Wednesday, 17 December 2008

For Malaysians Who Believe: Some Islamic Principles on Inter-faith Relations

Understanding Islam and the Muslims

Does Islam tolerate other beliefs?

The Quran says: God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just. (Quran, 60-8 )

It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world.
History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the Caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city.

Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves.

The Patriarch invited him to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but he preferred to pray outside its gates, saying that if he accepted, later generations of Muslims might use his action as an excuse to turn it into a mosque. Above is the mosque built on the spot where Omar did pray.
Courtesy of IslamiCity.com

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

For Whom The Gift of All Gifts in the Gulf of Arab is Hurled: Fitting Farewell Present For A Foul-Mouthed Warmongering Fuzzy American President

From Times Online
December 15, 2008
Iraqi who threw shoes at George Bush hailed as hero

Philippe Naughton


The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President Bush during his farewell visit to Baghdad was hailed a hero in the Arab world today as thousands marched to demand his release.

Muntazer al-Zaidi tore off his shoes and flung them at Mr Bush as he stood beside Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, during a press conference in Baghdad's Green Zone yesterday.

"This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq," he shouted before being overpowered by security guards and bundled out of the room.

Mr Bush tried to laugh off the row - he told reporters aboard Air Force One last night that he had seen his assailant's "sole" and was collecting other shoe jokes. But al-Zaidi's friends and employers expressed concern for his fate given the embarrassment his action had caused the Government.

Al-Zaidi worked for the independent Iraqi television station al-Baghdadia, which is based in Cairo. Colleagues said that he "detested America" and had been planning such an attack for months.

The Iraqi government however branded al-Zaidi’s actions as “shameful” and demanded an apology from his Cairo-based employer, which in turn called for his immediate release from custody.

“Al-Baghdadia television demands that the Iraqi authorities immediately release their stringer Muntazer al-Zaidi, in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people,” it said in a statement. “Any measures against Muntazer will be considered the acts of a dictatorial regime."

The journalist's exact whereabouts were unclear, although one Iraqi official said that he was being held for questioning at Mr al-Maliki's residence, his shoes having been kept as evidence.

Throwing shoes is particularly insulting in the Middle East, as was shown when crowds of Iraqis used their shoes to whack a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion.

Al-Zaidi is a Shia Muslim in his late 20s who was kidnapped by an unknown insurgent group in November 2007 and held for more than two days. He said at the time that the kidnappers had beaten him until he lost consciousness, and used his necktie to blindfold him and his shoelaces to tie his hands together.

Among those leaping up to support al-Zaidi today was Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's former lawyer, who said he was forming a team to defend the journalist and that around 200 lawyers, including Americans, had offered their services for free. “It was the least thing for an Iraqi to do to Bush, the tyrant criminal who has killed two million people in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
There were demonstrations in support of al-Zaidi in Sadr City, the bastion of the radical anti-US cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, where protesters threw shoes at passing US military vehicles. The footwear was also flying In the holy Shia city of Najaf, where crowds chanted “Down with America".

“All US soldiers who have used their shoes to humiliate Iraqis should be brought to justice, along with their US superiors, including Bush,” said Ali Qeisi, head of a Jordan-based Iraqi rights group.

“The flying shoe speaks more for Arab public opinion than all the despots/puppets that Bush meets with during his travels in the Middle East,” said Asad Abu Khalil, a popular Lebanese-American blogger and professor at Stanislaus University in California on his website at angryarab.blogspot.com.

An Iraqi lawyer said that al-Zaidi risked a miminum of two years in prison if he is prosecuted for insulting a visiting head of state, but could face a 15-year term if he is charged with attempted murder.

In Cairo, Muzhir al-Khafaji, programming director for the television channel, described Zaidi as a“proud Arab and an open-minded man,” saying he had worked at Al-Baghdadia for three years. “We fear for his safety,” he said.
Courtesy of Times Online

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Itulah Ahli Politik Kita Ini Cakap Tidak Serupa Bikin: Are Local Students intellectually Weak?

Inspite of what some members of the public say about them most former students and lecturers of local universities could tell when some of our leaders speak the truth, less than half of the truth, sometimes utterly nothing let alone the truth and a few times quite twisted and heavily manipulated truth. Why have we been able to tell when our leaders tell us the truth? Well quite a large number of Malaysians are endowed with exceptionally good grey matters or to be precise they have got good brains but because of our culture we prefer to remain quiet and let people who are paid to talk to the public do the talk.






