web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: July 2004
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Hadhari Already

These are not my views, a friend forwarded them to me. Still, it is something you might want to argue about with someone, over lunch. No matter how you make out your case, I'll betcha it will be very much coloured by your political leanings. I'll tell you what I think as soon as I figure out my political leanings. (Well, actually I have, but I don't know if there's a party attached to it)

Warning : very long post! If you'd much rather read about my kids, scroll down, quickly!

Still here? For context, please read this first.

This is with regard to NST's Sunday Times article "Bringing Islam Hadhari into the
mainstream" by Rose Ismail.
"Hadhari" supposedly means "civilisational" or “progressive”.
I cannot say whether the I-hadhari document is correct because I haven't read it. I'm sure
the document will incoporate many of the true Islamic teachings but I am seriously
concerned that there may also be inaccuracies as a result of biased opinions and self interest
-- just as much that I can't even say that the Christian bible is totally wrong because some of
the verses in the bible are indeed consistent with Islamic beliefs. But we have seen how some
inaccuracies have wrongly influenced the population!

Who is the founder of the concept? Who are the authors? What are their credentials in
Islamic knowledge? What are their references? What other scholarly works have they
published? These are some of the things we need to know before we lend any credibility to
the document.

Those who are trying to promote the so-called "Islam Hadhari" are playing with fire - literally,
I might add. I am putting Islam and hadhari side by side only to repeat the term coined by
the founders. Otherwise I do not believe such a word as "hadhari" is fit to be labeled
alongside Islam to form a combined title or name or special pronoun as it were. (Note the
capital H, which signifies a special pronoun). So from hereon, I will only refer to this dubious
concept as "I-hadhari" with the exception of one more occasion later on below.

Just bear in mind the following verses of the holy Quran when trying to go any further with
this new concept:

"And do not overlay the truth with falsehood, and do not knowingly suppress the
truth" (2:42).

"O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing
witness to the truth, for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves
or your parents and kinsfolk.... " (4:135)

"They (the hypocrites) are the real enemies . . . , how perverted are their minds."

"Behold, together with those who deny the truth, God will gather in hell the
hypocrites . . ." (4:140)

"And indeed He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear Allah's
communications disbelieved in and mocked at do not sit with them until they enter
into some other discourse; surely then you would be like them; surely Allah will
gather together the hypocrites and the unbelievers all in hell." (4:145)

Is it because there are too many muslims who think:
· That camels should be the mode of transport rather than cars?
· That it is haraam to watch tv?
· That voting Pas will guarantee their passage to heaven?
· That it is haraam to accept medical treatment from non muslim doctors?
· That Umno members are apostates?

Really? In the opinion of the I-hadhari founders/authors, how many muslims have such
misconceptions? How many people in an independent survey provided the above responses?
It would be useful if we knew the magnitude of the sections of our population who are
supposedly misconceived.

Or could it be a problem if too many muslims may think:
· That it is wrong to have gambling businesses in the country?
· That interest is riba and therefore haraam?
· That drinking alcohol for pleasure is haraam?
· That muslim offenders should always be tried in court according to Islamic laws?
· That the administration of government should be in accordance with Islamic
· That the conduct of business should be in accordance with Islamic principles?

Rose Ismail said (NST, "Opinion", 25 July 2004) that "If Malaysian-Muslims accept Islam
Hadhari, it would not just be a coup for the Umno-led Government; it could also widen the
space for more voices to contribute to the kind of Islam we want in this country." She also
quoted Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, political secretary to the Minister of Home
Affairs as saying "Pas says that until and unless we set up an Islamic state, we will never be
good muslims."

This concept smells of politics.

Quoting the NST again, "For the new concept to work, Chandra says there must be a shift in
the emphasis from rituals and symbols to the substance of faith."

Dr Chandra Muzaffar could be right on the equation but the objective is wrong.
It is not about the need of shifting emphasis for people to become better. Rituals are, among others, in fact
intended to strengthen your faith! You can't just tell yourself "I believe in Allah" and not obey
his commands on rituals such as performing the five mandatory solat, paying zakat, fasting
during Ramadhan and expect to automatically go to heaven after you die! We need to
understand that rituals are a means to not only strengthen our faith in Allah but, among
others, to help us do good, bond with our community and to stay away from evil doings, not
to mention a test of obedience to Allah.

The NST also said "Chandra also believes that examples of good Muslims would help. These
should be individuals who are faithful to Islamic practices, and are outstanding as teachers,
engineers and doctors."

I'm sure there are many such good muslims. But also don't forget that we have been given
many examples of good muslims in Islamic history such as Bilal ibn Rabaah (who was a
slave), Hamzah ibn 'Abd Al-Muttalib, Mu'aadh ibn Jabal and many more.

But let's say that Chandra meant to refer to living muslims. Then by what criteria are they
judged to be good examples? And who are those judges scoring the points for these
champions of Islam? And how would the public know that they are good muslims if not
through a published autobiography of the person? And if so, why should that person's
autobiography be any better an example than, to name a few, that of Nabi Ibrahim, Nabi
Ismail, Nabi Yusuf, Nabi Muhammad (saw), Bilal, Abu Bakar, Omar, Uthman, Al-Bukhari or Al-
Muslim? again, there are of course many more.

All I'm trying to say is that we cannot focus our attention only towards career professionals
for examples of good muslims. While I may look towards Bilal, who was a slave, as an
example of a good muslim rather than any living day professional engineer, that doesn't
mean I am raring to pick a sword to go to war! But Bilal is obviously not the only champion of
Islam to whom I refer to for examples of what a good muslim is.

It is not by accident that we are privileged to have records of the lives of the prophets, especially the autobiography of Nabi Muhammad saw as well as accounts of the many sahabah of Nabi Muhammad saw.
From them we can see examples of faith, allegiance, obedience, loyalty, trust, leadership,
consultation, generosity, sacrifice, honesty, bravery, fighting qualities and mercy (and even
wrath, where appropriate) toward enemies. This is just to name some. Don't forget we are
also given examples of those enemies of Islam, especially the oppressors and the hypocrites.

By all means, go all out to help people understand and practise Islam correctly, but don't go
propogating I-hadhari as though it should be a new mazhab! I can hear Umno denying that
they are not creating a new mazhab. Oh, but you are! In substance you are indeed trying to
do that, unwittingly or otherwise. And all because Umno has no other way to counter Pas in
the political arena when it comes to debates on matters of Islam?

For a start, if there really has to be such a document, then use another title such as "The
Practice of Islam. By so-and-so" or "Islamic teachings. By so-and-so" or "Islam from Umno's
viewpoint". Although we don't know the contents of the document yet, at least avoid having
a title that has the potential of confusing people. The four great Imams - and the author of Ihadhari
cannot be greater than any one of the four - never needed to resort to epithets or
labels for their teachings. So who is this author to gallantly coin "Islam Hadhari" as a

Secondly, the government should do the safe and responsible thing of asking local and
international Islamic scholars to proof read the I-hadhari document before disseminating it to
the public. Give them a chance to comment on it. After all, there are many experts and
scholars in this "civilisational" times, from whom we stand to learn a lot more on Islam.
The way I see it, this I-hadhari concept would be a reinvention of the wheel at
best, only not as round and potentially dangerous; as inherent in the likes of any
rethreaded old tyre.

Should you ever get hold of and read this I-hadhari document, I can only ask you to not
necessarily assume that the document is correct and that you should still do your own
research and consult experts who have no political interest in this concept. That is your duty
as a muslim.
Azmi Arshad

I am indeed most intrigued by this Islam hadhari, and even more so after reading the article by Rose Ismail (NST July 25, 2004).

Let me start by underscoring that Islam is Islam, complete and all-encompassing. It does not need to be qualified by a prefix or a postfix. Islam describes itself. When a prefix or a postfix is added it only reduces the horizon of Islam. There is no need for such. What it does is to segment Islam, the very opposite to what it is supposed to achieve. The postfix qualification only further denigrates Islam.

Islam already implores that every Muslim view the religion in a progressive, expansive and inclusive way i.e. in totality, a holism. Holism emphasizes the organic or functional relation between its constituents that make up the whole and the whole. That is how Islam should be practiced. Islam commits man to an ethic of action, therefore to progress, advance, and uplift in life, total and comprehensive. Its totality and comprehensiveness does not segment the world into the sacred and profane, nor does it divide life into religious and secular.

If there is an Islam hadhari, by implication there is an opposite counterpart, an Islam that is non-hadhari. Islam is Islam. And there is certainly not a potential Islam 2.0 or an Islam XP.

Qualifying Islam with a hadhari is just like describing Malaysia, as Malaysia XI or Malaysia A, but they are not Malaysia, but a lower-ranking Malaysia. Hence, in the same vein, Islam hadhari is inadvertently a lower-ranking Islam.

‘Islam hadhari has been crafted to go beyond labels and symbols’, says Rose Ismail, but isn’t hadhari also a label? Islam hadhari has been translated to mean civilization Islam, but doesn’t that restrict to looking at Islam only as a civilization?

Islam is progressive, yes. Islam is civilization, yes. Islam is modern, yes. Islam is for all era, yes. They all describe Islam. But they are not equivalent to Islam. They only characterize Islam.

You don’t need the hadhari to re-orientate the way Muslims look at themselves. Why, Islam has never been an impediment to Muslims to move forward. The shift (or shove) needed, is not in the hadhari. It is in the rendering, translating and interpreting Islam, not as what the traditional ulama has us understood it, as rituals and form, but Islam is substantive and holistic, a complete way of life.

Living Islam is not living the segmented constituent parts of Islam, but all in one, as a connected web of life. This is living the dimension of Islam as a holism, and to the Muslim the one and only true Islam. Islam comprehends the whole of life – its pattern of thought right through to its behaviour, living within the Islamic dimensions of Iman, Islam, and Ihsan.

Even though we are in the 21st century, there is still no contemporary Islam, but Islam is contemporary.

For me, Islam is, has always been, and will always be perfect and without qualification.

Dr Aziuddin Ahmad
PhD (Reactor Neutron Physics)
University of London Imperial College



Lady in black Beemer, swaddled in lush pashmina, steers up the hill in Bangsar.
She drives past
a man, thin and solitary, brown pants his only custody.
Eyes downcast, he disagrees
with himself,
has rain beating down his naked back.


The Two Sides of Adam

This is a rap thing Adam created while we were on our way to visit my father last night. He wasted no time teaching his sisters the words, so that Aliya and Aiysha can repeat them ad nauseaum, and with glee.

My name is Betty*
I am not savvy
My brain is scrambled
Shaped like an animal
I'm a mammal

*of course, you're supposed to spit this out with attitude : Bett-ay, sav-vay

Adam is currently reading Wind in The Willows. He tells me why he likes the book, during dinner last Friday.

Adam : It teaches me to speak British!
Me : Oh really?
Adam : Yes! Okay, talk about someone I don't know
Me : Ummm, I had a meeting with Ashran today
Adam : (eyebrows knitted together, and yes, with accent) Who is this chap, Ashran?
Me : Oh bravo!
Adam : Shall we have some tea?
Me : Absolutely.

Adam proceeded to pour out his Earl Gray and pinched the handle of his cup the right way, pinkie sticking out.

I must never make him read Charles Bukowski.


Small diversion :

I was just kidding about the Bukowski remark. Bukowski is a poet after his own heart, and he has written some of the most shockingly honest poetry I have ever read. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the titles of the obscure ones, and am too lazy to find them on the net (Most involve barfing into a toilet bowl). For a good entree into the world of Buk try this link and this. Incidentally, there's a documentary film about him currently running in the States, which you can find out more here.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004
My Knight on White Steed, Please Get Offa My Cloud

In the distant future, should you one day decide to quit the rat race, take a bow, decamp, and should, heavens forbid, your husband decide to also be among the unemployed, and should both of you figure out that money can come by way of a small business, a consultancy or something : never, I repeat never, go all charitable and offer him a share of your working space. Because believe me, there'll be tears before bedtime.

Of course, I too, thought it was only nice to help the father of my children. My husband had been running his business out of coffee-shops and train stations --Starbucks and Sentral-- and subsisting mainly on a mobile phone that plays Hava Negila Hava when it rings. Perhaps you've even seen him around - a dark man with longish wavy hair and a goatee that couldn't decide between mullah or MTV, khaki shorts or cargo pants with a Che Guevera T-shirt -- oh yeah, that's my guy. Now, how could I inflict that on the public? So I decided, let's do him, and the rest of the world a favour -- let's contain him in my office.

In the beginning, it was fun. When I was working at a TV station, we saw each other for only half an hour a day and I used to miss him terribly by 11 in the morning. But with him now parked at the end of my desk, I have him at arms' length, literally. There was always someone to take me out for lunch, someone to rub my neck, someone to make me coffee and read me the papers, someone to help me with numbers on my presentation : oh, I thought it was all peachy - this working together stuff will just make our lurve stronger and I couldn't be happier.

But soon I realised I should have kept him at arms' length, metaphorically.

First, there's the sexual harrasment. I mean, all the groping and the butt pinching is bearable in the confines of your bedroom, but when you can't bend over a printer without some hand patting your ass, it's enough to send you screaming to the Labour Tribunal. Except you can't, because, well, legally he's entitled to shag you right under the table if he wants to. So all you can do is to hit him with the nearest heavy object, preferably the aforementioned printer. Sadly, my experience tells me it doesn't work because those tentacles, they are damn persistent.

