January 2006 Archives

When a Malay isn't a Muslim

The case of Nyonya binti Tahir is a landmark ruling, with some massive precedential influences over such future cases. For the first time, the Syariah Courts acknowledged the possibility that Malay in Malaysia isn't necessarily a Muslim.

Earlier, Siti Sharlina had told the court they had made the application after the deceased’s identification card, which carried the name "Nyonya binti Tahir", indicated she was a Muslim. Siti said the word "binti" and name "Tahir" were normally Malay and Muslim, while the records at the National Registration Department (NRD) had also indicated Nyonya’s race as Malay. She referred to Article 160 of the Federal Constitution, stating that a Malay was a Muslim. However, Siti said the applicants had also asked the court to consider that the deceased had lived and practised the Buddhist faith since young. Siti said the deceased had said in her will that she wanted to be buried according to Buddhist rites.

via NST.

From the information in the news report, it seems the deciding factor for the courts was that (a) she wasn't a practising Muslim and (b) her will stated she wanted a Buddhist burial. Its interesting that the two in combination can over-rule the Federal Constitution Article 160 which says:

"Malay" means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom and - (a) was before Merdeka Day born in the Federation or in Singapore or born of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or in Singapore, or is on that day domiciled in the Federation or in Singapore; or (b) is the issue of such a person

via Helplinelaw.

Without a doubt, a massive decision that will be discussed for a very long time. The next landmark case will involve someone who is actually still alive -- a Malay, in his lifetime, makes an application to not be a Muslim.

Snoop squad fiasco

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Tuesday this week JAWI director Che Mat Che Ali announced the formation of the moral "snoop squad" -- people who would act as "moral policemen who can't make arrests" and "impromptu firemen" (quotations are my own). By Thursday, the Cabinet told JAWI to forget the idea. Today, JAWI replies that it wants more time to explain the purpose of its snoop squad before a decision is made to shut them down.

What a bunch of idiots, the Cabinet has already said "No" and they still want to waste everyone's time to explain. What can there be to explain?

JAWI PR officer, Idris Hussein had this to say:

“They are only tasked to talk to the people and they are not allowed to harass them,� he added.

Response: A lot of people find talking to them about their morals a form of harassment.

“The volunteers are tasked to provide us with information on those who commit indecent acts,� he added.

Response: This is an invasion of privacy, clear and simple.

“They are to educate the people and get closer to them so they can explain to the public why they should not be involved in unhealthy activities.�

Response: Do this in the schools. If you fail in the schools, then what makes you think you can succeed teaching this lesson outside of them, if indeed it is your intention to educate.

PAS Youth vice-chief Mazlan Aliman said,

“A committee can be formed to monitor the activities of the volunteers and act on complaints of intrusion of privacy and to prevent abuse of power."

Response: Yup, waste more time and taxpayer's money, that's the right thing to do.

Formula for disaster: Take a bunch of VOLUNTEERS, give them a badge or some green jacket and white kopiah that gives them the authority to "talk" to you, or report you to JAWI = harassment, embarassment, and 75 holier-than-thou jerks.

This is another Squatgate waiting to happen. Why do it? You know something is going to cause problems, yet you go ahead with it because its the "holy" thing to do. Too many people trying too hard to go to Heaven.

Islamic Sex

While Malays in general are uncomfortable talking about sex, its not always been obvious to many Malaysian Muslims that Islam is actually quite open and frank about it. A ton of literature written by a ton of Muslim clerics and learned scholars over the centuries, if compiled would make one hell of a sex manual. It would also probably leave you completely confused because everyone seems to have a different opinion over something related to sex.

For example, some clerics think you should keep your clothes on when you're making love to your wife. Some clerics say that anal sex is sinful, while others say its a cool form of contraceptive. Masturbation? Depending on which side of the River Nile you live on, you'll either be burned at the stake for "wagging the sausage" or you'll be praised for finding ways to relieve your sexual urges. Oral sex? Some clerics say its ok (perhaps their wives are great "oralists"?), some clearics say its prohibited because it wastes sperm.

