Wednesday, 31 December 2008

"Transformers" - In search of "Optimus Prime" ....

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Last Christmas, after a very long time, I watched a movie which I considered "spinal" - it was "Transformers"!! There were two scenes which really caught my attention (other than the fantastic special effects)- the first was that of "Optimus Prime" asking that he be sacrificed so as to destroy "The Cube" and hence, the "deceptacons".
The other was when a harmless cellphone was transformed into a hyper-active & very destructive robot (a "deceptacon") when given an energy pulse from the cube.

Coming to our real world, it would not be too far fetched to imagine what the corrupting power of politics does to seemingly harmless, virtuous and idealistic men, when in power. In Malaysia, we have seen what three decades of the "Mahathirism" energy has done to Barisan Nasional and the country at large.
On the other side of the fence, we have an alliance of the most unlikely partners in PAS and DAP, with PKR as the cementing factor. On either side of PKR, although they march in formation, they appear to be heading in different directions, with very different motives. Depending on the strength of the "pull" on either side, Newton's Laws dictate that it is inevitable that PKR be swayed in either direction, should the pact prevail.

Pas appears to insist on its hardline/dogmatic Islamist stance (despite its apparently "accommodating" politics of late), while its pragmatic partners are more concerned with the socio-economic and political realities. The bottomline in PAS's politics seem to the people, is to be having a greater say in policy matters, without accepting the status quo as it is within the PR. A certain faction appears to be bent on creating discontent within its folds by looking for ghosts under the bed.
They're disturbed & ill at ease with the fact that the other partners have surpassed them in political achievement, despite their weaker "networking" - which makes them vulnerable to "Islamic overtures" from Umno.

First, it was the "muzakarah" by Hadi & Nasha which we all know about, then it is the "hudud" factor. They seem to be bent on creating a Sharia state while hiding their true intentions, with the Pakatan only as temporary allies.
They seem to be oblivious to the fact that they would hold greater sway among the Malays and the non-muslim electorate, should they be more progressive in their ways.

RPK did support Hudud "In principle", and without a doubt, with the impending KT by-elections, they are only using religion to "buy" votes among the conservative Malays of KT.
"In Principle", I too would support Hudud as a deterrant. After all why should a non-muslim complain when there'll be greater job opportunities, when their Muslim brothers walk around handless, right? Moreover, we can expect aspiring hand/ micro-surgeons of Malaysia to get much needed practice in putting hands back on those who win their appeal or at least get some medical tourism from hand/ feet (or other body parts) transplants ..... & Malaysia can be at the cutting edge of medical sciences plenty of hand donors too!

It beats me how they can say that Hudud is fine, as it doesn't affect the non-muslims when it is divisive in nature and destroys the idea of nationhood where the people are meant to live in equality under the same laws.
Hadi likens Hudud to surgery! Discussing Hadi's silly analogy would be an insult to my intelligence - so I shall leave that to the PakCik-MakCiks of Kg Cenereh/ Menjing/ Keruak or wherever, and let it pass (until of course, the day medical sciences classify Muslims differently & devise special surgeries for Muslims only).
In defence of hudud, there was an article on this matter by Zulkifli Sulong in The Malaysian Insider, equating Hudud with circumcision! It was entitled "William Leong antara khatam dan hudud". Are these columnists so brain-dead that they don't see the difference?
Let's forget the fact that Zulkifli Sulong spelt "Khatan" wrong - but to equate & compare the two, is simplistic and myopic at best.
One is a religious ritual/ covenant adopted by the faithful, while the other is a set of laws that prescribe irreversible mutilation as punishment of people declared convicts (which may be out of error, in the corruption prone human judgement), and places a Muslim's testimony above that of non-muslims', in a court of law (even if the Muslim lies).

It isn't that I oppose the spirit of Hudud per se - but I do not understand what is so "unIslamic"/kafir/jahilliyah with common law which has created dynamic societies and defeated outdated societies of the caliphates (other than what they claim the good book says). That too, when many a Caliph/ "Islamic" leadership ascended their "thrones" in less than ethical ways.
Why can't the PAS leadership stop using religion as a divide so as to achieve their ambitions of political power. Are they so bankrupt of ideas, that they have to keep harping on Arabic literature the unethical leaders of medieval times, just because they used sacred literature to justify their ideas?
Do they need to speak in unintelligible Arabic tongues to hoodwink the peasants?
They seem to be so focussed on Arabic culture/ "Islamic" laws and edicts, that they forget about instilling positive "values" through modern, progressive and scientific education.
The negative connotations of their insistence on dogmatic religiosity/ politics, does nothing to increase their stature as leaders who are in touch with the socio-economic realities of the 21st century.
Have they forgotten what "theology" is all about in preaching religious politics, or are they trying hard to be what RPK might've implied?

What is Hudud?
Noun - 1.hudood - Islamic laws stating the limits ordained by Allah and including the deterrent punishments for serious crimes
Islamic law, sharia, sharia law, shariah, shariah law - the code of law derived from the Koran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed; "sharia is only applicable to Muslims"; "under Islamic law there is no separation of church and state"

Here is what Aliran wrote in 2002:-

10. Is there a chance that Hudud may overstep the legal rights of non-Muslims?

In all likelihood it will. As Malaysia is a plural society and where the concentration of one ethnic community is not necessarily confined to one region or state there are bound to be clashes and overlaps in application. For example in any crime the victim and perpetrator may be of different religions. If the alleged rapist is a Muslim and the victim is a non-Muslim, there will be the question as to under what law the charge would be brought about. Under Hudud the alleged male perpetrator may stand to gain because of the impossibility of getting the testimonies of four Muslim male witnesses. Under Hudud, Muslims who commit robbery of property that is valueless in Islam e.g. liquor or entertainment equipment will have a chance of escaping any prosecution. In another worst-case scenario, such as in an incident of gang-rapes, where there are multiple perpetrators and victims (comprising Muslims and non-Muslims), eye-witness accounts of the rapes which may be offered by the victims would not be admissible as evidence as they may not be Muslim and male. In all of these hypothetical cases non-Muslims will stand to see justice taken away from them.

