Loyal Followers

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

now, everyone can race...

Note: Ini adalah cerita rekaan semata-mata. Tidak ada kena mengena dengan sesiapa, samada yang masih bernyawa ataupun yang sudah berhenti bernyawa. Warning: contain adult words. So those morally uptight people, please do not read this. The author would like to thank the lawyer who can only count up to one; the shorty fund manager; the guy who lost the bet on the Manchester derby recently and the kotey who used to run 100 meters in 10.3 seconds (hand timed - that's how old he is) for some of the absolutely brilliant ideas for this short story. Please do not forget to invite me to the raya open house again next year.

*********************************************

The President cum Chief Executive Officer cum owner cum Marketing Chief cum Chief of all Chiefs of Air Malaysia sat on the chair fronting all the journalists and about 2 dozens microphones in the large press room at the Sepang Circuit. The entrepreneur extraordinaire looked rugged in his trademark blue jeans and a double cuffed Thomas Pink complete with a pair of red silk cufflinks.

With a smirk on his face, he adjusted his baseball cap, pulling it up a bit so that his eyes could be more easily seen. He had every right to smirk. Air Malaysia is the only company awarded a 30 year contract to supply Malaysians with clean air, especially during the haze period which in Malaysia, could mean somewhere between 3-6 months every year. That contract has made Air Malaysia, a company with the motto, "now, everyone can breathe", a household name and now it is already branching out into the supply of hot, as well as, cold air. Already in the pipeline is the production and sale of smoke, for those agencies, governmental or otherwise, which need to create smoke screens from time to time. Practically, he has made his money out of nothing, obviously.

He gestured to the journalists that he wanted to start the press conference. An air of anticipation permeated the press room. What new product is he launching, all of them asked silently.

"Okay, my name is Datuk Seri Dr Ir Honey Fernando, President CEO COO CoC of Air Malaysia. First of all, thank you for coming to this press conference at such short notice," he politely told the journalists. Cameras were trained to his face. Cameramen were busy clicking away as he spoke. Camera flashes were flashing away like burst of little lightning in the press room.

"We are here today to announce the formation of a GT racing team, a One Malaysia team, which will take part in the Japanese GT, DTM Series as well as the FIA GT Championship from next season. We will also take part in Le Man races and whatever races available. The team will drive the One Car, driven by the One Driver, crewed by the One Crew and will be base at the One Home, namely, the Sepang Circuit. The One Car will be built by Malaysians in Malaysia and will be a totally Malaysian Car,", announced Datuk Seri Dr Ir Honey Fernando, pride brimming from his face.

The journalists broke into a patriotic applause. "What will the team name be, Sir," asked one guy.

"It will be named One Malaysia-SIA GTnomic Racing Team," said the Datuk Seri.

"Ooh...erm...doesn't that sound a bit self-defeating Sir? I mean it sounds like Malay Sia-sia...and "sia-sia" means wasteful?", continued the guy.

"Eh, it's not Malay sia-sia la. It is Malaysia-SIA. SIA is our partner and of course their name must be there la," answered the Datuk Seri.

"But if Singapore Airlines is in the team, how could you call it a Malaysian team, Datuk Seri?", a lady journalist asked.

"Who say Singapore Airlines is in the team? It is SIA, a private company owned by my friend, Sonny Indran. It is Sonny Indran Automobile la. His company will supply us the chassis," answered the Datuk Seri impatiently.

"Oh...I see," nodded the journalist before continuing, "since when do we have a private company in Malaysia which produces racing car chassis?"

"Eh, when did I say that Sonny Indran manufactures racing car chasis la? He runs a potong kereta business la. He has agreed to allow us to take whatever chasis we want from his yard la...aiyo, please don't put words into my mouth la people!", Datuk Seri was obviously getting upset.

"Now, can I continue? I mean, I want this PF to end before the Bagan Pinang by-election okay!", said the Datuk Seri sarcastically.