On masturbation, this is particularly funny:

The "proven" medical effects of masturbation - which, of course, include damage to the eyesight - were once listed by Abd al-Aziz bin Baz, the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and his list is reproduced on numerous Islamic websites. According to bin Baz, masturbation causes disruption of the digestive system, inflammation of the testicles, damage to the spine ("the place from which sperm originates"), and "trembling and instability in some parts of the body like the feet". In addition, there is a weakening of the "cerebral glands" leading to decreased intellect and even "mental disorders and insanity". Furthermore, "due to constant ejaculation, the sperm no more remains thick and dense as it normally occurs in males". This results in sperm which is not "mighty enough" to make a woman pregnant or produces children who are "more prone to disease and illness".

via Guardian Unlimited.

Who is right? Who do we listen to? Some may say that because we live in Malaysia, we follow the fatwa of Malaysian clerics and imams. But what if i were to move to Australia or the US/UK? Does that mean i follow their rulings? Can religion be as easy as that? If it is, then it shouldn't be. And if it isn't, then it doesn't make sense to live in another country but prescribe to the religious fatwas of a completely different community/country.

Supplementary question: if we are dependent on the fatwa of clerics to clear up the finer points of Islam, when do we use our aql to decide for ourselves? Perhaps its better not to even bother asking them when you have a question: their opinion is probably no better (re: scroll back above to revisit examples) than what your own rational mind can come up with.

What is wrong with the PDRM?

Reading this, then this made me very upset. What the f*** is wrong with our police??

Then reading this gave me some hope, before i re-read it and realized that everything was just a "recommendation".

Proton in bleeding from the inside

Proton has taken a remarkable number of public hits in recent months. M(squared) giving them a shafting, 11% disappearing off their market value, VW dumping them -- its been a horrendous run of affairs. What the public hasn't seen yet is the internal affects these events have had on the organization. After a chat with some people in the know, it seems that Proton is bleeding badly from within: staff morale is low, "hardcore" Proton employees are devastated at the stock slump, "ship jumping" is becoming increasingly common. Its a tough place to be right now, and things may get worse before they get better -- the only guarantee that Proton has right now is that being a GLC, the Government won't let them fall too much further.

I was on the road this morning, and i was suddenly flanked by two very sporty looking cars -- not sure what make or brand they were, but the curves on them we very pleasing. No doubt, they probably also perform as well as they look, and i dreamed for a split second what it would be like to drive on of those cars. The moment i had that thought, my mind flicked to Proton and it occured to me what they were trying to do with MV Augusta and Lotus and even VW was the right strategy: it made me understand even less why they weren't following through on those projects more aggressively.

Proton started with the strategy of cars for the masses -- cheap little square boxes all Malaysians could afford. When they tried to export these quaint moving rectangles, obviously the sophisticated, spoilt-for-choice European, or Australian/NZ consumer would have nothing to do with it. Then Proton bought MV Augusta and Lotus, hoping to raise their profile and gain access to upper-end vehicular technology. But the problem is that, even after so much money spent acquiring both companies, so little can be shown for it.

Wouldn't it wonderful if we could see on-the-road today, Proton cars of remarkable quality, style and sophistication? Cars that would elicit the same response i had when i saw those sport cars this morning. Cars that would provoke the desires of the consumer. These cars would probably be priced out of reach of the average Malaysian, but that wouldn't be the point of the whole exercise anyways -- the point of it all would be to build mind-share and brand equity for Proton. For all the things that Proton has, that is the thing that is most lacking.

Ferrari makes very few cars each year -- i believe every car is finished by hand, thus making them very slow (and costly) to produce. Couldn't Proton take the same route -- with the amount of money Proton has lost in bad deals, it could be argued that cost shouldn't be an issue. Hire the best and brightest in the industry, pay them whatever they desire, and design and build a line of must-have uber elite cars. RM384 million (which was the price Proton paid for MV Augusta) would be enough to do something like that. And unlike MV Augusta, perhaps Proton would have something to show for it after all that money spent.

