Syariah Immunity

I totally disagree when someone says that the Islamic Laws in Malaysia only apply to the Muslim and therefore, as a non-Muslim, I am not affected and should not worry about the implementation of the Syariah (or in the recent days – the Hudud) laws.

Any non-Muslim who thinks that we are not affected by the Islamic legal system in Malaysia is an idiot. All we need to look at are the many cases involving custody tussles of children where one parent converted to Islam, inheritance when a parent converts to Islam, and infamous body snatchers when a person converts to Islam on their death beds.

One other thing that a lot of people miss out, and that I would like to highlight, is how it is impossible for a Muslim and non-Muslim to marry in Malaysia.

To me, this is plain ridiculous. If two people are in love and wish to be joined in holy matrimony, who is the government to stand in their way. In fact, I would say that it is bordering on sinful if the government chooses to separate two people whom are truly in love with one another and wish to be joined before God (or gods).

Unfortunately, in Malaysia, the government can stop the legal registration of a marriage if it involves a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Since apostasy is also illegal in Malaysia, this results in the non-Muslim partner having to convert to Islam in order to marry his/her loved one.

This is plain hypocrisy. But that’s a topic for several other blog entries.

So, any non-Muslim who thinks that we enjoy immunity from the Islamic laws and legal system in Malaysia is wrong. While we are able to ignore it in large parts of our lives, it is something that we ignore at our own peril.

The reach of the law is far and wide. Unless we live in separated societies and do not inter-mix between the religious groups, everyone is affected by the Islamic laws and legal system in Malaysia.

We are not immune.


Love for Malaysia

Jalur gemilangGot asked a few times this past week – on the reason that I came back to Malaysia. Each time, I told them the truth – that I came back because I love Malaysia and that is the honest truth (emphasis added).

I don’t know why but it seems odd to me that others have to ask me this question because the implication is that, I should not be back here doing what I am doing and that most people probably think that I am making a mistake.

All is fair in love and war.

Personally, I don’t think that there is anything right nor wrong about coming back to Malaysia. It’s just a choice to be made by most Malaysians, particularly those whom were educated overseas. One just has to make a choice and live with it without regret.

In my case, I truly came back because of my love for the nation. It’s not because of family and certainly not because of friends. Food might have played a small role in tipping things in favour of coming home but it certainly wasn’t the determining factor. As my blog header says – I’m a romantic.

Home is where the heart is.

We cannot all leave. Some people have to come back to put things in order and fight the good fight. Otherwise, this country is going to the dogs and things will just get worse. I am glad that I am not the only Malaysian who feels this way and that there are many others who have returned home for various reasons to help put things in order.

I try my best to convince my friends on the virtues of coming home. Sometimes, I know that I am merely talking to the wall but I persist anyway because I know that it is important that someone highlight to them the importance of fighting for that which they believe in. Otherwise, they will die for nothing.

Life is unfair.

If we think that we are treated unfairly, fight to change the system and make it more fair, one step at a time. If we think that things are just too corrupt, work towards cleaning up the system, one sen at a time. We Malaysians must always do our best to improve the nation – one revision at a time.

Fight or flight.

When faced with a problem, one can either fight or fly. I have always been a fighter throughout my life, and I am too stupid to know when to give up. I know that most people will choose the path of least resistance but the rebel in me always liked a good challenge.

So, while I missed writing about this on Malaysia Day, I think that I should put this straight – I love Malaysia – not the country, but the nation.

PS: I must apologise for this slightly emo blog because it’s late and I’m chronically sleep deprived.

Hudud Laws

A feud: Nik Aziz wants to implement Hudud (حدود) Laws in Kelantan. Anwar Ibrahim expresses his personal support while Karpal Singh will die before he sees that happen.

Me? I think everyone is just making a whole lot of noise for no good reason. Chillax!

Personally, I think that it is silly to jump at the Hudud bogeyman. Malaysia is unique in that it already has two sets of laws in the country – regular laws derived from the Common Law system, and Syariah Laws that are derived from the Islamic system.

And there is one provision in our Constitution that I have faith in – Article 4(1):

This Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation and any law passed after Merdeka Day which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

That alone, helps me sleep better at night, knowing that whatever form of Hudud Law that Nik Aziz wants to implement in Kelantan, would need to be in-line with the Constitution. Otherwise, it’s essentially null and void.

So, as a reasonable person and soon-to-be law student, I will wait till the details are worked out before worrying about it too much.

PS: If they chop off the hands of pick-pockets, I wonder what they’d do to those who rob the nation…

Hell Freezeth Over?

Has hell frozen over? I think not yet.

While I will give our dearest PM the benefit of the doubt, I’ve been Malaysian long enough to be utterly skeptical at his announcements on the eve of Malaysia Day speech:

Rakyat Malaysia yang dikasihi sekalian,

23. Sepertimana yang saya janjikan dalam ucapan sulung saya semasa mula-mula mengambil alih jawatan Perdana Menteri pada 3 April 2009, bahawa Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri 1960 (yakni ISA) akan dikaji secara komprehensif. Sehubungan dengan itu, suka saya mengumumkan pada malam yang bersejarah ini, bahawa Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri 1960 (yakni ISA) akan dimansuhkan terus.

Yippee! The Internal Security Act is going to be repealed!

24. Untuk mencegah perbuatan subversif, keganasan terancang dan perbuatan jenayah bagi memelihara ketenteraman dan keselamatan awam, dua undang-undang baru yang sesuai akan digubal di bawah semangat serta payung Perkara 149 Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Pokoknya, akta-akta ini nanti bermatlamat untuk memelihara keamanan, kesejahteraan, kesentosaan serta kerukunan hidup rakyat dan negara.

