Tuesday, 31 July 2007

May 13th As Tunku Saw It

30/07: Raja Petra seditious? Hogwash!


Raja Petra Kamarudin

How much of what Raja Petra revealed is true? Is it really Tunku’s account that he posted in Malaysia Today? Would he have the audacity to falsify or rewrite certain parts of Tunku’s account for his own agenda? It would seem that that would be the biggest sacrilege that he would have committed against a venerated leader and a gentleman prince who was the Father of Independence.

If what he has posted is what Tunku actually said, then it is not only profoundly sad but also highly disturbing that certain leaders in the government of that time had a hand in perpetrating the May 13 incident. Tunku Abdul Rahman related how certain leaders had maneuvered and orchestrated the tense situation so that the May 13 incident would inexorably run its course of bloody mayhem and riots and force Tunku to relinquish his post as the Prime Minister.

Such Machiavellian methods employed by these leaders to achieve their ends would encourage those in power today to resort to the same strategies to manipulate the masses to achieve their political objectives. Knowing what Tunku had said would help us to be more vigilant against leaders who attempt to repeat history.

Reproduced from 'No Holds Barred' is Tunku’s account on the May 13 incident:

The May 13 incident as personally related by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the First Prime Minister of Malaya/Malaysia and Bapa Merdeka.

At his residence in Penang, 1972

“It was clear to me as well as the police that in the highly charged political atmosphere after the police were forced to kill a Chinese political party worker on May 4th, 1969, something was bound to happen to threaten law and order because of the resentment towards the Government by the KL Chinese on the eve of the general election. This was confirmed at this man’s funeral on the 9th May when the government faced the most hostile crowd it had ever seen.

Therefore, when the opposition parties applied for a police permit for a procession to celebrate their success in the results of the general election, I was adamant against it because the police were convinced that this would lead to trouble. I informed Tun Razak about this and he seemed to agree.

Now, without my knowledge and actually “behind my back”, there were certain political leaders in high positions who were working to force me to step down as a PM. I don’t want to go into details but if they had come to me and said so I would gladly have retired gracefully.

Unfortunately, they were apparently scheming and trying to decide on the best way to force me to resign. The occasion came when the question of the police permit was to be approved.

Tun Razak and Harun Idris, the MB of the state of Selangor, now felt that permission should be given knowing fully well that there was a likelihood of trouble. I suppose they felt that when this happened they could then demand my resignation.

To this day I find it very hard to believe that Razak, whom I had known for so many years, would agree to work against me in this way. Actually, he was in my house as I was preparing to return to Kedah and I overhead him speaking to Harun over the phone saying that he would be willing to approve the permit when I left. I really could not believe what I was hearing and preferred to think it was about some other permit. In any case, as the Deputy Prime Minister in my absence from KL, he would be the Acting PM and would override my objection. Accordingly, when I was in my home in Kedah, I heard over the radio that the permit had been approved.

It seems as though the expected trouble was anticipated and planned for by Harun and his UMNO Youth. After the humiliating insults hurled by the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, and after the seeming loss of Malay political power to them, they were clearly ready for some retaliatory action. After meeting in large numbers at Harun’s official residence in Jalan Raja Muda near Kampong Bahru and hearing inflammatory speeches by Harun and other leaders, they prepared themselves by tying ribbon strips on their foreheads and set out to kill Chinese. The first hapless victims were two of them in a van opposite Harun’s house who were innocently watching the large gathering. Little did they know that they would be killed on the spot.

The rest is history. I am sorry but I must end this discussion now because it really pains me as the Father of Merdeka to have to relive those terrible moments. I have often wondered why God made me live long enough to have witnessed my beloved Malays and Chinese citizens killing each other.”

No Holds Barred: Raja Petra seditious? Hogwash!:

Monday, 30 July 2007

Ocean Seafood Restaurant on the campaign trail

The 6th buffet dinner cum lucky draw to thank newly married couples and their immediate families for hosting their wedding dinners at Batu Pahat Ocean Seafood Restaurant was recently held by Batu Pahat Ocean Seafood Sdn Bhd at its Perdana banquet hall at Taman Bukit Perdana. Among the attractive prizes were free air tickets for two to China and South Korea. Batu Pahat Ocean Seafood Restaurant has apparently embarked on an aggressive campaign to establish itself once again as the preferred restaurant for dining and hosting wedding dinners.

What was special that night was the rich variety of food that was served. Guests had their fill of food ranging from roasted piglets to a wide selection of soups.

The banquet hall at Bukit Taman Perdana

Oysters fried with eggs.

Skewered Grilled prawns

Grilled salmon

Fresh prawns ready for the cooking pot

Marinated scallops ready for steaming

Steamed scallop

Steamed buns for stewed sliced pork filling

A wide selection of herbal soups to tempt the palate

Bowls of savoury glutinous rice

A selection of salad

A selection of fruit, pastries and kueh (local cakes)

An attractive display of Ocean’s tableware and seafood

Batu Pahat Big Orange

The Big Orange Food Station

The Big Orange Food Station, located on part of the compound of the former Cheng Siu Primary school is no ordinary hawker centre. With fourteen stalls operating in the morning to evening and some at night, it is the favourite haunt of middle-aged customers and senior citizens. Why it has become such a popular ‘joint’ for these customers is not hard to guess. Since July the establishment has introduced amateur singers in their thirties and late forties to entertain customers from 9.00pm to 11.00 pm with their Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese oldies.

