Tag Archives: malay

Finding solace in our public institutions



Finding solace in our public institutions
By Zan Azlee

As a people living in a democratic system, we should be able to find solace in our institutions, of which its responsibility is to uphold the system and ensure that all is good.

These institutions need to uphold democracy and us, as a people, need to uphold these institutions. But the recent events that have happened are a little worrying to me personally.

First up the judiciary, which should be independent from the legislative and the executive. It has had several indecisions that put its consistency in doubt.

Certain cases that had landmark decisions have had these decisions overturned post-appeals and challenges. This would not be a problem since this system ensures protection.

But if you take a closer look at the cases, it would cause you to wonder why the overturning of these decisions happened and its motives.

First case: law lecturer Dr Azmi Sharom challenged the Sedition Act 1948 claiming that it is an unconstitutional act. He, of course, has been charged under the act and will now face trial.

His argument of why it is unconstitutional is because the act was never enacted by Parliament since the Malaysian parliament had not been established yet at that time.

The court had decided that under Article 162, it was enforceable. So that means that freedom of speech can be put aside on matters deemed threatening to national security.

And now the argument here is what is deemed as a threat to national security. The terms are vague and subjective.

Second case: the Federal Court overturned the Court of Appeals decision against the Seremban High Court saying that an anti-crossdressing shariah law is unconstitutional.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that it was unconstitutional and void because it contravened rights such as personal liberty, equality and freedom of expression.

The precedence that this case would set is that the fundamental constitutional rights of all Malaysians cannot be applied when it comes to shariah law.

Third case: the Federal Court dismissed a challenge made by a publisher of a book (Irshad Manji’s translated “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta”) deemed to be un-Islamic.

In this case, the court said Article 10 did not guarantee absolute freedom of speech since it had to be read together with other provisions, including that Islam is the federation’s religion.

Yes, the judiciary has in place a review and appeals system that allows for decisions to be relooked at. But all these cases have already gone through that process.

What happens if after it has exhausted the entire process and the rulings are still worrying? What happens then? What can be done?

Each case stated above actually went through the judiciary in the appropriate way and followed all the necessary procedures and process. Technically, no wrong has been done.

So the question now is, although the due legal process was followed to the letter, has justice really been served by the institution?

[This article appeared originally at The Malaysian Insider]

Dying in Makkah does not guarantee you Heaven



Dying in Makkah does not guarantee you Heaven
By Zan Azlee

I have a strong desire to perform the Hajj.

I’ve had this desire for a long time now, ever since I started travelling extensively in the Middle East about ten years ago.

My travels started as a road to self-discovery through my adventures of making self-reflective and immersive documentaries back in the day.

I was interested in my own identity as a Muslim Malaysian and wanted to explore and find out more by traveling to the heartland of where the religion was born.

I visited so many holy places in so many countries. I can’t begin to describe my feelings as I passed through Shiite country, Sunni country, Druze country, Baha’i country, Zoroastrian country, Christian country and even Jewish country.

And so I can’t even imagine the sensations I would experience if I had the opportunity to perform the Hajj and be in such a holy land.

Which brings me to the tragedies that occurred during this year’s Hajj season, more specifically, the deadly collapse of a construction crane in Makkah, and the fatal stampede in Mina.

There is a wide belief that it is considered blessed if one dies while performing the Hajj and for many, especially the elderly, it becomes like a ‘hajat’ or intention.

Of course, this is, for someone who is spiritual and religious, definitely understandable because dying while doing something good just sounds really nice.

It doesn’t guarantee that that the deceased will enter Heaven, but at least it is hoped and prayed that he or she will.

With all due respect to those who lost loved ones in those incidents, there is a distinction between dying while performing ‘ibadah’ and death due to human negligence.

If there was indeed human error involved in what happened in Makkah and Mina, then those responsible should be held accountable, and action taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

I, for one, would like to avoid dying even if it is while performing any kind of ‘ibadah’. The intention is to continue to live a more enlightened life once I have experienced spirituality.

Al-Fatihah to all the victims.

[This article originally appeared at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Has Umno killed an opportunity for Malay students?

I gave a lecture to a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. It was fun and we had a laugh!
I gave a lecture to a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. It was fun and we had a laugh!


Has Umno killed an opportunity for Malay students?
By Zan Azlee

It is very amusing and funny to see how people make idiotic blunders when they don’t think before taking action. But sometimes, these blunders quite significant impacts.

Take for example, the recent management by the Cabinet minister in charge of MARA, the agency responsible for developing the economic and social development of the Malays.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri had ordered MARA Director-General, Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad, terminate its sponsorship for the next intake of students studying at Taylor’s University.

The Minister of Rural and Regional Development gave no official reason for why the decision was made. But for context, we need to look at the prior developments of the issue.