I do not really know where this backbencher who says, "local students are intellectually weak" was trained for his early and teritiary education. But most Malaysians like myself obtained our early education in local schools and also from local universities before we decided to go abroad for our post-graduate degrees. After all are we not supposed to be patriotic and supportive of our local academic institutions and in the process also save the country a large amount of foreign exchange? I suppose our backbencher certainly knows why we build many universities in the country nowadays. If our honorable backbencher knows, then there are the more reasons for him to be extra wise and careful with his political remarks because foreign students could miscontrue his baseless and emotional remark and take their money back home to Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, China and most of all Indonesia for safe-keeping rather than for the pursuit of education in a country like Malaysia. Why would the foreign students in Malaysia do that? Simply because our own government official and a government back bencher had just announced and pronounced to every Malaysian citizen and aliens in the country that the products that we are producing in our local universities are low quality and these products are "local students [who] are intellectually weak". Of course people in Malaysia knows which private or government "factory/factories" produces/produce these low quality local academic products or students every year. The honorable back bencher should know too, because he is part of the whole system that determines how many universities we should have, what kind of courses we should offer and how many universities should be called or labelled research universities, national in status and international in outreach or just local and regional in outlook.






In the early 1970s Malaysia only had a few universities in the country: they included University of Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia and many of the present Universiti Malaysia in Sarawak, Sabah etc. However, times have changed, there are many Malaysians who thirst for knowledge - who are keen to go for tertiary education because they had performed well in schools either at the SPM or the STPM levels. Our honorbale back bencher should know this because every end or early part of the year our Minister of Education would announce to all Malaysians the tremendous achievements that we have made in terms of the number of students who had acquired As at the SPM and STPM levels. And quite a large number of these Malaysians are not really that rich; in fact quite a few are really too poor to even afford to send their children for tertiary education in the country, let alone send their children to universities abroad for what is supposed to be "a better education and living experience".



This blogger belongs to that category of Malaysian students who came from a poor family. I could not have gone to a university had the Sarawak government through the Sarawak Foundation not granted me a scholarship to pursue my higher education at a local university. I acquired two degrees locally: a Sarjanamuda Sastera (Kepujian) and a Sarjana Sastera from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. When I was asked to prepare for further academic training abroad I had only applied to two commonwealth universities which were supposed to have good anthropological schools at that time: the Department of Anthropology at the School of Pacific Affairs, Australian National University and the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. I was offered places in the PhD programmes of both universities without any prerequirements. The only requirements that I was asked to fulfill by both distinguished universities were to audit or sit-in for some relevant papers in sociology or anthropology that I had never had the opportunity to do in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. This blogger was not even asked to resit for MA or do an MPhil before being accepted into ANU's or Cambridge University's PhD programmes. Nobody at ANU or Cambridge in England queried me about the quality of my BA and MA in Anthropology from UKM. There was no need for them to do so because both universities which accepted me into their PhD programmes were already aware of the academic quality of the courses offered by UKM even in the 1980s. I was not the first and the last product of a local university who had little difficulty in being admitted by foreign universities for post-graduate courses. Many other local graduates from our humble Malaysian universities have similar experience too because generally our local graduates are of sufficient academic standing and intellectual ability to be accpeted by any top universities in UK, USA, Australia, Germany, France, Russia, Japan or China.




Our honorable Backbencher who has passed this ugly and most unkind remark about the intellectual capability could have done a better back-benching job of trying to discover the root cause of why local students rely on notes from their lecturers, why our local students do not read enough books written either in Malay, Chinese or English rather than just English and why our local students are lazy to do research. For our honorable backbencher's information it is almost compulsory for most of our local students to conduct research as part of the requirement to obtain a degree in certain disciplines. In my former programme or department of Anthropology and Sociology in UKM it was compulsory for all sociology and anthropology students to carry out research, collect data during the research, analyse the data collected during the research and submit what is written about the research to qualify a sociology and anthropology student for a BA with an honours degree. Of course some do well and some do not that well at this BA level research because the amount of time given to do the research and write down the research is too short - only three years. The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia used to pride itself in this BA level research when UKM had the four-year system of education. That is history now because under Dr Mahathir UKM was also one of the earliest to do away with the four-year system of education in order to quote Dr Mahathir to "save costs". People in the other sectors especially the construction and the engineering sector should know what happens to quality when you decide to use less concrete or less steel to build your bridges right? Well, you have seen many of these things in our beloved country called Malaysia-Boleh. When you cut down costs, reduce concrete and steel to build mega bridges then you will bridges are very soft, that easily collapse right on top of every fragile Malaysians heads. You will get "planta margarine" bridges - bridges that melt with the changing Malaysian seasons. The same thing also happens in the academic world when the government or the state decides to reduce grants, reduce the duration of tertiary education and cut down corners - you get poor quality teachers and poor quality students!


