Archive for January, 2009

29
Jan
09

my-heart1Now, among those whom We created there are people who guide [others] in the way of the truth and act justly in its light”

AL – A’RAF (181)

VOLUNTEERISM

Yesterday I was gripped by a story on the Oprah show!

Oprah was asking for  one million people  to join a team of black volunteers who are going to the ground, to enter the schools and work hands on with the black students who have problems academically and socio-culturally.

These volunteers will be mentors and surrogate parents to the black youths to help them out of their domestic and family instabilities and to alleviate their confidence and performance in school and in society.

They are engaged in discussion about  their problems as black  individuals, as black youths and as part of the bigger black community. They learn how to cope with being called a ‘nigger’ by understanding the  history and socio-cultural developments surrounding the now taboo word.

How wonderful, I thought, if Malaysia has individuals like Oprah and Susan Taylor, the Editor of Essence and her team of professionals who are not only committed to the cause but have the clout and machinery to lead this reformation, this educational revolution!

How great for our nation if we can pool together people who have the sensitivity and morality to rise above their own selfish agendas for the common good!

How productive for society if individuals and groups can influence agencies and government to believe in and lend support to their cause!

I must admit that volunteerism in our country hasn’t reached the level of effectiveness shown in the more advanced nations. This particular project for instance has brought immediate results, if not in attitudes at least in the academic performance of the black students.

Can we do the same for our young people, for the deprived students in the urban ghettoes and the rural interiors?

I believe we can!

But we need a well respected and well connected public figure like Oprah to mobilise the volunteers!

How about it Marina Mahathir or Raja Zarith Sofiah?

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29
Jan
09

safe_image22“…and who are faithful to their trusts and to their pledges;

and who stand firm whenever they bear witness;

and who guard their prayers [from all worldly intent].

These it is who in the gardens [of paradise] shall be honoured!

AL – MA’ARIJ ( 32-35)

INTEGRITY (RE)DEFINED

How would you (re)define integrity?

How would you explain what integrity is to an 8 year old child who speaks and understands English and to an adult who doesn’t?

What are the semantic equivalents of the word (words having the same meaning) in English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil …etc?

Today, the word “integrity” is widely used as in “the man has no integrity”, “UMNO has no integrity”, “we need leaders with integrity”, “political crossovers show a lack of personal integrity”,  “the public service must be imbued with the highest standards of integrity, “Malaysia’s integrity is at stake”…

Indeed there is even a National Integrity Institute to coordinate efforts at ascertaining that integrity is firmly rooted in the nation and its people.  

But what IS integrity?

How do I enlighten my driver Hamzah from Teluk Intan who wonders what the fuss is all about, who says, ” …kami orang kampung tak faham; kami tak kesah; kami sibuk cari makan; orang KL aje yang heboh  pasal integriti, pasal  ini dan itu…” 

Yet it is rural migrants like Hamzah who comprise a high proportion of the urban electorate. Their parents and relatives back home are the majority of the rural electorate. They are the backbone of the Malaysian polity, of the Malay electorate!

And SURPRISE! SURPRISE!  The “enlightened” urban ones like you and me who are defining this and that and making pronouncements about ini dan itu are the minority.

integrity is not the simple concept that we think it is. I see it as a composite concept, developed in the English speaking world out of traditional virtues espoused in Western religions, philosophy and literature.

integrity comprises first and foremost the personal attributes of  honesty and moral uprightness. Among the semantic equivalents/ synonyms in English are good character, decency, fairness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness.

Now the question is – how do we make the concept relevant and meaningful to the majority that define our poilitical parties viz its leaders and members?

NO, NOT JUST UMNO but the whole lot of them – the other BN component parties and the PR!

For integrity is the antithesis of corruption. And the process of eradicating the scourge of corruption has everything to do with the process of educating the people that lead and the rakyat that follow about their religious/ moral obligations in upholding the highest standards of integrity.

For you and me, let’s begin by finding a simple definition/explanation to give to an 8 year old or to our kampung relatives who don’t know English!

 

  

25
Jan
09

CORRUPTION REVISITED

CORRUPTION REVISITED

And when they are told, “Do not spread corruption on earth,” they answer, “We are but improving things!”  Oh, verily, it is they, they who are spreading corruption – but they perceive it not!

AL-BAQARAH (11, 12)

I’m convinced the reason why bribery and corruption is rampant despite the government’s efforts to contain it is that we the Malaysian rakyat are corruptible and corrupted to the core!

We smugly point fingers at the policeman, immigration officer, clerk,  branch manager, head of department who accept the RM100, RM500, RM10,000, RM50,000 offered to get things done or undone, but we do not admit we are the givers!

And now,

How smug the other component BN parties are that UMNO is going after its bribe-giving/ accepting members!

How gleeful the PR opposition parties are that their onslaught of corruption against BN/UMNO is gaining weight!   

It seems as though UMNO is the only political party guilty of this curse of mankind! What nonsense!

I bet MCA, MIC, GERAKAN /PAS, PKR,DAP are as guilty of the same misdeeds! It’s just that their newly- baptised urban members are more careful, more wily and streetwise at disguising and camouflaging their devious ploys than the rustic/ rusty UMNO members!

But it’s all in the political game isn’t it!  In the business world too!

To accept a bribe there must be givers. The fact that bribery is rampant in both the public and private sectors means that there are many people out there who think nothing of it.

There’s nothing wrong, they say! We are just helping to expedite a deal! We are rewarding those who are loyal to us, who are helping us! Apa salahnya?

We are helping our party select the most suitable candidates who will bring the best developments for the party, for the government, for the nation? What can be more patriotic than that?

Hey guys, it’s not the government alone that must act against corruption!