If it wasn't enough that I was molested on a daily basis, I also had to listen to him work. My husband has this habit of thinking aloud, and worse, he needs feedback and thinks I'm haloscan. So he'll go : now what if we lease the building for two ringgit fifty per square feet to the Arab and we'll get approximately one hundred and fifty million and minus that with construction cost we'll still get ninety which we can split between Client X and Financier Y and yadda yadda yadda. Hands up, you women out there who only pretend to be listening when the old man talks about work. I make the requisite sounds (oh, you've had sex - you know how to make requisite sounds) while I imagine him naked in a tub, and me dropping a running hair-dryer into the soapy water.

Did I also mention the mess? The discarded newspapers, the coffee-mugs doubling as ashtrays, the notes strewn about in abandon? There are other sub-categories like : incessant nagging, insufferable jokes, boorish, broker-type telephone conversations, farting oh I could just go on. This man was trying to ruin my life, and is succeeding.

His one saving grace is that he is impossibly in love with me, and so I could tell him right in his face that he was making a career out of making me miserable. This piece has a happy ending, then : next month he is moving to a space that is much nicer than my 1,000 square feet set-up and best of all, it's only a few minutes away. So he can keep supplying me with the neck rubs and lunches, and I can keep my sanity.


Monday, July 26, 2004
Why you so like dat?

Adam wasn't happy during dinner, last night. Halfway through his Pasar Malam Taman Tun kebab, he complained :

"Justin got me into trouble"

Earlier in the evening, Adam and his tightest friends, Justin and Andrew, rendered the forests a favour by making airplanes out of a ream of typing paper. Justin and Andrew are also our neighbours, so the three boys were doing what all suburban kids do nowadays : play in the streets.

"Justin threw his plane right into this man's car. That man thought it was me, because he didn't see Justin". (Apparently, by that time the guilty party was crouching behind a parked MPV)

"The man stopped his car and scolded me and said You do that again aaah!", he enacted, with wagging finger and furrowed brows.

"I said I didn't throw the plane", Adam explained, by now rather miffed.

"Then he marah me in Cantonese. I didn't understand but Andrew translated it for me because Andrew knows all the Chinese words and he tells me every time." Good for Andrew. So, what did the man say, I asked.

"The man said Stupid Muslim F-Word"

F-Word is Adam in verbatim, because he's not allowed to use the word "Fuck", especially not at the dinner table. The remarkable thing is, he was more concerned about the F-word than he was about the affront to his religion.

"Why are some people like that?", he asked. "Justin said he would go to hell for saying that and I hope he's right"

I know we should take his concern seriously, but his father and I thought it was rather funny, especially if you know how Adam can be when he is so earnest. We told him that there are just some nasty people out there, and it is quite probable that the man reacted so rudely because he was unhappy with himself, or because his parents didn't teach him good manners. And we added a small part about not being a bigot towards anyone, but only a bit, because we didn't want to make a fuss about that, since Adam at the moment is blissfully unaware of those dynamics. I am proud that Adam is quite happy shredding paper and collecting frogs and playing bicycle soccer with boys he knows by name, not by race.

If you don't see the barrier, we think, then there is none.


Friday, July 23, 2004
Have Something to Say about Human Rights?

If you are inclined to, perhaps you might want to attend the annual National Consultation on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM, but you knew that) organised by ERA Consumer. It's on tomorrow, 24 July, 8.30 am at Holiday Villa, Subang Jaya. Besides reviewing SUHAKAM's performance in the last 4 years, there will be a special focus on Women and Children, Freedom of the Media (oh don't get me started)and Police Abuses, Death in Custody. Admission is free, but you'll have to call ERA if you want to go. You can find out more here.

Two things that might persuade you to give up your Saturday morning roti chanai for this event : the Shamala case will be discussed and the "extremely charismatic" Rehman Rashid will be speaking. Nuff said.


Thursday, July 22, 2004
Those Poor Children...

My children's mortal fear is that my husband and I would one day go seperate ways, or in legal terms, divorce. My parents are seperated and this fact is a source of constant curiosity, and apprehension, for Adam and Aiysha. (I also have a 3 year old called Aliya, but since she's the Queen, she assumes everyone will continue to serve her no matter what happens)Adam and Aiysha is troubled by the fact that family - the bedrock of their existence - could actually dissolve, alarmingly, without their consent.

Adam, my nine year old worrywart, will torture himself with all possible scenarios : who would I stay with? what if no parent wants me? will I ever see Aiysha and Aliya again? It does not help that one of his closest friends is already living within this strange and uncomfortable confines of a marriage that has irretrievably broken down. He sees the emotional impact and even though I assure him divorce is a remote risk for his father and I, at the back of his mind is this : divorce is possible.

A conventional divorce, even the silly thought of it happening to your sometimes giggly mum and dad, is probably a monster of a burden to bear for children. Now imagine having to choose between parents, and with that, having to choose between Gods. My heart goes out to the children of Shamala Sathyaseelan and Dr Muhammad Ridzwan Mogarajah. They're only two and four -- my only hope is that, despite the enormity of the situation, despite the public blow-up this private matter has brought on, I fervently wish that in the end they will be raised to respect and love both parents, because no court order will negate the fact that Shamala is their mother and Ridzwan, their father.

Allow me the vanity of saying something about their plight -- there are already various opinions on the matter in the Star today (somehow, I can't find it on the online edition).If you haven't been reading about the Shamala case, and the seminal judgment by Justice Faiza Tamby Chik, you may want to check out this blog first. Unfortunately, all the comments so far have been supportive of Shamala only, and I have noted with dismay, that most have hinted at a Muslims-are-out-to-get-us kind of stance.

First, let me say that I can empathise with both Shamala and Ridzwan. I can understand their motives and really, how can you settle something which essentially distills to "I believe my religion is better than yours"? That is a question no mortal can answer, and Muslims are ordained to respect a person's choice of faith. (As one penceramah once said : if there were to be no options in religion, Allah s.w.t would have made everyone Muslim).

This point of contention, dreadfully, is no longer a private matter between Shamala and Ridzwan. Through the hearings, the dispute has taken political and constitutional dimensions - with the right to profess any faith and the status of Islam as the official religion de facto plaintiff and respondent.

For once, I cannot take a stand on an issue because I can see the merits in both sides of the argument. But because I like arguments to have a semblance of fairness, --so far the published thoughts have been rather partisan-- here are some questions I like answered :(proviso : I slept through law school, okay -- this attempt at being clever is based on dim memories of some lecture. They may not, in fact, be accurate)

The court took cognizance of the fact that the children are mualaf, does it imply the children's conversion to Islam is legal?
If the children are, in fact, Muslim, would a custody order from a civil court be binding upon them?