Unlike the Disco 2000 nightclub where singers from China in their glittering gowns and outlandish attire belt out their songs and where drinks are exorbitantly priced, this poor cousin seems to be a considerably cheaper alternative for the middle-aged working class and the retired who are in need of a little titillation. The four singers that take to the stage nightly are not paid but are ‘tipped’ by customers who will buy ribbon garlands for their favourite singers.

The garland doesn’t come cheap at 10 ringgit per garland. A customer would buy the garland from the payment counter and bring it to the stage to put it round the neck of his favourite singer. A singer could, in the two hours earn an average of 50 ringgit a night. Of course, customers will have to pay more to hear them sing. A Tiger beer goes up from RM 12.00 to RM13.00 between 9.00pm and 11.00pm. Coffee or tea drinkers likewise have to pay 10 sen more.

On that particular night when I was there, an obviously tipsy husband incurred the wrath of his wife when he foolishly bought and hung a garland on a singer. The wife stood up abruptly, pushing away her chair and strode angrily toward the entrance. The husband meanwhile sat for a moment before getting up and went looking for the wife.

The food station has also inadvertently become a place for illegal horse-betting bookies to collect bets on Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings from punters who comprise primarily the middle-aged and the senior citizens.

The operator has also provided free internet access in the hope of pulling in the internet crowd, but on any given day, few if any of them could be seen.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

"Malaysia Today"

23 July 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno, or the United Malays National Organization has lodged a police report against ‘Malaysia Today’ for carrying comments that are construed to be insulting the King, degrading Islam and inciting hatred and violence in Malaysia's multi-racial society.

Party information chief of Umno,Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib lodged the report at Tun H.S. Lee police station here Monday.

July 25 2007

The webmaster of the popular political website 'Malaysia Today', Raja Petra Kamarudin, was today questioned for almost eight hours by the police over comments and articles which appeared in his site.

Raja Petra, a nephew of the late King and Sultan of Selangor in his NO HOLDS BARRED, posted a scathing attack on the party information chief of Umno. His intimate connections with the aristocracy and the political elites would seem to suggest that his account of the former chief minister's indiscretions is plausible. Of course, certain events like the ex-chief minister's marriage to and divorce from the late Sultan’s daughter was widely reported; his arrest and subsequent acquittal in the infamous Australian airport incident where he was caught for carrying millions in various currencies undeclared was plastered across local as well as foreign newspapers, causing great embarassment to the government of that time.

Raja Petra's other allegations, well, it is for the reader to decide on their veracity.

Reproduced below is Raja Petra’s account of the once prominent powerful politician, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib who Raja Petra claims, is trying to revive his political fortunes.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

It seems there is a certain ex-Menteri Besar (ex-Chief Minister) who made a police report against Malaysia Today and me. This ex-Menteri Besar who has two Muhamads is his name does not have even half the qualities of Prophet Muhamad S.A.W. let alone twice the qualities although he carries two Muhamads in his name.

This is the Muhamad who started life as a schoolteacher but does not speak a word of English. When caught carrying millions of dirty money into Australia, he pleaded ignorance of the English language and was acquitted by the Australian court the crime of smuggling money. What many people failed to realise is that when he resigned as a schoolteacher to contest the general election, the government made a claim of RM80,000 against him because he was on contract and was bound by this contract to serve the government to pay off what he owed.

You see, Malaysia has this unique system of giving underprivileged Malays government loans to further their studies. They must, however, serve the government for a certain period of time once they graduate and if they refuse to do so or resign before the expiry of their contract then they have to pay back the government the amount of their loan. This ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name therefore owed the government RM80,000 and if he did not pay back the amount then he would be denying other Malays the benefit of this money and therefore would in that same process be denying other Malays the benefit of a tertiary education.

This ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name then appealed to the then Minister of Education, Anwar Ibrahim, for exemption from paying back the government the RM80,000 that he owed and Anwar, being the smart politician that he was (or maybe still is, I am not sure of that), waived the rule so that this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name need not pay back the nation the RM80,000 that he owed and which could have gone to other less-fortunate Malays who needed government assistance to further their studies.

What boggles the mind is how this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name could suddenly have millions in his pocket and which he was arrested for as he entered Australia when just barely a few years before that he could not even pay back the government the RM80,000 that he owed and needed Anwar Ibrahim to exempt him from the rule of paying back the money.

This ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name has made a police report against 'Malaysia Today' and me saying that I insulted the Agong and Islam and that I raised racial sentiments which could probably result in racial conflicts in Malaysia. He was of course acting on behalf of Umno and represented Umno as its Information Chief.

