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Month: February 2012

Teach me about sex

Published in The Malaysian Insider

Forget that when people think about sexual prowess, they don’t automatically think keropok lekor. Forget that the amount of Tongkat Ali additive available in health supplement products is too little to work. The fact that Terengganu thinks it’s a prudent idea to sell Tongkat Ali-laced keropok lekor reflects that there is a sizable demand for it.

Perhaps it is time to admit that our society is obsessed with sex. More accurately, we are obsessed with ubat kuat-kind of sexual performance, but not so much the aspects that would benefit from sex education.

Last month, my fiancee and I attended the nationally-mandatory two-day kursus kahwin. If anything, we were looking forward to the class about sexual health, in particular family planning. Instead, we were left unsatisfied (your mileage might vary).

How many kids do you think can a woman bear in her lifetime? Six? 10? By some dubious mathematics, a preacher suggested that women can bear 30 kids in their lifetime, and therefore the participants must breed as many children as biologically possible.

“If you don’t breed, we Malays will be over-run in numbers by the non-Malays. We will then lose our voting power,” he explained. “Just look at Singapore, where Muslims are the minority.”

It sounded like a bad joke, but many of the participants took the advice to heart. The preacher also warned against masturbating: “Your testes are gifts from God, the human race will disappear if you don’t take care of your sperm.”

“You only have 30 million sperms in your ejaculate, you need as many of them as possible to inseminate the egg,” he urged sternly. I hesitated to tell him that’s not exactly how it works.

This emphasis on performing as a way to prove your manliness, and delivering babies upon babies is in stark conflict with the attitude towards unmarried couples who are expected to remain chaste.

In denial over evolution, in denial over science

Published in The Malaysian Insider

“Malays have no problems embracing science when it supports their pride, but they won’t even acknowledge the theory of evolution,” a friend remarked after reading the news on proto-Malays. It might sound like a broad sweeping statement, but it is obvious that most Malaysians, and by extension most Malays, have strong disagreement with the subject despite being poorly educated on it.

When asked “Did human beings develop from an earlier species of animals?”, slightly over half of Malaysians answered “false”, a mere 17.4 per cent answered “true” and the rest were unsure. This statistic was then published in the most recent report on scientific and technological awareness by the Malaysian Science and Technology Information Centre (Mastic) in 2008.

In comparison, almost half of those surveyed back in 2004 answered “true”, 21 per cent answered “false”, and the rest unsure — a complete opposite of 2008’s result.

Suspiciously, Mastic decided that the correct answer to the question is “false”, contrary to the answer in the American and European version of the survey. The decision was, according to them, “for many different reasons not to be mentioned in this report.” By their own admission too, this had eliminated any fair international comparison for the survey.

It is no secret that there are some of our medical students overseas who purposely skip their evolutionary biology lectures “in protest.” Steve Jones, emeritus professor of human genetics at University College London, claimed that an increasing number of Muslim students in UK had been boycotting his lectures.

In TV AlHijrah, we have a government-owned (read: taxpayer-backed) Islamic TV channel which freely airs pseudo-scientific and pro-creationism drivel such as the show “Signs of Creator”. This is just one of the many works by cult head Adnan Oktar, more known and idolised in Malaysia by his pen name Harun Yahya. I tried watching it the other day, but lost my patience by the time it got to the “Miracles by Prophets are Proofs that Evolution is Wrong” section.

What in the name of Darwin happened here?