Tag Archives: malaysia

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]

The Fat Bidin Vlog (Ep 10) – Blue skies in Borneo (The Borneo Eco Film Festival)

The Fat Bidin Vlog

Ep 10 – Blue skies in Borneo (The Borneo Eco Film Festival)

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The Fat Bidin Podcast (ON VIDEO!) Ep 66 – Umno love letters

The Fat Bidin Podcast (ON VIDEO!) Ep 66 – Umno love letters

Zan and Aizyl discuss love letters revolving around Umno and its members. From legal matters to show cause responses, you can’t tell if you’re reading news or satire.


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We can’t afford fast Internet, duh!



We can’t afford fast Internet, duh!
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia has never run dry of politicians who say the darndest things. And this is even more so in recent times when statements made by them are like funny one-liner comedy routines.

The most recent one was made by a new minister, who assumed his role roughly about two months ago, during a Cabinet reshuffle.

If you still remember, this Cabinet reshuffle saw the sacking of two senior members, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal. It was a controversial decision.

Now that you memory has been refreshed, back to the point of my column this week: Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak says the darndest things!
He was reported to have said Malaysians prefer to have slower Internet speeds. His conclusion was based on data showing 71% of Malaysians chose slower, cheaper Internet packages.

This is quite a ridiculous conclusion. One reason is that there can be no way that an average Malaysian would prefer an inferior service over a superior one.

If you had a choice of either driving a top-of-the-line Porsche and the most basic Proton, and where price is no issue, which would be your first pick?

But the thing here is that a luxury car is not a basic necessity while the Internet is considered in the developed world to be a basic human necessity.

It is more an issue of affordability rather than preference. Malaysia is well known for having one of the highest Internet prices in the region, if not the world.

Because of monopoly in the industry, prices have remained consistently high while quality has been inconsistent to say the least.

It’s not because they don’t want to, it just means that most Malaysians really have no choice but to choose a cheaper Internet package due to affordability and suffer through slow speeds.

Now, I’m not the only person saying this. Some prominent individuals have also criticised what Salleh has said, including former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

She said it was shameful for the world to think, from the statement made by Salleh, that Malaysians were so backward in wanting to have slower Internet.

I am currently in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, attending and conducting filmmaking workshops at The Borneo Eco Film Festival, and the feeling here in Sabah is of shock and surprise.

Salleh is a Sabahan. He was the chief minister of the state from 1994 to 1996 and is currently a Senator in the Dewan Negara. He is the same age as the American actor Kevin Bacon.

One Sabahan I spoke to said that “he used to be quite normal before he became a minister”, while another, after hearing his name, said that “isn’t he a famous novelist?”

Earlier in the year, I had a sit-down interview with the then Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek (who also is the same age as Kevin Bacon).

He was telling me of the Malaysia’s efforts in trying to build and develop the infrastructure in order to improve the speed and quality of the Internet.

Ahmad Shabery also stressed on how the ministry was trying its best to create an environment which would bring prices to a more competitive rate.

Hmm… now I’m wondering if Salleh was given a proper handover report from his predecessor.

[This article originally appeared 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]