Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not Bumi, no uni?

What a sad story from Malaysian Mirror ...

A personal note: My eldest will be sitting for his final High School (Secondary school) exam paper today. Next year he hopes to enter university. He is a hard working intelligent young man, though he may not be a straight A's student. I am more than confident he will meet the criteria that will allow him the privilege to enter the New Zealand University of his choice - according to merit.

He has NZ PR status and is of Chinese ethnicity but he is not discriminated against. No wonder he loves NZ and even as a mid year teenager he wants to contribute and give back to the community.

Compare his lot with this poor girl, a Malaysian citizen but of mixed heritage (and supposedly the wrong heritage). I thought our diversity is our blessing? Click here for that!
And I thought the government is so concerned about the brain drain and want best minds and professional Malaysians working and living abroad to return to help the nation.

I would have thought it would be a smart move to makes sure the best minds of our current youth be encouraged and given places in our local universities?

Marina, you're no bumi. E-mail
Friday, 30 October 2009 02:02

KUCHING - For 17 years, Marina Undau lived a life of a child growing into a young adult.

School, her family and friends were a central part of her existence. She dreamt of doing her parents proud by furthering her education in a university and eventually getting a good job.

SPM came and went, and the 18-year-old science stream student of SMK Simanggang did well, scoring 9As and 1B last year.

But then she had a rude shock.

Not eligible

The education system said she was not eligible to enroll in a matriculation course, a prelude to varsity and a degree. The reason? She was, it seemed, not a bumiputra.

Born to an Iban father and a Chinese mother, Marina’s hope for a smooth climb up academia was dashed. With it went a part of her identity and the drive that made her a top scorer.

sarawak-semi-bumiputra.pngIn an interview with The Borneo Post at her house in Sri Aman on Wednesday, Marina expressed her feelings in Iban: “Aku amai enda puas ati nadai olih nyambung sekula ngagai universiti (I’m very sad that I can’t pursue my university education).”

Meantime, she has started Form Six in her old school as a workaround solution.

Upset and bewildered

Seated between her parents, Undau Liap and Wong Pick Sing, the disappointment in the teenager was plain to see.

Her elder sister never had a problem getting into a university. Her identity was never questioned and she is at present in her second year at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.

Marina is worried that a similar obstacle she faced after SPM awaits once she completes her STPM.

“If I get good results, what’s next?”

Marina’s father, Undau, would not take no for an answer.

When her application to enter matriculation was rejected, Undau, a civil servant, contacted the Education Ministry’s Matriculation Department in Putrajaya on June 23 and was told that her daughter was not a bumiputra.

Pressing on

Dissatisfied, the father wrote to the ministry on July 1. The reply he received shocked him, and it is bound to challenge the identity of many Sarawakians who are of mixed-parentage.

The ministry said in a reply on July 14 that Undau’s appeal was turned down because “the candidate is categorised as non-bumiputra (father is Iban and mother is Chinese)” based on a definition used by the Student Intake Management Division, Higher Learning Department and Higher Education Ministry.

Their definition is as follows:

• If either parent of a candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/Orang Asli as defined in Article 160 (2) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.

• Sabah – If the father of the candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/native of Sabah as defined by Article 161A(6)(a) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.

• Sarawak – If the father and mother is a native of Sarawak as defined under Article 161A(6)(b) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.

Despite the explanation, Undau is still dissatisfied and urged the government to clear up education issues that differentiate bumiputras from non-bumiputras.

He said the 1Malaysia concept would be rather hollow if education today continues to be polarised along such lines

“Why all the differences in the intake of students for higher learning? I am not questioning the Constitution, but what is the meaning of 1Malaysia if things like this happen?”

NRD and Native Court weigh in

The National Registration Department (NRD) headquarters here said it has received a flurry of enquiries about the bumiputra status of late.

An NRD spokesman said that in Sarawak, a person’s race is registered based only on the race of the father.