11. What effect will Hudud have on race relations?

The bleak scenario is that Muslim and non-Muslims will be forcibly divided not just in the cultural and social sense but in a legalistic sense too. A parallel legal system established exclusively for Muslims will lead to the enhancement of structural discrimination, where race and religion (and gender) can be legally invoked to justify unequal treatments and other unfair provisions in society. Eventually it will also lead to a geographical divide between Muslims and non-Muslims where one can expect an exodus of non-Muslims to more “non-Muslim” states or even emigration abroad.

17. What is to be done?

It will be difficult to repeal any law once passed. The strategy of stalling the implementation of Hudud (in the Kelantan case) is only temporary. If PAS manages to win the overwhelming support of the Malay electorate there will be less of a reason to postpone the implementation of the law.

On a long-term basis the struggle to repeal Hudud law must involve the struggle to repeal all draconian and unjust laws, whether passed under religious or secular guises. All laws that violate the principles of human rights and equality must be abolished. The movement to institute human rights is not necessarily western-oriented. It is as much a cultural need to want human dignity to be protected as it is a universal obligation to appreciate the rights of a community to cultural and religious practice. However, ultimately we must recognize that the greatest rights worth defending are rights that are invoked purely on the basis of us being humans. Which means equal treatment, equal access to opportunities and equal dignity for all, regardless of religion, race, class, nationality and gender. The only viable movement in this direction would be to restore our democratic institutions and push for a genuine regime of human rights.

Given the above mentioned scenarios, Hudud is anything but a fair law in a plural society and is divisive in nature - and thus would lead to a sectarian divide and conflict, and the demise of Malaysia as we know it.
IMHO, That can hardly be described as a law that's divine in nature .....
So what exactly is the PAS leadership under the author of "Amanat Hadi" up to, in trying to play up dogma and at the same time denying that it will not affect non-muslims who have an equal (if not more than the newly "Malaysianised") stake in the nation. Are they intent on playing up the delusion of an Islamic Utopia so as to hoodwink those in the dark about their humanity?
Are they trying to replace "Ketuanan Melayu" with "Ketuanan Islam" in a two-tier society?
Are they trying to deceive the non-muslims into believing that they will not be affected by Hudud?
Are they intent on injecting an energy pulse into the Muslim masses, so as to give them the "delusion of power" and have them dance around like the harmless phone which turned into a deadly "deceptacon" (in the movie I mentioned above)?

I appeal to the PAS leadership to refrain from exploitative political tactics using medieval laws & dogma, and transform itself into a pragmatic and progressive political ally in the Pakatan Rakyat for the good of the nation.
For the good of a dynamic and progressive Malaysia, please drop the Hudud & Islamic State rhetoric.
There is nothing but honour in giving up regressive ideas based on medieval laws which may be divine only in part. If it is divine, then IMHO, its divinity stops when references may be from man made texts/literature of the Sunna/ Ijma/ Qiyas, which the different Sunni or Shiite schools of thought may interpret differently. Denying human frailties in interpretations are characteristics of "Godmen Politicians" and would be very unbecoming of true "men of God", whichever school of thought they may belong to.

Let us learn to articulate our ideas well, embrace various philosophies and refrain from the arrogance of claiming to have the monopoly on truth and justice. Let us inculcate positive values/philosophy (which can be Islamic and Universal) into the hearts of people, without having to merge religion/church and state.
There are many things about which PAS needs to "level" with the general public, despite its laudable cooperation in the Pakatan Rakyat. However, for now, should I be a KT voter, come what may, I'd still vote for PAS over any BN candidate, considering the nature of the Umno/BN regime.
To me PAS is still a better bet - at least for now ....

In the words of RPK, "I challenge PAS to prove its critics wrong. Re-endorse the People’s Declaration and prove, once and for all, that a civil society and not the cutting off the hands of thieves is the priority of the party. In response to the move by PAS to, again, endorse the People’s Declaration, the civil society movements, even those whom PAS labels as ‘deviant Muslims’, will go down to the ground to explain the issue to the voters. This, we promise PAS.

I can assure you of one thing. Even those who are not Muslims plus those, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, who are opposed to the setting up of an Islamic State and Hudud will be campaigning for PAS in the Kuala Terengganu by-election. Re-endorse the People’s Declaration and see whether this happens or not."


Wish you all a Very Happy and Prosperous 2009!
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Further Reading:-

2 comments:

  1. The Best mohammed T-shirt art is from Sweden. Watch and read the info at,
    http://www.mohammedt-shirt.com
    Please don´t translate read in English.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sorry, anon - somehow, I cannot bring myself to agree with you that these t-shirts are "good". They are offensive, and don't mean well. Those who produce such caricatures, aren't too wise.

    Some matters are sacred, and as long as they don't affect you in any way, should not be used to create animosity.
    I don't find t-shirts like that too amusing, when muslims can be offended by them.

    What I intend to say here is how religion is used by politicians to their benefit, as has happened in most religions since religion was first conceived by man.
    This write-up has nothing to do with Islam per se - please don't get me wrong.

    ReplyDelete

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