IT’S YOU AND I WHO MUST BE HONEST!

IT’S WE WHO MUST CONCERTEDLY FIGHT AGAINST THIS SCOURGE! 

22
Jan
09

ALL MANKIND were once one single community; [then they began to differ -] whereupon God raised up the prophets as heralds of glad tidings and as warners, and through them bestowed revelation from on high, setting forth the truth, so that it might decide between people with regard to all on which they had come to hold divergent views. Yet none other than the self-same people who had been granted this [revelation] began, out of mutual jealousy, to disagree about its meaning after all evidence of the truth had come unto them. But God guided the believers unto the truth about which, by His leave, they had disagreed: for God guides onto a straight way that wills [to be guided]

AL BAQARAH (213)

WHITHER ORANG MELAYU?

Can we ever deny our racio-ethnic heritage and the world view that has been shaped  by it?

Can we ever put aside the socio-cultural values that have been a part of our upbringing and shaped our psyche?

Can we forget the history that honed our people’s old  hopes and dreams, and created their new visions?

IT IS MY BELIEF THAT WE CAN’T!

And Obama’s inaugural speech revealed so clearly the black sensitivities which he managed to camouflage throughout the long ride to the presidency. And in that moment of glory, he showed the world he was proud to be a black US President –  not another white one!

You could see that as he tilted his chin up he was revelling in his half black heritage. And he made sure the choice of presenters at the inauguration was mainly black. 

You could see that of  the multitudes that thronged the inauguration, half of them were deliriously happy black people! And you could tell that  in their hearts they cried GOD IS GREAT!

Am I being RACIAL? RACIST?

I DON’T THINK SO!

I’m being honest and realistic! That no matter how much you want to be a universal man/woman, to be squeaking-clean unbiased and unprejudiced, your racio-ethnic socio-cultural ghosts and demons will come back to haunt you again and again!

Can the Malays forget  being Malay; the Chinese, Chinese; the Indians, Indian…? 

Can we embrace being one Bangsa Malaysia and cast aside what makes us three and more – Malay, Chinese, Indian…?

I REALLY DON”T THINK SO!

Bangsa Malaysia is our nationality, a political entity that helps us to forge common ideals and visions, hopes and dreams as a nation state and as the Malaysian people.

The more we share the more united and integrated we are. The more there is conciliation and collaboration between and among politicians and their parties, the more the nation’s people can achieve and the more the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others can develop together and  in their own racio-ethnic groups!

TAKKAN MELAYU HILANG DI DUNIA kalau dunia diperluaskan dan dikongsi bersama di samping mengekalkan warisan kita, socio-budaya kita, agama kita sebagai ORANG MELAYU!

20
Jan
09

ART TALK

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Tajuddin Ismail and viewing his works at TJ Fine Art in Sri Hartamas! I like both the artist and his art!

The artist explained the themes underlying his collection of abstract paintings viz the juxtaposition between order and chaos, the energy and dynamism that exists when the two interact and the synergy that produces a kind of ordered chaos or chaotic order – whichever way you choose to see it.

To Tajuddin it is this basic principle that underlies both the natural world and the man-made world. It is up to us to give this juxtaposition cum synergy  a positive interpretation and to see it evolving into harmonious, balanced relationships.

Through his adroit use of  painting techniques and strokes, different  paints and hues of colour  Tajuddin’s paintings are an interesting variety yet united by a common thread viz the artist’s philosophy of life and the human predicament.

How apt, I thought, for isn’t this what nation building is all about? Isn’t this the Malaysian dream of creating unity out of diversity, integration out of differences, equity out of inequalities?

If only the idealism in art, or music or philosophy or religion can be translated into the reality of human existence where so many things are created and remain unequal and unbalanced!

19
Jan
09

UMNO’S DEMISE

The  Barisan Nasional’s defeat in the Kuala Terengganu by- elections forebodes death – UMNO’s and eventually the present BN’s!

As Tengku Razaleigh put it in The Sun ” Our leadership remains in denial. Loyal UMNO members and the BN will feel they are on a sinking ship”.

Yes – loyalty in politics is indeed transient unlike loyalty to the family and people we love and respect. With loved ones even when the respect has long gone, the love will sustain the relationship.

Unfortunately when you lose respect for your leaders there’s nothing more to hang on to. A lot more than feelings are at stake here – the dignity and integrity of  the nation and it’s people!

It’s not easy for UMNO or the BN to win back the support they have lost! It’s not easy for the people to trust them again, especially when strident voices add fuel to fire continuously!

First and foremost, they have to purge themselves of the corruption, real and perceived. This is the bane, the albatross that’s hanging round UMNO’s neck and slowly but surely choking it to death.

UMNO’s credibility is hanging in the balance! The danger is that if corruption and money politics is not handled more effectively and fast, the loyalists will be gone and with it UMNO’s dignity and integrity!

Whither Orang Melayu?

19
Jan
09

hello everyone!

At last I’m a blogger!

At last I’m prepared to take full responsibility in expressing my thoughts and opinions publicly. Not that I haven’t done so all these years – in countless ways and through various forums and channels both oral and written.

Not that I’ve shied away from the internet! I must admit to having joined the throngs of commenters on other people’s blogs for some time now although somewhat intermittently.

The sense of joy and fulfilment in seeing your work “published” immediately in cyberspace is tremendous!

The thought that I’m one voice in an ocean of voices is at once humbling and exhilirating. To be part of that sea of humanity all wanting to make the world a better place is worth the effort!

And without a doubt it will be an effort to have a blog that people will be interested to read and contribute to.

I hope you will read this ninny’s postings on this and that, and this nini’s thoughts on ini dan itu!
I certainly look forwarding to reading yours!

halimah




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