On whether such a person is automatically accorded bumiputra rights, the spokesman said: “We don’t actually handle that. We look at the race of the father. If the father is Iban, the child is Iban. If the father is Chinese, the child is Chinese. The bumiputra status comes under the Native Court.”

Native Court registrar Ronnie Edward said the bumiputra status was a “birthright” and the Native Court only hear cases where a person who was to be declared a bumiputra although his father was not a native.

He said Marina was not alone in facing this problem.

Edward believes the only way to clear the air is to amend the Federal Constitution.

“Article 161(A) of the Constitution has to be amended. The article says that in Sarawak, both parents have to be ‘exclusively’ a native,” he said.

Lighter side but with much needed messages (Comics)

I have been struggling the last couple of weeks with tiredness - due to a lot of unexpected things happening, a lot of ministry work, some major year end church activities and 4 more sermons to go for 2009, and pushing hard to make sure when I take my holiday breaks I am really on holiday!!

It hasn't helped that it has taken a long time for my eyes to readjust to my re-corrected prescription glasses, and having to get used to an extra pair that I need to use when I am using my PC. So many literal headaches the last couple of weeks and getting home feeling so tired and surviving on short power naps (they do help!)

Thank God that the last two days, headaches have been less intense and so I think the worse is over.

I like these set of comics! :-)

The Hidden Resurrection (Nouwen)

Another little gem from Henri Nouwen ... I like the insight in the 2nd paragraph ... 2nd line. How true ...
Only those whom he called by name, with whom he broke bread, and to whom he spoke words of peace were aware of what happened.

The Hidden Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus was a hidden event. Jesus didn't rise from the grave to baffle his opponents, to make a victory statement, or to prove to those who crucified him that he was right after all. Jesus rose as a sign to those who had loved him and followed him that God's divine love is stronger than death. To the women and men who had committed themselves to him, he revealed that his mission had been fulfilled. To those who shared in his ministry, he gave the sacred task to call all people into the new life with him.

The world didn't take notice. Only those whom he called by name, with whom he broke bread, and to whom he spoke words of peace were aware of what happened. Still, it was this hidden event that freed humanity from the shackles of death.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Malaysia to one day export maids?

Interesting news report from the Malaysian Insider.

On a side note, it is amazing for me to note that so many of my former classmates are working and living outside Malaysia.

And I never thought I would be doing so as well ...

Malaysia’s next export: Maids?
By Lee Wei Lian

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — The nation’s mismanagement of talent could have serious repercussions not only on its ambitions to become a high income economy on par with that of developed nations but could also lead it to fall further behind even its counterparts in the region.

Head of research at Corston-Smith Asset Management, Lim Tze Cheng, recently did a tour of South East Asian countries and came away sufficiently impressed that he feels Malaysia may soon be found lagging behind its neighbours that it was once ahead of.

He cited a recent visit to the Philippines, a current major supplier of maids, where he visited a company, International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) and he drew comparisons to local port champions Westport and Port of Tanjung Pelepas.

He said that ICTS now draws 50 per cent of its revenue from eight profitable ports outside the Philippines, and noted that no Malaysian port company can boast of similar achievements.

“I give it a 70 per cent chance that Malaysia will be exporting maids in 20 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens unless we get our act together,” he said.

Click HERE for the rest of the article

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Let us remember both Christ’s first and second comings (pastor's notes)

Posted up my latest Pastor's Notes. It's Advent period!! To read IT, CLICK HERE

p/s A carol that has to do with Christ's 2nd coming!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sign for me to reduce some weight?

This photo was taken 2 weeks ago - on my son Steven's birthday before we went to attend a friend's 60th birthday bash.

When I finally looked at the photo last week, I noticed that my tummy had become rather prominent. :-)

Of course I at first wanted to creatively blame the look on my shirt (as it is an older shirt) but that only emphasized the point further that I have put on weight. *sigh* So I have been trying to be good and not eat too much and do a bit more walking. Not sure how much the size of my tummy will go down but at least I have dropped 1 kg in just over a week (but I still need to drop a few more!)

