24 September 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 September 16, 2009
It’s time for us to chill

WHEN I was little I remember there being a Malaysia Day. I don’t remember what the date was, but now I realise that it must have been Sept 16. But at the time I remember the word “Malaysia” was somewhat a novelty, but an exciting one nevertheless.

I don’t know how it came to be that Malaysia Day disappeared from our consciousness. To be more correct, it has disappeared from the consciousness of those of us Malaysians in the peninsula.

It has only been because of the insistent reminders from our fellow citizens in Sabah and Sarawak recently that we have become conscious of the fact that today is the anniversary of the formation of Malaysia.

As important as Aug 31 is as the day that Malaya became independent, surely the day that we became the modern nation of Malaysia is equally important. We are after all Malaysians, not just Malayans.

So it is fitting that some of us have decided to make this year’s Malaysia Day an extra special one.

After what has seemed like a very bad-tempered stretch of several months when everyone’s emotions have been strung out with one incident after another, a group of individuals decided that enough is enough and that something needed to be done.

But instead of doing something that would only heighten emotions, they decided to do something to underscore the need for reflection, restraint and calmness.

They decided to reject the hatred and injustices of recent months and reclaim our country for the peaceful place that it is.

That was how the idea for the Fast for the Nation, Peace for Malaysia initiative began. As with all good ideas, it is striking in its simplicity. What everyone joining the initiative is doing today is to fast from dawn to dusk.

This is not just to show solidarity with the Muslim citizens of the country but to do something simple together as a way of showing unity.

If there is one thing that brings Malaysians together, it is food. So early this morning, several Malaysians of all races got together to have their pre-dawn meal, the sahur.

In the spirit of inclusiveness, so that there is no barrier to anyone’s participation, the meal was vegetarian. People who would never normally get up so early to eat did so just to join their Muslim friends.

Then in the evening, they will get together again to break the fast. From the very onset of the idea, as is typical of Malaysians, friends have been discussing what they would eat to break their fast.

But they are determined to do it together, with their neighbours, workmates and friends, regardless of race or religion. The citizens who break fast together stay together.

In addition, this initiative calls for participants to do something kind to someone during the day. At heart is the idea that if you do something nice for someone, you will get the same in return at some point.

After months of an environment where retribution seemed to be the order of the day, it was time to reverse that by consciously doing something good.

It could be as simple as offering to babysit, shop for a house-bound neighbour or help someone at work or something more complicated, as long as it’s an act of kindness.

When the project was launched last week, the first 50 people to sign on all said the same thing: the hate and violence exhibited by some people recently are not typical of Malaysians.

We do not solve things through anger and recrimination. Nor do we allow anyone to exploit our differences and divide us.

While our strength is our diversity – and that diversity should always be respected – our national project ever since Sept 16, 1963, so to speak, is to unite.

So Fast for the Nation is exactly what we need.

It is a community-driven grassroots initiative, one not tainted by politics and with genuinely sincere objectives.

Basically it upholds the basic Ramadan thrust of restraint and calmness. In other words, we’re saying it’s time to chill.

Initiatives like this should not be confined to one day a year only.

We can easily think up many similar ideas. Already there have been groups of Muslims going to visit Hindu temples, or inviting non-Muslims to break the fast with them at suraus.

We need to reach out to each other more in natural ways, not at glitzy manufactured events.

Most of all, we need to show that hate is an emotion that is alien to the ordinary Malay-sian.

When we have seen people from all sides behave in the most debased manner, we have to rise above them. And show them what Malaysia is really about.

Happy Birthday Malaysia!

04 September 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 September 2, 2009
Merit comes from making right choices
Musings by Marina Mahathir

Living the faith is not just about avoiding what is prohibited, but more so about doing the right things where morals and ethics are concerned.

IN this month of Ramadan, one naturally focuses on questions of faith. And indeed, with several controversies in the papers, we can’t escape it at all. Every day our lives seem to be increasingly circumscribed until the question of choice in our lives becomes irrelevant.

There are some people in our midst who seem to think that the only way to fulfill our religious obligations is by removing any sort of temptation or challenge in our paths.

Since we are prohibited from drinking, the answer is therefore to remove any form of alcohol from our sight so that we may never have the opportunity to be tempted by it.

Or, to disallow young Muslims to attend events sponsored by alcoholic beverage companies.

The assumption is that by the mere presence of liquor, we would abandon all inhibitions and imbibe.

This suggests two things. One is that the religious education of the young must be so inadequate that they feel totally uninhibited when faced with what they should know is prohibited.

Secondly, our faith is essentially a weak one since it can never restrain us from breaking rules.

There are other faiths that have food prohibitions as well. Many Hindus and Buddhists don’t eat beef. There are people who take no meat at all.

Yet, living in a world of carnivores, where the beef burger is ubiquitous and most people are oblivious of others’ dietary restrictions, they stick to their diets throughout their lives. Do they have stronger faith than Muslims?

I’m trying to imagine a world where our faith is supposedly secured by having absolutely no temptations or challenges at all.

We can ban every form of alcohol (including medicinal ones), we can cull every single pig in the land, but does that mean we will be able to float about blissfully certain that we now have a place in heaven?

In countries where alcohol is completely prohibited, an underground system invariably springs up and people

drink much more, perhaps because it is illicit.

People who are used to ham made from turkey meat and bacon from beef tend to assume, when they travel to other countries, that all the bacon and ham there are also made from the same meats.

Children who have never seen pigs gush over the cuteness of those little pink animals with the funny snouts.

But faith is about more than just prohibited drinks and foods. It is also about morals and ethics. Every day we are faced with choices that challenge our sense of morality.

Do we pay a little extra to the officer in order to expedite our applications? Do we beat the red light, thus endangering other people, just because we are a little late? Do we keep quiet about a mistake we made and let others take the blame?

It is our faith that is going to provide us the answers to these questions. And sometimes these questions can be difficult to answer. Does that mean therefore that we should just get rid of them so that our faith need never be tested?

It would be nice to get rid of corruption completely so that we never have to deal with it. But do we hear of anyone calling for a ban on it? Or mobilising religious officials to catch anyone giving or receiving a bribe?

If our faith directs our way of life, then ethical and moral questions should dog us every day. How is it that those calling for people who drink to be whipped have nothing to say about people who neglect to repay loans? Or who leave their children in destitution?

How is it that the voices that bay for rock concerts to be banned are not just as outraged by the existence of the homeless and the hungry?

Faith, as someone said, needs to be exercised regularly. Otherwise it gets flabby. In what way can it be exercised if we think that living in a religious utopia is what we should aim for?

Is it better for our faith to be exercised by the trivial rather than the big moral questions of poverty, illiteracy and violence?

God said in the Quran, “if it had been His will, He could indeed have guided you all”. (6:149)

We could all be perfectly good if He

had so willed it. But we are given

choices because that is how we earn our merits. We have the opportunity to think about what we should do and then decide.

In that way we have the chance to think about what ethics we want to apply in our lives. Take away that choice and we never have to think about morals and ethics. What sort of human beings would we be then?