"Okay, the technical director cum Chief Operating Officer of the team will be Mr Paul Gas Coin, an old friend of mine who has been involved in racing for ages and ages. I am sorry he is not here now because he is busy looking for sponsors as we speak," explained the Datuk Seri.

"Is that spelt Gascoyne, Sir?", asked an old journalist.

"No, it is Gas Coin...", the Datuk Seri spelt out the name. "Well, I know what you all are thinking. Let me explain. His name was Paul Munusamy. His father is unknown. His mom is Malaysian. After 36 years of applying, he recently was given his Malaysian citizenship. He wanted to change his name to Paul Gascoine after his favorite footballer who played for that team in the BPL...you know, that team which everyone cannot remember the name...haiya...whatchamaycallit...that team which wanted to buy everybody but end up with Peter Crouch...?", asked Datuk Seri Honey Fernando.

"Never mind, anyway, the NRID officer said he cannot change his name to Gascoine as people might confuse him with the footballer. So he named himself Gas Coin instead. By the way, our race director will be Dato' Mohjizan, a well known businessman and also my partner," further explained the good Datuk Seri.

Just then, a man in full race suit entered the room, looking hassled and almost upset. "What la, Honey, the car is useless la... you told me it is ready for shakedown and so I came to drive it just now. It is not ready for a shakedown la Bro...", complained the man.

"Ah ah...come come Alex, let me introduce you to the press. Ladies and gentleman, this is Alexander Yen Yen Yoong, our driver. I mean, our potential driver. He is a sponsored driver. Yes, Alex, what are your gripes about the car exactly?", asked Datuk Seri Honey.

"I don't know la Honey...many problems. Firstly, the rpm seems to cut out at about 3500rpm. Then I think the bloody 6 cylinder engine ah...only 3 cylinders are firing. You told me the car would have a 6 speed sequential dog box. Bloody hell, there are only 4 speeds! And the window cannot wind down...damn hot la Bro! And my harness, only 2 points ah? Regulations say 4 points la dey...The brakes also, only the fronts ones are working...like cibai la Bro...", thundered Alex.

"Be patient Alex. All can be explained. I told you from the outset. This team is a budget racing team. You know? Like those budget airlines la. The car can rev up to 9500rpm la I tell you. You want more than 3500rpm your sponsor pay 100k for every 1000 rpm la okay. Same with the engine. For the price you are paying now, you can use 3 spark plugs only. That is why only 3 cylinders are firing. You want more? Pay 80000 per spark plug la. You want 6 speeds? That will cost you 250000 per gear. The harness will cost you 50000 each. And as for the brakes, the mech will activate the rear ones for 400000. You understand? Don't simply complain la. Malu la like this. You go and read our contract la dude. You got money what. You are sponsored by AAM," said the Datuk Seri.

"Oh, the Association of Automobile Malaysia is also involved, is it?", asked one journalist.

"No la. It is the Association of Ah Long Malaysia. This is an association of legalised Ah Longs. They are all registered. They even offer Islamic financing. And Shariah compliant too. For example ah...if they want to splash blood on a Muslim defaulter's house or cars or whatever, they only use blood of cows which are slaughtered in accordance with the Islamic requirements, you know. Unlike the illegal ones. If they want to break a hand, and they know the defaulter is a right hander, they would only break the left hand. Good ah?," explained Alex proudly. "Some more ah, they employ 30% Bumi staffs! Not only are they Islamic, they are also NEP compliant," said Alex further.

Right then, Datuk Seri's mobile phone rang to the tune of ABBA's Fernando..."can you hear the drums fernando?"......

"Hello...oh Paul, wassup man....oh, you got them? Wow, Lotus, Armani, Mc....my God, you are good man...these are big sponsors dude....whoa...the umbrella people also you got oredi ah...superb man...I always have faith in you man...thank you, thank you...ah ah...good job la Bro...eh...bring them here now la....I have a press conference now..." the Datuk Seri enthusiastically spoke on the phone.