But my mum's coming next week and I am looking forward to her cooking up a storm! *drool* ...especially since the weather is so much warmer meaning I can do some nice cooking with lots of oil using my electric wok outside on my back deck. Have not been able to do too much fried stuff as it would stink up the whole house. NZ homes are just not built for Malaysian style dishes (especially the deep fried stuff)*sigh*

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who's the Boss? (pastor's notes)

Just posted up my Pastor's Notes. To read, CLICK HERE.

A Steven update 09

My youngest Steven is really enjoying life in NZ. He happily graduated from the Project K programme. That's a picture of him receiving his graduation cert.

Then he won the school doubles table tennis trophy. That's a picture of him with his partner Prasad (came to NZ from Cambodia when he was 5). The other photo is the new silver plated TT trophy donated by our church - The Kelston Boys School Table Tennis doubles trophy donated by the Kelston Community Church! I am very happy we are able to do this. And the boys are thrilled with the trophy as it is a much nice one that the Singles trophy. The funny part was our informal ceremony after the year end tournament where I presented the trophy (when not yet engraved) to Steven. He was not expected to win and they narrowly won based on number of points won.

He also got the Harlow Cup for Academic endeavour. It's a Year 11 (his year) special prize for all round excellence in the academic part of school life. He also won the Senior Music performance award (Year 11) for his drum performance in the music performance exams. (I think this is his favourite award as it has with it a
electronics shop gift voucher.

Thanks be to God to His abundant blessings!

Gardening photos Nov 09

Took these photos last week. My first year of trying to plant vegetables and other green stuff. First year I was here I only went as far as to buy a few young chilly and capsicum plants.

This year I decided I needed to try and do a little better - and each year add on a bit more. I was a bit adventurous as I decided to plant from seeds, which takes longer. Was later told it was mistake for 2 reasons.

1. I do not have a conservatory so it meant I had to plant later (best if they are planted in punnets indoors where the seedlings are protected and warm so when spring actually comes they will be of a decent size and can be transplanted to the outdoors). No wonder the seedlings from the shops are already of decent size at the start of spring! LOL - I am obviously pretty ignorant

2. We had an unusually cold spring so not enough sun and warmth and too much wind and cold making it hard for the plants to spring forth from the seeds and when they do, they struggle to grow. Ah ... now I understand :-)

Of course I also messed up by using the wrong kind of soil for my seeds - a bit too harsh.

BUT STILL ... I am pretty happy with the results so far.

My little green posts in the first photo are actually chilly plans (from my last year's seeds!!) The little black punnets on the left are additional seeds I planted later and this week they are coming up (was empty when I took the photos last week!) The bigger pots contains one of my bean plants (from seeds as well). I did not plant in sand (I just covered the top layer of soil with sand as I have lost of sand I was thinking it might help keep weeds coming up). The bigger plant on the right is a capsicum plant (bought it as a seedling).

The second photo has my cucumber plants (a couple of different types), a curry leaf plant (bought as a seedling) - strange looking and not like the curry plants I am used to but I thought why not plant it and see what it will taste and smell like? Far right are my chives (also from seeds!) And in the front row is my mint plant and some of my bean plants (got them mixed up so I am not sure which beans they are - but I will know once I see the fruit! :-)) Front row are some of my variety salad plants

The third photo are (back row from left) my tomato plant, my strawberry plant and some herbs from seeds that I have forgotten what they are! LOL. Will find out later! Front row is my mint plant and more bean plants.

The fourth photo is of my backyard sand pit which I am slowly converting into a vegetable patch. You can see onions, some salad plants growing well (back room). The green plant on the right (back room) is actually a potato! Second row is some salad and rows of beans! And right in the front is a whole batch of carrots (also from seeds)

The fifth photo brings a big smile to my face. It is one of feijoa trees that is the same size as when I planted it in late August last year but lots of buds and shoots and now flowers (meaning it is alive and well). This week, even more flowers :-)

Planting vegetables is very therapeutical.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hone Harawira got me thinking about Malay rights and Maori rights, their similarities and differences?

