We must debate the Quran!



We must debate the Quran!
By Zan Azlee

I’m a Muslim, or so I claim. I believe in the religion, its God and its prophet. I also sin like the rest of us. I’m like any normal Muslim, I guess. I’m not a religious scholar, imam, qadi, bilal, ustaz, mudim, or whatever. But I do a little bit of reading, studying, travelling, interviewing and asking around.

And on that basis, I feel that is my responsibility and obligation to sometimes stand up for my religion, from those who aren’t of the faith and, most of all, those of the faith. It seems that the number one gripe of Muslims in Malaysia is the fact that there can be no debate when it comes to religious issues.

We put so much emphasis on the form of how we practice Islam that we forget the substance, which is way more important. I doubt God would be raging mad at you if you forgot to raise one finger during prayers, or maybe you missed a spot on the inside of your ear during your wuduk or ablution.
And I don’t think he would curse a land with floods and disease just because everyone wants to use the word ‘Allah’, or some Muslim said the word ‘Christmas’. What happened to studying Islam and it’s different schools of thought, interpretations, ideas, intellectual discourse and so on and so forth?
Anyway, it’s as if Islam came down all those centuries ago and is expected to be the guide for humankind for eternity, without any amendments. Boy, did they get it so wrong! Have they even actually tried to sit down and understand the Quran and the prophet’s hadith properly? [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]
About these ads

Students protest the rising cost of living on New Year’s Eve (TURUN)

Students protest the rising cost of living on New Year’s Eve
By Zan Azlee

As any other New Year’s Eve celebration in Kuala Lumpur, Dataran Merdeka was jam-packed with people who were there to usher in the New Year and to enjoy the live performances that have been organised there for years without fail.

But this year, the situation was a little bit different. A call by Gerakan Turun Kos Sara Hidup (TURUN), Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM), Jingga 13 and Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) saw thousands gathering there as well, but for a different reason. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

The Heat has yet to cool down


The Heat has yet to cool down
By Zan Azlee

And here we go everyone. The clampdown has begun! Shut up your face! We don’t like what you’re saying! Do you think you can say what you want? It doesn’t matter if what you say is the truth or not, or if you have proof or not.

If we say you have to shut down, then you must shut down. There is no two ways about it. We have the power. No matter how technical or minute the issue is, we will go all drastic on you. Do you actually think we care?

We don’t even care if we look stupid by shutting you down. It doesn’t matter if everyone can see right through our intentions. Does it even matter if by shutting you down we would look like regressive neanderthal cavemen? No!

Do you think it even bothers us that we are showing everyone in the world that we are undemocratic? No! Do you actually think that we care if we are seen as uncivilised people who show no regards to human rights? No! [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Holy Water vs. Air Yasin

Holy Water vs. Air Yasin
By Zan Azlee

Recently, while I was casually browsing through the JAKIM (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) website, I stumbled upon something interesting. (Please don’t ask me why I was casually browsing though the website. Just don’t!)

There is this one particular page on the site that caught my eye titled ‘Guidelines for Muslims celebrating religious festivals of non-Muslims’. As a multiculturalist Malaysian who celebrates a slew of festivals, from the Muslim to the non-Muslim kind, I obviously had to read it to ensure my Islamic faith is still intact.

It being the Christmas season, I will look specifically at the points that refer to Christmas, just to keep to a timely theme. Or else, this article would be just too long. The page states that if a Muslim is to attend an event, he or she needs to make sure that the event does not consist of ‘ceremonies that are against the Islamic faith’. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Better resources for freelance journalists


Better resources for freelance journalists
By Zan Azlee

It’s been a year and a half now since I’ve been fully employed at a local news organisation. This is after 10 years of being self-employed as a journalist. Many people didn’t think I would last this long. When I first came in, my new staff made bets that I would last no longer than six months in to the job.

My wife told me straight to my face that she would give me only two months before I would resign and go back to being self-employed. In fact, I didn’t think I would last this long. I came in to it as just wanting to gain a new experience, take it one step at a time and see how it goes.

In actuality, I’ve been enjoying my time being employed and have learned to adapt well to the new environment that I’ve put myself in. Of course, there are the pros and cons. I like the feeling of having a whole newsroom backing me up when I am pursuing a story. I also like the resources available for research and consulting.