There is no way a student who wants to get a degree from my former department of anthropology and sociology can avoid doing research even at the level of BA. It is already part and parcel of the course. Now I wonder where does the Back-bencher get his information about local students not having to do research even at Bachlors's level. In fact, even students studying at private universities like UNITEN have to do research for their bachelor's degree in engineering and what not.




Now about lecture notes. It is already common knowledge that amongst local university students that most students rely quite a lot on their lecturer's notes for their courses. There are many reasons for doing this. One of the main reasons and the most logical is if you are already in the lecture theatres most of the day, what is a better thing to do playing, talking, telephoning SMSing, or note-taking? Do you think lecturers like seeing their students sitting idle in the class room? No definitely not and a wise Malaysian student would always take down notes because lecture notes are something that you can always fall back on to prior to exams or when you have intellectual disagreements with your lecturer. Your lecturer notes could be used for many things including serving as the main course of the menu or the only source of your exam material. Why can't local students write their own notes? One of the main reasons why our local students don't write their own (additional) notes is because of time constraint. The semester hours are really packed and they have only few minutes to rest before they have to rush to another lecture or tutorial class to attend. Time your honorable Back-bencher, time is a luxury that most local universities do really have. And even in Brunei you don't have that luxury. Why? You know in the Malay world you have such a long list of festivals and celebrations - this hari, that hari until finally you are left with no more matahari to even finish your lectures or your whole syllabi. Does not the Backbencher's brother, sister, sons, daughters, nephews and nieces tell you about this. Our country has so many Perayaan - Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban until there is no more hari to do anything else or moe seful extra-things.




As to why the students don't or cannot read that much? I used to ask the same question when I was in my third year in UKM at jalan Pantai Baru in 1975. In UKM history the year 1975 was special because it marked the period of change from the British three-term system to th American two-semester system. What is the difference between the two systems in Malaysia. In Malaysia the three-term system was inherited from the British and the semester system was claimed to be from America. Those who were trained in England would know that under the British three-term system there is an ample lot of time for browsing and reading books that youo borrow from the library. When UKM converted to the semester system, students of my generation in 1975 suddenly realized that they did not have the luxury of the extra time to read books from the library anymore because there were so many courses to completed in a single and every semester and what you have learned from first semester would easliy disappear from your memory next semester because there was simply not sufficient time to digest and reflect on what you have learned in one single semester. Just conduct a national survey on every government university campus around Kuala Lumpur and the honorable Back-Bencher would know the heavy work load that local academic and students have to endure locally compared to their foreign colleagues overseas. So that's why our local students do not do much book-reading. Instead, they only have enough time to read or catch-up on local gossips and scandals from our local Malay or English dailies. In the weeked they have to attend co-co courses or activities and if not these they have to go to the famous BTN courses held in Melaka, Selangor or Alor Setar.

A Typical Malaysian Back Bencher: Just Blame The Victim and Never Bother To Explain The Root Cause of The Problem

thestar online Friday December 12, 2008

Backbencher: Local students are intellectually weak

At the Dewan RakyatReports by LEE YUK PENG, ZULKIFLI ABD RAHMAN AND LOH FOON FONG

LOCAL university students are intellectually weak, not because they get involved in politics but, because they are too lazy to study, says a backbencher.

Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN — Pasir Salak) said the students did not read books but merely relied on notes from lecturers.

“They are lazy to do research and also can’t be bothered to read anything in English,” he said when debating the Universities and University Colleges Bill yesterday.

“This is because it is difficult. A headache for them to do so.”

Meanwhile, amendments to the University and University Colleges Act 1971 were passed after a lengthy debate, despite attempts by Opposition MPs to make their own amendments to the proposed Bill.

Tony Pua (DAP — Petaling Jaya Utara) had earlier submitted 10 proposed amendments to the Speaker.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the amendments would give students a wider form for expression of speech.

He said although they were not allowed to join political parties in universities, the Government was making the first progressive step by allowing students to be exposed to the activities of these organisations.

“The only organisation that they cannot join is the Al-Qaeda,” he said in winding-up the debate on the amendments at the committee stage.

Khaled said students would be exposed to the viewpoints and activities of non-governmental organisations and they would not need approval from education authorities.

Khaled said students would be allowed to organise activities with politicians and political parties on issues related to education.

He refuted the assertion by Pakatan Rakyat MPs that the Act itself was against freedom of expression as provisions in the amendments were in line with limits outlined under Article 10 (iii) of the Constitution.

Student leaders, however, rejected amendments to the Act.
Ridzuan Mohammad, 22, an Undergraduate Movement for Abolishing University and Colleges Act secretariat member said Tajuddin should retract his statement, adding that those who were lazy were only a minority.

Courtesy of thestar online

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