"Ladies and gentlemen, that was Paul Gas Coin...eh eh...please spell his name correctly ah. He just told me that he has managed to secure some huge sponsors like Lotus, Armani and McDonald. I tell you, this is going to be a really successful team. Looks like the sponsors do have confidence in us Malaysians. He will bring the reps from those companies soon. He is on the way now...let me in the meantime show you the car. Will all of you come to the window please. Look at the car down there," the Datuk Seri pointed to the pit lane.

"But Sir, that is a Nissan Skyline. You said it is a Malaysian car," asked a journalist.

"Haiyah, you pedantic or what. That car was built by our mechanic in our Sunway workshop la...so it is Malaysian la. Apa la....no need to be so particular la," said Datuk Seri Honey Fernando.

About half a hour later, Paul walked in together with 5 guys. "Boss, good afternoon Boss...these are the sponsors reps," said Paul while pointing to the 5 guys.

"Everyone, this Paul Gas Coin I was telling you about just now," introduced Datuk Seri Fernando.

The journalists broke into a loud applause.

"Eh, Paul, come and see me in the adjacent room for a while. Ladies and gentlemen, excuse us for a while. I have to speak to Paul for a minute," Datuk Seri said while standing up and gesturing to Paul to follow him out of the press room.

"Eh, who are those fellas la...where are the Lotus, Armani and McDonald guys la. Don't tell me they have Indians reps in Malaysia," enquired Datuk Seri Honey.

"Aiyoh Boss, those are the reps la. Who told you McDonald was sponsoring? I said McCurry. That bald Indian chap is McCurry's rep la. They will sponsor our banana leave breakfast and lunch," explained Paul.

"And where is the rep from Lotus Engineering?, enquired Datuk Seri impatiently.

"Uiyo Boss, not Lotus Engineering la. Lotus Curry House and Hotels la. They will sponsor our dinner and accommodatios. We can have lucky draws for our fans and the winners can stay at Lotus hotels for 2 nights," said Paul, obviously proud of his marketing achievements.

"And the other fellow is Rajamani. He has just graduated from UiTM with a degree in fashion design. Although he is an Indian, he speaks Malay and he is a Muslim and he wears sarong all the time, so he qualifies as a Malay la they say, so he masuk UiTM. He now has a boutique called R.Mani. He agrees to sponsor baju for the crew la. Great ah Boss?," Paul was seeking his boss' approval.

"You know Boss. One famous shoemaker is also considering sponsoring us Boss. Jimmy Chee Yew. He will provide all footwear Boss. He is even thinking ah Boss, he can prepare garlands of slippers also if we finish on the podium Boss. Great or what?", enthuses Paul endlessly.

"Pundek lu la Paul. Tak boleh harap!," cursed Datuk Seri Honey. "And what the feck are those two chettiars doing here la? I don't need a loan la. Alex is already sponsored by Ah Longs," said Datuk Seri Honey.

"Oh, Boss, those two are our umbrella people..." explained Paul while looking down.

"Aiyo yo Paul, jail la like this macha...aku give up la like this. Eh, you go and tell the Lotus guys to take over the team la. I resign after Lotus take over okay....."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya - Eid Mubarak

 ATT00003

I would like to wish all Malaysians Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Maaf Dzahir dan Batin.

May all of us continue to be blessed with goodness, good health and peace of mind.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cleaning up the Judiciary – was the Chief Justice right?

When I first read the news report in the Star that YAA Tan Sri Zaki, the Chief Justice, had told 2 errant High Court Judges to voluntarily resign, my initial reaction was one of pleasure. I thought it was good that the CJ has finally cracked the whip and told these useless Judges to leave the Judiciary. However, after having thought about this issue with a little bit more depth, I am now hesitant to say that it was a good move by the Chief Justice.