But the ever so often must-cover-must-use stories and, worst of all, the management and administration duties, those are a pain in the butt. However, you work towards finding the correct balance for yourself and be happy with it. But of course, it doesn’t stop me from reminiscing about my freelancing days. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

The search for Siti Aishah – Part 3 (The end)


The search for Siti Aishah – Part 3 (The end)
By Zan Azlee

I woke up in the morning (okay, late morning!) and headed out for breakfast (okay, lunch!). There wasn’t really anything I could do but wait and see if any updates crop up. I couldn’t help the fact that the British newspaper, who flew my aunty Kamarmahtum (Mak Mok) to London to meet her missing aunty the alleged slave Siti Aishah, took to protecting their exclusivity really seriously.

I tried calling up the Malaysian High Commission to find out what was happening but everyone I talked to didn’t know anything. It was only much after lunch time that I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer so I headed to their office to see if I could get any better leads face to face.

As soon as I arrived at the Malaysian High Commission, I met one of the staff and he told me that everyone was out and that Mak Mok and Hishammuddin Rais had came over but had also left. I didn’t know what was going on, but somehow, my gut told me that they were on their way to meet Siti Aishah. Again, I couldn’t do anything but wait. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Does Ridhuan Tee consider himself educated?

Dear Assoc. Prof. Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah. What the hell are you talking about?

Does Ridhuan Tee consider himself educated?
By Zan Azlee

I’ve been secretly smiling to myself almost everyday the past week. It is because I’ve been very happy with certain stories I’ve been reading in the media lately. The stories I’ve been reading has given me joy because they are about how Ridhuan Tee Abdullah has been accused of lecturing about ethnic cleansing to his students.

And even before that, a few months ago, he was accused of plagiarism in his academic writings and research papers. Happy happy joy joy! It’s no secret (especially to my regular readers) that I’ve made it one of my life’s missions to counter and destroy his every single racist and bigoted thought.

And when issue of his credibility and professionalism comes into question, I will obviously jump on the opportunity to highlight it. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

The Search for Siti Aishah – Part 2


The search for Siti Aishah – Part 2
By Zan Azlee

When we arrived in London at Heathrow Airport, I left for the arrival hall a few steps before Mak Mok (Kamarmahtum Abdul Wahab), Hishammuddin Rais and the British reporter. What I saw was something I had only heard of all this while of its notoriety – the British Paparazzi. They were out in full force.

They flocked around Mak Mok with all cameras blazing. Flashes were blinding my eyes and television reporters where poking their microphones in the face of my Mak Mok. I, of course, by then had my camera out and shooting the whole thing as well. I was after all a journalist pursuing a story as well.

But Mak Mok had been briefed well by the reporter. She kept tight-lipped and just looked down at the floor as he escorted her and Hishammuddin Rais towards the exit. But the paparazzi weren’t having any of that. They continued to hound her and in the end, Hishammuddin Rais had to stop and make a statement.

“We have no immediate plans yet. Today is just a day of rest for us after a 12 hour flight,” he said.

They were then whisked away in a Mercedes Benz limousine. The paparazzi, keeping true to their notorious automobile-accident-conducive ways, ran along side the car as much as they could with cameras snapping away. I never had a chance to even speak to my aunty during the entire episode. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Flooding and Umno rhetoric… the same every year


Flooding and Umno rhetoric… the same every year
By Zan Azlee

If this week of mine were to be made into a short film, it would probably be broken up into two main juxtaposing scenes that can be put together.

And it also got me thinking. These two scenes seem to be a constant in Malaysia every single year for almost as long as I can remember.

Scene 1

Interior – air-conditioned trade centre building
Kuala Lumpur

The first half of the week involved me being in the Putra World Trade Centre attending the Umno general assembly (as a member of the press and not Umno!). Of course, all the VIPs would be arriving in their luxury cars with their entourages. And when they have their meals, these will be first-class banquet all the way.

Scene 2

Exterior – rubber estate
Kampung Batu 5 Buluh Kasap, Segamat, Johor

The second half of the week sees me travelling to a kampung in Segamat, Johor, which happens to be one of the last kampung to evacuate because of this year’s incredible floods. After holding out for as long as they could, the villagers gave in to the tremendous power of the flood and were forced to move to an evacuation centre.

[Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

The search for Siti Aishah – Part 1


The search for Siti Aishah – Part 1
By Zan Azlee

It’s all across the Malaysian media now.

Astro AWANI editor, Zan Azlee, reveals that Siti Aishah Abu Wahab, the probable identity of the 69 year old Malaysian woman who was a psychological slave to a Maoist couple in London for more than 30 years, is his aunty.

Well, to be really clear, she is really my mother’s first cousin, but still my aunty nonetheless. And I have never met her. She left for the United Kingdom in the 1960s and I was born in the 1970s. So our paths never crossed. But of course, every one in the family knew her story.

A smart and brilliant student who won a scholarship to the UK to be the first Malay woman to study quantity surveying. Siti Aishah was suppose to create history. But somehow, she started getting attracted to leftist ideologies and decided to dedicate her life to it, while severing all contact with her family. And now, most of Malaysia know the story too.

It started on Monday morning when my mother, after reading the news online, noticed that Hishammuddin Rais, the political activist, had declared that the Malaysian woman in the Maoist slave issue could be Siti Aishah Abu Wahab, a left-leaning university student he had met many years ago in the UK.

She called me while I was on my way to work to tell me, and after I made a few calls to other relatives, I manage to confirm the story that a reporter from a British newspaper had indeed contacted an aunty of mine, Kamamahtum Abdul Wahab, the sister of Siti Aishah. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

What’s wrong with incest anyway?
November 22, 2013, 11:00 am
Filed under: internet, journalism, new media, The Malaysian Insider, writing

What’s wrong with incest anyway?
By Zan Azlee

Sex between two consenting adults should not be made a fuss about. A male who is willing and a female who is willing – once they get together, they should be allowed to consummate. It doesn’t really matter if it is between a father and a daughter. Both are old enough to evaluate the situation,  and if they feel it is okay, then why not.

Yes, you guessed it! I’m referring to that case hot in the media where a father and daughter who have been enjoying a sexual relationship were caught by an uncle. The father is 46 years old and at that age, if he still doesn’t have more than enough salt in his system than rice, then I don’t know what to say.

The daughter on the other hand, already 18 years old when she started the 3-year relationship with her father, is legally an adult. Minors are those who are under 16 years. How can you ever doubt the emotions of love expressed by an 18-year-old girl? Love is a feeling so pure, it should not be curbed and suppressed. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

*I have a daughter of my own so this is obviously a sarcastic reaction on my part. My hope is that no one becomes desensitized to issues like these.

Johoreans and their blind pride

johorborn copy

Johoreans and their blind pride
By Zan Azlee

I have always been waiting for the chance to give my hometown, Johor Bahru, a nice, big burn! And it looks like the chance is now. It’s not that I don’t like my hometown, I do. I’m as proud to be a Johorean as any other Johorean out there, even if my family and I moved away way back in 1989.

I was so proud that the Johor football team was the first team in Malaysia to ever win the ‘double’ in 1991– the Malaysia Cup and the Premiere League in the same year. But what really annoys me is the blind pride that Johoreans are known to have. So blind that nothing outside of Johor is ever good enough.

Yes, I know! It’s a generalisation on my part. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. Just read on and you will see (hopefully!). Take my wife and her family for instance. Like me, they’re all from Johor Bahru too, and the things they complain about living in the Klang Valley can be so ridiculous.

“Sorry if the sambal doesn’t taste good. KL chili is plastic chili. Not like in JB.”

(I guess all chili bought outside of JB is fake chili?)

“The spaghetti they use to make Laksa Johor in KL is not as good as in JB.”

(Why a local Johor dish needs to have an ingredient originating from Italy beats me!)

“Wow! This noodle soup is really good! I’m sure the restaurant owner is from JB.”


“What kind of party is this? So boring! They’re not Johoreans, that’s why!”

(Now all you readers are getting the picture, right?)

[Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Singapore and Malaysia – two bigots in a pod?