If current organizational structure doesn't allow for that sort of expense or strategy, do what Toyota did, and branch out into Lexus. Proton is a third world company in a third world country -- that is ultimately true, and in the minds of the sophisticated consumer, that makes their cars decidedly third world as well. It doesn't have to be that way -- branding is all important and can make a significant difference in influecing the spending decisions of the consumer. There is still time to turn things around, but if Proton doesn't act soon, then it will bleed itself to death.

Justice has been served

Some people would say that she was foolish to give chase. Some people would say she was careless of the life of her brother who was riding with her. Some would even say that she is legally liable for the death of the thief who died after she rammed her bike into his.

A snatch thief on a motorcycle was killed when he crashed into a wall while being chased by his victim in Sungai Buloh today. In the 4.30pm incident, the snatch thief, riding with his accomplice, snatched 19-year-old R. Jeyalakshmi’s handbag from her motorcycle basket while she was on her way home after fetching her younger brother from tuition.

via NST.

I would say, this is justice served. Snatch thieves should be run into the ground, then back up over them again to make sure they're dead.

All schools are not created equal

I call "bullshit" on this item.

"Education director-general Datuk Ahmad Sipon said all schools had the same facilities and the ministry had worked to ensure they all had good teachers. Therefore, every school was a good school, he said."

via NST.

Have you seen the quality of some schools in elite areas such as Sri Hartamas, Bukit Damansara and Taman Tun Dr Ismail? They are freakin' amazing. My alma mater in Bukit Damansara has a state of the art running track, a meticulously cared for lawn, and an air-conditioned hall. The PTA there is swimming in money (all the rich datuks and tan sris) and the teachers must be pretty good too, because UPSR results every year are definitely way above average.

Schools are not all the same. Datuk Ahmad is lying or terribly misinformed.

MAS revealed

Working with several large multi-nationals over the course of my career, one of the common features i've noticed is that large organizations rarely do things cheaply when there is a more expensive route to take.

Paying a consultant RM5 million to tell us what we already knew. Throwing more good money at a project that has lost a lot of great money already. Paying RM5 to do something RM1 would have done.

A terrible amount of operational and organizational inefficiencies seem to be the hallmarks of large organizations -- it looks like MAS is no different. It was revealed in the NST that 76 MAS routes across the globe were not profitable, and still they ran those routes.

Airline officials told the New Straits Times that MAS registered losses of nearly RM500 million on 76 international routes, while breaking even or making money on 39 other routes. The most unprofitable routes were those covering the Orient and North America, where losses were RM167 million, followed by Europe/Middle East (RM151 million), Australia/New Zealand (RM91 million) and Asia (RM40 million). Of the 37 Orient and North American routes, only nine were profitable. Of the 19 Europe/Middle East routes, only three were profitable.

via NST.

You just can't help but wonder why did MAS persist with these routes, in the process losing RM500 million over the years. Was it to maintain appearances? Was it due to dogged stubborness? Was it because the routes were inherently profitable but major screw-ups in the organization made it impossible to get a profit off them? Its just mind-boggling the amount lost by doing something you knew was losing you money.

Sometimes, i reckon you should allow these big companies be run by small businessmen -- for them the rule is so much more simple: every day, make more money then you spend = profits. How hard can that concept be to understand?

Idris Jala is doing the right thing, so far. Liquidating assets, cutting costs, building up a war chest of cash (with the help of the rakyat's money of course) -- but some more tough decisions need to be made soon, like cutting the workforce down in size.

Its still not too late for our flagging air carrier to turn things around. The next few months will be interesting for MAS.

Mahathir: Chief Shafter

Once again, Tun M has proven to be the quintessential shafter.

Has God marked us?

Its seems like a remarkable coincidence, but it got me thinking whether God has marked us with tell-tale signs of our personality and character.

People with tahi lalats (small moles?) near their eyes have beautiful eyes.

Those with moles near their mouths on their upper lip have the gift of the gab.

Those who have them on their hands are hard workers.

Those who have them on their backs and shoulders are able to carry a heavy burden (responsibility wise).

Women who have them on the breasts are sexy in form and personality.

Men who have them on their ears make good leaders.

Or so i've been told. My personal observation seems to confirm many of these "theories". What do you think? ;)

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2005 is the previous archive.

February 2006 is the next archive.

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