s picture with a slipper, when his minister showed up in the news asking people to bring packed lunch to work.

Thanks Mr Minister for the tip, but when you showed up in your expensive suit, shiny glasses and immaculately trimmed hair, it is a mockery, a humiliation to the burdened massed, especially at a time when your rich brethren are asking for a pay raise.

Remember that when Mary Antoinette told the starving masses who were asking for bread in France “Let them eat cake”, they cut off her head.

Of course  we are not keen to cut anybody’s head, not yet currently, because Malaysians forgive and forget all the time, and we tolerate almost everything.  But remember, our patience has its limit. – 16 October, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/when-economists-in-cosy-seats-plan-for-the-poor-ahmad-ibrahim-zakaria#sthash.R3hfF5ie.h5YDJf2q.dpuf

A response to IRF’s view on secular state

June 4-2014
I write in response to Islamic Renaissance Front's (IRF) reaction to Pembela, published in The Malaysian Insider yesterday.
I am not affiliated with Pembela or IRF, nor I am interested in their squabbles about the word "secularism" in our Constitution, but I feel obligated to comment on IRF's statement that only a secular state can provide religious freedom.
IRF seems pretty bent to prove that the Constitution provides the basis of a secular state, and because our forefathers have strived to achieve such agreement, we should follow suit, as the Constitution has decreed so.
I see no difference between advocating for a secular state because the Constitution somehow meant so, and the way pre-Islamic Arab societies worshipped idols because their grandfathers did so centuries earlier.
With this obsession with secularism, IRF has found a new idol to worship, and the way the article emphasises that only a secular state can provide religious freedom seems to undermine our own religion.
"And only in a secular system can Muslims be free to practice Islam exactly as they see fit and out of their own conscience, and not state coercion.
"And only in a secular system can non-Muslims be at peace without fear of their rights being compromised and erode," it said.
Secularism emerged as a resistance against the despotism of the church in Europe. The kings relied upon the "divine will" to gain legitimacy, while the clergy acts as if they were direct representatives of God. Countless men and women were oppressed under the name of religion, and thus the people sought to separate religion from the state and their livelihood.
Why should Islam go through the treatment of secularism, if such religious despotism did not occur in the first place?
Prophet Muhammad had offered freedom of thought and belief during the foundation of the city-state of Madinah, hundreds of years before the word "secularism" was coined. Non-Muslim were part of the shareholders in the Madinah Charter, and they were considered part of the Ummah, responsible upon the development and security of the state.
Under which rule did the Jews live in peace and harmony in Jerusalem? What kind of government was it that allowed Christians to coexist with Muslims in Cordoba? I am pretty sure it was not Ferdinand of Aragon.
The notion that only under secularism can ensure religions thrive is absurd and unacceptable. How could an ideology that seeks to remove religion and its values from the people ever be thought of being beneficial? I am not sure what kind of secularism does the IRF interpret from our Constitution, but secularism in France have seen Muslims being prevented from practising their religion freely. In Britain, religion is mocked and ridiculed by the people.
How could secularism create a country where religions can be practised freely, when the philosophy that came with it makes people skeptical to religion and abhors the mere mention of religion?
IRF, in the article, states that there is no compulsion in religion, then suddenly proposes that only secularism can provide such condition. This is a contradictory statement, and it shows how IRF is currently plagued with inferiority complex.
It is normal for occupied and defeated nations to emulate the example of the imperialists, and to assume that the creed that they had had for so long is somehow wrong or weak.
Rachid Ghannouchi wrote about "tawahush", which is about the return of mankind to the state of nature, or barbarity. Without religion to enhance good values inherent in mankind, they would become materialistic beings which lack compulsion to do good and prevent wrongdoings.
Family relations and bonds have collapsed under the secular system, while people living in close proximity don't even know the names of their neighbours. The state has to use all means possible to pacify the people; namely violence and welfare. We have seen how their societies broke into riots and uncontrollable mobs once the economy dips and their welfare is being reduced. This is the effect of secularism which separate people from religion and its values.
Therefore it seems naive to propose that religions can thrive under a secular state, or suggesting that the ideology brings benefit to the nation. It is an ideology which seeks to distance people from their Creator; a belief of emptiness and loneliness, for what would their lives mean without a vision beyond the world of the living?
The IRF need not worry itself over the making of the nation as a secular state, as it already is. Ghannouchi, however, names the form of secularism which exist in our country as pseudo-secularism, where instead of separating religion from the state, the government institutionalised every religious organisation there is, therefore making them instruments of the government, and effectively useless.
The government has done very well to incapacitate the role of Islamic clerics in a civil society, by limiting their works to finding pork in chocolate and raiding weddings, way better than a mass murder of Muslims.
It is due to this great evil that Islam is being trivialised and ridiculed by the masses, and the reason why IRF ran to the hands of secularists.
Jakim and other Islamic institutions should have been the main component in a civil society, working towards the eradication of poverty, and acting as a counter to the powers of the government. Religious institutions should be run independently by Islamic intellectuals instead of being an instrument of the government, and this is the only form of separation of state from religion which is acceptable. – June 4, 2014.

