22 December 2006

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.
Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.

Wednesday December 20, 2006

A matter of tolerance


HO HUM, here we go again. Is there no end to this ceaseless blaming of all forms of evil on women, just because they may not want to cover their heads? But I am really heartened by the many sensible retorts by various people, mostly ordinary citizens, who rightly pointed out that we really should get past the habit of blaming women for the bad things that happen to them, and letting perpetrators get away.

I’m sure that the Majlis Perbandaran Kota Baru values all of its citizens and doesn’t really intend to discriminate just against women, no matter how natural the impulse might be. I’m sure given half the chance, besides dreaming up more and more rules for women, those MPKB wise men can also come up with rules for their male denizens just to show that they can be fair.

Here therefore are some rules I would suggest that the MPKB (and in fact all other local authorities) implement for men:

1. Men who do not use deodorant will be fined RM500. Body odour can cause offense to other people, of both sexes. Furthermore, some people find the musky sweaty fragrance that some men give off quite, um, arousing. Therefore this can be considered a hazard to public morality. Hence, stiff fines should be imposed to prevent any untoward incidents. Perhaps a deodorant company can be roped in to sponsor a campaign for the prevention of offensive odours.

2. Men who do not have clean fingernails will be fined RM500. Our religion exhorts us to always keep ourselves clean. Hands should always be washed especially before eating. Hence, it stands to reason that blackened fingernails imply a clear distance between soap and hands. Perhaps the MPKB could hand out free nail brushes and have classes on how to use them. No woman should be expected to handle anything that has been touched by any male with dirty fingernails.

3. Men must dress decently or be fined a minimum of RM500. Decently means clean clothes, pants that are not about to drop off and shoes, not slippers. We might even consider unmatched clothes and dirty sarongs as indecent. And oh yes, the Visible Panty Line rule should extend to those who insist on wearing white robes too.

4. Men who look at women up and down, up and down, regardless of how the women are dressed should be fined RM10,000 or 10 strokes of the cane. This should apply to any man, regardless of race, religion or rank, as the Quran clearly exhorts men to “lower their gaze”. Extra fines and extra strokes should also be imposed for those who, besides leering, also make weird noises and um, ungentlemanly remarks. No exemptions will be given for remarks made in Arabic.

5. Men with greasy hair, overlong nose and ear hairs and unkempt beards will be reprimanded for being aesthetically offensive. Perhaps a campaign sponsored by shampoo and shaving cream companies might be useful. Overlong untrimmed beards may harbour all manner of cooties, and are therefore just as unhygienic as dirty fingernails (sometimes all of these are found on the same person). Therefore these types of men can be deemed public health hazards. Women should be allowed to carry disinfecting sprays to protect themselves from such dangers.

6. Men may not wear makeup, such as black eyeliner, and overbearing fragrances, especially those meant to cover the pungency of unwashed bodies. Only the smell of soap will be tolerated.

I’m sure the MPKB really can’t argue with these simple rules. Wouldn’t it be nice if they set the example for all the other towns and cities in Malaysia if they could boast the cleanest and best-smelling men in the country?

While we are on the subject of dress, I want to congratulate that Bahraini woman who won the 200-metre gold medal at the Asian Games. It just goes to show that women can do anything, if they put their heart and soul into it. But before anyone gets too excited about how wearing the hijab somehow contributed to her medal, let us not forget the training that she obviously put in, not to mention the sheer dedication and commitment to her sport that would also have been required. If all it takes is a hijab to win races, then we should get all the men to cover up as well and see how they do.

And let me nominate for the Breath of Fresh Air Award, the new Mufti of Perlis, for his courage in saying the right thing, and in restoring our faith in the justice and equality inherent in Islam. May he always stand his ground, and be the vanguard of change that we so badly need.

I wish everybody a Happy 2007!

08 December 2006

Dear all,

This is me, SambalBelacan. Only yesterday I received and read comment from the actual writer of these amazing articles, MsMarinaMahathir. Apparently, she felt a bit inconvenient knowing that I cetak rompak her work. Believe me, I don’t have any intentions except that I don’t want to see these articles end up to be pembungkus nasi lemak or into tong sampah… or disappear from the web.