I am following this mini saga (side show) with interest as I see some parallels between Malay rights and special privileges (in Malaysia) and Maori rights and special privileges (in New Zealand).

First, from today's NZ Herald.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia publicly fronted over Hone Harawira's inflammatory email for the first time yesterday, saying his behaviour had been "unacceptable" and had prompted a flood of racist and abusive emails to the party.

She said neither she nor Pita Sharples would be attending a hui in Kaitaia today at which the party is due to decide on any disciplinary action against Mr Harawira. They would instead leave it to the party president and council members.

Mr Harawira had expected the co-leaders to attend and did not know they would not be until the media rang. He told the Herald it was disappointing that they would not be attending. He had understood today was chosen because it was the only day on which the co-leaders could attend.

It was to be the first time the co-leaders had met him since his email to Buddy Mikaere referring to "white mother f******" was made public.

It has resulted in at least 365 complaints to the Race Relations Commissioner. Both Mrs Turia and Prime Minister John Key expressed dismay at the impact the email and public reaction was having on race relations.

Click HERE for the rest of the report and related news links.

Of course there are numerous differences as I think the parallel to begin with ought to be more accurately "Orang Asli" rights and privileges as opposed to Malay rights and privileges since the the argument for these rights and privileges seems to based on indigenous people of the land. It seems to me that the many different Orang Asli tribes both from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak were certainly the earliest settlers in the current land called Malaysia, that can be traced historically.

Anyway, history politics, race relations and stuff like that are beyond my expertise so I won't even attempt to fool myself into pretending I understand in great depth the intricacies of the matter at hand.

Just to say that while many people in NZ are treading carefully so as to be as PC as possible, it is heartening to know that people of all races are not condoning this maverick Maori politician's words. Not just that, it would seem too that leading politicians from all the major parties, including the Maori party are united in condemning such words. Not a perfect country I know but it is to me something positive (I will not second guess the motives).

And also to say I wish that such sentiments are shared by Malaysians of all races and leaders of all the major political parties. We have too easily let off the hook leaders and people who make blatant hurtful racist remarks (and even worse, racist based threats)!

BTW, I actually do think there is a place for race based special rights and privileges in order to help give more opportunities to those from certain races who have been for generations neglected and are poverty stricken in order to help them break the poverty cycle. I guess my own issue or concern is how race based policies are implemented. Still thinking about this ....

Updated 13th Nov:

Maori Party leaders give Harawira the message - jump or be pushed

Click HERE for the story/

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hannah’s example of prayer (Pastor's Notes) and some ramblings

Just posted up my Pastor's Notes. Click HERE

Ramblings ...

I have found it both difficult and not so difficult to write a weekly Pastor'as Notes for my church bulletin. It is not required of me but I thought it would be a good thing to do in terms of personal discipline. The basic idea was that if I can keep coming up with something "fresh" each week, it would help me gauge both my "spiritual well" (one gauge as how well I am keeping myself spiritually fresh), and also whether I would be able to take on a heavier preaching load next year.

It has been difficult in terms of putting down my thoughts in writing and (of late) keeping the number of words down to make it fit into the allotted space. But not been so difficult in the sense that there is so much in the Bible (more of a too much material problem).

Interestingly the added benefit is that I have had more and more people come up to talk with me (appreciatively) about stuff I have written. I felt especially blessed on Sunday when one senior lady who joined us early this year when her former church (Baptist) closed down and told me that she appreciated not just my writing my Pastors Notes (seems her former church never had such devotions in their weekly bulletin) and how much they have helped her BUT also that she felt that I had out in a lot of time and thought into them. She knows I am busy and so she appreciated it even more.

