Archive for November, 2012








On 14 October, the same day that my article “Who is to blame for graft” was published in The Sun, blogger Din Merican pasted it in his blog with my picture downloaded from elsewhere. He also saw it fit to tag information about the two public positions I hold, presumably to flavour my articulations as a citizen journalist in the column THIS N THAT.

The posting invited comments from netizens, the hollowest among them using pseudonyms such as Mr Bean, Lok1, Vic and Kathy to hide their true identity. Being anonymous they were free to discredit and slander me without understanding the thrust of my arguments. Thus some key points made in the article such as “The answers to the question of who is to blame and who is responsible in the war against corruption must be prioritised lest it be turned into another vicious circle of finger-pointing. The “big fish” who take huge bites of the bribery bait must be as relentlessly pursued as the little ones enjoying the smaller bites. The abuse of power by officials of the government and business houses/ corporations they do business with at the expense of public interest must be seen as societal corruption of the highest order” were ignored. Instead, isolated lines and phrases were taken out of context and nitpicked.

A few of the commenters seemed more intent on hurling unfounded personal attacks than understanding the arguments I presented. As is their usual modus operandi, Din Merican and his supporters took the opportunity to hit out at the government and its agencies for not doing enough to fight corruption. To be fair, there were several good insights and suggestions which deserve a hearing from the authorities.

As I had been publicly vilified in cyberspace it was appropriate for me to make my rebuttal there, and here I quote an extract  “Let me state categorically that I’m not defending corruption and those of you who think I am have misunderstood my intentions in the article. In writing my column (fortnightly in The Sun) I represent my personal analysis of socio-cultural matters and try to understand why certain phenomena exist, and what might be the underlying causes. Except for my own field of academic expertise – language and linguistics – I’m a layman like most of you. I uphold the principle that if I do not have expert or informed knowledge I will not point fingers or make wild accusations about this and that. If I have information, I will report it to the highest authority for the matter to be investigated. I take my official appointments seriously and make my views known in the relevant quarters without fear or favour. I’m not free to divulge official/ confidential matters on your blog Din Merican, or any other public space”

I have also taken Din Merican to task for not moderating/ managing his blog more responsibly. For blogging enthusiasts like him, cutting and pasting other people’s writings is much easier and safer than articulating their own ideas. This way they avoid the personal attacks they happily open other people to. In the name of freedom of speech and in the bid to be popular they approve obscenities and vulgarities.  As a blogger myself, I make it a point to address each query or comment however much it goes against the grain of my own thinking. I invite informed and constructive discourse and encourage my commenters to expand their own articulations. Fortunately, I’ve been spared the slander and insults that other bloggers allow with impunity.

On a more positive note, I’ve invited Din Merican and his band of commenters to come out in the open and form a Citizen Squad to fight corruption. With their professed abhorrence of corruption among the “big fish” and their brilliant suggestions on how to effectively eradicate the scourge, they can be the vanguards in the anti-corruption war. One important area that needs greater citizen involvement is creating awareness and educating the grass roots on the pitfalls of giving and accepting bribes – an area ill-understood by all and sundry or if understood at all, it is relegated to the backwaters of the Malaysian value system.

In order to have a credible public front and a wider outreach, I have urged Din Merican to register the Association of People Against Corruption with the Registrar of Societies. Being an official entity would allow the group to be definitive not only in its mission and objectives but also in its programmes and activities. You alone will decide on the kind of impact you wish to have on the community, and the community will in turn assess the efficacy of your organisation.

Once the credibility and integrity of your organisation is established, doors will be open to invite  greater  participation and engagement with the relevant parties.






Published in The Sun 5 November 2012

MY SISTER Sariah passed away suddenly on Oct 27 – the day after Hari Raya Korban, when the korban rites and rituals were being carried out throughout the country. She died on a good day, Muslims will say, when the doors of heaven are open to receive the sacrifices of the ummah. May Allah receive Sariah’s sacrifice and place her among the faithful. Al-Fatihah.

In remembering Tik, I recall the happy times and the sad, the joys and the tears of her life. As sisters and as women trying so hard to find meaning in our existence, we shared the inevitable ups and downs of our sojourn. Many a time we were reminded that life, as fate would have it, is unequal and sometimes unfair. In our separate lives as daughters, wives and mothers, Tik and I accepted that we would walk along different roads and undergo different journeys. But we were always there for each other.

Tik was inherently blessed with a joie de vivre and a zest for life which seemed almost insatiable. Her bubbly personality and enduring faith in people saw her bouncing back each time she fell and felt downtrodden. She was deeply spiritual despite the outer exuberance, finding solace among the family and friends who loved her. We rallied around her just as she unstintingly gave her time to be with us. Tik had the most generous heart and caring spirit.

If there was anyone who did things with a passion, it was Sariah. From the precocious young child, to the wilful teenage girl, to the engaging adult, to the youthful middle-aged woman, Sariah was omnipresent and ever-committed to the task at hand.

As a staff nurse and later a sister in the general hospital, Sariah handled her work with the skills and ethics that her Australian training equipped her with. She was in the wards to execute her medical duties, not to suffer fools especially among the less diligent nursing colleagues and doctors. Sister Sariah’s reputation as an efficient, dedicated nurse preceded her. In retirement, she became an enthusiastic hospital florist, turning out the most delightful arrangements at the Institut Jantung Negara, office tables and family weddings. She managed this with a fervour and an enthusiasm that the rest of us stood by to watch with envy. Where did she get that boundless energy, we would ask one another.

Little did we realise at the time that this was the way she chose to balance out her life. This was God’s gift to Sariah as was her talent in art. She was a consummate water-colourist with a keen interest in botanicals and landscape, executing each work with a fine eye for detail and a delicate sense of colour. Her likes and dislikes in art and other interests in life were as clear as the heavens on a good day.

Being my father’s pet when she was growing up, Tik was spoilt in an endearing sort of way. Endowed with great beauty and wit, she charmed family and friends, and had young men eating out of her hands. As the plump younger sister who shared a room with her in our Hose Road house, I was full of envy as she trotted around in her nippy-waisted can-can skirts. I now realise that sibling rivalry is as real as many of the other terms psychologists use to describe human relationships. But till the day she died we shared the wonderful bond that only sisters know, especially when we had grown old and grey together.

I now recall with great nostalgia the seemingly endless happiness we shared – at family events, our pilgrimage to Mecca, holidays in Bali, Turkey, Tuscany and the countless sojourns in beloved England. In the extended family, Tik, Aunty Tik, Nek Tik was always there with her inimitable style and infectious laughter.

I dedicate this beautiful sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in memory of my dearest Tik:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. – Quran, Sura Al-Baqara, Verse 156

November 2012