New public safety laws will be enacted – WTF?

25. Di atas segalanya, Kerajaan akan tetap memastikan hak asasi mereka yang terbabit terpelihara. Apa-apa undang-undang yang diperbuat akan mengambil kira hak dan kebebasan asasi berlandaskan Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Undang-undang baru ini akan memperuntukkan tempoh tahanan oleh polis yang secara substansialnya lebih pendek daripada apa yang ada sekarang dan apa-apa tahanan lanjut hanya boleh dibuat dengan perintah mahkamah kecuali undang-undang berkaitan keganasan, masih dikekalkan bawah kuasa Menteri.

Our subservient courts will be brought in to white-wash things?

26. Di sudut lain, kerajaan juga memberi komitmen bahawa mana-mana individu tidak akan ditahan semata-mata hanya kerana ideologi politik. Umumnya pula, kuasa untuk melanjutkan penahanan akan beralih daripada badan eksekutif kepada badan kehakiman kecualilah undang-undang berkaitan keganasan itu tadi.

No more political persecution?

27. Dalam konteks ini juga, selain memansuhkan Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri 1960, Kerajaan juga akan memansuhkan Akta Buang Negeri 1959 di samping mengkaji semula beberapa undang-undang lain bagi memastikan ia memenuhi kehendak semasa. Sehubungan dengan itu lagi, kita tidak akan teragak-agak untuk meminda atau memansuhkan undang-undang yang tidak lagi relevan.

Wow, more restrictive laws are going to be either repealed or amended.

28. Kajian semula komprehensif ini akan melibatkan Akta Kediaman Terhad 1933 dan Akta Mesin Cetak dan Penerbitan 1984 di mana prinsip pembaharuan tahunan akan dihapuskan dan digantikan dengan pengeluaran lesen sehingga dibatalkan. Kerajaan juga akan mengkaji semula seksyen 27 Akta Polis 1967 dengan mengambil kira peruntukan Perkara 10 Perlembagaan Persekutuan tentang kebebasan berhimpun dengan prinsip menentang sekeras-kerasnya demonstrasi jalanan. Namun, kebenaran berhimpun diberi selaras dengan kaedah-kaedah yang akan ditetapkan kelak disamping mengambilkira norma-norma di peringkat antarabangsa.

Hallelujah! Potential freedom to assemble – Bersih 3.0 FTW!

Misunderstanding Brain Drain

Our government does not understand brain drain in Malaysia. This is evidenced by our dearest PM’s latest remarks during the launching of Perdana University – Perdana University is a joint effort with the Johns Hopkins University and the Royal College of Surgeons – a graduate school of medicine.

He is quoted as saying that, “I hope the chance to study the best medical curriculum in the world will encourage more of our country’s top graduates to stay at home.”


While I do agree that the chance of studying with top medical expertise from Johns Hopkins might encourage more people to sign up for Perdana University, it has nothing to do with them choosing to leave the country after graduation.

If anything, this might actually precipitate a larger out-flow of brains as once these people are Johns Hopkins trained, they could feasibly move onto greener pastures abroad. The reason for this is simple.

Malaysians are leaving the country by the droves, not because of a lack of educational opportunities, but by the institutionalised problems in the country that stifle the best and brightest while rewarding mediocrity. We can see this all the time in the country.

And it makes perfect sense, in Malaysia.

So, while I congratulate our country for doing a ‘joint effort’ (whatever that means) with one of the best medical schools in the world, I pray that it won’t end up like MUST, which had something going with MIT (remember them?).

History is not Zombies

“All this has happened before and all this will happen again.” – BSG.

Today, our ex-former PM, the dear old Tun Dr M, was quoted in TheStar as saying that, “History cannot be reviewed as we cannot change what had happened. It is better to tell the truth about the nation’s past.” He was commenting on a recent statement by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin that the history syllabus for schools would be revised following new findings of the nation’s past.

When I read it, I almost puked.

This is the problem with our present education system. We tell our kids that there is only one version of our history and that they need to accept it on faith. As a result, we breed a whole generation of zombies that suffer more glitches than Dead Island.

My dearest Tun, you’re sorely mistaken. What we need is to bring up a generation of thinkers. In order to do this, we must push our kids to think for themselves and constantly challenge accepted norms. This is the only way that they can learn to ‘draw their own conclusions’.

As for history, there is always more than one version of it. History is all a matter of perspective. One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist. That is why it is dubbed “his-story” as the tale depends on the point-of-view. This is more than true with our Malaysian history – viewed through a multitude of different coloured lenses.

I learned this important lesson while I was an undergraduate studying Malaysian Studies at a local university under DokMat. The very first lecture that DokMat had was to tell us that we should forget everything we’d learned in SPM history is it was wrong and he proceeded to re-write Malaysian history from the beginning.

I loved his classes. I hope that he is still doing this with his students today – mindfuck!

He provoked us to think and question what we have previously learned and not to just accept things as we were told. The only way to understand history is to question it. History, when taught in this manner, becomes a logical narrative and comes to life on its own accord.

My dearest Tun, this is the kind of history that we want our kids to learn – the kind that is filled with real people, real feelings, real motivations and dreams, taking real action with real consequences. History is multi-faceted and is not just a random sequence of events, dates and actors.

Learning history is about understanding all sides of the story so that we can learn the lessons of the past. We need to figure out how we got here today from where we once were. Otherwise, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

I support reviewing our history syllabus to question the past, not to brainwash the young, to survive the future.

PS: I dare say that it was DokMat who awoke my socio-political consciousness and love for the nation. Without him, Malaysia would not make any logical sense at all.