Our Judiciary was among the best in the Commonwealth prior to 1988. We had people of absolute integrity and capable of serving justice with the highest standard of knowledge of the law coupled with flawless judicial temperament. Tun Suffian was highly regarded as among the finest. His Majesty the Sultan of Perak, Raja Azlan Shah was among the best. Tan Sri Eusoffee Abdool Cadeer, who would scold Counsel in Latin, could teach a thing or two about the law even to some British law Lords themselves. And at the lower rung of the Courts, we had Judges such as Dato’ VC George; Dato’ Mahadev Shanker; Dato’ NH Chan; Dato’ Razak Abu Samah, Tan Sri Harun Hashim et al. It was indeed a pleasure and an honour for me, as a young Counsel then, to appear before all these legal giants.

Of course the regime of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad had to change it all in 1988. Just after the highest Court of the land, led by none other than Tun Salleh Abbas had bent over backward to appease the Government in the UEM vs Lim Kit Siang case – and in the process set our administrative law back by about 50 years! – Tun Salleh was himself subjected to the ignominy of having to defend himself before a doubtful tribunal. The rest is history.

Our Judiciary was never the same again, until today. Tun Dr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s efforts in restoring some semblance of integrity in our Judiciary had seen the establishment of a Judicial Appointment Committee. How far does that go towards restoring public confidence in our Judiciary? When the absolute power of appointment still rest with the Prime Minister and nobody else, what does it matter whether there is a JAC or not? The JAC might well be just another coat of paint on a very old and rickety wooden hut full of white ants. Or favoured by Tan Sri Eusoffee, it is a very thick white sauce over a very large red herring.

To a large extent, the public have become numb with our Judiciary. The people know that there are some honest and hard working souls in there. But the people also perceive some unsavoury shenanigans in there. To top it up, the appointment of YAA Tan Sri Zaki, a former leading UMNO legal adviser, as the Chief Justice served to fan discontent with a section of the public.

Lord Chief Justice Hewart’s oft repeated pronouncement, “justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”, is not only a legal truism as much as it is in fact an expectation. However, there is an obvious lack of appreciation as to what this phrase entails on the part of our Judiciary and Government. It really does not matter whether a given Judge had arrived at a decision after having applied the relevant laws honestly, with absolute integrity and the soundest of reasoning. If the ultimate stakeholder of the Judiciary, namely the people and litigants perceive that there is something wrong or improper, than justice is not seen to be done.

To illustrate, just imagine a situation where a brother of mine is a Judge (none of my brothers is a Judge I must hasten to add). Let’s say I have a case and the case is heard by my brother. Now, regardless of the fact that my brother is the most honest person on earth, and regardless of the fact that he has decided the case in my favour correctly under the law, justice is not seen to be done. This is because he is my brother. How could he hear and decide on my case? That is the crux of it all.

I have stated that the ultimate stakeholder is of course the litigants and the people. The people look to the Judiciary for justice and implementation of the law. The Judiciary is therefore not a private institution. It is an institution which is in the public domain. Although the Judiciary, theoretically, is not answerable to any branch of the administration of this country, it must however be able to withstand the closest of scrutiny by the people. And it must be able to take it up its chin with nary a grimace on its face.

The legal fraternity is pregnant with speculations as to the identity of the two Judges who are now asked to leave. The antics of one of these two Judges have been a source of wonderment for a very long time. He has been misbehaving from day one. His was a case of a Judge who was contemptuous of the very seat of justice which he himself occupies! Thus it is a source of another great puzzlement as to the timing of him being asked to leave. Why now? Or why only now? I am sure the public would ask.

Judges are well protected under the law. And it is not any insignificant law at that. They are protected by no less than our Federal Constitution. Under Article 127 for instance, the conduct of a Judge cannot even be discussed by Parliament without a notice of a substantive motion being given by not less than a quarter of the total number of Parliamentarians. Also, a Judge cannot be dismissed except by His Majesty the King upon a recommendation by a tribunal established under Article 125.

Such is the protection accorded to Judges. This is necessary in order to prevent the Executives (the Government) from interfering with the Judiciary by asserting powers of dismissal or transfer at its own whims and fancies. Nevertheless, with compliant cohorts, 1988 has proven that despite such protection, the system could still be breached!