Who has the right to decide on a child's faith? If Ridzwan cannot unilaterally convert his children to his belief, then Shamala can't either. But if Shamala has actual custody, then she has the upper hand (despite the caveat) to influence her children, and this is grossly unfair to the rights of the father - who as a Muslim, believes that he has the responsibility to raise his offsprings as Muslims.

What does this case say about the jurisdiction of the Syariah court? In the Federal Constitution the Syariah and civil courts are two seperate and parallel systems. And if I am not mistaken Art. 121A is meant to protect the powers of the Syariah court, in the sense that no order made by the Islamic court can be subsequently overturned by a civil court. Even though the High Court may have the jurisdiction to hear this custody case, would Art. 121A render the judgment by Faiza, J. unconstitutional? When the two systems are in conflict, how should it be resolved?

We have taken the ostrich approach for so long, I am actually quite glad we are now forced to examine this thorny issue out in the open. Sure, it's an eruptive boil of resentment about rights, religion and race - but it's a fester we cannot afford to ignore if we truly believe in a united Malaysia.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Tadaaa! Like my new togs? The template is courtesy of my sister, (applause, please) who was gracious enough to work out this combination with me. I think it's divine -- and certainly more "Mokciknab".

I guess, my little helper will go strawberry picking next?


Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Why 6 is better than 36

My 6 year old daughter, Aiysha is the sort of person who would do well in life. I am saying this without flattering myself, because I certainly have little, or no part at all in how Aiysha becomes Aiysha. My body provided her a window through which she climbed into this world, and my husband and I equip her with the necessary tools she may need on her wondrous journey. But the rest is all Aiysha's --and certainly God's-- own making.

Aiysha is very indulgent of her mother's behaviour, especially when it comes to bad behaviour. By the time I get home in the evenings, I am a vessel brimming with bad vibes and frustrations and complaints. Aiysha will simply put this down to age. Last night, she said "Mummy, relax. It's okay to be 36".

Of course, she doesn't mean that it's any fun to be 36. She made this quite clear when I asked her to compare our situations.

According to Aiysha, it's better to be six, because :
- you're always pretty
- you can stay up on Friday nights and boogie without getting tired
- you can always gets coins for your Hello Kitty purse without having to work

Why wouldn't you want to be six when you're Aiysha?

Aiysha is tall, has long brown hair and large limpid eyes and can survive the perils of pre-school without moisturizing. She has prayers for everything and is genuinely cognizant of God. (This morning, in the car she sighs : Oh no Mummy, we forgot to recite the do'a of the Pilgrims). And yet, she can put on pink shorts and a small tank top just because it looks good, without having to explain herself. She can change her mind as often as she likes - yes, I want to be a princess (after Barbie) and no, I don't (after Roman Holiday). She has perfected the art of brown-nosing her parents, her teachers and even the occasional hard-nosed aunt, has learnt to get things her way without resorting to whines, but she can also be incredibly considerate when it comes to friends and siblings, if she chooses to.

Aiysha has an understanding of the logics of human emotion that is far beyond her years, it is downright scary. Like she's an old soul, or something. Her favourite topic is love - but not the candy coloured ones you get with Hillary Duff. She's always interested in how my husband and I met and fell in love, and how my mother and father seperated and fell apart. She's adept at analysing - songs on the radio, a movie, a snatch of gossip from the conversations of adults. When she grows up, she should take up either psychiatry -- or politics.

I suppose all mothers feel they have something precious in their hands, and you know, all mothers would be right. The challenge is to preserve the free-spirit of six year old Aiysha, even when she's 36.


Saturday, July 17, 2004
I have a new fixation : Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys are the brothers Garza - Henry, who sings and plays the guitar, Jojo, who's on bass, and Ringo, who naturally, does the drums. A reviewer said Henry channels Stevie Ray Vaughn. On the CD sleeve, SRV was mentioned under "Sainthood" together with Richie Valens.

Los Lonely Boys is perhaps the antithesis to the manufactured pop groups who call themselves rock stars nowadays. Not one brother is good looking - they could very well be pumping gas in Tulsa. But they play honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned, choke-me-up rock. It's unfair but I'm going to compare them with early Carlos Santana - the Oye Como Va kind of Santana (Onda for example, sounds a lot like Jingo) with a dash of George Benson and Charlie Byrd thrown in.

It's a perfect antidote to my fixation with Jamie Cullum.


Bangsa Jiwa Bahasa

Yesterday, I had the privelege of facilitating a forum on Bahasa Melayu at gasp! Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. I can't even speak Bahasa Melayu properly and I want to conduct this forum - I'm definitely mad. The thing is, it was supposed to be done by my friend, but due to a clash in schedules, I was left holding the baby.

Here's what mummy said :

Bahasa Kebangsaan dalam Perdagangan Global” – Bicarawara 2004

Sebelum kita membincangkan dan membuka gelanggang sumbang saran pada petang ini, izinkan saya membaca petikan daripada "Cetusan Minda", ruangan mingguan bekas ketua saya di TV3, Datuk Mohd Noor Azam, yang juga Mantan Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Datuk Mohd Noor Azam menulis dalam Berita Harian :

Bahasa melayu boleh jadi Bahasa nombor satu, kalau orang Melayu jadi bangsa nombor satu. Sungguhpun ada cogankata Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa – namun hidup matinya sesuatu bahasa adalah bergantung kepada keutuhan bangsa yang mendukungnya – bukan sebaliknya. Jika bangsa lemah, dengan sendirinya bahasa akan lemah dan luput sama sekali. Maka jika Bahasa Melayu, atau bahasa kebangsaan hendak dijadikan bahasa nombor satu, Bangsa Melayu hendaklah jadi bangsa nombor satu. Ada maruah, ada nilai dan ada harga. Kita kena tukar fahaman dan pegangan daripada ”Hilang Bahasa Hilanglah Bangsa” kepada ”Hilang Keutuhan Bangsa, Hilanglah Bahasa”.

Cabaran untuk mensejagatkan Bahasa Kebangsaan, untuk menobatkannya sebagai bahasa perdagangan global tidak boleh dilihat dari satu sudut, kerana ini bukan dilema penggunaan bahasa – ini adalah polemik yang berkaitan budaya.
Jika kita imbas sejarah, pada suatu masa dahulu, di zaman kegemilangan Empayar Melaka – bahasa melayu adalah lingua franca serantau, bahasa yang digunakan dalam berjual beli antara pedagang pedagang yang bukan sahaja datang dari benua Cina, India dan Arab – ia turut digunakan oleh pedagang Eropah.

