Sunday, October 19, 2014

Petronas TVCs - Fact or Fiction?

image credit: The Star Online

Who says Mondays have to be blue? I’m starting my Monday on a high note because last Saturday I was invited to a special screening of the famed Petronas TVCs especially held for the media and creative industry players, followed by a dialogue moderated by comedian Harith Iskandar.

Among the panellists were Star Radio Group COO Kudsia Kahar, World Vision CEO Liew Tong Ngan, film director Quek Shio Chuan, Scope Group CEO Christoffer Erichsen and Teach for Malaysia managing director Dzameer Dzulkifli.

We were encouraged to give our feedback after watching 18 selected TVCs, in conjunction with the Petronas 2014 National Day and Malaysia Day campaign. The screening list was divided into five categories – Love, The Gift of Friendship, Enduring Values, Growing Pains and Social Cohesion.

Initially the feedback centered on the touching, positive and sometimes nostalgic note the TVCs take in depicting the human interest angle of daily Malaysian life.

Then the microphone ended up in the hands of a gentleman in his early 50’s who declared that he is from the advertising industry. He spoke long and eloquently on how he thought the Petronas ads were out of touch with today’s reality of racial and religious polarization because local Politicians were playing the race and religion cards to win votes.

I thought to myself – Harith is in a quandary here. Everyone present was invited to air their views, and this gentleman was certainly doing so with gusto. Harith also could not call him out for being off topic as there were no restrictions mentioned for our feedback. Yet if Harith did not take immediate ownership of the discussion, this could possibly spiral downwards very fast.

It turned out I worried unnecessarily. Starting with my buddy Dzameer and followed quickly by Quek, Kudsia, and members of the audience - Malaysians young and old of all races put this gentleman soundly in his place by declaring that:

1.   The Petronas ads are meant to be inspirational and thought provoking.
2.   Politicians can and will spout whatever they want to, however it is within each citizen’s right to decide whether they want to buy into the rhetoric.
3.   Change only begins when each and everyone of us walks the talk. It is easier to complain and whine than to attempt to change ourselves first.
4.   Politicians who use divisive tactics by playing the race and religion cards can always be replaced by us, i.e the rakyat.       

While all the above points raised were put forward in a rational, diplomatic and non-confrontational manner, the gentleman in question quickly got the message and all present got to enjoy the TVCs and subsequent healthy dicussions.

I’m sure the late Yasmin Ahmad would have approved. Heck, she might have even gone on to make another of her famed TVCs based on it.

The compilation of Petronas TVCs will be available for viewing on Petronas YouTube channel at next month.

I've left you with my favorite Petronas ad. Yes I'm biased because I am a biker. Have a blessed Monday, peeps. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Questions about Selangor

                                                          By Tay Tian Yan, Translated by Dominic Loh, Origin: Sin Chew Daily
To enhance your understanding of Selangor politics, I have come out with the following questions and the suggested answers.

There are no standard answers to the questions for fear this will aggravate social polarization and confrontation.

1. Why do you think Selangor may soon have another election?

a. Because Selangor is more democratic than the other state, and the voters need not wait for five year to cast their votes again.
b. Capture Selangor one more time so that Pakatan can take Putrajaya.
c. PKR needs the Selangor people to help resolve its own problems.
d. To test whether PAS would really withdraw from Pakatan Rakyat.

2. Why must Khalid be replaced?

a. Because he has integrity issue, like most politicians.
b. Because he does not have integrity issue, unlike most politicians.
c. Because he ignores public opinions.
d. Because he ignores party opinions.

3. Why does PAS' stand contradict with PKR's?

a. Because PKR has transformed from a party that did not bother a lot about "integrity" to one that absolutely upholds "integrity."
b. Because PAS has transformed from a party that absolutely upheld "integrity" to one that does not bother a lot about "integrity"
c. The standards of "integrity" defer from one individual to another.
d. In politics, "integrity" is but a joke and a lie.

4. About Khalid's "six sins"

a. PKR decides to replace Khalid because of his "six sins."
b. Because Khalid defies the party's decision to have him replaced, so he has the "six sins."
c. It is not difficult to incriminate a person if you really want to.
d. We used to have the "50 reasons why Anwar could not be PM," and now we have the "six reasons why Khalid cannot be MB."

5. How do Selangor residents benefit from Khalid's replacement?
a. The confiscated Bibles will be returned.
b. No more water rationing in the state in future.
c. Selangor's garbage issue will be solved; so will the dengue problem.
d. Kidex and DASH expressway projects will be cancelled.

6.How will PKR benefit from the Khalid's removal?

a. PKR's administrative power will be consolidated.
b. Family politics will be sustained.
c. More flexible use of the state's RM3 billion reserve.
d. Anwar will get another advisor post.

7. Why does Khalid refuse to step down?

a. Because he has not done anything wrong.
b. Because his party does not want him to step down in dignity.
c. Because Anwar also refused to step down when he was the DPM.
d. Because he has yet to marry off his daughter (Sorry, a mistake. I mean the former Terengganu MB).