It is mind-boggling that this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name would accuse me of insulting the Agong who is also the Sultan of Terengganu when the Agong is my buddy. When the Agong, who is also the Sultan of Terengganu, was merely the Raja Muda of Terengganu, I used to ride horses with him along the beach in Kuala Terengganu. I also made trips to London to meet the Agong who is also the Sultan of Terengganu when he was still just the Raja Muda of Terengganu and a student in London.

The then Raja Muda of Terengganu who is now the Agong and I would drive around London in his Ferrari and together with my sisters and wife would visit the famous London night-spots such as Longfellows where all the action is. When he was back in Kuala Lumpur I would take him to the then famous Tin Mine where we would just sit and talk as he was not a disco-dancer but preferred to just enjoy the music and talk.

Would I insult my long-time friend who is now the Agong when I sembah and kiss his hand and he would withdraw it and refuse to allow me to kiss his hand as he considered me a buddy rather than a subject? This, the ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name did not realise when he made that police report against 'Malaysia Today' and me.

I will offer to make an audience (mengadap) with the Agong who was my buddy since the days he was merely the Raja Muda of Terengganu and if His Royal Highness is of the opinion that I have insulted him then I will subject myself to any form of punishment befitting a subject who has insulted his Agong. Such a punishment befitting the crime of insulting the Agong can include the death sentence and I will walk to the gallows to have my head separated from my body with the dignity of a true subject of the Agong. An Anak Raja Bugis is loyal to his Agong and a true Anak Raja Bugis looks death in the face with the dignity expected of an Anak Raja Bugis. I am not a descendant of Upu Tenribong Daeng Rilaka in vain and I shall not smear the name of my ancestors by avoiding the punishment of insulting his Agong. The Agong is one of the Raja-Raja Melayu and I am more than just an Anak Raja Melayu; I am an Anak Raja Bugis.

This ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name accuses me of insulting the Agong when he himself insulted the late Agong who was the Sultan of Selangor and my uncle. This ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name eloped with the Sultan’s daughter who is also my cousin and secretly married her in Thailand.

When the late Agong and Sultan of Selangor, my uncle, asked this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name whether he (the ex-Menteri Besar with the two Muhamads in his name) had married his (the late Agong and Sultan of Selangor) daughter, this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name denied it. Marrying secretly in Thailand is a crime and one can be punished for it. Furthermore, marrying a woman without the consent of her father goes against Islam and Malay culture and, being a Menteri Besar, this is even more of a no-no. After all, a Menteri Besar is not a man-on-the-street but the head of government of a state. But this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name denied he had married the Sultan’s daughter secretly in Thailand and swore in the name of Allah that the allegation is a lie.

Eventually, this ex-Menteri Besar with the two Muhamads in his name divorced the Sultan of Selangor’s daughter, my cousin, and paid her RM12 million as a divorce settlement. This upset the late Agong and Sultan of Selangor, my uncle, who made a photocopy of the RM12 million cheque. The late Agong and Sultan of Selangor, my uncle, was not upset that his Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name had divorced his daughter, my cousin. He did not mind this. The late Agong and Sultan of Selangor was upset that his Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name had paid his daughter RM12 million as a divorce settlement. The late Agong and Sultan of Selangor then made a photocopy of the cheque and showed it to the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and demanded to know how a mere Menteri Besar could afford to pay RM12 million as a divorce settlement to his daughter, my cousin. This proves that Selangor has a corrupt Menteri Besar, said the late Agong and Sultan of Selangor, my uncle.

And this is the ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name who made a police report against Malaysia Today and me. This ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name is corrupt, a liar who married the late Agong’s and Sultan of Selangor’s daughter and denied it, and who insulted the Malays and Islam by secretly marrying someone’s daughter in another country without the permission of her father.

But this man is not a mere man-on-the-street. This man was then a Menteri Besar. And this man had two Muhamads in his name. And the woman is not a mere woman-on-the-street. This woman is the daughter of the late Agong and Sultan of Selangor. So this crime of the ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name is ten times worse. And any other man would have been arrested and convicted of the crime of marrying a woman secretly in Thailand. But this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name was not arrested and put on trial. He was also not arrested and put on trial when he paid RM12 million as a divorce settlement and could not explain where he got the money from and how he could afford to pay such an amount on his meagre Menteri Besar’s salary.

I understand that this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name can’t speak English. This is what the Australian court said and this is why the court acquitted him of the crime of smuggling dirty money into Australia. This means he also can’t read English. How this ex-Menteri Besar with two Muhamads in his name managed to figure out that I insulted the Agong in my article is beyond me when I write in English and not in Malay. Umno should have chosen another man who can speak English to make that police report against 'Malaysia Today' and me.

Many people from the media phoned me today to ask me my comments on the police report against 'Malaysia Today' and me. Well, this is my response to that police report against Malaysia Today and me. I would just like to say: go to hell Muhamad the son of Muhamad. You are a disgrace to the Muhamad name. And let me tell you Muhamad the son of Muhamad: you should thank your lucky stars that this is 2007 and not 1907. If this was 1907 instead of 2007 I would challenge you to a duel. It would be a man-to-man, one-to-one duel. It would be a duel to the death with kerises.

