22 January 2009



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 January 21, 2009
Can we hope for real change?
Musings by Marina Mahathir

Swept into power on his campaign for change, just-inaugurated President Barack Obama represents not only the hopes of the US but also of the world.

DEAR President Obama, Please excuse this conceit. I am but one of the billions of people around the world who did not have the privilege of voting for you. Yet, like many others, I was thrilled when you won the elections because you represented such a visual change from the usual faces we see in the White House.

And I like the fact that the new First Lady is a smart woman who has a mind of her own.

I must say that my disquiet about you began when you named your Chief of Staff. I understand how important that position is and how you need someone you can trust there, so I know how much influence he will have over your decisions.

But those of us who have been hoping for some real change in your foreign policies, especially concerning Palestine, were severely disappointed. It didn’t bode well at all for global peace.

And we were right to worry. Since the Israelis started bombing Gaza, you have been silent. Your excuse was that there could be only one president at a time. But you had not hesitated to condemn what happened in Mumbai.

It is astounding to me that you, the father of two daughters, can stand by and watch the children of Gaza being killed and terrorised every day by those F16s and not express a word of sympathy to them.

Would it really have hurt to make some remark about keeping children safe wherever they might be in the world?

Mr Obama, I understand what pressures you were under when you ran for president. I know that be- cause of your race, you faced difficulties in proving that you are as good and as capable of leading your country as any other candidate.

You were constantly challenged to prove that you were as patriotic as any other American, despite a far more diverse background and experience than most of your fellow citizens. Well you did it. You were voted in despite that background.

We in the rest of the world expected that heritage to bring a perspective that takes into account the diversity of humanity. That your Kenyan relatives would give you an understanding of the difficulties the developing world faces, and the role and responsibilities that an American leader shoulders in dealing with that world.

Were we wrong? Mr Obama, I understand about political expediency. In my country, political expediency is the mainstay of every politician’s thinking.

They think not of what would be truly good for the country but what they think will win them votes. More and more, they bow to pressures from groups that claim to represent the majority when in fact they are only the loudest voices heard.

Good decent moderate people rarely get to speak, mostly because they don’t know who would listen to them. And thus far, there has been little evidence that anyone will listen to them despite the strongest of signals last March.

I know you are already looking ahead to the next election and how to win that. I know you constantly have to ensure that those who supported you in 2008 do not abandon you in 2012.

I understand also about the tough economic issues that you have to deal with in America, because nothing makes a leader’s job more perilous than when people are finding it hard to make ends meet.

But when you worry about the Americans who may lose their homes because they cannot service their bank loans and are unable to pay their medical bills because their insurance cannot cover them, spare a thought for the people in Gaza who don’t have to worry about housing loans because their homes have been reduced to rubble.

Or the ones who will have pay funeral expenses rather than hospital bills.

When you worry about the state of education in America, think about children whose schools Israeli bombs have destroyed and whose futures are now bleak because they will not get any education.

When you deal with the security of Americans, consider those who have to protect themselves not from muggers or robbers but from bombs raining down on them, and white phosphorus burning their skin.

As you try and deal with your crowded cities and poor housing, as you described in your book Dreams From My Father, take a look at a map and consider the 1.5 million people squeezed into that 10km by 40km patch of land known as the Gaza Strip. Is that humane?

Who am I, Mr Obama, but only one of the millions of people who are well aware of what is right and wrong, what is just and what is not.

If you claim to change the way things have been done all this while, then you have to re-look at some of America’s policies that have been wrong and unjust, especially the ones that have allowed millions of defenceless people to undergo abo- minable suffering just because they want to live in their own land.

Can we have the audacity to hope for that?

12 January 2009

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 January 7, 2009
A pall over New Year joy

The Palestinian problem is one of injustice, not about religion. And injustice cannot be overcome by more violence.

THE end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 probably ranks as among the worst ever. Just when we thought we could take a break from the turmoil and turbulence of the past year, we got no respite.

Perhaps most people will not care, but the invasion of Gaza by the Israelis cast a huge pall over the festivities for me.

Our reliance on international media agencies to get news on Gaza means that we get information that are either totally biased on the Israeli side or subtly biased.

Either way, the news tends to lay the blame on Hamas, which was democratically elected to rule the Palestinians, for “starting it all”. That limits people’s memory of things.

What started it all was a decision to send European Jews to Palestine to start a new country. The fact that there were already people there seemed to concern no one, not even to this day.

If you were living quietly in your home and someone just moved in and took over your home, I would think you have a right to get mad.

And if you’re then forced to live in refugee camps in your own land and starved of every basic amenity, forced to go through military checkpoints every day just to get to work, then you would be forgiven for getting frustrated and upset. It’s simply unjust.

As many leaders around the world have pointed out, the Palestinian problem is one of injustice, not about religion. After all, Palesti­nians are both Muslim and Christian.

Israel violates international law every day with no punishment, all the while blaming the Palestinians for “starting it all”.

How do home-made rockets compare with American-made missiles, F-16 warplanes, heli­copter gunships and tanks?

And while rockets may be terrifying, they are nowhere near as deadly as missiles. Since this invasion started, four Israelis have died compared with at least 500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in the first nine days of Operation Cast Led.

Even Israeli columnists in Haaretz, the leading newspaper there, are questioning this incredibly disproportionate response.

Yet, without major supporters, Israeli could not possibly ignore international opinion. The US has unequivocally stated its support for Israel, calling it the US’ “greatest ally”.