8. How to resolve the Selangor MB crisis?
a. Hold fresh state election and let the people decide.
b. The state legislative assembly will vote to decide.
c. The Sultan will decide.
d. Kak Wan and Khalid Ibrahim will be the co-MB's.

9. What can we learn from the Selangor MB crisis?

a. Don't ever trust politicians.
b. Party comrades are not permanent; interests are.
c. What once happened to Anwar is now extended to Khalid.
d. What once happened in Umno is now happening to PKR. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Merry Menteri Besar Go Round

Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim now has the honor of being an independent Selangor MB after being sacked by his party earlier today. He could legally remain as head of the state government as it is a constitutional appointment.

Khalid's sacking by PKR only means that he no longer has the moral standing to remain as MB for the PR coalition. Khalid's options however, are limited as he cannot take his case to the court - the Societies Act bars party disputes to be adjudicated outside the party.

Legally Khalid's position is still intact as his fate can only be decided by the 55 assemblymen from both PR and BN.

PAS and DAP have 15 assemblymen each while PKR now has 13 after sacking Khalid and BN has 12. Khalid can only be ousted if he loses the confidence of the majority of the assemblymen. This means Khalid could remain in office if he survives a no-confidence vote.

In fact, he could reappoint executive councilors from among those who support him in the confidence vote.

According to constitutional experts, a vote of no-confidence against Khalid could be taken in the house or the ruler could take into account extraneous factors in determining if the incumbent MB no longer enjoyed the support of the assemblymen.
On the advice of the outgoing MB, the Sultan of Selangor could dissolve the house or invite another candidate who in his judgment commands the majority in the house to be appointed MB.

In reality nothing has changed following Khalid's sacking as the MB is still a member of the assembly by virtue of him being the Port Klang assemblyman. He also remains MB and his executive council is intact because Khalid has not tendered his resignation to the sultan.

In essence, the expulsion merely puts pressure on Khalid to resign as the morally right thing to do.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Our right to speak up

Original author - Wong Chun Wai. Published in the Star May 11, 2014.
Link to original article

We live in a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia, where any law, whether hudud or civil, will affect all of us.

Seriously, I am fed up of being told that I should not comment on the proposed hudud laws by PAS and the party’s fans because I am not a Muslim.

The argument is that I have no right, and also no understanding of hudud, thus I am automatically disqualified from discussing it.

Another naïve retort is that this issue should be left to learned Islamic scholars.

So we have the likes of people like the Muslim activist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) chief Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman taking this line of argument further. In his inability to articulate his views convincingly and fairly, he has resorted to threats.

In linking the non-Muslims who oppose the introduction of hudud to a particular ethnic group, he has even called the Chinese citizens in this country “immigrants” and “trespassers” and told them to be grateful for what they have enjoyed in Malaysia.

I wonder if the Isma president is aware that although our Constitution defines Malays as those who profess the Muslim faith, it does not mean that all Muslims in Malaysia are ethnically Malay. What about the converts from other races?

I know so many wonderful people who are ethnically Chinese or Indian, but are also good Muslims. How will all these saudara baru feel to be told off that they are “immigrants” and “trespassers”?

And all my Muslim friends who have been to Mecca always tell me how surprised they all were to see Muslims from all over the world, of all nationalities and ethnicities. It is estimated that there are 25 million Muslims in China, far more than the number of Muslims in most of the Arab countries.

And then the Isma president tells us that PAS’ hudud laws should be applicable to non-Muslims – which runs contrary to his argument that non-Muslims have no say. If hudud is going to be imposed on us, non-Muslims, then why shouldn’t we have a say?

Like it or not, the reality is that we live in a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia, where any law, whether hudud or civil, will affect all of us.

We have a sad situation in Malaysia when one is unable to advocate intellectually or, rather, intelligently. Many of us are unable to take part in a discourse with a rational mind, preferring to shut down or, rather, shout down those who take a different stand.

And the saddest part is that these threats mostly take on a religious and racial slant. That seems to be the way Malaysia is heading.

Until now, non-Muslims are waiting for an answer, or to be convinced, as to how a rape victim would be treated under PAS hudud laws if there is a need to produce four male witnesses.

And just because four witnesses cannot be found, it does not mean a rape did not take place. It also doesn’t mean that the woman has committed adultery.

A non-Muslim wants to know how the law would be applied, since the victim and the rapist can be of different religions in plural Malaysia.

Why should the non-Muslim be regarded as hostile, with no rights whatsoever to even bring up such questions?

For that matter, I am sure Muslims themselves would want to know how this situation would be dealt with as well.

To bring it to another level, if the PAS hudud isn’t about amputation of hands and limbs with regard to petty theft, then non-Muslims surely want to know whether those who steal the country’s money via corruption would also be subjected to such punishment?

And, as one writer rightly argued, “What about civil servants, developers and politicians who allow the rape of our forests in the name of development? What kind of laws would these greedy people be subjected to?”

There are many Malaysians, and I dare say both Muslims and non-Muslims, who are disturbed by what is happening in our country.

Those of us who are in our 50s would remember how, during our school days, it was constantly drummed into us that Malaysia is a plural society or masyarakat majmuk. We live in a country of many races and religions, or berbilang kaum dan agama.