But no, I don’t think you would accept my challenge to a duel with kerises. You may have two Muhamads in your name but you have no class. You eloped with the late Agong’s and Sultan of Selangor’s daughter and secretly married her in Thailand. Then you denied it when the late Agong and Sultan of Selangor asked you about it. Only someone with no balls would do this. A man with balls would not deny it. So there is no way you would accept my challenge to a duel with kerises.

I know that when the late Agong and Sultan of Selangor, my uncle, found out that you had in fact married his daughter, my cousin, and that you had lied about it, you arranged for Umno Youth to organise an anti-Sultan demonstration. The late Agong and Sultan of Selangor was very hurt and he cancelled his birthday celebration that year. So that year no datukships were awarded and you had to return the money to all those who had paid you for their datukships.

This act of yours, Muhamad the son of Muhamad, is treasonous. If this was 1907 instead of 2007 you would have been put to death. And you accuse me of insulting the Agong? You committed treason. You can send me to jail if you wish. You would have been put to death if this was 1907 instead of 2007.

But I know why you made that police report against 'Malaysia Today' and me, Muhamad the son of Muhamad. You want to make a political comeback. You want to contest a parliament seat in the next general election. And you want to be made a federal minister when you win that parliament seat. You hope that the present Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, will fall and that you can take his job. That is why you made that police report against 'Malaysia Today' and me, Muhamad the son of Muhamad.

Muhamad the son of Muhamad, see you in hell. And if I go there first I will wait at the gates of hell to greet you on your arrival, Muhamad the son of Muhamad...

No Holds Barred 23/7/2007:


Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Freedom in Malaysia: A Malay Perspective

Why are you kicking up such a ruckus about Malaysia being proclaimed an Islamic state? Are your freedoms threatened? Aren’t you allowed to wear what you want? Aren’t you allowed to operate entertainment outlets that sell alcohol and consume it openly? Aren’t you allowed to consume pork even though pork is haram to Muslims? Aren’t you allowed to erect temples and churches and worship in these places freely? Aren’t you allowed to set up vernacular schools to send your children to? Aren’t you allowed to work where you please and go where you please? Aren’t you allowed to do conduct or operate businesses as you please?

In which Islamic country are gambling and the sale and consumption of alcohol condoned and legalized? These are abominations in the eyes of Islam. In which Islamic state is prostitution outlawed but continues to thrive?

Malaysia is the only Islamic country that allows you to do all these things even though some of the practices are offensive to us. You may hug or kiss in public although these acts are disagreeable to Muslims. We have never tried to stop you from doing all these. So the fact that these are allowed has shown how remarkably tolerant the so-called Islamic government has been.

So leave the Muslims alone. Let them live their lives as they see fit. If one amongst us decides to leave our faith, it is for us to decide on his or her fate. It is not for you to interfere. If one amongst us violates the dress code for Muslims, it is for us to decide on the form of punishment. If one amongst us is caught for khalwat, it is for us to mete out the appropriate punishment. If one of you is caught for khalwat with a Muslim, you cannot be brought to the Shariah court. So what’s the fuss?

If we want to set up a moral police force to safeguard the morals of the Muslims, that is our right. If we want our Muslim women to dress and behave according to the precepts of Islam, that is our right. If we want to set up centres to rehabilitate wayward Muslims, that is our right. A Malay is born a Muslim and so a Muslim cannot abandon his or her faith without the sanction of the Shariah court.

We have not demanded that all those behaviour considered abhorrent to Muslims be eradicated. Instead we allow them simply because that is what you want; that’s how you want to live your life. So don’t encroach upon what is not your concern.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Malaysia, Whither Art Thou?

As the country approaches her 50th anniversary of Independence, instead of a feeling of joy and gratitude, the many events that have unfolded have cast a cloud of gloom over the country. These events have in many ways revealed that Malaysia since achieving independence has not progressed in a vital aspect of the Malaysian social fabric: racial integration and harmony. In fact, the various races are drifting further and further apart. The brandishing of a keris in an Umno general assembly to intimidate and assert Malay supremacy; the recent declaration by the Deputy Prime Minister that Malaysia is an Islamic state are a manifestation that all is not well within the country, a sore that festers, that refuses to heal. It has starkly shown that Malaysia is sharply divided along a racial divide that the government is grappling to bridge.

The politics of compromise, so religiously upheld by the various component parties of the government, has been exposed for what it is: a round table for trade-offs. There is no sincerity, no genuine concern about building a country that truly celebrates multicultural diversity. The slogan, “Malaysia, truly Asia” is just a figment of the imagination.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Islamic Or Secular?

What did the Deputy Prime Minister mean when he asserted that Malaysia is an Islamic country or state? What is the basis of his claim? Could it be that he based it on the following considerations:

Islam is the official religion?

Muslims comprise the majority of the population?

The Yang DiPertuan Agung and the majority of the Menteri besar are Muslims?

The political executive, the army, the police and the civil service are headed primarily by Muslims?

The propagation of Islam has the support of the federal and state governments?

The rights of the minority are also protected?