Reply by Dr Farouk Musa of IRF
What is obvious at first glance to Ahmad Ibrahim Zakaria’s response is that he doesn’t seem to understand why in the first place Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) issued such a statement. The statement was in response to Pembela’s challenge to prove that the term "secular" was stated in the Constitution. The sudden realisation that the word "secular" was not in the constitution was from the "revelation" by none other than Professor Shamrahayu Aziz during a seminar.
What we stated was obvious: that the word "secular" does not need to appear in the Federal Constitution since the interpretation is made by the contents of the Constitution. But we expanded the statement to touch on Article 3 that is pertinent to the topic being discussed.
And it is obviously malicious to associate the statement for advocating a secular state to that of the Arab societies worshipping idols because their grandfathers did so centuries earlier, since the Constitution was already meant for a secular state. The issue at hand is that Pembela denied that the Constitution had laid the foundation for a secular state. And that very fact triggered the whole debate.
Ibrahim made the same mistake as many other Islamists in thinking that secularism was anti-religion. While secularism in the form of laicete is antagonistic towards religion, what IRF is promoting is a passive secularism, a secularism that is neutral towards religion.
This is similar to what was said by Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of Hizb en-Nahdah (The Renaissance Party) when he stressed that there is no inherent incompatibility between Islam and secularism. And he defended a degree of separation between political and religious affairs in what is known as as-siyasi (the political or profane) and ad-deeni (the religious or sacred).
A state should be secular in the sense that it is neutral to all the differing religious doctrines. It does not mean the exclusion of religion from the public life of a society. The misconception that it does is one of the reasons many Muslims tend to be hostile towards the concept.
As Abdullahi An-Naim argued, state neutrality is necessary for true conviction to be the driving force of religious and social practice, without fear of those who control the state.
And typical of any Islamist argument is to cite the history fourteen centuries ago where freedom of thought and belief was the foundation of the city–state of Madinah. While nobody denies the fact that it was the main foundation laid by the Prophet, circumstances at large today are a far cry from such a situation.
Unless Ibrahim is living in a vacuum, freedom of conscience and religion is gradually being eroded in the 21st century in this country called Malaysia and being felt by many; not only the non-Muslims but also Muslims of other denominations than that of the mainstream endorsed by Jakim and Jais.
I do not have to cite the numerous inexhaustible examples and the trend is very worrying so much so that some have even envisaged that very soon this country will become the next Taliban state, but of course with a Syafi’i flavour.
And yes, no matter how absurd it might sound to Ibrahim and the like, we stand by our argument that only in a secular state can religions thrive.
This argument does not arise from an antagonistic attitude against piety but from a true appreciation of what piety is all about: a sincere belief free from coercion. Any regime that imposes piety because of the belief that it is part of the doctrine “commanding the good and preventing the wrong”, for instance, is basically creating a community of hypocrites instead of instilling genuine piety.
Genuine piety only arises through personal choice. And that choice only becomes possible when there is freedom.
In other words freedom to sin is a necessary medium to be sincerely pious. The erudite Muhammad Asad made it very clear when making his commentary in his magnum opus The Message of the Quran regarding verse 25 of al-A’raf or Faculty of Discernment where he commented on the story about the temptation of Adam and Eve, saying:
“The growth of his consciousness – symbolised by the willful act of disobedience to God’s command – changed all this. It transformed him from a purely instinctive being into a full-fledged human entity as we know it – a human being capable of discerning between right and wrong and thus of choosing his way of life. In this deeper sense, the allegory of the Fall does not describe a retrogressive happening but rather, a new stage of human development: an opening of doors to moral consideration. By forbidding him to 'approach the tree', God made it possible for man to act wrongly, and therefore, to act rightly as well. And so man became endowed with that moral free will which will distinguish him from all other sentinel beings.”
And to us, the only way forward is to allow a space for intellectual discourse and to respect religious rights and freedom of conscience and expression, which is clearly wanting.
Islam and true religiosity could thrive better in a secular state that breaks down the monopoly of religious truth. It is a space needed for a Muslim to live a life based on his own free will and true conviction, not because of the state’s imposition.
Secularism, as the separation of state from religion, is probably the minimum requirement for participation in the sphere of civic reason.
Secularism needs religion to provide moral guidance for the community and in turn, religion needs secularism to mediate the relations between the different communities that share the same political space and space of civic reason.
Secularism is able to unite diverse communities of belief and practice into one political community simply because the moral claims it makes are minimal.
And secularism is able to tolerate differing view in a religiously diverse community while maintaining its political stability. Such a situation is probably just a dream in an autocratic Islamic state envisioned by many Islamists, including Ibrahim.
And only in a secular democratic state will all citizens, believers no less than non-believers, and even believers from the various denominations, Sunni and Shiite alike, have the same basic reason to embrace the right to religious freedom.
They will have total freedom from a government that wants to behave as an arbiter of religious truth or worse, a government that manifests its coercive power to impose religious authority and uniformity. – June 5, 2014.