Bagaimana kekuatan Bahasa Melayu sebagai medium komunikasi dalam perdagangan menjadi luntur sejak zaman itu, sedangkan Bahasa Indonesia, umpamanya, masih lagi mekar biarpun republik itu turut diruntun penjajah?

Apakah yang kita mahu apabila kita berbincang mengenai Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa yang berperanan dalam perdagangan global? Adakah realistik sekiranya kita mahu Bahasa Melayu mencabar hegemoni Bahasa Inggeris atau dijadikan sebagai perisai yang simbolik, untuk melindungi budaya dan cara hidup kita dalam era globalisasi?
Dan apa jua matlamat kita – siapakah yang perlu memikul beban dan tugas apakah yang menanti kita?

The rain was pouring outside, but the rage that was displayed within the auditorium of DBP was even greater. The discussion started simply enough : how do we ensure that Bahasa Melayu was used in trade? Soon, however,it degenerated into a maelstrom of accusations : the lack of political will, the problem of class and perception, the mass that doesn't care. It was easy to mistake them as Malay chauvinists, but when you listen to these "pejuang bahasa" and their passionate arguments, you realise they're simply desperate to protect an integral piece of their-- my, our culture.

And it is evident, they are losing the battle. (I'm blogging in English for God's sake). But, I do think these so-called crusaders must also share the blame. They have failed to bring their cause to mainstream consciousness. They've made it a "Malay" thing (I still think it ought to be called Bahasa Malaysia) and this has exarcebated the isolation. And they refuse to be pliant, accept changes, meld with the young, who ultimately must carry the torch.

My auntie, who used to work with DBP and who was also there yesterday evening, once said this to my friend, when he complained about the rigidity of her institution. She told him : you know, the people who use this language don't realise the power that is within their hands. DBP can say whatever it likes, can rule on this and rule on that. but how the language grows depends on the people who speak the language. So, you can say "pulak" instead of "pula", and even "plak" instead of "pulak". As long as you use it.

Yo, bersedia perjuangkan bahasa? (or however you kids say it)


Thursday, July 15, 2004
Fashion for the Full-Figured

Yesterday was a bit of an anti-climax. Being the hopeless procrastinator that I am, I waited until Monday morning to work on my presentation. After two days pretending to be a headless chicken, I was a nervous wreck by Wednesday morning. Our meeting with the Secretary-General of Ministry X was scheduled at 9 am. The Minister himself promised he would drop by. We were already through the turnstile at that big august building near the lake in Putrajaya when our senior associate called to say the meet had been called off on account of Tan Sri Azizan's demise. The presentation is deferred until next week.

Ah, well. There was nothing we could do, so we trooped off to Souq to eat fake nasi dagang and be overcharged for breakfast. I was just a little dissapointed because I had turned up in something nice for a change - decent enough for people to trust me with money, I thought.

I mean, it wasn't easy : I had put in an effort to find my togs. If you're a woman you might find this familiar, err scratch that, if you're my husband you might find this familiar. You see, I am 5 feet 7 and a half, and I weigh about 150 pounds. By no stretch of the imagination would you compare me to an Angela Lindvall. Add to that the trophies of 3 childbirths - heavy pendulous breasts and a potruding belly - what you're looking at is more fat donkey than clotheshorse. Now, after a few months of gym, I was conceited enough to think that I could shop at somewhere else other than Ms Read or Dorothy Perks or the plus-size section of WH (or more likely, Pasar Malam Taman Tun). I bithely walked into Zara. Their stuff was just divine! My mind was racing -- oooh I would look good in this and that and this, eh wait -- the largest size on the rack (on every rack) was a 40. A size eight. I hung my head and walked out with my tail firmly tucked between my size ten hiney.

Of course I tried the others, only to be utterly defeated. The experience reaffirmed my theory that designers envisioned their clothes worn by wispy women with no hips. At last, in the tangle of garments that was the residue of an MNG sale - I found something in size 42. It was pale pink, a jacket and pants ensemble. I paid for it, brought it home, tried it on and regretted the purchase almost immediately. I looked like a big fat cotton candy. So in the end, I wore the pink blazer with a french cuff stripey shirt and black pants. (thank god for black pants)

It's a conspiracy, don't you think? Women are forced to believe they don't fit if they're not skinny. I have stopped going into regular bra shops - if they do carry anything bigger than 34B it's usually in granny brown and looks like a toolbelt rather than lingerie. The Triumph woman would look at me and roll her eyes when I head for the sexy stuff, stopping me short with a "eh, tak ada la awak munya size". I comfort myself by saying that I would never have this problem in Victoria's Secret.

This is why I applaud people like Jennifer Tai, who has this blog to help big girls like me get dressed. Hey, beauty doesn't come in one-size fits all. Ask any happy husband.

Now, what do I wear for next week?


First : Al-Fatihah

Al-Fatihah for Allahyarham Tan Sri Azizan Zainul Abidin, who passed away, early yesterday morning.

He has to be one of the nicest men to interview and would surely be missed by all, including all the business reporters who had the privelege to speak to him in the course of their work, and came to know, even in those brief encounters, a man who was fair, had a passion for service and above all, extremely kind.

Journalists out there would know that covering Petronas was not a job for the clueless or the weak-kneed - although sometimes I do get sent in, dazed and scared shitless, of course. Tan Sri Azizan always endeavoured to make things easier for vermins like us. If you didn't understand something during a press conference, you could always ask Tan Sri Azizan to explain, and he would do so in the most affable manner. The CEO of Petronas, Tan Sri Hassan Marican is brilliant and strangely charismatic (I say strange because I find him intriguingly attractive even though he is loathsome to interview) and certainly suffers no fools. (Fools like me suffer)Tan Sri Azizan, the consummate gentleman, was the perfect foil, an oasis of calm in the usually highly strung affair that is characteristic of any Petronas event. Semoga Allah swt mencucuri Rahmat ke atas rohnya.

(If any Petronas PR person reads this and is seething - okay, I admit, things may be different now - I covered Petronas in the 90's and early early noughties. However, I do think the Petronas strategy is to keep things impenetrable, and while that protects the company somewhat, it's hard on reporters)


Tuesday, July 13, 2004
What Shall I Wear Tomorrow?

Aaah, a blog is a demanding mistress. There was this little voice at the back of my head that says : "Go write something - it's a responsibility to your public", and then a bigger (gruffer) voice said : "Hey, it's your blog - you can do whatever you want, update whenever you want. Right now you have work to do, so do that first". Turns out that gruff voice was my husband. Heh.

But my public wants me, and so I write. (Yes, all the two of you who read my blog). I have been very busy lately, doing work for a change.