Yesterday also, I did send a message to her (finally find a way to reach her) asking minta kebenaran for me to continue doing it. I explained to her that I took my own liberty to copy and paste from the news, and I dare not to change a word. I thought I want to keep it and so that I can access them easily. I did it because I like collecting good articles.

OK, about the comments. Since I’m not really her, the best I can do is leaving the comments remain un-responded.

Why now? Why only now I explain this. To be honest, I don’t know. I did this since last year and trust me, I didn’t take any advantages or manipulate them. I thought it was unnecessary to explain since that all I did is copy & paste – until yesterday.

Now, it’s all up to her and to all readers too, to decide. Should I delete everything or continue? Here I am, asking for forgiveness from all of you for this disturbing. You may just shoot me dead or save me alive.


p/s: reach the real MarinaM here… http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com . Please

07 December 2006

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.
Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.


Wednesday December 6, 2006

Early AIDS intervention


SOME people have opined that I should stop writing about ‘mushy’ things like AIDS and write more hardhitting stuff in this column. Given that I only write about AIDS twice a year out of 26 columns, I really wonder where I got this ‘mushy’ reputation from.

In any case, since this is December, I will dedicate this column to AIDS again. Why? Because it hasn’t gone away. And because we still insist on doing empirically unproven interventions rather than things that have been shown to work.

In conjunction with World AIDS Day, Negri Sembilan announced that it will begin mandatory premarital HIV testing for all Muslim couples. Joining states like Johor, Pahang, Selangor, Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perak and Perlis, this means that no Muslim can get married without being tested for HIV.

It is not clear why this is being done. If the intention is prevention of sexual transmission, there has yet to be empirical evidence that it works.

I detect a certain naivete that only married couples have sex and therefore liable to pass on the virus, unless, of course, people who have premarital or extra-marital sex deserve to get infected.

As with much in Malaysia, we do things not because it is the right thing to do but because we want to show that we are doing something, regardless of effectiveness.

In contrast, in the United States, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended near-universal HIV testing, which means that everyone who goes to a university student clinic, hospital emergency wards and walk-in clinics as well as free clinics across the country are given an HIV test routinely.

On the face of it, the CDC recommendation seems to support what we are doing here in Malaysia. But a closer examination reveals very great differences.

For one thing, the goal of universal testing in the US is to get people into treatment early.

As most people in the early stages of HIV infection display no symptoms, they are unlikely to obtain treatment until their immune systems are severely compromised. This would make treatment not only more difficult but also more expensive.

The goal of mandatory testing in Malaysia is merely to identify who is HIV-positive and who is not. If it were aimed at referring people for treatment early, then it would be run by the health departments of each state, not the Islamic religious departments.

Secondly, testing in the US is now being promoted to everybody, regardless of whether they are getting married or not, whatever religion they may be.

Unlike many here, US doctors recognize that you don’t have to be married to be infected, nor is sexual transmission the only way to become infected.

Thirdly, while those found HIV-positive in Malaysia are not prohibited from getting married, it is unclear what counseling is given to not only help them deal with their HIV status but also to prevent transmission to others.

Specifically, they need to be told about condoms and not to share needles. Without this, the stated aim of prevention is unlikely to work.

It is not only newly married couples who are at risk of infecting each other; there are certainly a large number of long-married couples who have become infected. Common sense will tell you that premarital testing would have no effect here.

Fourthly, universal testing is not the same as mandatory testing. Nobody is forcing you to get tested. However, if you are a person at risk and you don’t get tested, you would be depriving yourself of early treatment.

Mandatory premarital testing is punitive; take the test or else forget about getting married. Not getting married, however, is not the same as not having sex.

It is worth knowing that the World Health Organisation does not support mandatory premarital testing.

As a member of the WHO, we are contravening this.

As much as we like going our own way, this would only be supportable if we had a sound scientific basis for doing this.