Problem Statement

              Allah tells us to walk upon the face of the earth  and observe the collapse of past civilizations a few times in the Quran. Surely this does not mean that we should merely plan holiday escapades when winter comes, but we are asked to critically search and question the fate of people before us, and to learn lessons from them. Dead people tell no lies.

Sahih International
Say, [O Muhammad], "Travel through the land and observe how was the end of those before. Most of them were associators [of others with Allah ].
(Ar-Rum- 42)
                    From this sprung up the need for archaeologists, historians and sociologists in this religion, ones who can decipher the meanings of things and languages of the past, so that we can learn, instead of only knowing the general idea of history in passing. The damned Pharaoh knew about the people who came before him , and yet he learned no lesson- no , he refused to learn, and the end he received was then justified.

Sahih International
[Pharaoh] said, "Then what is the case of the former generations?"
(Taha- 51)

              The prophets of the past , presented in the Quran ,over the generations and among different civilizations, showed the same pattern  of thought and action. Although they were separated by years between them , or distance between the sprawling deserts, they were men who brought message from the same God, bearing the same principle and belief- which says that God is One, and there’s no God but He.

             Surely if we wish to learn from the past, we need to observe the regularity of their actions, and patterns of their behaviour. Similar to the behaviour of friends and people around us; in order to know them and be closer to them, we observe their general behaviour and patterns of their thought; things they like to do, or things they hate. It shouldn’t be weird then, to know people of the past we observe things they did with regularity, their philosophy and pattern of thought.

          Regarding the acts and thoughts of the prophet, of things he does regularly, we have in fact known this quite well. Our Islamic scholars name the thought and speeches of the prophet as the Hadis, and his acts and examples as the Sunnah.

         There is a similarity of thought and action of the prophets from different ages that we must observe. This is the Sunnah of the prophets, of which most if not all of them follow the same pattern. Surely if we learn from the previous civilizations not to repeat their sins and wrongdoings, we must also follow the example of the prophets? Viewed from a purely Manichaean world, the prophets are the forces of good , and their disobeying counterparts as forces of evil.

                        What is it that we must follow, what is the regular pattern of the prophets? That is that they came with problem statements, and as provider of solutions. What we must understand that the prophets did not come out of nowhere. They aren’t outsiders in their community. The prophets did not just descend from the skies with holy books and instructions.

 In fact the prophets spent their childhood and their youth amongst the people of their nation. They grew up accustomed with the traditions and the patterns of behaviour of the people. Prophet Muhammad grew up to be the most trusted man in the whole of Makkah, they called him Muhammad Al-Amin.

        What we need to understand is that the prophets who lived in the community understands the problem of the nation and as a messenger of the God, he begins with the problem statement; and the problem statement must come with experience and a thorough understanding about the people . Prophet Shuaib explained to his people that they should be fair in trades and not to cheat in their dealings. Prophet Lut said to his people that they must  stop choosing men over women, and Musa alaihissalam stated that Firaun must release his clutches and tyranny upon Bani Israel, and that he must fear Allah. 
Sahih International
Give full measure and do not be of those who cause loss.
(Syuara’- 181)

        In the surah Al-Qasas it is stated how  Firaun is a tyrant  who divides the people apart , and Allah wishes to favour and bring justice for the mustadh’afiin, the ones who were oppressed under his rule.

Sahih International
Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters.

Sahih International
And We wanted to confer favor upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors

                   I believe that this is the Great Sunnah of the prophets that we must follow- we must be the ones who understand the social structure and culture of our people, and by understanding the people we might discover what is it that plagues the nation and oppresses the people, so that we might be able to come with a problem statement. What is the source of all these hunger and suffering, of the corruption and the lack of integrity?

                   Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of The Earth, in the chapter The Pitfalls of National Consciousness, regarding the crisis in post-colonial countries, after they achieved independence. He wrote about young nationalist bourgeoisie who replaces the colonials before them as the new rulers of the independent nation. These are privileged men who had the opportunity to study in the colonials’ mother country, to learn in their great universities all sorts of knowledge.

                       Frantz Fanon called them bourgeoisie of the under-developed nations. Fanon wrote that the crisis of national consciousness after independence is that the people who were previously united in their fight against the imperialists, now descend into terrible racism , sectarianism and religious separatism . Whose fault is this? It is the fault of the new rulers, the young bourgeoisie , who are disconnected from the masses, who fail to educate the people regarding the building of a nation.