Singapore and Malaysia – two bigots in a pod?
By Zan Azlee

What’s the difference between Malaysia and Singapore? That’s the age old question ever since the island state decided to opt out from being a part of Malaysia. Actually, it isn’t hard to see that there are many obvious differences between the two countries and among the main ones is food.

I have to admit that the food in Malaysia, especially the street hawker kind, is just far superior from what you can find in Cheen Chia Poh. We make better lontong, better mee goreng, better nasi beriyani, better murtabak, better sup tulang, better prawn mee, better bak kut teh and even better Singapore fried meehoon.

Then there is the law that we have to abide to in Singapore, which are almost borderline mental asylum-style rules and regulations. No eating chewing gum! No crossing the street! No watching TV! No talking! No breathing! No winking! No no no no no no!!

But one thing that they are encouraging is sex! Everyone should have sex and procreate whether you are a man, woman, married or single. Play your role in saving the population! Then, of course, there is the issue about media control. If we Malaysians think that we have it bad with our media censorship and licensing, then we haven’t seen anything yet.

However, these are all differences that we can see on the surface. Look a little bit deeper and we might discover that we all aren’t that different anyway. Recently, the issue regarding Singapore’s banning of the tudung (hijab) by women working in certain governmental organisations and in school came in to the limelight.

Many Singaporeans are against this saying this it is racist and discriminatory. There is even a Facebook movement started called ‘Singapore Hijab Movement’. However, the island’s government says that since Singapore is a multiracial society, the ban is required to maintain the country’s overall social harmony. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

The Malays have been circumcised wrongly


The Malays have been circumcised wrongly
By Zan Azlee

What are the Malays best known for globally? Aside from being the inspiration for the English word ‘malaise’, I really can’t think of anything much. Well, I think I might have the answer as to why this is so. And it is closely related to a certain tribe in Kenya known as the Kalenjin.

I was listening to one of my favourite radio programmes called Radio Lab and it’s latest episode talked about why the Kalenjin are so good at long distance running. They have dominated the sport like no other superhuman group of people has ever done before, coming in the top three in almost every major marathon in the world.

For example, this year’s Berlin marathon saw Kenyans winning first place right through to fifth. And in the Chicago marathon, they placed first till fourth.

According to David Epstein, “There are 17 American men in history who have run under 2:10 in the marathon. There were 32 Kalenjins who did it in October 2011”. Epstein is a sports journalist and writer who wrote the book ‘The Sports Gene’, and was interviewed on the Radio Lab episode.

Now many unproven reasons, or should I say urban myths, have been thrown about as to why the Kalenjins are such good long distance runners. One of the most popular reasons for this is that in the past, the tribe did not have any other mode of transportation other than their legs. So they ran everywhere.

But the actual truth may be due to the Kalenjins having to go through cultural circumcision when they reach puberty. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

I challenge Ridhuan Tee to a ‘telur’ size-off!


A ‘telur’ size-off!
By Zan Azlee

I know Ridhuan Tee wasn’t aiming his latest column in Sinar Harian entitled ‘Mana telur kita?’ specifically at me. But my column today is aimed right at him.

Sometimes I feel quite stupid arguing with what this Chinese man says since what he says is always quite stupid. But I can’t help it. It’s just incredibly fun! In Tee’s latest column, he highlights the fact that no political leaders seem to have the balls to stand up against the infidels and their demands.

First up, he says that how dare the Hindus question the right of Muslims to want to slaughter cows in a public school. Hey pang yau (in case Tee has forgotten his mother tongue, ‘pang yau’ mean ‘friend’)! It’s okay for them to question it.

And it’s also okay for Muslims to concede and do the slaughtering somewhere else. It’s call respecting other religions. Islam says that’s the way mah! [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

A racist Budget 2014


A racist Budget 2014
By Zan Azlee

So it’s been exactly one week since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tabled the National Budget 2014 in Parliament. There I was, sitting in the newsroom listening to him speaking and enjoying the attention he was getting.

So, among the highlights would have to be the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) in May 2014. And at 6%, it is definitely higher than the 4% to 5% that everyone was expecting to be announced.

There is also the cut in subsidy for sugar. It’s going to cost substantially more now so we won’t be a diabetic nation. But it is guaranteed that every other food product in the market will increase in price too.