In the case of mandatory premarital testing, we don’t. It does not prevent people from getting infected, least of all women, as long as nothing is done to change the power dynamics in a marriage that allows men to do what they want without giving women any say. That is the crux of women’s vulnerability to HIV.

As the Minister of Health has reported, the numbers of women becoming infected in this country is rising rapidly, including since 2001 when the first mandatory premarital testing programme began in Johor.

The question we are not asking is this: why are the state religious departments running HIV testing programmes? Is this a way out of our obligation to conduct sound public health practices, replacing them with moral-laden unscientific and expensive ones instead?

04 December 2006

Friday November 24, 2006

Strange mindset


LOOKING at recent developments, I think there should be a new association registered for the propagation of the shallow and superficial. It should be called, for short, the SS.

The SS is open for membership to people who have nothing better to do with their lives than look for monsters under their beds, enemies in their blankets or crosses in their buns. The first members of the SS are the people who believe that the path to hell is paved with ice-cream biscuits.

In case there are still people out there who only read the mainstream papers and therefore have been blissfully cocooned in ignorance, a group of defenders of the faith have lodged a report that a certain brand of ice-cream biscuits have (Christian) crosses on them, and therefore this is a grave threat to our faith. If any of us were unaware that all it takes is ice-cream to melt our faith, now we know.

The SS would comprise of people who really believe that their faith needs to be protected from confectionery, lipstick, books, magazines, songs, maybe even SpongeBob SquarePants. Everything should be scrutinized for their ability to creep into one’s soul and destroy one’s beliefs. Having laws that allow for this scrutiny would apparently show how superior and strong their religion is.

The SS are not in the least bit interested in any real issues that might truly be threats to their community. Not for them the trivial matters of poverty and hunger nor of people being bombed to death every day in Iraq or Palestine, or dying of diseases such as AIDS. Nay, these are unimportant compared to the dangers of ice-cream and lipstick.

In case anyone thinks I am making this up, some people might remember that in the days before the United States invaded Iraq, an e-mail listing out the brands of cosmetics one should not use because their lipsticks were not halal was passed around. Undoubtedly, several hundred thousand dead Iraqis later, those who boycotted those lipsticks feel very good now.

Let us not forget other SS members, those who should be conferred the special title Simple-Minded and Stupid, otherwise known as SMS. These are the sorts who believe every little message that comes into their hot little phones, no matter how unlikely.

Without even asking simple questions like “Is it true?”, they pass them on as if they were, well, gospel. Even worse, instead of just relying on electronic gadgets, which one can always blame technology for, they pass on these messages verbally to other members of the SS, all of whom accept everything the SMS say is literally The Word of God.

The alleged Word of God is then borne into action by Korrupt Kombative Knuckleheads, otherwise known as the KKK. These will do things like throw firecrackers into churchyards, destroy temples and raid married people’s bedrooms. Pretty soon we may find them dressing up in bedsheets and stringing up people they don’t like on trees.

One thing about the SS, the SMS and the KKK is that they never take responsibility for anything. Unlike hijackers, kidnappers and terrorists who want to be known as people who do bad deeds, the Malaysian versions don’t own up to anything. If SS or SMS talk about how Other People are bad, and the KKK then go and string up people by their necks, the SS and SMS simply put their hands up and say, “But I never told them to do that. I only mentioned these things in passing.”

Thus they can pass out simpleminded but dangerous messages without having to take the consequences. Unlike Other People who are constantly being threatened with all sorts of Dire Consequences should they so much as open their mouths. This is how less than a dozen people talking peace and goodwill can be told to shut up in the face of 10,000 talking war and hate. It’s the same sort of argument some Neanderthals make about cameras peering in inappropriate places; the victims shouldn’t have worn skirts.

The sad thing is that an association like the SS would have so many members in this country. While those who are reasonable, moderate and tolerant are getting marginalized every day.

The voice of hate is these days so much louder than the voice of peace, love and inclusiveness. Just as we don’t see the supreme irony of trumpeting our religious superiority while at the same time claiming that it only takes biscuits to destroy us, we don’t see the irony of extolling ourselves as a superior race while at the same time insisting on crutches and handouts.