          The laziness of this privileged people, the scepticism with which they view the people- saying that villagers are a lazy bunch , and unable to understand things like national unity and progress, says Fanon. Because the bourgeoisie are unable to educate people and to come with problem statements and solutions, tribe leaders and heads of religion who were alienated during the fight against the colonials, now starts to grow in influence , and we see the people separated into race and religious groups, each being antagonistic to each other.

                    Frantz Fanon wrote this almost sixty years ago, during the height of the Algerian war for independence, yet we see these symptoms now , in our country. And whose fault is it?

              We economists, engineers, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, biologists, teachers and accountants who have the privilege and the opportunity all this time, we must strive to follow the Great Sunnah of the prophets. Who else would be available to come up with the problem statement of our nation, other than those who studied extensively in the workings and culture of the society?

        What I wish to say after so long and so many confusing terms is that we need writers. Write about the problems of our nation, not about trivial issues which pop up every two weeks, or stories about your experience in  kindergarten. We do not need that.  The prophets did not come to dictate how should we sit in mosques, or whether we can touch dogs or not. Write about the problems of our nation, based upon a sincere observation, with a heart which wishes truly for the salvation of all.


Friday, 28 November 2014

Filling the Gap

         When you are empty , there is nothing you can give. If you have nothing, then you can’t give anyone anything. It’s a simple rule. It applies upon charity and alms-when you have no coin then there’s no coin you can give. Screw those poor people, when we ourselves are poor. Of course that’s plainly obvious, but this concept applies to much more.  

                       The law applies to ideas and knowledge as well, and again it is as plain as day. If I have no idea what the heck is a perfect multicollinearity, then I can never ever tell you about it, unless if I learn about it myself. If I wish to speak about liberalism, then I myself should have read on it, questioned its foundations and principles , and critically evaluate the idea. Of course I can share ideas with others while  knowing nothing about it, through mere repetitions, like a parrot. There are hundreds of slogans I can just memorize and rephrase if I wish.

                        I can say that liberalism is the enemy of the country and religion, and there’s not many people who disagree, because it’s the general idea. I can say that the Penang Chinese are corrupt bastards  and I would even get praised for that. But these; mere repetitions of baseless slogans and deceptions are the very signs of emptiness-people who have nothing in their minds , and are envious to the ones who have ideas.  Empty ideas are either baseless assumptions or mere lies, and I must not tell lies.

       I put great hope in the words of a senior that empty souls can’t give anything to anyone, and I sought to fill myself. I read many kinds of things from many sorts of knowledge, to find something that can fill a soul, so that I can give to others. Reading old books which I can hardly understand feels pretentious as hell, because it really is a phony thing to do. And they do not provide answers to my questions.

                  Sartre’s Age of Reason, for example,  has its characters questioning their very existence, the significance of their lives as stardust, and the relevance of it all. The book only questions, it does not provide answers. Reading a novel about  existentialism makes you feel empty, it does not fill you with nourishment.  

            Chomsky’s work make me feel alienated. He wrote about social libertarianism and Spanish anarchists among other things, of which I have not seen or experience myself. Chomsky quoted Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia in On Anarchism about the Spanish Civil War; “ I have breathed the air of equality”- or something like that, to describe the atmosphere in Catalonia. Can you see how abstractly vague is that? How does the air of equality smell? It doesn’t stink does it? It feels like he’s writing about ghosts and its conceptions, for people who believe in ghosts.

         I’m sorry for being such a petty human being. My pettiness is the source of this emptiness, because I cannot appreciate the value of all the small pleasures that I have.

                 It’s not  simple work. Most of the old writings are nearly unintelligible, their writing style archaic as hell, and each line needs to be repeated three times for a minimal understanding of only the general idea of the books. I believed that the Jacobins butchered the Parisians because they could not understand what the heck Rosseau was saying in the Social Contract, and acted out their beliefs based on pure misunderstanding.

                      Reading these books does not fill the soul. The only thing they fill is the book shelf and my vocabulary of jargon terms.

               But then Paulo Freire wrote in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that a revolution is an act of love. He says that a revolution, smeared with blood and gunpowder is an act of love, because a revolutionary seeks to free his fellow citizens and comrades from the oppressor out of love and compassion. It is with love that he wishes to free them  from the shackles of dictators and despots. Our prophet who brought us Islam is the embodiment of love and compassion, rahmatan lil alamin- he’s the love for the whole universe.

                 Uzumaki Kushina , when she was about to receive the Kyuubi as a new jinchuriki, the old jinchuuriki, wife of Hashirama told her that the Kyuubi is the embodiment of hate, and she as the vessel must fill herself with love , and happiness.