But that would hardly qualify Malaysia as an Islamic state. But as he said, Malaysia “had never been affiliated to secularism but was always driven by the fundamentals of Islam”.

What is an Islamic state? What are the fundamental principles that the Deputy Prime Minister has been so good to mention but never elaborate?
In order for the non-muslims to understand fully, these basic principles have to be clearly stated so that there should be no doubt whatever in the minds of the general population. As it is, there seems to be a divergence in perception of an “Islamic State” between the Muslims and Non-Muslims.

Some Muslim scholars defined an Islamic state as “one, which opts to conduct its affairs in accordance with the revealed guidance of Islam, which accepts the sovereignty of God in all matters, and devotes its efforts and resources to ensuring the existence of a right society living in accordance with the Will of God”.

In more specific terms,

It must be founded on Islamic ideological and practical principles

The constitution must be based on Qur'anic principles and guidelines, and no part of the constitution should be contrary to the fundamental principles of the Qur'an.

The sovereignty in practice shall be that of the Qur'an, which means that the government shall be obedient to the laws based on the fundamental principles of the Qur'an.

The temporal head must accede to the theocratic as the spiritual power is deemed to higher than the temporal.
The Islamic State should be 'democracy by consultation'.

The decision-makers and the administrators of an Islamic State should possess high standard of conduct and character.

Justice is the key to the functioning of an Islamic State.

Based on the defining characteristics above, does Malaysia fit the mould?

It is obvious that Malaysia is neither a completely secular nor an Islamic state. The constitution is still the highest law of the land.

According to Prof. Dr Shad saleem Faruqi from Universiti Teknologi Mara, it is a hybrid state.

"We walk the middle path. But this is not something we should be ashamed of. Instead, it is a pride”.
"Malaysia was always promoting Islam. In line with this, it is clear that Malaysia was never neutral on the issue of religion. But we have never emphasised on ideological purity. We are not a theocratic state”.

“The constitution is the supreme law of the nation. So, it does not permit a conclusion that we are a full-fledged Islamic state”.

For the past forty years or so, the question of whether Malaysia is an Islamic state has never been raised as it was implicitly understood that the constitution that was hammered out by the founding fathers would remain the supreme, binding contract that would ensure justice, equality and peace in the country.

Why now?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Malaysia An Islamic State?

The Deputy Prime Minister made a statement recently that Malaysia is an Islamic state and it generated a huge debate for the past two days. The Internal Security Ministry has now banned all main stream media from debating or allowing debates to be published as it is afraid that it may cause 'tension'. Below is an exerpt of the Minister's views:

KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 (Bernama)

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Tuesday Malaysia is not a secular state but an Islamic nation with its own interpretation.

He said the country had never been affiliated to secularism but was always driven by the fundamentals of Islam as it is clearly stated in the constitution that Islam is the official religion.

"Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state. But as an Islamic state, it does not mean that we don't respect the non-Muslims. The Muslims and the non-Muslims have their own rights (in this country)," he told reporters after officiating the "International Conference on the Role of Islamic States in a Globalised World" on behalf of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at a hotel here.

The conference is organised by the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim). Ikim chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid and director-general Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas were present.

Najib was asked whether Malaysia was seemingly moving towards being a secular state.

"I have to correct you. We have never been secular because being secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles in the way we govern a country.

"We have never been affiliated to that position. We have always been driven by our adherence to the fundamentals of Islam. So, your premise is wrong," he said.

19 July 2007

Media exposure on Islamic state debate banned in Malaysia
Quote from
Malaysiakini today:

The Internal Security Ministry has confirmed that they have given a directive to all mainstream media not to publish any news on the issue of Malaysia being an Islamic state.

Internal Security Ministry’s Publications Control and Al-Quran Texts Unit senior officer Che Din Yusof told malaysiakini that they are afraid that allowing such discussions would cause “tension”.

“Yes we have given the directive to all mainstream newspapers. Islam is a sensitive issue. They cannot publish any news on whether the country is secular or Islam.

On Tuesday, Najib said Malaysia is an Islamic state and not a secular one while carefully assuring members of minority faiths that their rights will be protected.

He said the mainly-Muslim Malaysia has never been a secular nation as the government has always been driven by the fundamentals of Islam.

“Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state,” Najib told reporters after he opened an international conference on the role of Islamic states.

His comments have since drawn protests from the Opposition, civil society groups and MCA.

Che Din pointed out that while the two top leaders of the country can make such statements, any reactions from political parties and the public will not be allowed to be published.

“Reaction from political parties and the public cannot be published especially the negative reactions,” he said.

Several journalists and editors were contacted and they confirmed that they will adhere to the instruction.

Some of the editors also noted that they have already retracted some commentary on this issue from their newspapers.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow could not be reached for further comments and clarification.

Monday, 16 July 2007

A Malay "Brain Drain"?

On Wednesday, July 11 2007, there was a piece of unusual news in thestar online, unusual because the large number of Malays who have emigrated seems to be bucking the trend in emigration in Malaysia. All these years, Malaysians migrating and giving up their citizenships have been primarily the non-Malays. This time however, from 1996 to April this year, out of some 106,000 Malaysians giving up their citizenships, 70% or about “79,100 were Malays”. Over the 12 year period, about 6,600 Malays surrendered their citizenships a year. Marrying a foreigner was the main reason given by women while most men cited better career opportunities. The preferred top five destinations of these ex-Malaysians were the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia.

Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said the high number of Malays emigrating was not a cause for concern. He explained that the need to “move around and see places” was in their blood as their forefathers were seafarers.

“In a sense, the Malays are just doing what their forefathers did. Travel and see the world. Venture into new areas and the unexpected,” he said.

He further said that Malaysian non-Malays have also been leaving the country and giving up their citizenships and therefore it “should not be an issue”.

The emigration of the Malays raises a few interesting questions:
Who are these Malays who emigrated? What are their educational profiles?

What is the percentage of women and men who emigrated as a result of marrying foreigners?

What is the percentage of women and men who emigrated as a result of better career opportunities in other countries?

Were there any other reasons as to why they decided to emigrate?

It is interesting to note that out of the top five destinations, two have a predominant Chinese population while the other, Indonesia, is hardly a country which one would choose to emigrate to if one has a choice.

Why would these Malays, presumably highly educated and occupationally mobile leave their homeland for countries like the United States and Australia since these are the two popular countries after discounting Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia?

Why would they leave their homeland when their opportunities for advancement are bright given the political and economic conditions that favour their advancement?

Tan Sri Muhammad’s explanation raises more questions than answers as to why the Malays are willing to give up their citizenships.

Indeed, not only Tan Sri himself would like to know the reasons why, Malaysians in general too would also like to know why they were willing to leave.

Is Malaysia experiencing a Malay “brain drain”?

The Star online report:

Wednesday July 11, 2007
No getting back citizenship
if you give it up

PUTRAJAYA: Think hard and long before giving up your citizenship.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi warned that Malaysians who did so could not hope to get it back again.

“The Home Affairs Ministry has made a decision to allow citizens to surrender their citizenship. The ministry has its own reasons to give their approval for this.

“However, there is one thing that Malaysians must know and which I want to stress here. Those who have given up their citizenship cannot get it back if they suddenly want to become Malaysians again,” he told reporters after the Internal Security Ministry's monthly gathering here yesterday.

According to Deputy Home Affairs Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho, some 106,000 Malaysians had given up their citizenship between 1996 and April this year.

Of the figure, 70% or 79,100 were Malays, 25,107 Chinese, 1,347 Indians and 350 of other races. Marrying a foreigner was the main reason given by women while most men cited better career options.
The preferred top five destinations of ex-Malaysians were the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia, according to Tan.

Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said the high number of Malays emigrating was not a cause for concern but it would be good to know why they wanted to leave their homeland.

Muhammad said the need to “move around and see places” was in their blood as their forefathers were seafarers.

“In a sense, the Malays are just doing what their forefathers did. Travel and see the world. Venture into new areas and the unexpected,” he said.

“Individuals of other ethnic groups also emigrated to other countries. Even the Chinese and Indians surrendered their Malaysian citizenship, so it should not be an issue if the Malays did so too,” he added.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Sahar's Popular Hair Dressing Saloon

I went to En Sahar Baharuddin, his barber at Jalan Sultanah. The shop, started by his father in 1959, is still the same. Nothing much has changed except for the additon of an air-conditioning unit and two potted banzai plants outside the shop. The interior encompassed by huge mirrors on the walls, contains all the paraphernalia of a barber shop. Two ancient upholstered leather chairs occupy much of the shop’s limited space. En Sahar, at 45, and a graduate from High School Batu Pahat in 1978 has been in the business for twenty years. He charges 7 ringgit per hair cut and he has an average of 15 customers a day. He works from 8.30am to 8.30pm.

The bulk of his multiracial customers comes from mostly those in their thirties and senior citizens. His radio which is continuously on plays English sentimental songs of the sixties and seventies. He speaks very good English and he is none the worst for it. I was struck by his depth of command of the language of 'orang putih' as the language is sometimes derisively called. I wondered if he was ever asked by his Malay customers why he was so fond of English songs.

As he trims your hair, he moves to different angles, and like a painter , surveys his work before he continues to trim and shape to his satisfaction. He does not allow the waiting queue to distract him as he goes about patiently snipping and shaping. The job is done only when he is satisfied.

Why did he go into the barber business, I asked him. When his father died someone had to take over the business and since he has had some experience, it seemed natural at that time to take over the business. The main reason however was that he could be his own boss.

Malay magazines and newspapers as well as a Chinese daily are provided to keep customers occupied while he attends to his customer. Sometimes the queue is long, so some customers will sit out side while some go off to come back later. He knows what his customers want from the shape of their hair, unless of course, a customer decides to have a new hair style.

