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Category: MMO column

Rapists among us

Published in Malay Mail Online

The return of convicted serial rapist Selva Kumar Subbiah following deportation from Canada has opened up a can of worms about the way Malaysian men deal with the issue of rape.

While Malaysian women were understandably worried, some of their male counterparts, most of them youths, had instead showed their ugly faces as rape apologists.

A few comments made on social media mocked women for their worry, claiming they have no right to complain about rape when they themselves choose to dress sexily and act sluttily.

Some claimed that even fathers will be drawn to rape their own sexy daughters. Others admitted they themselves are capable of rape against sexy women.

Some were baffled that women complained of rape when they themselves commit illicit sexual acts. Do you not enjoy rape too? they asked.

Many think that Selva Kumar’s return is a blessing so that women will now cover themselves up and be more careful for fear of getting raped.

Surely by now many of you readers understand how this is problematic. But I believe that in reality, many of our youths do not see this as such and that is the real problem.

Holding up a cloudy mirror

Published in Malay Mail Online

After the havoc President Donald Trump has wreaked in his two weeks in office, it is hard not to feel schadenfreude for the superpower that has always acted like it knows what is best for the world. Apparently it does not even know what is best for itself.

Trump has not only antagonised journalists, but seems to be on a warpath against the institution. His strategist Steve Bannon — whom many have now taken to mockingly calling President Bannon — has attacked journalists by labelling them the “opposition party”, demanding the institution just “keep its mouth shut.”

Funny how Trump’s White House was so hell-bent on “correcting” the attendance numbers at his inauguration, with blatantly false information given by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer himself; this was later defended as “alternative facts.”

And Trump’s family members just cannot stay away from his administration, as much as Trump just cannot stay away from his business interests. His daughter Ivanka Trump is reportedly playing a quasi-First Lady role, replacing Melania Trump. Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner is serving as senior adviser to the president.

Then, Trump fired attorney general Sally Yates who had defied him, calling her act a “betrayal.”

To the rest of the world, the actions of Trump’s first few days were mighty repugnant. But to some Malaysians, it was just like looking into a cloudy mirror. Such a familiar sight, but much dirtier.

Can the Rukunegara stem the tide of Islamisation?

Published in Malay Mail Online

While Muslims cower in uncertainty in the United States, and maybe soon Europe, it is no secret that equally fascistic Islamists are gaining ground in countries where Muslims are the majority.

In Bangladesh, its Education Ministry was made to remove 17 poems and stories from the 2017 edition of textbooks after a group of conservative Islamic scholars demanded it. Their reason? That the texts were deemed “atheistic.”

In Indonesia, hardliners Islam Defenders Front called earlier this week for Indonesia’s newly-issued rupiah banknotes to be pulled from circulation. Their excuse? That their anti-counterfeit discreet images purportedly show the “communist” symbol of the hammer and sickle.

In Malaysia, where things are going down a similar road, it is understandable that a group of activists is now pushing for the Rukunegara, or the “National Principles”, to be made the preamble of our Federal Constitution, similar to Indonesia’s Pancasila.

A nation of ‘kap chais’

Published in Malay Mail Online

I do not ride a motorbike. My father, himself a wild rider in his youth — complete with a scrambler bike — forbade his sons from ever riding, for reasons we did not bother asking.

My memories of riding pillion on an underbone bike, which we call kap chai, are about hitching a ride to Friday prayers, either with my late grandfather in Johor back in my high school days, or now with my father-in-law in Kelantan.

Living beside a main road in Putrajaya, my sleeping hours are punctuated by kap chai bikes; the shriek of their puny engines magnified tenfold by their vulgar exhaust mufflers as they go by, keeping me worried that the wee baby would be shocked into waking up (fortunately, she never did).

There are dedicated motorbike lanes in most parts of Putrajaya, especially accompanying the wide four-lane roads that go between precincts. They, of course, remain ignored by riders who choose instead the wide roadways.

Still, the bikes remain essential to the working class who needs to cross the massive administrative capital on a day-to-day basis. It is a similar situation for university campuses. Malaysia likes to build things big, but never with any consideration for the humans who would live in it.

Faiz Subri and Malay masculinity

Published in Malay Mail Online

Penang footballer Faiz Subri’s recent FIFA Puskás Award for his bewitching knuckleball free-kick brought its own share of hangers-on and opportunists.

Faiz’s win was incontrovertibly his own, a demonstration of his personal passion and talent rather than a reflection of the state of the country’s football prowess or lack thereof.

A recent video that went viral online showed Faiz’s top five goals, and it served as proof that Faiz’s performance was not really a fluke as he netted one goal after another wonderful goal from an incredible distance.

But over the 11 months since he scored that winning goal, Faiz has had to suddenly carry the hopes and dignity of a country whose team currently ranks 161 in the world below Aruba and above Macedonia, a far cry from its 79th place in 1993 when the ranking was first devised.

Born a Malay, Faiz has also had to carry the burden and pride of the majority ethnic group, which is still struggling with its post-colonial identity even nearly 60 years after Malaya declared itself independent.

Let them eat (halal) cake!

Published in Malay Mail Online

The only times I go to McDonald’s are for completely unhealthy reasons like grabbing supper on particularly hungry late nights or for a quick meal in between assignments.

I have to admit I have a soft spot (somewhere in my tummy, obviously) for their sundaes, Prosperity Burger and the elusive McRibs, which is made of chicken here. (But chickens do not have ribs that huge so what are they but why are they tasty though?)

Therefore, I have to admit that it is baffling that somebody would want to celebrate their birthday in McDonald’s, much like how I am weirded out by students who do their group study or couples who go on dates there. It is a sign that I am either too old, or not old enough.

But I can sympathise with those who do. McDonald’s is certainly not that cheap by Malaysian standards (nor does it have a good price-to-deliciousness ratio), but it is perhaps one of the few places that is welcoming to all. I have to confess that I do not see many birthday celebrations in mamak shops.

So, when it was revealed that the fast food chain only allows halal-certified birthday cakes, understandably it raised quite a few eyebrows. And just like McDonald’s itself, the policy seems absurd, but understandable.