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Month: February 2015

Sex and the clerics

Published in Malay Mail Online

Last week, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was convicted to five years’ jail under an anti-sodomy law that originated from the UK, where sex between males itself has been decriminalised for decades.

Despite all the push towards Islamic laws and against colonial laws, the section in the Penal Code was perhaps retained only because it provides for some sort of “prevention” against a crime feared since Biblical times.

Alleged political persecution aside, the case against Anwar was motivated also by so-called injustice towards his sexual partner Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Protesters had gathered in Putrajaya during the verdict, carrying placards with words such as “No one should get away with sexual molest at work” [sic].

While we should not easily dismiss a victim of male rape, it is equally important that the issue of consent plays little role to convict someone of performing sodomy (rather than receiving it).

‘Tok Guru’ Nik Aziz, the conscience of PAS

An obituary, published in Malay Mail Online

To others, he was known as Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

But to those who were fortunate enough to walk beside him, he was more fondly known just as “Tok Guru”.

It was an appropriate moniker for the soft-spoken leader, a quietly resilient man with an unassuming demeanour befitting his post as spiritual adviser of PAS, Malaysia’s largest Islamist party.

In PAS, Nik Aziz was revered as the party’s conscience and moral compass, often turned to for guidance.

Among fellow politicians, friend and foe alike, he was well-respected as a voice of reason and a symbol of humility.

Over the past few months, Nik Aziz’s battle with prostate cancer saw him in and out of the hospital numerous times. At 9.40pm last night, the ailing leader passed away in the presence of his family at his old home in Pulau Melaka, Kelantan. He was 84.

Open season for racism

Published in Malay Mail Online

The ethnic Chinese community has been here from as early as the 15th century, with the Peranakan community being one of the oldest ethnic groups in Malaysia.

However, more than 50 years after the formation of Malaysia, the second largest ethnic group here is still considered as “The Other”, compared to the Malays and Bumiputera.

And in times of political and economic uncertainties, it is very convenient to bring up “The Other” as a rallying point to unite the majority population.

This is a common occurrence in history.

What is sad is in Malaysia, “The Other” are inevitably a certain part of its own citizens. Even after three generations, the ethnic Chinese are still regarded as strangers and outsiders in their own country.

Year in year out, the spectre of the bloody May 13 racial riots would be brought up. Chinese political parties would always be painted as instigators — allegedly out to topple the Malay status quo.

But worst of all, the myth that the ethnic Chinese are dominating the country’s economy, to the detriment and hardship of the Malays, has persisted and is used as a scapegoat when times are tough. Even when the tough times are ultimately the responsibility of the status quo that holds the reins of the country.

Is liberalism a privilege of the well-off?

Published in Malay Mail Online

I am a journalist earning quite a decent living, and sometimes I wonder if that is why I can afford to write about liberalism.

After all, what good is human rights, civil liberties and personal freedoms when you are still chained by your income status?

I have this belief that arguments about socio-political issues should not be locked into a dichotomy of the liberal versus the conservative, or the secular versus the religious. I think for the most part, the public just does not care much about such issues.

I think most people are much more concerned about issues that affect them directly. This includes money: putting food on the table amid increasing cost of living and the falling value of your cash.

There is health, to stay fit and proper in order to be breadwinners. There is also education, because with more education you can earn more money. Of course, in order to get easy access to health and education, you would still need money in the first place.

The issue of income disparity has pervaded our country for so long that it has morphed into racial rifts thanks to affirmative action, resulting in shows of frustration and entitlement such as the recent protest against luxury development Datum Jelatek in Keramat.