                Of course books alone are not enough. It never was . Never will.  In order to fill my soul and be able to give something to you, all I need is love.  I need to share ideas on opinions saturated with love and compassion , and a deep interest in human beings. While before  I only wrote because I like to write, now I must write like it’s a love letter. If previously I proposed my ideas out of an excessive hunger for debates, now I must speak my words so that I can show you how I see the world, and how amazing I think it is!

                 But there’s a very big problem. I am not very interested with human beings. Judgemental creatures who think that they have the right to judge and control others. Calculating deviously, talking behind your backs, cunning bastards. Some of them feel that they have the right to decide who I can love , and how do I do so. There is a dedicated group of retarded youths that feels obligated to dictate how their friends love each other, thinking that they are doing God’s work. How can I be interested with such people?

                  I’m sorry for being  an empty person who gives empty words. But I have tried to fill myself, to no avail. Doing all this feels like talking a language that no one understand. It’s also a lonely thing to do , especially when your loved ones decide that it’s better to side with the retarded youths mentioned above.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Secrets of the Kings

                      Have you ever thought about the possibility that everybody has an ability or talent which is unique to themselves? It is not hard to imagine; 7 billion human beings, and each of them having something only they can do, or if anyone can, they can do it with the best possible way. After countless DNA information being interchanged, and human beings going through  all sorts of experience as they grow old, it is not inconceivable that every single person might have developed something they are particularly talented.

                           Some people might discover within themselves superior physical strength , or a heightened sense of touch. Some others might see more colours in the world than others, or that they can calculate numbers amazingly fast-things like that which we might call geniuses. But having a unique talent does not mean that it is good, or that it could actually be beneficial, or even newsworthy. It is always a possibility that having a unique ability is not something great, it could always be something lame, mundane; useless.

                 Think about the being able to chew faster than anyone else. What good would it do, even if you are the fastest chewer on earth? There’s only so much that  a person can eat. Perhaps you have the ability to flap your ears like an elephant , or an inert talent of stacking rocks in a perfectly vertical position. Some people could perhaps have the talent to stare at a  laptop screen for days like I’ve been doing, or squat for a week like  it’s no big deal. If you want to be a bit gross, someone could have the ability to fart continuously for a minute , or catch a fly with a finger.

                      These suggestions , these possibilities that I have written, are indeed unique, but most of them are in no way special, or beneficial. Strange abilities like these you could only profit from freak shows, or during family gatherings, when you decide to show distant relatives your weird talent. They would end up calling you ‘that weird cousin’ in their minds for the rest of their lives, or worse being ‘that gross guy who farted non-stop at a  family meeting’.

                           What good does it bring from thinking about mundane occurrences anyway? I do have a strong and reasonable motive , which is to uncover the mystery of the esteemed Kings of this wonderful country. People had been speaking about the greatness of our Sultans and defend their impeccable honour, these last few weeks, that I had to try to figure out the reason behind this obsession. It is hysterical really, the lengths people took in defending these royalties.

                      Honest men and fearless intellectuals were caught and charged in court for the reason that they have somehow insulted the Kings; probably hurt their feelings and made them cry. What is there in these small group of exceptional beings, that people even asked those dissenters to be hanged to death? I , for the life of me could not comprehend the reason.

                    It came to me that perhaps our Kings have their own  special talents or abilities; you know, like Elsa and her icy fingers. Perhaps one of them could grow his nails twice the rate of normal people. It is also not impossible to imagine one of the kings could jiggle his butts perfectly to the rhythm of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  Who knows that perhaps one of the kings is a master in drawing perfect circles with just a pen?

                They could indeed be real, but currently we have no proof to back those informations, and more than that, I do not think special talents are enough to make their supporters jail others merely for speaking against the Kings.

                 What is the secret of the Kings? When people say that they ‘must’ protect the Kings, what is it that they are protecting? Why? What do they see , when they speak  of the Kings?

              Legions of men who opposed feudalism and monarchy had written and said all kinds of things in their critiques , from ridiculously complicated essays  to cuss words, but currently in our country they do not seem to work. Perhaps the most famous example would be John Locke’s Two Treatise against Robert Filmer’s work, but the writing is old , full with words I’ve never seen before, and the reality about the monarchs are different. Perhaps we need a ridiculous writing to match a ridiculous situation in this country, sprinkled with pop culture references.

                         First of all we have to agree upon the ‘divine rights of the kings’. Unlike kings from earlier times when there were prophets who  chose kings among the people1 , under the guidance of revelations, our kings have no such proof of legitimacy. There are no more prophets, and the Quran does not appoint any of these men as Kings.  They only have their bloodlines as proof of their  kingliness . If the standard Indonesian sinetron tragedy could ever happen- the son of the previous king was switched with another peasant’s baby after childbirth  due to an evil doctor’s plans, and the current king is just the son of that poor peasant, then the current king certainly would have to abdicate.