Man, I love such encouraging feedback!! :-) Thank God for such old saints!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why the Hulk should be red not green (Spirtual Formation on the Run) and some not so spiritual ramblings too

It has been a tiring few weeks. One major reason has been a problem with my prescription glasses. *sigh* Makes my eyes so tired that I literally have to shut them. And of course it is hard to focus. Hope the new ones are ready soon. I tend to sleep a little earlier too as I literally can't keep my eyes opened but I dream a lot and get up often as my "brain is not happy" to be asked to power down when it has a lot on its mind :-) The human mind is really a wonder!

Anyway, I have finished this Sunday's sermon early, which is good as I have a lot to do this week. And this time I am not going to work harder in resisting the temptation to look at my sermon before Saturday. And since I have a birthday party on Saturday, that might help as well :-)

It's a good time to pause and do some re-centering. Been a while since I posted up anything on my slow but steady "run" with Dr. Alex's book so here's one ... under his 'HEROES AND SUPERHEROES" category"

Quick preliminary note ... I suspect when Dr. Alex wrote this particular chapter, Marvel had not yet come out with the RED HULK or RULK story line :-) Interesting read ... click HERE for a summary. I am still waiting in line for my turn (booked it online at my local library) to check out Vol 2 of the Red Hulk graphic novel compilation. Vol 1 was interesting. First the chapter from the book ... Spiritual Formation on the Run, not the Red Hulk!


The fictional comic book character, the Incredible Hulk, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. The Hulk is the alter ego of a mild-mannered physicist, Dr Bruce Banner, who is accidentally irradiated by gamma radiation. Whenever he gets angry, he will turn into the Hulk, a creature of pure rage that is invincible and incredibly strong. The angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger and bigger he becomes. I guess he is green because of the gamma radiation. Why green and not red? The English expression for becoming angry is "seeing red." A red Hulk will be more appropriate.

Many of us are aware of the beast within us. And of the thin veneer of civility that makes us respectable citizens. Occasionally, someone snaps and the beast breaks out. Then we are horrified by the violence done to persons and properties. Sometimes, it is not a person but a mob or a nation that rages. In the aftermath of the carnage, we are again reminded of the evil that lurks in the heart of human beings. In our hectic, chaotic and stressful lives, anger is a constant emotional companion. While some of us are aware of it, others are not. Many try to repress their anger. In doing so, they become impatient, irritable and aggressive. Repressing anger does not make it go away. Like energy, emotions can be converted into other forms. Repressed energy is converted into hatred, bitterness and anxiety.

"Please don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" are well-known words from the Hulk television series. They turn up in every comic, TV programme and movie involving the not-so-jolly green man. What makes you angry? Could it be social injustice, exploitation of the poor, religious intolerance, and maybe abuse of political privileges? My reasons for getting angry are often not so righteous. I get angry because I do not get my way: Why do people not behave the way I expect them to? Why do projects not go the way I plan? Why does the universe not happen the way I want it to? I get angry and then I feel guilty. I remember what Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:26-27). Paul was referring to Psalm 4:4, "In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent'

I also remember an old Cherokee story named "The Two Wolves.' An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me;' he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego:'

He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too:'

The grandson thought for a minute and asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed:'

As I reflect on this story, I draw out some wisdom. The psalmist, the Apostle Paul and the old Cherokee did not deny the existence of anger or being angry. In fact, they all acknowledged it. They also taught me that the only way to deal with anger is not to feed it. The only way to deal with anger is to starve it of attention and other emotions. The Hulk is pure rage - violent raw energy - and red is an appropriate colour. Green reminds me of leafy meadows, peacefulness and calm. Methinks the Hulk should be red. Or even better, blue...

Reflecting on the subject matter of this chapter is not easy for me as I have a problem with anger. However at the same time has also been an encouraging time of reflection as while I am still an angry person by nature, there I can see by the grace of God that there has over the years been a clear positive difference in my life in the area of anger.