It is therefore imperative that any decision to remove any Judges, whether by reasons of misbehaviour or wrongdoings, must be done, and ONLY be done, in accordance with the procedure enshrined in the Federal Constitution. It does not speak volume for us to say that the procedure would be too expensive, time consuming or cumbersome. It is there for a reason.

My concern is this. What will the public now think? They do not know what these two Judges had done. Is justice seen to be done? To the people, it might not be. They could question the real intention. Why wasn’t the Federal Constitution followed? What were the complaints against them? With all due respect, to ask Judges to resign voluntarily in the comfort of the Chief Justice’s chambers without laying out the exact reasons, in clear and precise terms, is a recipe for disaster. The Judiciary is not a private coperation or institution where disciplinary proceedings could be initiated and proceeded with behind closed doors.

Had there been a tribunal, all these would be in the public domain. There would not be any speculation. Nor would there be any suspicion of unsavoury motive or motivation. If a citizen could be given the right to be heard, – and this includes the right to be defended – why wouldn’t a Judge be accorded such right?

With all due respect, this is a dangerous precedent. And it is not going to help improve the image of the Judiciary. Not when justice is not seen to be done.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meme: Save Yvonne's Sight


Yvonne Foong has been raising funds for the operations she needs to treat her neurofibromatosis which causes tumours to grow inside her body.

Yesterday I got tagged by Zorro-unmasked for this Save Yvonne's Sight Meme. Yvonne had already lost her hearing and communicated through writing on a small white board. But now she's losing her eyesight and needs another operation again. The operation is due in December and once again she needs to raise funds for it. The cost of the surgery is USD44,000 (RM154,770) and the cost of her hospital stay for two weeks is USD915 or RM3219.

She has already raised RM10,000 of this but obviously still has a long way to go. She's hoping to raise the rest by republishing her book I'm Not Sick, Just A Little Bit Unwell in English and Chinese.The books are now available in Malaysian bookshops and from her website store. She is also selling T-shirts at bazaars and via her web site store. You can read about her surgery and donate to her fund here.

You can also help by sending on this meme. If you do, please follow these meme rules:

1. Create a blog entry titled "Meme: Save Yvonne's Sight"

2. List three things you love to see. Add in the picture of Yvonne's book cover. The URL is http://www.yvonnefoong.com/images/banner/my-story.jpg

3. End with the line, "Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at http://www.yvonnefoong.com.

4. Tag 5 blog friends. Be sure to copy the rules, OK?

5. If you have a Facebook account, please check out Ellen's new invention, a "feme" pronounced FEEM, a meme designed for Facebook here. And if you want to blog about NF, that would be great too!

The three things I love to see are:

1. My son waiting for me at the door when I arrive home from work.

2. Misty morning in the mountains.

3. A kite moving and dancing to the tune of the night breeze with a full moon shining in the background and thousands of stars twinkling.

I'm tagging the following blogger friends to ask them to help out:


1. Harris Ibrahim's The People's Parliament
2. Malik Imtiaz' Disquiet
3. Patrick Teoh's Niamah
4. Loyar Burok
5. Magick River

Anyone else interested in passing on this meme is more than welcome to do so. I am sure Yvonne will much appreciate it!

Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at http://www.yvonnefoong.com.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Islam's propagation of violence against non-Muslims - correcting a misconception

My article "Of Islam, Churches and Temples" drew much attention from Malaysians and foreigners alike. Many readers posted positive comments on my blog as well as other blogs where that article appeared. There are many non-Muslim readers who were in fact appreciative of Islam's position when it comes to the rights of non-Muslims to practise their respective faith and belief.

However, there are two commentators on my blog who posted some really inflammatory remarks about Islam. Hiding behind the skirt of anonymity, these two persons displayed so much hatred against Islam that I found it necessary to delete their respective comments from my blog. And I make no apology for doing so.