Have you not considered the assembly of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Moses when they said to a prophet of theirs, "Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah "? He said, "Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?" They said, "And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?" But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah is Knowing of the wrongdoers.
(Al Baqarah- 246)

                     Could it be then that the worth of the King is in his blood? Is it  the difference in the amount of iron in the blood? Could it be that their blood is gold in colour? What the heck is it that makes these people so special, if the structure of their blood cells are no different from oppressed old men who spent their later years grudging about their lost youth? Is the blood of the fathers of the kings any different? We would have to cut the kings to pieces to figure out, but by then there would be no more kings, and people would not need to worry about them anymore.

                      In Shinobu Ohtaka’s work Magi; The Labyrinth of Magic, the king candidates selected by the three wise magicians are people with superior physical strength and wit, and each of them have the power of Djinns at their disposal. Ohtaka probably took the idea from the prophet King Sulaiman which had the Djinns under his command. Sulaiman a.s was also blessed with the ability to understand the language of animals and control the winds.2

And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind - its morning [journey was that of] a month - and its afternoon [journey was that of] a month, and We made flow for him a spring of [liquid] copper. And among the jinn were those who worked for him by the permission of his Lord. And whoever deviated among them from Our command - We will make him taste of the punishment of the Blaze.

                      What does our kings have though, that they should be regarded with such honour and bathed with wealth and praise? I bet they could  never even fart for a minute if you ask them. I do not think that having the whole police force at your disposal to jail anybody who might oppose the monarchy  is  a  reason why one should swear fealty. It is a monopoly upon violence which is used to silence dissenters; the very original form of despotism.

                       Are they the prettiest beings on earth? They certainly aren’t. Are these kings intelligent people? They probably are , but there could be billions of people with greater intellect. They certainly aren’t the wealthiest either, and I am not sure that the wealth of the kings actually belongs to themselves.

                        Now we have cleared that there is nothing special about the human  part of the king . They do not possess special powers, they are not special enough; in essence, they are just humans. When the king dies, he gets stuck in the dirt similar like everyone else, and in the hereafter he does not get discounted for his deeds, unless if he was a  pious man.

                          Some people argue that we need to protect the king because he is the symbol of- there should be a long list- religion, unity, historical heritage , Malaysianness, even Islamic Governance! Considering that there is nothing special about the human part of the kings, and that they work as symbols, it should  not even matter whether these kings are humans or not. Consider a job where you need no special ability or talent, no requirement for beautiful faces, no degrees needed, only your blood; even a dead king would do the job-of just being there, and the particulars of the human part is not necessary.

     Even a cup would do the job- fill it with the king’s blood , and call it Sultan Cawan. A cup would be the bigger person-he won’t mind some insulting words ,and he won't put people in jail.

                 Islam had freed us human beings from the enslavement to the devil and men, and I refuse to be subjugated to another.

             If people are indeed in love only with the idea  of a king, in the romance of it, and not the characters of the men who became king, nor about their abilities or ruling prowess , then the actual monarchs does not have to actually exist. They should stay as ideas, living in fairy tales where the kings are absurdly just, in story books and poems.

                  Should we preserve the monarchy  because of the history of their predecessors? While some of them actually brought some civilization in this country, the same group of privileged men were also responsible in selling Penang to Francis Light, bringing Brooke to Sarawak , and losing Singapore to imperialists. Even if their predecessors painted the history of the nation, the current monarchs sit powerless, wasting taxpayers money , and putting innocent people in jail. The current kings aren’t copies of their legendary ancestors-just phony beings who are incredibly touchy. Historical heritages should be put in museums, not palaces.

                  I am writing in search for the secret of the kings, in their physical bodies and hypothetical minds ,and the idea of a king, and indeed ,I have found none.

1.       1

Monday, 8 September 2014

How to be a Terrorist

               Mr Daniel  Taub wore an elegant black suit that night in the studio, and he presented the cameras with the best of his smiles. He seemed to be extremely at ease with  the BBC presenter, after all the years giving public lectures and radio talks, as  an esteemed ambassador. He is a silver fox, you  see , the kind which would have girls squealing all over him if he’s a character in a manga. No one would have looked better than he was  with his gold-tinted glasses, that phony sonuvabitch. 

                   Mr Taub had an important  task that evening in the London studio.  He was about to face the whole world and defend the actions his country did. There would be huge consequences  for every word that he was about to say later during the interview, and a blunder might even lose him his job. But Mr Taub had no need to fret; he’s the perfect man for the job. He held his posture straight , like the soldier he once was, but with a slight drop in his soldiers, so that he might look cool and intellectual and all. He looked civilized enough to force anyone with the worst of intentions  to treat him with nice words. No one would have thought that Mr Taub is an accomplice and a defender of murderers, if they have not known him well enough, because, well, he wore a suit that evening.