In a "tensed" counselling session last week, it was interesting that this person reacted in surprise when I mentioned that I have an ongoing struggle with anger. Made me realize when I had time to think about the reaction that it is nice to know that by God's grace, people notice!

I do agree that repressing our anger doesn't help. So one way I deal with my anger is to talk about it or let it out quickly so that it can be a controlled anger release. Another way is to try to tackle an issue that is making me angry quickly so that it doesn't build up. As the Hulk would say "You wouldn't like me when I am angry". Not that I destroy things but it is not a nice look for me :-)

But I do think it is okay to get angry for certain reasons. Of course the Ephesians 4 passage is an important reminder and guide that unless carefully managed, anger leads to sin. (BTW, it is another interesting coincidence that in 2 weeks time, my sermon text is Psalm 4). Over the years (as part of my very long term on-going life reflection :-)) I have come to the realization that God has used my anger (in response to certain situations) to help mold me into who I am today. For example, some incidents during my secondary school years that made me angry (soci-economic and racist attacks by a certain teacher against some students) became seeds of a dream to help build and pastor a multi-racial, socio-economically diverse church community. It encourages me that even outbursts of anger can be used by God for some good.

I also like that old Cherokee story. It has remained with me from the first time I read it umpteen years ago - sure fire sign of a good story. One great lesson I learnt from Henri Nouwen helps. it is to focus on the lovely (i.e. Jesus) and everything else will fade away in comparison. For me, counting my blessings too is a related helpful way that eliminates or at least reduces any anger build up.

But proper rest too seems to play a big role in how I manage anger. If I am tired, I find it harder to keep my anger in check. Reminds me that as a human being, I cannot separate my physical, emotional and mental condition from my spiritual.

One aspect that I disagree with Dr. Alex is ....

... the Hulk should not be red but remain green. LOL.

The Green Hulk may get angry and smash things but essentially he is violent not because he is evil and wants to destroy things. He has the mind of a child and just wants to be left alone but everybody except a handful of people do not understand or respect his wishes and keep trying to imprison or hurt him out of fear. The only time he was deliberately evil was in the World War Hulk storyline when he was driven by rage and wanted revenge for the death of his wife (yup, he actually fell in love and got married).

BTW, if you are truly bored and have loads of time on your hand, and you want to figure out the HULK storyline, click HERE. Be warned, it is confusing as there are many manifestations of the Hulk. I have scanned though the article before but wasn't that interested as I hated the Grey Hulk story lines.

The Red Hulk on the other hand is maliciously evil and selfish, deliberate in his wanton destruction.

Let the poor original Bruce Banner Hulk remain green. Though the various story lines may at times be questionable in quality, he at least is essentially a character I can feel sorry for :-)

I had a good laugh yesterday when I watched an episode of ENTERPRISE that I taped the other day. It introduced a new race, the Orions, evil to the core (they deal in piracy and the slave trade). Their skin colour? Green! Their features? Ogre like. Their temperaments? Nasty and violent. But the funny part was seeing the huge almost 500 lb wrestler, Paul Wight, a.k.a. THE BIG SHOW as an Orion slave trader.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Welcome to ONE Malaysia (I am being sacrastic!)

Been a while since I highlighted some Malaysian news. Very depressing. Malaysia Boleh One Malaysia policy???


The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) calls for the immediate release of the 15,000 Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia currently being withheld by the authorities.To withhold the use of the Bahasa Malaysia Bibles is an infringement of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which gives every Malaysian the right to profess his/ her faith as well as to practice it.

This has been going on for years!

For the full statement by CFM, click HERE

For the news report, click HERE

Spat over qualifications Ex-mufti faces another controversy

PETALING JAYA: New controversy has emerged over the arrest of former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul with the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) now questioning his qualifications.

Jakim claims that Dr Mohd Asri did not major in Syariah law, but in Arabic Studies, and that there was no dual elective from the University of Jordan previously attended by Dr Mohd Asri.