What benefits to the US this alliance brings is a mystery. Even prominent American Jews like George Soros are asking why the US is so supportive of Israel when it gets nothing but grief in return.

What’s more, there are also charges that the United Nations is also complicit in this massacre by constantly emphasising that “25% of those murdered are civilians” and that “women and children” are being killed.

This implies that 75% of those killed are militants and not civilians, and that all men in Gaza can be described as militants, instead of teachers, doctors, workers and unemployed.

Amnesty International has also condemned the disproportionate attacks on largely defenceless peoples, listing out all the children killed by Israeli missiles.

On the other hand, the rest of us must also react in a reasonable way, no matter how angry it makes us. Injustice cannot be overcome by more violence.

Just as the Israeli missiles are not going to stop the Hamas rockets, neither is more violence, including suicide bombings, going to stop more artillery raining down on the long-suffering Palestinians.

But it behooves the more powerful side to stop first, because the less powerful has the right to defend itself against such attacks. But thus far, despite international calls for a ceasefire, Israel is ignoring them.

There are some of us who say that this is none of our business. That it’s so far away and, besides, all sides are unreasonable. But such thinking ignores the impact this conflict has on everyone around the globe.

This festering wound known as the Palesti­nian conflict is why so many people see the US as not living up to its democratic and human rights ideals.

Which is what makes life unsafe for Ameri­cans, because some people get angry enough to do crazy things. Which in turn makes life miserable for Muslims everywhere because they are then branded as “terrorists”.

Whereas Israel, which starves people and deprives them of the very basic necessities and forces 1.5 million people to live in what is essentially a concentration camp, gets away smelling sweet. Is that justice?

The world is all interlinked now; anything that happens anywhere in the world will sooner or later have an impact on everyone else. The economic crisis in the US is also far away but it still affects us.

If we ignore what is blatantly an injustice just because it is far away, does that mean that our concept of justice is selective?

02 January 2009

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 17, 2008
Let’s focus on what we can do

IT’S been a long time since I’ve made my lists, so in keeping with recent issues I thought I would make a list of fatwas (edicts) I’d like to see.

Now, some people think that I have something against fatwas. Actually, I think fatwas can be helpful in providing guidance to Muslims on how to conduct their lives. But I do have issues with fatwas that deal only with petty things while ignoring much more important things in life.

What’s more, most fatwas seem to be only about what you cannot do, rather than what you can do.

Having seen how the National Fatwa Council will respond to individual complaints and suggestions for fatwas, I thought I would come up with a list of “Can Do” fatwas they should consider issuing.

None of them will attract punishment if not adhered to, at least not in this world. But I think they would go a long way towards making Muslims, and even non-Muslims, better people. So here goes.

We should have fatwas that:

1. Tell people that the only way to make money is to work hard.

No get-rich-quick schemes that promise you can earn thousands in a week, no pyramid plans, no going to bomohs, no cosying up to the influential, and certainly no bribery and corruption.

2. Say that women can be leaders in any field or workplace, as long as they treat those they lead with equality and fairness.

And those men who have problems with women being leaders are forgetting that the Prophet Muham- mad used to work for his wife Khatijah; and that everyone considered Aishah, the youngest of his wives, a respected leader in her community.

3. Emphasise that the best men are those who never neglect their wives and children, even when they are no longer married to the wo- men.

Therefore, men who abscond from their duties are not to be excused or celebrated in any way.

4. Say that the best parents are those who stay home and read with their children and help them with their homework every school night.

5. Emphasise that the best Mus- lims are those who read the Quran and work to understand it.

6. Say that discriminatory attitudes towards people different from ourselves are not allowed in Islam.

7. Outline ways in which we should show consideration for one another, such as by keeping public toilets clean, not throwing rubbish everywhere and not parking indiscriminately so that other people are inconvenienced.

8. Point out that envy and jealousy are the worst traits anyone could have, especially when other people are successful.

The good Muslim should be happy for others when they are successful and not begrudge them or cast aspersions on their abilities.

9. Encourage charity to be active and not passive.

Charity means actually devoting time and effort to doing something to help others and not merely writing cheques. Charity also means helping those truly in need and not just to get attention.

10. Underscore that a good Muslim is one that is polite and well-mannered, and should never curse, swear and act in an offensive manner to others, especially women, the disabled and people from other communities.

This is not least because such bad manners reflect poorly on one’s upbringing and is therefore disrespectful to one’s own parents.

11. Take to task judges in any court who are biased towards anyone based on sex, race, religion or creed.

12. Declare fatwas and laws that are unjust as null and void.

13. Encourage people to be happy by doing what makes them happy, such as by making music, creating art or engaging in sport, as long as they don’t harm anyone else.

And if these things offend anyone, they have to say clearly why they are offended so that they do not spoil everyone else’s fun.

14. Remind people that nature is a gift from God and should not be taken for granted, nor disrespected and exploited.

Disasters are not to be blamed on God when there are perfectly human explanations for them. Keeping our rivers, forests and air clean is the duty of each of us, not someone else’s.

15. Emphasise that learning and being knowledgeable is also a duty because it helps us to be better people and citizens.

Furthermore, we should learn from far and wide and especially learn science and technology.

16. Encourage people to deal with real-life problems with contemporary solutions and not pretend they don’t exist, or deal with them through unjust solutions or hocus pocus.

17. Assures people that life is not a booby trap where you spend all your time trying to avoid small mistakes out of fear of major retribution.

God is Ever Merciful and Com- passionate and understands that you’re only human.

That’s my fatwa wish list for 2009. May at least some come true!