                     The cameraman signaled everyone to get in their places as the live broadcast in BBC World was about to start. Mr Taub  probably felt  a bit nervous that evening, because no matter how extraordinarily fabulous you are, you have to be  bit nervous in front of cameras. However, he showed not even the slightest flush on his face. When you have experience speaking to the public for years, you learn how to hide the anxiety- under the tables, probably. 

             And thus the BBC lady started the interview with a smile on her face. It was a huge interview for a not too surprising turn of events in the Middle East. Mr Taub had probably done this routine for a few times now.  Mr Taub said that evening that his friends in Israel had to start their ground offensive in Gaza.  His face showed a somewhat pained expression –perhaps a pang of guilt , for being the phoniest guy on earth. After weeks of shelling houses, hospitals and schools, and killing people from a distance, they had decided that it was time to get up close. Apparently throwing bombs from behind a high wall does not ensure kills, and friends in a first-person shooter would have given  you hell for being such a cheat. Freaking campers.

                           The lady presenter and Mr Taub probably knew each other by the way they looked at each other ,after years of interviews, but I could only guess as much, by looking at the screen , on top of a plane. When she asked Mr Taub about the massacres ,” When is this all going to end?” , she sounded so compassionate and loving, like a wife asking her husband  when he’s going to quit smoking, or worse a mother asking her beloved son to stop playing and go to sleep. I half expected the fabulous Mr Taub to reply with “ Honestly,my dear, I don’t give a shit”.

               You don’t ask a murderer about when he would stop killing. A sensible person in that studio would have stabbed him in his eyes , for being a murderer, and punch his stomach for being such a pretentious human being. That night Israeli Defense Forces ascended into the cramped Gaza and started killing all those terrorists who hide behind month-old babies and insanely pregnant women. There were terrorists under the broken floors of UNRWA schools , in bunkers under Shifa’ Hospital, inside small water pipes and between the fine grains of sand  . They were everywhere, yet they were nowhere to be seen , as if they were ninjas or something.

             Mr Taub spoke of the ground offensive as if it was an unavoidable natural order forced upon their consciousness, as if there was no any other option.  The IDF was not the hero they deserved, but the hero they needed. The dirty job needed to be done, by someone.   All they need was kill. I have to disagree, Mr Taub, because for all the options available for your people , they could have been playing desert volleyball instead of killing people.

                        That was my recollection about the interview on that day of 17th July , a day of great 
misfortune as the plane MH17 crashed and IDF stormed into Gaza-probably just a mere coincidence. The BBC lady thanked the fabulous Mr Taub for gracing her studio with his presence, to courteously inform the world that his friends would kill some more that night. Common sense told us that we should treat with high regard someone with such civilized courtesy, and furthermore, he wore a nice black suit that evening. That probably explained why nobody punched his face in the studio.

                     I remembered when Obama visited Malaysia not too long ago, nobody threw shoes at his face. Probably because he wore suits too back then. There he was , all fabulous and charming, gracing the audience in the esteemed Universiti Malaya. I had anticipated news of him being slapped with Croc slippers or something to no avail, because Malaysians are civilized men, and we act civil in front of civil people. We were worried about some stupid and uninspiring questions some students asked the guy, and some sensible people who protested that day were given show cause letters. I’d rather be uncivilized.

                   We probably had simply forgotten that day that his government was the main sponsors of the atrocities done by Mr Taub and his friends, that his nation has murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq in the search for the elusive WMD that was never found, and another hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan, in search for an old geezer. An honest mistake. The United States too were apparently mistaken in their war efforts, and we need to forgive civilized men when they make such honest mistakes. And because these men wear incredible black suits too. We need to learn from mistakes, forgive and forget.

                If ISIS wants to succeed in being world rulers, they should start wearing black suits and speak English like that phony guy Mr Taub, because apparently if you do such things you get every excuse that you need. They should also stop killing journalists in front of cameras, because that is not very good for publicity. They should’ve fired bombs from hidden holes and used drones to kill civilians, because it is apparently more humane. They really need to learn the art of killing people. ISIS leaders should also learn how to be friendly with BBC lady presenters.

              ISIS is wrong , they are murderers, the real terrorists and they have misused Islam’s name in every way possible, but nobody should ever give Americans the moral high ground  over ISIS . When US defence chiefs stated a few days ago that ISIS is beyond anything they’ve seen ,it was the  the height of irony. What claim does this criminal has upon the other?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Adventures of the Attasian Man

 I am currently reading al-Attas’ book, Islam and Secularism, and I’m trying hard to understand and to agree with his thesis. It is  not an easy read, seriously. The book is riddled with  philosophical terms, lots of metaphors and names you haven’t heard of.

                As a supporter of liberal values (it’s a secular Western thing), it is necessary for me here to display my loss of adab, as the chapter the Muslim Dilemma demands me so. It is however somewhat difficult to demonstrate the lack of adab by  means of putting knowledge in all the wrong order, sequence and methodological hierarchy, therefore, it ought to be shown literally. Literally, like an alien intellectual bearing false knowledge usually does. Also , I am a cynic that wishes to be taken seriously, so please do so.