Click HERE for the full story

And here's something interesting to add to the mix ... RPK's related article!

On a related note, I think it is good that its more and more coming out in the open (in Malaysia that is) that in Islam, most of the Hadith is disputed and only a small percentage is considered authentic. Back in Malaysia, I grew so weary having to politely explain this fact that is hidden from most Malaysians (Muslims and non Muslims alike). Weary because it is a standard and unfair "tactic" to attack the Bible as full or errors, argue that the many versions we have show that the Bible is corrupted etc while at the same time declare the Quran and Islam is perfect and has no such issues(and it cannot be challenged or it is deemed to be insulting to Islam, and hurtful to the feelings of Muslims). It is tiring to hear that that there has only ever been one version of the Quran from the very beginning (all copies in history were exactly word for word the same, which is historically untrue) and that historically there is only one united true Islam in terms of practice backed up by the thousands of Hadiths.

And of course then there is the attack on how Biblical scholarship in the area of textual criticism to sort out authentic Scriptures from inadvertent copyist errors, proves that the Bible is full of errors but at the same time conveniently hiding the fact that Muslim scholars of integrity do something similar in order to determine for themselves which of the Hadiths are authentic. But In Malaysia, we are not allowed to know such things!

Okay ... even rambling on that ... but a little more on this :-)

I found this report by the Nut Graph very interesting... in terms of how the largest Indonesian Muslims group views Islam and the Islamic state concept (and there's an interesting related comparison with new Zealand as well ...)

Overriding the religious state

A POPULAR former state mufti has just been arrested by the Islamic religious authorities. A Muslim woman who drank alcohol must be whipped. Those who question the sentence on her must be silenced. The proposed relocation of a Hindu temple was met by a Muslim-led protest threatening bloodshed. Christians must not use the word "Allah". These are, sadly, the headlines that contemporary Malaysians would associate with discussions on religion.

And so, it was a humbling experience listening to Malaysia's regional neighbours sharing their experiences at the Fifth Regional Interfaith Dialogue, organised by the Australian government and held in Perth from 28 to 30 Oct 2009. For example, a plenary session, "Faith and education: preventing the radicalisation of vulnerable youth", was led by none other than Indonesia. And Indonesia brought no less than the top leaders of its two biggest Muslim movements — Dr Sudibyo Markus of Muhammadiyah and Dr Ahmad Hasyim Muzadi of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

Muzadi said, "NU has more than 10,000 pesantren (religious boarding schools) and 40 million members in Indonesia." This might sound like bragging, but the point must be placed within context — Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world, and NU is the planet's biggest Muslim organisation. And just what is NU's stand on issues such as the Islamic state?

For the rest of the report click HERE.

PM asked to clarify mixed-race bumiputra status

KUCHING: Sarawak has sought the help of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to address the issue of children of mixed parentage in the state who have supposedly been denied bumiputra status.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu said he wrote to the Prime Minister on the issue several days ago.

He highlighted the case of SPM top scorer Marine Undau, whose application for a place in a matriculation programme was rejected because of her mixed parentage.

So the double standard policies have new further sub divisions based again on race?

For the story, click HERE.

UMNO claims it is not racist ... but I tend to think Malaysian politics is about the primacy of one race (and with it one religion). I like this other Nut Graph article ...

Umno, not racist?

3 Nov 09 : 8.00AM

By Ding Jo-Ann

DATUK Seri Najib Razak's assertion over the weekend that only "one or two Umno leaders" have made racist comments and that they do not represent the party's views belies belief.

Umno's top leaders have in fact publicly and repeatedly championed the Malay agenda over the legitimate interests of other Malaysians. In some instances, intimidation and fear have even been used in their rhetoric to uphold "Malay rights".

Hence, Najib's exhortation for Malaysians to ignore and forget the racism that Umno is capable of is problematic, to say the least.

Not just a few

It was at the opening of the Gerakan national delegates conference on 1 Nov 2009 that the prime minister reportedly said that people should not pay too much attention to the one or two party leaders who make racist remarks. He added that every party had such leaders. Najib, who is also Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairperson, urged people to instead look at Umno's policies from "Day One", saying they have "always been fair, inclusive, democratic and open".

Click HERE for the rest of the article if you are not too depressed today...

One last thing ..... (for now), more news on the Kartika caning issue..

Cops query SIS over Kartika issue

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — Two representatives of Sisters in Islam (SIS) gave their statements to Bukit Aman’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) today on a police report lodged against SIS in Kuantan over the Kartika Sari Dewi Soekarno issue.

SIS executive director Hamidah Marican and its board member Zainah Anwar were called in to give their statements for an investigation under Section 4(i) (a) of the Sedition Act by the CID at 10.35am.

The two, accompanied by lawyers, spent almost two hours at the CID’s legal prosecution division, according to SIS Programme Manager (Research and Publications) Masjaliza Hamzah.

“SIS hopes that after recording these statements, the police will recommend that no further action be taken against the organisation. We would like to reiterate that within the framework of a democratic society, there must be an open, responsible, rational and respectful dialogue on Islam and its impact on our lives both private and public,” she said in a statement here.

Click HERE for the rest of the report.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A to Z regular blessings - the letter J


Jennifer. My wife. We will be married 19 years in a week's time. Long time and lots of ups and downs as in all normal and healthy marriages but most significantly, still going stronger and stronger! :-) Won't say anymore lest I embarrass her but it is great to be married to Jennifer!

Jokes. Ah ... a great life line for me. Jokes (good ones that is) lightens my mood, brings relief to a tense situation, breaks the ice in a conversation and is often good for a sermon illustration. And that was a list just off the top of my head! I can't imagine what my life would be like without humour.

A related story ... One of my favourite posters of Jesus is one that was drawn by a Jesuit Priest from the Phillipines. (I gave it away to someone who needed it more at a tough period in his life than I so I do not have it anymore. I do miss it!) This priest works among the poor and I bought it from the Daughters of St. Paul shop that is located along Jalan Gasing. I went back many times alter but it is not sold anymore. I should have taken a picture of it but that was before digital cameras and I foolishly assumed that I could easily get another one! :-(

Anyway it is a marvelous painting of Jesus wearing blue jeans and a T-short sitting down and playing a guitar. This painting / picture has Jesus smiling / laughing as he is playing the guitar. I loved it so much I bought it and had it framed and hung it directly opposite my bed. I would wake up each morning and one of the first things I would see is that picture....

Jerusalem / Jericho. This may seem strange but when i got the chance to got to Israel (courtesy of my mum's generosity in using her annual bonus one year to pay for my ticket), I brought back two posters of a panoramic photo shot of Jerusalem and Jericho. I got it framed up (poster board) and it is hanging above the door frames of my house. So I see one city when I exit my house and the other one when I exit my living room. I am not a dispensationalist so for me it does not hold the same significance to a traditional dispensationalists. But it is a blessing to me because it reminds me of my connection with a culture and people and land, and history etc that is bigger than my little circle of life. On my wall too is a beautiful woven banner from Isreal that has the Numbers 6 Araoronic blessing (thanks again to my mum for this!) and on a side table is my little ram's horn (the real Israelite shofar to me as this is from an animal indigenous to Israel)
and a little plastic menorah (almost kitschy but not yet :-)). All reminders of a great time of blessing and learning that opened my eyes to so many things spiritual.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Light Party 31 October 2009

We had another great Light Party this year. For more photos Check Spellinggo HERE (courtesy of Ken B). The photos are only for the puppet and magic show sections. No, I was not involved in the puppet show

I had a blast even though I limited it to a 15 minute show and it was good to see familiar many familiar faces of some of the neighborhood kids as well as some new faces.

Strange that I cannot seem to post up more than 5 photos per blog?
And I could never figure out how to properly format them nicely for a blog post ...