A few days before, on Malaysia Day, a big rally known as the ‘red-shirts’ rally or ‘Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu’ was organised in Kuala Lumpur to reinforce Malay rights in the country.

Many considered the rally to be racist in nature (and this includes me) and it received a mighty amount of criticism from all layers of Malaysian society.

It was organised by a group of Malays who attempted to push that Malays are the lords of the country and other races need to realise their second class position because they are immigrants.

Racially-based speeches were made, verbal abuse was dished out and judgments were made on both sides of the divide. Personally, I was disgusted.

And as the smoke slowly cleared, realisations started setting in as well. And this brings us back to the issue of MARA and Taylor’s University.

A bus bearing the logo of Taylor’s University was spotted at the rally and it was apparently used to transport and ferry participants in and out of the rally on the day.

Taylor’s then released a statement saying they did not authorise the service of the bus bearing their logo for the rally and it was not used to ferry their students there.

They also announced that they have terminated their contract with the bus operator with two months notice as per the contract they have with the operator.

And the private university expressed their ‘regret on the unintentional association of Taylor’s University with this event (the ‘red-shirt’ rally).

It is clear that the university did not agree with the intentions of the rally and did not want to be associated with it. And when their logo was seen at the rally, they did not like it.

And it is also easy to assume that the reaction by the Minister in calling for the termination of the sponsorship of students at Taylor’s to be associated to the termination of the bus service.

The university has every right in wanting to control the image and reputation and by terminating their contract with a company that was not in line with their wishes.

And, if you go by the words of the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, MARA has every right as well to terminate the sponsorship of students to the university.

Idris said that there needs to be no explanation as to the sudden termination because this was under the purview of the Ministry and no reason needs to be given for it.

But look at these two actions closer. Taylor’s also had every right to do what they did and they clearly made their reasons clear as to why – they did not want to be associated with a racist rally.

The Ministry’s decision to terminate the sponsorship came with no explanation whatsoever, and it came immediately after the Taylor’s decision being made public by the media.

Although there was no official call of support for the red-shirt rally by Umno or any of it’s leaders, Ismail was at one of the meeting points of the rally on the day.

And prior to the rally, the Umno leader had also said that Umno will be there if they are invited and he will be sending party members to join.

Now answer this question that I am posing – for a group who says they fight for the Malays, have they jeopardised this by killing an opportunity for Malay students to gain an education?

[This article was written originally for English.AstroAwani.Com]

The Fat Bidin Podcast (AND ON VIDEO!) Ep 64 – Ahmad Maslan rides his bike at the racist red-shirt rally!

The Fat Bidin Podcast (AND ON VIDEO!) Ep 64 – Ahmad Maslan rides his bike at the racist red-shirt rally!

Zan and Aizyl talk about how the red-shirt rally on Malaysia Day was plain and simple racist!


Listen to more Fat Bidin Podcasts here.

Subscribe to the Fat Bidin YouTube Channel.

Thumbnail Ep 64

There is no such thing as Islamic racism



There is no such thing as Islamic racism
By Zan Azlee

What version of Islam is Tan Sri Annuar Musa referring to when he said that racism is based on Islam? I want to know because if Islam really calls for racism, then I’ve been a bad Muslim!

The Umno Supreme Council member said this in his speech when he attended the ‘red shirt’ rally (aka Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu) on Malaysia Day.

In his speech, he also said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were very touched by the show of support by the rally goers.

It is atrocious to see our leaders reacting positively towards a racist rally that was to show the supremacy of a particular race (they previously said that they were not endorsing the rally).
But back to this racism based on Islam issue. As far as I know, the Al-Quran says in Surah Al-Hujurat:

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you people in tribes and nations so that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

And even Prophet Muhammad had said, in his last sermon:

“There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white – except by piety.”

And even when it comes to people of different faiths, the Quran has already said in Surah Al-Kafirun:

“O disbeliever, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion and for me is my religion.”

Islam itself is a religion that has been stated to be for all of humankind regardless of race and can be adapted and practiced by anyone from anywhere.

So I wonder where Annuar is getting it when he says that he is racist according to Islam. Is there anywhere in between the lines that say the Malay race is superior over every other race?

Does it say anywhere in between the lines that Malays have more right to Malaysia than other races? Does it say anywhere in between the lines that Malays “granted” other races citizenship?

Here is a reminder to those who manipulate religion and politics for their own self interest. It may be easy to fool some people. But you definitely can’t fool all people.

If anything, this ‘red shirt’ rally that took place on Malaysia Day has done a disservice to the Malaysians and really ruined the image and reputation of the country.

It would seem that the country is continuing to move backwards. But I have faith that these people who have marched in Kuala Lumpur today lack something.

What they lack is the conviction and faith that we other Malaysians who really believe in unity and multiculturalism have. We won’t give up.

[This article was originally written for The Malaysian Insider]