Sunday, February 20, 2011

Religious Tolerance in Indonesia Questioned

The Price of Preaching

Not only is this a war between the Muslims and the Christians, it is also between the Muslims and Muslims. This happening in a country which is populated with 220 million Muslims. This however is a contradictory towards US President Barack Obama visit to Indonesia last November, in which he praised Indonesia's "spirit of religious tolerance" as an "example to the world".

This all started through the works of a preacher. 58-year-old Antonius Richmond Bawengan was found guilty of distributing books and leaflets that “spread hatred about Islam.” He was sentenced to five years for blasphemy but Islamic hard-liners however thought it was too lenient and wanted the death penalty. The conclusion ironically was a riot. "The mob shouted that he should receive the death sentence or be handed over to the public," Central Java province police spokesman Djihartono told AFP. The incident came two days after Muslim villagers in western Java killed three members of a minority Islamic sect due to different beliefs in Islam.

Witnesses said at least nine people were injured and rushed to the hospital while the police led away some protesters for questioning. The mob set two churches on fire and threw rocks at a third and a school building. They also torched a police truck, three cars and six motorcycles. Calm was only restored about four hours later. "Indonesia is a tolerant country that should be more intolerant of extremist groups. It's time the Indonesian government brings them to account for the violence and hatred they spread," said Leonard Leo, chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Me as a consumer of information

My Influences Throughout Life

During my childhood years, I was mostly influenced by television. I was exposed to cartoons like The Looney Tunes, Sesame Street, The Simpsons and the X-men. Disney movies also had an influence on me as well. I was also an often listener of the radio and listened to songs from Tupac, Shaggy and the Backstreet Boys. On the outdoor scene, I spent most of the time at the playground with my neighbourhood friends. I even played sports like football, badminton and baseball. At the same time, I was sent to tuition 3 times a week where i mostly learned how to study and read.

As i grew, my interests grew as well. I would play football almost everyday; more often than before. My interests in music started to change as i listened to more rebellious music like Nirvana, Metallica and Limp Bizkit. I also started reading books and short stories. Through televison, I started watching more 'read between the lines' shows like South Park. However, once in a while i would still flip through the cartoon channels. I was also introduced to the internet at the time though i barely used it.

When i finished school, I started to experience the working life by working part-time at Pizza Hut as a waiter and at Golf Malaysia as an office boy; both for a duration of 4 months. During that period, i studied at British Council on a part-time basis and learned English at a different level with the teacher teaching in a method which i truly respected and enjoyed. Most of the time, she would ask the class to talk to each other and ask each other questions. To me this method is the best way to learn language. At the same time, my interests started to change. I scarcely watched television anymore and used the internet more often for it had more to offer. I would love to go back there in the future to broaden my knowledge in the English language.

After that period of time, I had grew an ambition to become a writer. My taste in music started to change and broaden at the same time. I started listening to more political and life meaning songs. Just to name a few, i would listen to Classics such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and modern songs such as Radiohead, Placebo, Muse and Incubus. I also started to read books more often than usual and fate brought me to 2 books that changed the way i perceive the world. The books were '1984' by George Orwell and 'Writing Poetry from the inside out' by Sanford Lyne. I started to discover truths from lies and notice my surroundings more by reading the news, and the history of this world. Whether it is through an article from the newspaper, a magazine or the internet, or novels, poetry, quotes and lyrics of a song; i never stopped reading.

Now here I am at IACT College, expanding my knowledge and learning something new everyday. Whether it is good or bad, truth or lie, it does not matter for i once read the Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca saying that writing poetry is like "hunting a tiger without a rifle". I hope that one day I will become the writer I see in my dreams for "what the self describes, describes the self".

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Debate on Valentine's Day

 JAKIM to launch Anti-Valentine's Day Campaign

Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz said that Islam was not opposing the celebration of love, but vice activities that usually took place during the celebration.

Wan Mohamad came out and said that Islam does not oppose the festivals and celebrations of other races and religions. He then stated "We just cannot get involved with other religion's worshipping rituals. In a social event, we can always join the non-Muslims, no problem. "Our leaders also attend such an event. Even the muftis attended tea parties organised by their neighbours celebrating Christmas." 
“To suggest that Valentine’s Day is observed by Christians is unfair and misleading. Valentine’s Day is a secular observance that is not celebrated religiously by churches in Malaysia or worldwide," countered the Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary Reverend Dr Herman Shastri.

DAP’s Teresa Kok said today it was baseless and misleading for a Muslim preacher and the Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS) to link Valentine’s Day to Christians. She stated that such comments are dangerous as they are likely to stir disgust and disdain for Christianity. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng accused Barisan Nasional of using the ongoing Valentine’s Day row to practice its divide and rule policy on the people. He then pointed out, “If any mischievous person attempts to misuse Valentine’s Day for such activities then it should be banned by all parties, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.”

Through all the statements that has been made, this debate should not have started to begin with. Everyone has the right to choose what they believe in and if their will is right, there should not be anything wrong about it.

Lim Guan Eng on Penang's Achievements

Mutual Trust is key

For the first time, Penang has topped the economic charts on top of the other states of Malaysia by bringing in RM12.24billion in 2010. This is 26% of Malaysia's total investment that year. Lim Guan Eng then added that they were also praised for their good financial management in 2008 and 2009 which of course, lead to their achievements in developing the economy, boosting tourism, preserving cultural heritage, increasing living standards and fighting crime. The reduction of crime rates in Penang was by 27% last year. This was the greatest improvement of any state and thus being on the same par as Kuala Lumpur; being the most livable city in Malaysia.

Lim Guan Eng came out and said that Penang’s “amazing” achievements under Pakatan Rakyat (PR) were due to the faith the public and the state government have in each other. This unfortunately is actually what Malaysia is lacking in. He also added that there was still a long way to go as they look to battle inflation and petrol price hikes which he said unfairly burden the people, as well as “racists and extremists” who undermine public welfare by preaching hatred and violence.

Penangites can be better and succeed not because of the colour of our skin or our background or our ancestry, but through hard work and intelligence. “Penang can be a portrait of progress when both Penangites regains their trust in their state government and the government has faith in the wisdom of the people,” said Lim Guan Eng during the Chinese New Years Festival.

sources: Malaysian Insider

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Fernando Torres transfer saga

 Moving on through big name signings

Chelsea first attempted a bid of 35 million pounds to bring Fernando Torres in. The attempted bid was rejected by Liverpool who were reluctant to see their star striker go. To the disappointment of the Liverpool fans, Torres then handed in a transfer request to the club stating that he wanted to leave the club and if an offer came in for him, the club would listen to the offer. This happened after the club had sealed the deal for Uruguayan International, Luis Suarez from Ajax which cost them 24 million pounds. The club reluctantly slapped a price of 50 million pounds on his head and Chelsea came in with a second attempt and met the offer Liverpool wanted.

During Chelsea's attempt to bring Torres to their club, Liverpool bought Andy Carroll from Newcastle United, for a fee of 35 million pounds and thus sealing the fate of the want-away Liverpool striker. Andy Carroll on the other, claimed to have no intention of leaving and was pushed out of his boyhood club due to monetary reasons. On transfer deadline day, Fernando Torres was confirmed to be a Chelsea player and stated his fury over the broken promises given by Liverpool. Liverpool fans on the other hand, were infuriated by Torres' decision to leave the club after stating earlier in the season how much he loved the club and will honor his contract towards them. Most of the fans and players were shocked by the move and some expected it to happen.

However, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has come out to say that the club has moved on and said "For me, everyone was disappointed he left the club. What was most disappointing was his timing but we have got on with our life and the football club will always be here." He also added to the statement that Liverpool will never ever put any one person in front of the club. It may be a disappointment to most of the fans at the club but they should look at the positives for they have signed 2 star strikers in replacement of 1. Only time will tell who will gain from these transfer dealings as players are evaluated based on their performances and whether their team has moved forward or backward after their arrival.

sources :

A handshake turned into a controversy

 Tolerance towards others' culture questioned

Baradan Kuppusamy, a journalist for The Star, had written in his article 'Inconvenient marriage failing' that the PAS candidate for the Tenang by-election, Normala had refused to shake hands with the male population without wearing gloves. Although the article was hit out towards PKR, questioning the alliance between DAP and PAS, it is considered an insult to all Malays who share the same beliefs. It is actually a tradition for all Malay women to shake hands with other men only when their hands are covered.

The debate created is an unnecessary one for we as a multi-racial country, should seek to tolerate and respect the culture and tradition of the races and religions around us. For those who actually felt insulted by Normala's refusal to shake their hands, should look at themselves in the mirror and question their tolerance towards others. It is a Western culture to shake each others hands and in Thailand, instead of shaking hands, they greet each other with Namaste. The Hindus in India adopted it, and so did the Buddhists in Thailand. This sums out a lot on how different people are brought up with different culture.

The article written by Baradan is considered to be politically driven, would unfortunately raise questions on why our people can't tolerate each others beliefs. Baradan has practically played with fire by sparking this controversy because in a civilised nation, that would have been the instant demise of a politician.

sources:The Star Online, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia Today

Tunisian uprising an example to Egypt

 Inspired by the Tunisians, Egypt follows suit

Following the events in Tunisia, the people in Egypt are following suit in causing an uprising in their own country. Unsettled by their government, the people in Egypt are now protesting against their rule. The whole of Egypt are protesting against their rulers and in the state of Alexandria, some protesters chanted “Revolution, revolution, like a volcano, against Mubarak the coward.” Reports state that protesters had actually gathered outside the Supreme Court holding signs which read “Tunisia is the solution”.

Unfortunately for them, the government has vowed to arrest and prosecute anyone who is found protesting against the government. A fourth person has died during this nationwide protest with three of them dying in a day they had a protest overnight which the police came at approximately 0100 local time and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. With the police regrouped in full riot gear and driving crowds back with tear gas and water cannons, the protesters pushed the police back by throwing stones and standing their grown until the police were on the run. The Interior Minister has issued a warning to the people of Egypt and now public gathering, protests and marches will no longer be tolerated.
Despite the level of education in Egypt compared to Tunisia, the revolution looks to be a positive one as organizers rallied support by saying the protest would focus on torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment; calling it “the beginning of the end”. Weeks of unrest in Tunisia caused the president to drop his post and with Egypt having many of the same social and political problems as Tunisia, it is no wonder the Egyptians are revolting against their government. The main question is, how long more will this uprising take? And with the people in Egypt having a much lower level of education than Tunisia, will the revolution fail or will the government; just like its people, take Tunisia as a solution? Hopefully, throughout this revolt, there won't be a massacre to moan about.