There is also the increase in the income tax bracket and also the abolishment people having to file their tax returns. So it really looks like Budget 2014 is trying very hard to address the country’s fiscal deficit.

That’s what everyone is focusing on and it’s all good and well. But I think I’ll choose to highlight something else. If you notice, the Prime Minister announced all kinds of incentives for the Bumiputeras and the Indian community.

And guess what? Hardly any incentives were announced for the Chinese community. Actually, there was nothing. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Malaysia… standing in the eyes of the world!


Malaysia… standing in the eyes of the world!
By Zan Azlee

In a previous life, I used to work with the foreign media. But then, a year and a half ago, I decided to go full on in the local media, hence I am now at Astro AWANI. Not much of a story behind the decision. It’s very clichéd actually. I wanted to feel more local stories and tell it to more local people. Basically, I wanted to serve Malaysia (chewah!).

In my opinion, for real impact, Malaysians need to be aware of the issues in their country and in their own context. Only then will they be moved to take action if it so requires. However, news about Malaysia in the foreign media is important because it puts some highlight on to the country and its issues.

Positive news that appear on a global media platform will bring pride and happiness to the people while negative news puts pressure on whoever is responsible. So I thought for this week, I would like to take a look at the different news stories on Malaysia that appeared in the foreign and international media. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Waze is the key to civic-mindedness

photo 1

Waze is the key to civic-mindedness
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia is a country with people that have no manners or civic-mindedness when it comes to being on the road and driving. Behind the wheel, even the most docile grandmother will turn into a vicious, uncouth and vile language-speaking spawn of Lucifer.

It’s like people turn into power-crazy Hitlers when they have an accelerator pedal at the bottom of their foot and feel like they rule the world. I’ve experienced my share of road bullies, with some even on the verge of being violent, when I’ve mistakenly cut in front of their car or forget to give a signal.

I have to admit, I get pretty edgy when I’m driving too. Even the slightest unintentional wrongdoing by another driver gets me screaming and throwing certain fingers around. But I think everything is about to change. And this is all because of a wonderful app available on the smartphone called Waze. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Waze and Umno… can’t trust the change!


Waze and Umno… can’t trust the change!
By Zan Azlee

My father recently started learning how to use Waze on his smart phone. He’s 62 years old, so you can imagine the comedy that ensued for my brothers and I! Of course, we already had our fun when he was trying to figure out how to use his smart phone when he first acquired it (“Okay daddy. You have to turn it on first!”).

But when it came to Waze, that wonderful Jewish app that helps you beat the ridiculous Kuala Lumpur traffic, it just took our amusement to whole different level! As many would know, Waze helps you navigate roads so that you can always beat any heavy traffic. And this is done through user generated data.

It’s kind of like a GPS system, but way better since you would know how heavy traffic is at a location before getting there, from people who are already there. Waze would then also recommend to you an alternative route that would get you to where you want to go faster, if you trust it enough.

My father would type in the address of his destination and off he would go to follow the directions of the sexy voice of Ms. Waze. [Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet
By Zan Azlee

Call me murtad (apostate), I don’t care. Call me syirik (polytheist), I don’t care. Heavy accusations in Islam, these two. I hope the accusers have the necessary proof, evidence and criteria to do so. I, an official Muslim, hereby publicly declare that I have no problems with other religions aside from Islam using the word Allah to refer to God.

Most of the times when I write my column, it is to address a readership that is as wide and as general as possible without targeting too specific a group. But this week, I am writing to Muslims in particular (err, but if you are an infidel, you can still continue reading!), and especially Malay Muslims.

As Muslims, we are obligated to believe in the existence of the prophets and this includes the prophet Jesus, who brought to the world Christianity, and even Moses who brought Judaism. As a Muslim, we are also obligated to believe in the existence of the holy books and this includes the Bible which taught Christianity and the Torah which taught Judaism.

And, when we believe in all this, we also have to believe that all Abrahamic religions come from one God, and in Arabic (the main language of Islam’s Quran) the word is Allah. So, when an argument is made that Christianity and Islam are two different religions, no one can deny it. It’s true. These are two different religions.

But when it comes to God, both these different religions refer to the same God. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet (oh crap, did I just objectify God as a rose?). [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers

%d bloggers like this: