Tag Archives: The Malaysian Insider

Isma, stop undoing progress


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Isma, stop undoing progress
By Zan Azlee

I work very hard in trying to teach my four-year-old daughter that she can do and be anything she wants to and that being a girl or a boy makes no difference at all. What is important is that she is a human being.

But it’s really difficult even in this day and age when one would actually assume that gender equality should be understood by all; but the truth is the opposite. It seems that patriarchal sexism is still as dominant as ever.

Certain friends and relatives always throw lavish praises of how pretty she looks or how a good girl should act so as to look pretty, but never pour positive reinforcements regarding self-esteem, confidence and intelligence.

What is worse is the fact that gender biasness happens even in the public domain. And most recently, even women are putting that extra effort to make sure their fellow women are held down in life.

Isma’s head of family and society bureau, Dr Nur Farrah Nadia Najib, was reported to have said that Malaysia can be a high-achieving nation with the men leading the workforce and the women staying home and raising children.

She went on to say that men should put in most of their efforts in shaping the nation while women should get a good education and stay at home to concentrate on raising healthy and successful boys and girls. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

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Are Peninsular Malaysia’s problems creeping across to Borneo?


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Are Peninsular Malaysia’s problems creeping across to Borneo?
By Zan Azlee

I started travelling to the Borneo part of Malaysia quite late in my life. I was already in my thirties before I went there for the first time. But now I visit quite regularly.

Visiting that part of the country brings a sense of freshness in that it really feels like a totally different country because their culture and philosophy are totally different from that of the peninsula.

The most jarring difference is (yes, you know this was what I was going to bring up now!) the relationship between the different races and religions.

In the peninsula, everything is defined by race and religion. There are the Malays, Chinese, Indians and the Dan Lain-Lain (Muslims and non-Muslims).
But in Sabah it is basically just all the same people, and if any categorisation happens, it is merely between those who eat pork and those who don’t. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

 

What does it say about us if we need the Sedition Act?


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What does it say about us if we need the Sedition Act?
By Zan Azlee

At the start of the Umno general assembly this year, I told myself that I won’t be writing any opinion pieces based on the speeches, debates and discussions there.

Over the years, I have learned that the rhetoric spewed just does not appeal to me. And it is not just with Umno, but with all political parties, from the ruling coalition to the opposition.

The party’s representatives and leaders can say whatever to the public that seem progressive and promising, but when they start to face their grassroots, they play to their tune.

And this is just what has happened this year at PWTC when the main issue to date has been the Sedition Act and how all the party’s wings have agreed wholeheartedly that it has to stay.
This goes against many statements made by some of these same people that it will be repealed. So what has happened now? Why the U-turn? [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Did I really enjoy going to sekolah kebangsaan?


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Did I really enjoy going to sekolah kebangsaan?
By Zan Azlee

I was twelve years old and attending a public junior high school in New York City. It was a social studies class and the teacher was one Mr Nelson.

My classmates and I entered the classroom and Mr Nelson had a copy of the day’s New York Times for each and everyone of us.

It was the year when President George Bush Sr and the United States declared the first Gulf War against Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded neighbouring Kuwait.

Mr Nelson gave us twenty minutes to read the story about the war on the front page of the newspaper. He even taught us how to handle and fold a broadsheet!

Once we were done, we were told that we could ask any question we wanted about the story we had just read and about the war. Anything at all.

We started with basic questions like why the US had declared war with Iraq and why Saddam Hussein had sent his troops into Kuwait.

Then we went on to have a lengthy discussion on whether any of us were actually in agreement or disagreement with the decision of the US to declare war with Iraq. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Which mazhab is the best? Ours?


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Which mazhab is the best? Ours?
By Zan Azlee

I went for Friday prayers at the main mosque in Bamiyan, a city and province in the mountains of northern Afghanistan. They are mainly from the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, as opposed to the Shafi’i here in Malaysia.

The way the prayers were conducted were slightly different in the arrangements of the sermon and optional prayers which I wasn’t used too. And neither did I understand the sermon.

But it was no big deal. The Hanafi school is one of the four main Sunni schools, or mazhabs, and it’s aqidah (creed) is the same. The only difference is the interpretation of fiqh (jurisprudence) and rituals.

So it is no problem for a Shafi’ifollower like me (being from Malaysia) to pray alongside those from the other mazhabs. Through my travels around the world, I have prayed alongside all of them.
Now back to northern Afghanistan on that Friday afternoon about three years ago. After Friday prayers concluded, I managed to catch up with the Afghan Imam who had led it. He was young and very handsome.

I told him where I came from and told him why I was in his country (I was shooting a documentary). We chatted for a while when he brought up the subject of the different mazhabs between our regions.

“Shafi’i mazhab has beautiful teachings. I admire the strong faith that the Malaysian Muslims have. They are known around the world to be very devout in their faith,” he smiled.

I mentioned to him that I noticed the differences in how they conducted Friday prayers the Hanafi way and I was unfamiliar, so I mainly just followed the crowd in the mosque.

“That’s okay. We are all Muslim and we share the same faith. Our structure may be different but our hearts and intentions are the same. We are brothers,” he said in response.

Being the humorist and comedian that I am (and usually in the most inappropriate times!), I mentioned to him that he is the most good-looking imam I had ever met! He laughed and we hugged goodbye. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]