We have a big deal presentation tomorrow - we are trying to convince a certain Ministry to set up an internet television station and let us run it. Well, essentially that's the idea, but the government is usually not gullible, so we have to wrap it around something sweet and useful-looking, so that the Minister will say yes. I have learnt a great deal about humans during the course of this project, none of it very nice. In business, there is no free lunch -- and the worse part is lunch could very well be you. When you're small on capital but big on ideas, you have to be careful all the time, because it's easier to steal ideas than to steal money. I regret having to mistrust people but I have no choice because I am bad at reading them.

But sometimes, things happen and you meet someone willing to save your skin. There is a striking parallel between marriage and business partnership and I am amused that I took the same approach to both. It's part gut feel and part calculation. I had the same experience falling in love : it was someone that you were attracted to at first sight, and amazingly this object turns out to be an intelligent, absorbing person with surprise, surprise, exactly the same ideas as you. You do the math : find out what he does, project how much he might earn in the future, and figure if he would be a good father to your children. If all is a A-ok, you promise to go steady, and leave the rest pretty much to fate. Didn't work out too badly, in my case, although he hasn't yet approached that projected income. I'm no actuary, you see.

My friends and I found such a chemistry with another company. We are agonising over the prospect of union because the risks, I guess, are greater. You could lose a lot more than your virginity. (How about your house?) Besides, in a marriage, most problems can be worked out through (or with) sex - in business there is no such palliative. We're just going to have to trust our instinct, and get an exit strategy - which thankfully, does not exist in my mariage plans.

This is all I can afford to update today. My husband is yelling at me because I'm due for my gym class, and I still haven't figured out what to wear tomorrow. Appearances matter, of course. You want to look out-of-the-box and yet acceptable to a bunch of officials. Considering that all I wear are jeans and slippers and things that go with jeans and slippers, it might mean my initial investment in this project shall include a visit to MNG. Wish me luck!


Friday, July 09, 2004
You are not Worthy

My young friend (let's just call him Mr Bowtie) and I was having lunch today, when he showed me a print-out from an ultrasound scan. I had a quick glance - the picture was grainy, but it definitely showed the dark outline of a baby. My mind flashed to my own print-outs, lives I carried in my own womb - the cloudy spots that were hands and feet and head are all now children with distinct personalities. The baby in the picture I saw at lunch today had no such future. Yesterday, the mother terminated her pregnancy and the scan was in fact the only proof it ever existed. At the bottom of the print-out, the doctor scrawled the date and time it was taken, a reminder of the final minute the baby's brief life.

The mother, Mr Bowtie's friend, had wanted to get rid of the photograph. She is a student, and this is her second abortion. Her erstwhile boyfriend, the father of her two unborn children, have repudiated all responsibility - he did not even accompany her to the clinic, and paid for only half the doctor's fee. The girl subsequently returned the money because he moaned that he had none left for food. She said she felt sorry for him. Mr Bowtie is livid.

"How can she be so stupid? How can the boy be so thoughtless?".

Mr Bowtie, a young man who favours tight T shirts and frequent changes of hair-clour, isn't your average moralising Lebai Leman. Through him and his fraternity, I get a glimpse of the wilder side of KL, where the blase and the worldwise seek Bacchanalian fruits. But even in the realm of debauchery, there are rules and codes of honour. I would think that if the boy feels he is adult enough to partake in pre-marital sex, he should be man enough to bear the consequences. And if the girl feels she has every right to do with her body whatever she pleases, then the least she could do was to have the sense to shield it from harm.

Now, before someone hits me in the head with a Quran or a Bible, let me say this : yes, pre-marital sex is wrong and is a sin and brings you hell-fire, but the fact is these kids are at it like rabbits and to tell them pre-marital sex is wrong and is a sin and brings you hell-fire would not make them modify their behaviour. One of the root causes, I think is a lack of self-respect among young women today. (It would be presumptous of me to say I know what's wrong with guys nowadays - I'm still not done figuring out my husband)

While women have seen a plethora of opportunities unfold - and many women have taken advantage of them to great effect : Carly Fiorina, Zaharina Zahari, Jill Abramson, women of their ilk - there are always forces that will tell women they are never good enough. Flip open a woman's magazine - the images are of women who are not only successful but also appear like a million bucks. Turn on the TV, a woman with incredible talent has also to be a woman with immensely good looks. The demands are impossible. Editors of women's journals may proclaim that brains are sexy, but in the fashion spread you'll see that only sex appeal is sexy. It's sad : but a woman is still judged by the sum of her looks, and her ability to command attention from the opposite sex. What's worse, women themselves perpetuate this ridiculous yardstick.

Mr Bowtie's importune friend is one of the best students in her class, and yet this was not enough to prop up her dignity. She had to feel desired to be worthy. Had she loved herself, perhaps there was a better chance at self-preservation. Or if she did give that up, at least it was a choice moved by curiosity or even genuine pleasure. And she would be in control - to be the master of her own self, to say no, you may not have me, you are not worthy.


Thank you, Didi!

My sister was gracious enough to clean up my blog, thanks to her handy knowledge of html. Isn't Internet wonderful? My sister is half a world away, and she can still do me a favour. Besides, I know she prefers this to FedExing a jelly kelly to a bag-obsessed Kak Long.

Thanks! Muah Muah.

(Now, what else can you do?)


Thursday, July 08, 2004
Mee Sua and Vegetables

I am doing an "Elisa" today just in case there are people who would come and visit (I am pathetic) Elisa posted a yummy recipe on her blog Spread the Jam but it is so laden with calories it could sustain Sudan. So here's a healthier alternative : the yin to her yang. It's so easy even my other sister can manage.

Mee Sua and Vegetables

1 packet mee sua (it's a Chinese version of linguini - if you can't find mee sua, any noodle will do)
1 carrot - sliced diagonally
1 packet snowpeas
half a head of cauliflower - cut into bite-sized pieces
250 g of chicken fillet (cut into small pieces) or a handful of bilis
chicken/bilis cube stock thingy
3 pips garlic - smashed (to smash garlic, put one pip underneath the handle of your knife, apply pressure downwards with your palms, retrieve smashed garlic, and discard skin)

Optional : chopped chinese parsley or cilantro
sliced bird chilllis in kicap manis

In boiling water, drop the packets of mee sua. Once the noodles are soft, drain and set aside. Drizzle and distribute a small amount of oil over the cooked noodles to avoid clumping. Place vegetables in microwave-proof dish with enough water to cover. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.(Alternatively you can also celur or blanche the vegetables in boiling water). Next, in medium sized pot, saute garlic in about two tablespoons of oil. Once it smells garlicky, add chicken fillet or bilis. Once chicken changes colour, add chicken cube (you can crush the cube in a small amount of water). Add about 4 cups of water. Allow to simmer.