We took all this very seriously, and rightly so too. We memorised the five principles of the Rukunegara – Belief in God (Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan), Loyalty to King and Country (Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara), Supremacy of the Constitution (Keluhuran Perlembagaan), the Rule of Law (Kedaulatan Undang-undang), and Courtesy and Morality (Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan).

Then little disturbing changes began creeping into our text books.

We began to notice that Parameswara had disappeared from our history books and was soon followed by Yap Ah Loy, whose founding of Kuala Lumpur was put in doubt.

Surely Abdullah Zaik is old enough to note the contributions of the Chinese and Indians in opening up the country’s economy, unless he failed his exams in school or is too proud and too blind to accept the contributions of other races who have made Malaysia what it is today.

He surely cannot be blind to the sacrifices of non-Muslims in the security forces who dedicated their lives to fighting the communists in the Emergency, and the many MCA leaders who were killed because they were regarded as traitors by the communists.

Ignorant fools and bigots like him should not be allowed to get away with their remarks. If the authorities choose to look the other way, it is as good as telling many of us that such people are tolerated or, worse, even endorsed by them.

Wrong is wrong, and we are glad that former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has the courage to tell Abdullah Zaik off.

And let us not forget the administrators at Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara, who allowed two foreigners – in this case, Indonesians – to speak at a seminar which was essentially a threat to racial and national unity. If it isn’t, most of us do not know what it is.

Again, we would like to know how two foreigners can preach anti-Christianity sermons in a state-financed university whose students also include many Christians from Sabah and Sarawak.

As a student in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, I had to do Islamic Studies, which was a compulsory subject. But I enjoyed the lectures. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about Islam and until today, I defend the wisdom to teach the subject.

I have continued to deepen my study of Islam and I have conti­nued to collect books on Islam on a monthly basis. My private library has one of the best collections of books on Islam, I dare to say.

And as a Sixth Form student, I signed up for Islamic History and in my first year at UKM, I signed up for the Malay Letters Department. On a personal level, there are Muslims in my family too.

I may not be an expert in religion but, like many of us, we will defend our right to speak up. Do respect our rights as citizens too, and our wish to keep Malaysia moderate, which was what our founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman had set out to do for this beloved country of ours.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

More tweet-in-mouth disease

While the nation mourned, former Perkasa vice-president Zul Noordin tweeted that Karpal Singh’s death would allow hudud law to be implemented in Kelantan.

In a series of posting on Twitter, Zulkilfli Noordin said while the Kelantan government was struggling to implement hudud in the state with Umno’ help, God had taken away Karpal, who was Islamic law’s main critic.

“Hopefully, the move to implement hudud in Kelantan is successful. God willing, with Umno-PAS unity and Karpal’s demise, I believe the things are made easier now.” said the former PKR MP.

However, Zulkifli’s tweets received public backlash, including from Youth and Sport Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

“@zulkiflinoordin Shut up. Really, shut up,” said Khairy.

Kuala Lumpur Bar chairman HR Dipendra described Zulkifli as coward for criticising a man who had just died.

“Zul Noordin shows his true nature: He is a coward and only cowards attack a dead man,” said Dipendra.

Human rights lawyer Syahredzan Johan said it was time for people to name and shame such people for their rude remarks.

“More so when they are politicians. We must remember what they said, and hold it against them when they seek office again,” said Syahredzan, via Twitter.

Karpal was known to be a fierce critic of hudud law being implemented in Malaysia, arguing that nation’s constitution is based on secular laws. He once famously said that hudud would only be implemented “over my dead body”.

Meanwhile, PAS central committee member Dzulkefly Ahmad said Zulkifli’ statement is doing “a great disservice” to Islam.

“It shocked us knowing that Zulkifli has come out with an insensitive remark, it is such as a great disservice to Islam.

“PAS may have a lot of difference with Karpal, but we stand to give him respect, he is a towering figure in the nation he has served,” said the PAS central committee member.

Dzulkefly also criticised the Perak police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani for picking on traffic offences recorded by Karpal’s vehicle right after his passing.

“They should be a bit more sensitive, and be gracious and benevolent to the passing man, because we all know sometimes MPs are caught in a mad rush to serve their constituencies, and unlike the minister, we don’t have an escort team,” he said.

Perak state assembly speaker and former MIC vice-president SK Devamany also denounced Zulkifli over his disparaging remark.

“The remark is uncalled for and an uncivilised one to be made against a great statesman. It goes beyond the spirit of nationalism and Islam,” he said.

However, in later postings, Zulkifli heaped laurels on Karpal, saying he was one of the few who dared to take up cases against the government.

He also said that Karpal was generous in giving legal advise to junior lawyers and commended the veteran lawyer for taking up a lot of cases on a pro bono basis.

“His office serves almost like a welfare office to help the poor. To Karpal,your roar for the poor & your voice against injustice, either in Parliament or in court will be missed by many. Goodbye my friend!

“To my friend Gobind Singh Deo & family, do accept my deepest condolence.I am sure Karpal’s name will be tinted in gold in the history of Malaysia!”