There are now only 5 barber shops left in Batu Pahat, two of which are owned by Malays, two by Indians and one by a Chinese. The younger people prefer a unisex saloon hair stylist to have their hair trimmed, shampooed, and blow-dried. But it is people like En Sahar, the friendly neigbourhood barber who keeps the hair of the middle-aged and the seniors in place. And there are many people like him who work honestly and steadily at their unglamourous jobs to provide a much needed service to the community. And it is only seven ringgit for a haircut. Popular Hair Dressing Saloon is one of those rare multiracial icons left in the country.

At the end of the day, who cuts his hair? I forgot to ask him that.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Durians! Durians! Durians!

It is the time of the year that the spiky fruit makes it appearance. Its arrival is subtly signaled by its unmistakable waft in the air. It was my mother, a self-confessed ‘addict’ who first broached the subject as she has a nose finely tuned to the fragrance of the fruit. Never a day would she be without her durian.

Orchard owners sell them from their loaded vans at strategic spots along busy roads. Fruit shops stack them one on top of the other for display. Four wheel carts sprout like mushrooms to tempt durian devotees. Kampong folks, who have a tree or two send them as gifts to friends and relatives.

What is the best durian? Some claim that the best are those that are bitter sweet and the flesh thick without being too creamy. Others prefer them to be sweet and creamy.

How does one select a good durian? My brother would swear by its smell and the movement of the seeds when shaken. How do you smell a durian? The spiky skin prevents you from putting your nose close to have a whiff. My brother would ingeniously place his palm over the bottom of the durian while cradling the whole durian in the other and sniff at the durian in the space between his thumb and forefinger. And he would take a few deep sniffs at it. He would then hold the durian close to his ear and shake it vigorously to confirm if it was the ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ type. He would stoutly swear by its 100 % accuracy. I suppose he must have learnt it from our maternal grandma and grandpa who ran a durian stall when they were alive.

Now consumers insist on seeing, poking and tasting, not merely smelling. Durian sellers have now resorted to guaranteeing

the quality of a durian by selecting the fruit and opening it for a customer to savour. If the customer is happy, he would have the rest of the durian packed into styrofoam containers to bring back. Such is the convenience provided that customers need not lug the heavy bag of the durians back. Neither do they need to open the durians. For those with little experience in prying open a durian, it is a frustrating job. But then it is a question of perception. There are those who would not want to be troubled by the tedious job; and there are those who would pry open the durian with utmost patience and anticipation because each durian is different from the other in shape, the manner the spikes are formed, its taste, its size and number of seeds, its thickness and texture of the flesh, and its smell. They are such individualistic fellows; it is a fruit like no other. You buy an apple and it tastes like any other apples; you buy a mango and it tastes like any other mangoes, only the sweetness varies.

Nowadays many durian fans insist that the durians of the past were much better than durians now. The reason: most durians sold are durian trees that have been bud-grafted to provide optimum harvest and superior quality to their flesh. But consumers have found that there is a kind of uniform thickness, sweetness and taste to their flesh that they find them boring! They are hankering after durians from trees that are not tempered with.

Then there are the durian lovers who swear by their claim that after eating them we must drink salt water from the durian shell to remove heatiness. The same durian lovers would tell us that we should not touch any alcohol during or after a durian feast. These old wives’ tales have been passed on from generation to generation that they have been accepted as truths. Interestingly, no scientific organizations have been able to verify them, although anecdotal evidence abounds to warn durian eaters of the dire consequences of not believing in them.

The Singapore Science Centre did conduct a study on the connection between durian and alcohol and concluded that “the consumption of durians with alcohol has not been shown to be harmful”.

Well, what about drinking salt water in a durian shell? There is no harm in it, is there?

For the devotees of the king of fruits, they may learn a thing or two from 'Durian Talk' at
http://www.durian.com.my/duriantalk.htm :

"How do we choice good durian?
For selected durians, the older the tree the better the fruits. Durians from an older tree will bear fruits having a wrinkled texture with smooth, thick, sticky and creamy flesh that tastes sweeter and have a stronger fragrance and flavour.

Durian are heated
Durians are rich in minerals, high calories, protein and they're "heated". To reduce this "heatedness" we fill the empty shell with salt water and drink it. The shell self contains anti-heat properties and it's an easy way to cool down your body's heat. Eating Mangos teen has a cooling effect also.

Why shaking the durian fruit ?
This is to conform whether the durian fruit inside is dry or wet. By holding the durian and shaking it, if you can feel and hear the movements inside it means the flesh does not stick on the shell, and that this is the dry type.

How to open a durian?
The best way to open the durian is from the bottom. Use a knife to slice it by follow the striate and it's quite easy to open. If you do not follow the striate, you will have difficulty opening it".

Ah Soon Fish Porridge

Now, this is what I call soup, prepared Teochew style, Meeky told himself. This is the famous Ah Soon fish porridge shop. Although it is called by that name, soups with minced pork, sliced pork. pork liver and small intestines and kidney are offered. Or for that matter you can have meehoon soup. It you want a combination, then there is the mixed soup. The soup is prepared Teochew style, that is, using sliced ‘kiam chai’ or salted mustard cabbage, tomato, and topped with chopped spring onion or parsley. The distinctive taste of the soup is derived from the famous ‘Hang Kang’ he lo, the well known Chinese fish sauce from China that he uses.