Arrange moderate amounts of mee sua and vegetables in deep bowls, add steaming soup and top with chopped chinese parsley (daun sup) or cilantro (daun ketumbar) . Serve sliced bird chilli (cili padi) in kicap manis on the side. Good on a rainy day, kind to your waist and wallet.


Gotta have mah fix

I had no idea blogging could be so addictive. It's not just a matter of writing your thoughts down, but tweaking the templates and making it do things. I finally managed to install haloscan today. It was supposed to be "easy", but to a comp-illiterate like me, it was an achievement worthy of a job at Microsoft. (BTW the person who said it would be "easy" sleeps with someone from Microsoft)

My husband has noticed that blogging takes a lot of my time. My husband is a bit of a wet blanket, he begrudges anything I enjoy if it doesn't involve him. And since blogging would presume an ability to write and spell, that leaves him out altogether. I can say awful things about him here because he can't read either. (And he can't get to my blog, anyway because it will require him to type my URL in the address bar and he thinks an address bar is only helpful to a postman) Anyway, all he knows is blogging is taking away my attention from him, and he is about to set limits on my blogging time. As I said, wet blanket.

As usual, I have every intention to defy my husband. Blogging revives my love of writing and even if nobody reads my pieces (this is not altogether far from the truth, because only my sisters read my blog) it already serves its purpose, an outlet for my dormant desires, so to speak. This madness, it'll be on for sometime yet.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004
My Life as a Blob

The sad truth is, a blog is only as interesting as the blogger. Which is why my other sisters' blogs are that much more readable. Spread the Jam, like Elisa is sweet and frothy and warm and welcoming and very much on the "sunny side of the street" whereas ecrivez juste is deep and quiet and belies a dark talent. I promise I will link them as soon as I learn how to write code.

I reread my entries and realized how much it contradicts the promise of my blog title. Maaaan, I am seriously boring. I mean, who would discuss the merits of detention without trial at Simpang Renggam and consider it small talk? I should put in interesting bits like the 3 Ministers whose names were apparently found on Noritta's speed-dial. (Oh wouldn't you like to know)

While I pondered my colourless personality, my husband was writing his resume. Yes, he's 40 and still needs to figure out a CV, which he did using one of the general templates on MSWord. It was very much a fill-out-a-form kind of thing, so he came to the part where he had to list out his "interests".

"What do I put for interests ah?" (he put on his best gas-delivery-man accent)
"Haiyah, just put lah what you like!" (I put on my best Nyonya-kedai-employing-said delivery-man accent)
"What? What are my interests?"
"Apa-apalah, berkebun ke, menebas ke.."
"Can I write down sex?"

It dawned upon me that my husband and I have no interest beyond our work. We both decided to opt out of the rat race and plunge into the murky depths of business ownership. My husband utilised his Engineering degree and 16 years' working experience in Petronas, Peremba and MMC to beg for work (no, tender for work, he says) on behalf of slimy clients who, invariably, will always forget to pay him. This is the kind of stuff that takes up every waking hour, and if he can make deals telepathically, while he sleeps, believe me he will. I fear that one day I will wake up to find out I have married Willy Loman.

My friends and I have this little company which provides live streaming content for internet broadcasts. To convince people that those two words belong together is already an uphill task, and to tell them of its benefits to their organization is akin to telling the Amish of the benefits of g-string. Or a vibrator.

So you see, all we think about is strategies and possible opportunities and unlocking value and all these boring words you get in CEO-speak. Things get worse when my husband and I work for the same project : aspects of planning and revenue streams become dinner conversation. Ever wondered what couples say to each other after sex? We mull over seed financing.

The problem is, we like doing business. To each other, we're as absorbing as Sponge Bob on a wet day. To others, we are at best, perplexing. I dread sitting out a kenduri kahwin - guests inevitably ask the same questions that I wonder if they weren't handed a list together with the bunga telur. It will go something like this :

Guest : Oh, I don't see you on TV anymore (it usually starts like this - a worse option is when they giggle and ask you if you are, indeed, you)
Cringing me : Err.. I quit about one half years ago
Guest : Yes, I know, I read it in the paper/URTV/Majallah Nona
Me : Ooo-err. Terrible pictures. (and I know what's coming)
Guest : So what do you do now? (meaning : what are you doing to feed your children, you has-been)
Me : I'm in internet broadcasting.

The guest, who was probably expecting me to reply that I now run a boutique/hair salon/kedai makan, will by now lose interest but is continuing this conversation out of politeness. I'll go to pains to explain my crusade for convergence while she silently figures out if MCMC isn't that outdated fashion brand. (yes, she - because it is always a woman) I stop as soon as I see her eyes glazing over.

Guest : Oh I see.. Umm, who did Normala marry ah?

My husband promises that we'll have a sparkling social itinerary as soon as we make enough money. (Oh, where have I heard that before?) We used to have season passes to the Philharmonic, never missed a theatre production and had tried out every new eatery. I would have read at least half of the books on a best-sellers list. Now my life is a Venn Diagram where my enterprise is the universe.

As I am writing this, I hear my husband proclaim : exciting! exciting! He was talking about carbon credit. (If you understand the business potential of carbon credit, I am so sorry for you) He eventually filled out the "interests" section of his resume. It is no coincidence that he put down "cricket', a sport that was once described by Robin Williams as baseball on valium.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Mokciknab will be Missed

Many people have asked why I chose the name "Mokciknab" as a handle and I usually respond with the simple explanation that it is in memory of my paternal grandmother, Zainab.

They must think I loved my grandmother very much. I couldn't say.

I wish I had the kind of grandmother my own mom is to my children. My mother does nenek with textbook precision. On any given Saturday, she makes her grandchildren apple pies. She teaches them to read jawi and knead bread and doesn't complain that all her rolls turn out like deformed dinosaurs and stepped-on cowpat. She gets all my children's silly jokes and never calls them silly. She raises funds at the masjid to help the poor and dispenses big hugs the way politicians dispense election money. If I ask my son and daughters if they love nenek, I know they will answer with a resounding yes.

Mokciknab on the other hand, could play the definitive mother in law in a P.Ramlee movie. For a long time, she inhabited the role with such sureness, that my mother, otherwise good natured, can only speak of Mokciknab with bitter acrimony. My mother, the dusky daughter of a tailor, was not her choice of a bride to her only son. Mokciknab had planned for my father to marry his cousin, a doctor, a gazelle with alabaster skin and the right royal title. She made such a fuss about this lack of lineage that Mama, bristling with revenge, deliberately left out this family appellation when she filled out my birth certificate.