  Oh, bother.

           I am also currently in deep distress  for a whole lot of things after reading a part of this book, and I’m currently contemplating whether to continue my reading, because the realization that this revelation had brought me so far is too cruel to accept. The skies feel heavy and overbearing, like they would fall upon me and destroy myself because of my apparent pretentiousness. Currently , it is not a preposterous thought to imagine that my life so far had been nothing but mistakes and nothing but a  show of insolence to our ancient masters.

                    How could it be not distressing to discover that after going thousands of miles around the world to study, that it had been worthless after all? I had been studying Economics, under the tutelage of secular Western capitalists who have no idea what the heck is Fardu Ain, at the centre of secular civilization, without any proper islamicization. Judging from al-Attas’ hierarchy of knowledge, the course with which I am about to ply my trade to the world  is nothing but a danger to Islam and Muslims; a mere afterthought of the secular world.

                    It can’t be helped that after hundreds of years of research and intellectual discourse , in which Muslim scholars themselves had played their important roles, that my lessons until today had been nothing but false knowledge. I wonder what would my Spanish maths lecturer would think if I  tell him about the inevitable fact that he is not a shining light , nor a flickering candle, but just a piece of shiny candy wrapper that merely reflects false electronic light in the darkness of the secular world! 

                 Compared to al-Attas , all my teachers so far are located far down the intellectual food chain, because, well, al-Attas knows the shit. He knows the distinction between the real intellectuals and the inferior others, and between great leader and scammers. That is why , under his guidance, our nation had been gloriously blessed with esteemed leaders with superior knowledge and attributes. Al-Attas does what an al-Attas can.

                    I can’t help wondering  about the fact that he himself studied in the western world and for a time he gave lectures at universities there. Shouldn’t he like explode or something as soon as he arrived there, due to the extreme disagreements between his being and the very  essence of the western civilization; their intellectuals being his arch nemesis and all? How could he even breathe the air in that part of the world?

                      Reading al-Attas is really a glorious experience , because it made me realize the sanctity of knowledge and the apparent falsity of my wretched ideals. Something like my essence and my thought going against each other,  my intellect going against my rational- imagine yin and yang fighting each other over dominance. This book is a must-read for those seeking to torture the mind with inner fighting; those with the audacity to paint others as false and inferior, and those people who fell in love with the past, the dead and unreachable past.

                     I can be wrong wrong, and I can always be. Not like al-Attas , because superior beings like him with merits far beyond his faults couldn’t possibly be wrong.  I am also currently writing with the arrogance which is inherent with secular intellectuals, also with the youthful skepticism that defies almost everything that ancient people write in their ancient books. I can also be wrong because there had been nothing in my writing but rhetoric written with inferior journalistic form, compared to al-Attas’ strength of spiritual conviction.  Perhaps I haven’t been able to realize that old scholars are immune of being wrong, because they have much more spiritual strength and that they are legendary and all, but still I couldn't bring myself to agree.

                        Edward Said  in his Culture and Imperialism used a beautiful word ; counterpoint; to illustrate how people from different civilization had been working together. Counterpoint means a combination of two or more melodies that are played together-it’s a musical term. It means that in a musical ensemble, the addition of  another melody to the music makes it better, retaining its harmony. It is the addition of something else different in a pleasing way.

            That’s how the esteemed teacher pictured how people from different continents, of different colours worked together in order to   produce the world that it is now. He stressed that the process is not all the time beautiful, with the horrors of imperialism, subjugation of others for the benefit of the winners-in fact most of the time it isn’t. But one couldn’t possibly deny the fact how huge is the contribution of a civilization to the growth of the other, although sometimes  the rise of one imperial power is upon the ashes of the imperialized.

                       Amartya Sen in his Identity and Violence rejected the thesis of clash between civilizations. He refused to accept that people are categorized and judged based upon their ideologies only, put into small boxes, instead of being viewed with their supposed actualities. He said that people shouldn't be judged upon their different ideologies only, but because people have so many other different identities, they couldn’t possibly be seen in black and white.

 I am a Muslim, a supporter of some liberal values , an Arsenal supporter, an avid gamer, a horrible doodler, a Malaysian, a fan of boring books, and a man who refuses to see in black and white. I've said it countless times, and I would do so again and again. How is it conceivable to reduce the world into Islam and the Secular West, and to rank their intellectuals against each other in hierarchical superiority?

         Their views could always be wrong, because they aren’t Muslims. Also because Edward Said wrote in his Representations of the Intellectual that an intellectual should always be a secular being. That man, he fulfills the criteria of being al-Attas’ arch nemesis.

-currently trying to resume my reading. Sorry for any apparent loss of adab.