Ah Soon, as the owner is affectionately known, has been selling his fish porridge since his humble beginning as a roadside hawker. He later moved to the familiar Peng Kai hawker street. Then in the biggest decision of his life, be bought himself a new three-storey shoplot with a loan from the bank. The interior is quite spacious and clean. However, when there is a crowd it can be quite hot and sweaty.

Business is brisk, especially after 6.30 pm. To avoid the crowd, it is best either to go before 6.30 pm or after 8.00. He is helped by his wife, and his three grown up children. Under his watchful eyes, his son makes the soup or porridge. Apparently, Ah Soon is preparing his son to take over for at one short of period of time, Ah Soon was not seen at all at the shop.

For those who are tired of hawker or restaurant food, and want something simple, and not oily, then he can elect for the fish porridge which consists entirely of fish, or mixed porridge which consists of minced pork, slices of fish, pork, pork liver and small intestines. If you are adverse to pig entrails, you can specifically ask Ah Soon to exclude them. Well, the older Chinese generation, rightly or wrongly believes that eating pig’s brain nourishes your brain, while eating liver and kidney keeps your liver and kidney in tip-top condition. (What about chicken feet? Chicken’s bishop nose? Pig’s tail? Meeky wondered). You could also elect to have only the soup and a bowl of rice.

Under his expert hands, it doesn’t take him more than 10 minutes to prepare a soup. Years of experience have taught him to ensure that the fish, pork and other things are not over boiled.

The good thing about Ah Soon’s fish porridge or soup is that it is nutritious and filling.

The shop is conveniently found at Jalan Peng Kai Dalam. To get there, turn left after the Grace Church at Jalan Mohd Akil (if you are coming from the Batu Pahat town centre). You won’t miss it.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Ocean Seafood Restaurant showcases its culinary skills

Just last night, I was invited by the owner of Ocean Seafood Restaurant to a dinner celebrating the full moon of the birth of their fifth child. I went with very little expectations as restaurant food has become boringly predictable. Every Chinese wedding dinner serves about the same kind of food. As the dinner progressed, I was pleasantly surprised when it dawned on me that the owners were using this occasion to showcase some of their dishes.

Course 1: Glutinous rice with dried shrimps, char siu (fork roasted pork) (black mushroom, lup cheong (Chinese sausage) garnished with parsley. Sorry, I was too busy eating that I forgot to snap a photo of the dish. Everyone was hungry and the plate was cleaned out quickly.

Course 2: Lobster cold dish, fried crab rolls and steamed prawns. It was again an expensive dish. However, the mayonnaise sauce that covered the lobster meat somehow masked the taste of the meat. But then again, many who have acquired the taste of mayonnaise would have loved the preparation. The prawns on the other hand were very fresh and sweet and the crab rolls crispy and fragrant.

Course 3: Shark-fin soup with Chinese radish and Chinese herbs. The shark-fin came in sizeable chunks in individual bowls; it was a house specialty, but the general consensus was that it was unexceptional. But everyone at the table finished their bowl anyway because they knew it was expensive.

Course 4: Steamed ‘Bek Ngoh he’ fish in light sauce. The fish was steamed and bathed in a gravy of light soya sauce, thinly sliced red chilli, spring onions, and ginger. I wasn’t very fond of fish; as long as the fish is not ‘fishy’ it is okay with me.

Course 5: Stuffed sea cucumber. Now this was different. The dish was pleasing to the eye. The sea cucumber flesh was thick and the minced pock and other ingredients stuffed inside was cooked just right as it retained its juiciness. The main item was surrounded by broccoli on one side and cauliflower on the other. Nestled between the sea cucumber and the vegetables were the fish balls and boiled balls of carrot. I couldn’t figure out the sauce; it was reddish. It seems that the visual is as important as the gastronomical experience.

Course 6: Chilled abalone in sweet sour sauce. The abalone slices nestling in a bed of marbled-shaped water melon and ice cubes were…well, expensive. Of course the dish was polished off in no time.

Course 7: Steamed “Song He” fish head, another expensive fish valued for its smooth texture. The fish lovers, and there were many at the table, went for the skin, eye balls, the gills and the cartilage.

Course 8: Steamed Chinese cabbage rolls in cream sauce garnished with boiled grated carrot. The vegetarian fillings were presumably fried before being wrapped in boiled Chinese cabbage. It was an uncommon, delicious vegetable dish.

Course 9: The dessert. Yam paste (Orr Nee) with pumpkin, and gingko nuts and ‘ang ku kueh’ as an addition. The ‘ang ku kueh’ is a ‘cake’ with sweet lotus paste filling. And then there were these little pink round balls covered in desiccated coconut, akin to the malay ‘ondeh-ondeh’. I only went for the Orr Nee, as I have not taken it for a long time since my father’s catering business wound up. The Orr Nee was also cleaned out in no time as it is not normally offered in the restaurant’s menu.

It was an evening of good food, aided by a very capable singer-cum-magician brought from Kuala Lumpur to entertain the guests. The highlight was a hypnotized woman suspended in mid-air.