Until this day, to folk who knew her, the name Mokciknab will conjure up the image of an austere and forbidding woman given to telling people exactly what she thinks about them. She was all mouth and hurtful grumblings. Nothing you could do could approach her seemingly impossible standards.

I think of her, mostly with regret and guilt. It was not easy to love Mokciknab - it was easier to avoid her and leave her alone in her rambling house in Terengganu. But she was my grandmother, and my sense of filial piety accorded her some rights, rights which I'm ashamed to say, I did not fulfill. I could have visited her more often, but my visits were often postponed. When she made her frequent trips to Kuala Lumpur, we fought over who should host her stay, an exercise that usually ended with a resolve to send her to her son's house, knowing full well Mokciknab could not tolerate my father's second wife, any more than she could my mother.

Old age smoothed away the edges of her hard-bitten personality, but my mother could not forget and my sisters and I still saw her as a sneering grandmother who was impossible to please. We refused to look beyond the one-dimensional veneer of harshness we created of her. We ignored the fact that, she could be kind in her own way. Despite her tightfisted approach to money, she was extremely charitable to poor relatives. She gave loans, she gave them food and clothing. People endured her nagging because she never refused to help.

We may choose not to remember, she eventually enjoyed being a grandmother, although until her death, she forbade us from calling her "grandmother" but to address her as "Mok", which means "mother". She made us "magic" agar agar, a frothy multicolored jelly shaped like a rabbit, which would yield other animals within when we sliced it. She had a talent for acting out funny bed-time stories, my favourite being the one about a fox who mistook the sound of a baby chick's epic fart for a farmer's shotgun.

Of course, she also took pains to remind us of the family name , and gave strict instructions to every girl-servant that the grandchildren shall always be referred to as "Tengku so and so". Once, when I was a little girl, my grandmother scolded my friends for calling me my given name, she said it was beneath my stature to allow them to do so. She reminisced of her childhood in Kampung Gelam, that sprawling palace in Singapore which later became a warren of displaced royals, soon forgotten in the modern metropolitan island. I was glad she did not live to see the day when it was eventually torn down by the republic's government.

It was ironic that she defended my grandfather's pedigree, the man who had, at one time, driven her to seek momentary refuge in a mad-house. It was, perhaps, a key to understanding her bitter behaviour. My grandfather, an extremely attractive man with set jaw and hazel-grey eyes, was a philanderer. A few months after marrying Mokciknab, my grandfather slept with her cousin, a woman who was physically, the opposite of Mokciknab. The cousin was gregarious and had features that was proper on an Arab belly dancer. My grandmother, on the other hand, was a stern beauty - in old photographs she was a willowy girl with black hair perfectly coiffed, pointed sunglasses, cinched waist, aloof demeanor. In these old photographs she never smiled.

My grandfather's deed could not be hidden from my grandmother - the cousin was pregnant out of wed-lock and eventually gave birth to a daughter, one month before my father was born. A scandal of such magnitude, played out within a repressive Terengganu society of old - I could not imagine how she withstood the humiliation. I was not told of how she made that retreat into the asylum, but she eventually made her peace with both her husband and her cousin, which must have taken so much out of her. Were I in her shoes, I would have surely responded with violence.

The cousin passed away a few months after my grandmother's death. As long as I could remember, the two remained close and the terrible history between them was never mentioned. On her deathbed, my relatives tell me, the cousin was in dreadful remorse for the pain she caused Mokciknab, and indeed, had my grandmother been rewarded with a happy marriage, she might turn out less taciturn.

My husband often tells me of genetic memory, how we are all shaped, quite literally, by the experiences of our forefathers. And he also tells me that I display traits of my grandmother - I gravitate towards anything green, I have employed her manner of speaking, especially when aggravated and I have grown to be exacting in how I want things done. Happily, my circumstances are poles apart from hers. If she lives within me, then I hope at last she found the connubial bliss that so eluded her in her years.

I chose the handle "Mokciknab" to honour and embrace a woman I could not love while she was alive.I chose this name so that I do not forget how far I have come and to remind me of the guilt of having misunderstood my grandmother.
And to never repeat the mistake with another.


Snatching Away the Rule of Law

I was hoping to start my blog without sounding so Jeff Ooi-like, but things like this sometimes surface like matter from a backed up lav.

From www.thestar.com.my >>>
KUALA LUMPUR: The police have begun using the Emergency Ordinance (Crime Prevention and Public Safety) 1969 against snatch thieves early this year.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Noh Omar said the police had begun arresting those suspected to have committed the offence for 60 days after which the Internal Security Minister could decide to detain them without trial in the Simpang Renggam detention centre for two years.

“If the police is convinced that the suspects had committed the offence, they could be arrested under the ordinance,” he said in reply to Datuk Goh Siow Huat (BN – Rasah) during question time in Parliament yesterday.

Now, I have no sympathy for snatch thieves - my husband and I once made a futile attempt to help a woman whose handbag was yanked off by two parang wielding goons on a bike (brave but not very clever) and my own mother almost became a victim herself, had she not put a penyapu lidi to good use. There will be no tears shed for these latterday highwaymen, especially when their acts result in the loss of a human life.

However, to invoke the Emergency Ordinance might seem like using a hatchet to remove a fly from a friend's head. It's overkill. It's reactionary. It's saying that the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code can't be trusted to put away common criminals. And it doesn't solve the real problem - which is the right of citizens to walk in the streets without the fear of being accosted by bandits. We don't live in the times of Groo (okay, maybe only a few understand that reference - let's just say the times of Groo embodies extreme lawlessness)and there should be something that civil society and protectors of the law can do to solve the problem. Like beefing up the police force. And getting the police to act on reports of snatch thefts even when they do not involve a head-line creating death. I read somewhere that less than 20 percent of snatch theft cases were eventually resolved, and it is quite likely that the incident my husband and I witnessed would have been no more than a tick in statistics. Resorting to the Emergency Code might grab attention for its severity - and I suspect it is this show of gravity that is the impetus for the move.

My worry stems from the fact that the government is wont to use statutes that would allow authorities to sidestep the normal requirements of natural justice. Like the right to a fair trial. It may seem okay now when applied to a snivelling parang wielding goon, but what if it snares an innocent man? I may have slept through law school (slept, as in dozed - I swear the sex I had did not contribute in any way to my degree) but I think I can still sense when something's not right. Sending a suspect to Simpang Renggam is an easy way out, and I do hope the Deputy Minister of Internal Security was only using his announcement as a ruse for buying time before coming up with a real solution.


Monday, July 05, 2004
My toe touches water

I have always thought that blogs were made for navel gazing, for the self absorbed, for the unemployed. Now (and this happens often) I think I have changed my mind. Methinks this might be a cathartic journey limited only by the extent of the honesty I am willing to show myself. So here goes.