It is quite obvious that bigotry exists on both side of the fence. I don't mind engaging with anybody on whatever subject which are closed to my heart. But when people merely spew hatred and baseless allegations, especially against my faith, even more so in the comfort of anonymity, I find solace in my delete button. And I am gleeful that I don't even have to state a reason for so doing.

Having said so, I must hasten to add that this is not the first time I have encountered such baseless tirade from non-Muslims about Islam. And we, the Muslims and the so called Muslims, are not entirely blameless. Judging from the propensity of some so called Muslims to blow themselves up in crowded places nowadays, all in the name of "jihad", I am not surprised if non-Muslims think that Islam propagates violence, especially against non-Muslims.

And to add to that, the fact that Muslims began killing each other just after Prophet Muhammad's - peace be upon him - passing also lend credence to such belief. To further add to the image of violence, just look at the number of times we read about the Shiite bombing the Sunnis's mosque after or during Friday prayers and vice versa.

Such is the image of Islam nowadays that it is hard for non-Muslims not to be convinced that Islam is a faith which preaches violence and that "jihad" in Islam is all about killing non-believers for a place in heaven surrounded by 72 virgins and nice little boys who would serve drinks.

Sad. But that is the reality of it all, nowadays.

Most of the non-Muslims' misconception about Islam being a religion which propagates violence against non-Muslims stems from several verses in the Quran which seem to suggest that Muslims should go all out to kill non-Muslims. And the killing of non-Muslims is considered as a "jihad".

Among others, the followings are the relevant verses:

  • 8:12 Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."

  • 47:4 Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.

  • 2:190 Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loves not aggressors.

  • 2:191 And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

The above verses, when read out of context and without knowing the circumstances under which they were revealed, tend to suggest that Islam propagates violence against non-Muslims. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If verses from old scriptures are to be read out of context and without any knowledge of their surrounding circumstances, many of their verses could be interpreted wrongly. This misinterpretation would lead to suggestions that they propagate violence. Even the Bible is replete with these verses.

Consider these:

  • "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Mathew 10:34)

  • "I have come to turn " 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matthew 10:35)

  • "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." (1 Samuel 15:3)

  • "The people of Samaria must bear their guilt because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open." (Hosea 13:16)

Surely the Bible is not a scripture which propagate violence. It is a book of love, of peace and harmony. As is the Quran.

Verse 8:12 of the Quran above was brought during the battle of Badar where 300 Muslims were facing about 1000 non-Muslims enemies who were bent on obliterating the then new faith which was just gaining it's footing. The Muslims were scared and some were in doubt of their strength. They were being persecuted and subjected to torture and ridicule on daily basis. The verse was revealed in those circumstances. That verse is not a general decree from God for Muslims to kill all non-Muslims by cutting off their head!

The same is also the case with verse 47:4 of the Quran. It asks the Muslims to kill the non-believers in a fight (war or battle). But Muslims can only fight when attacked by the enemies. The Quran commanded:

2:190 Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.

In fact, the Quran forbids fighting when the enemies want peace.

  • 8.61 But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that hears and knows (all things).
  • 60.8 God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loves those who are just.
  • 60.9 God only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong.

It is clear from the above verses that God commands Muslims to be kind and just to non-Muslims because God loves those who are just (60:8).

On the other hand God forbids Muslims from befriending or turning for protection to people who fight the Muslims because of their faith and who drive Muslims out of their homes or support those who do so (60:9).

Nowhere is there in the Quran that Muslims are commanded to kill non-Muslims or to act in an unfair or unjust manner to non-Muslims.

Those people who spew so much hatred against Islam and who have been quoting verses out context are nothing but religious bigots who are bent on giving Islam a bad name. But bigots being bigots, these people would refuse to be drawn into any meaningful engagement. They would sit within this huge field of hatred and prejudices. And in the comfort of anonymity, they would attack and spew their hatred.

They know who they are.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Subterranean Blues

Disclaimer and warning: This is a work of fiction. Tiada kena mengena samada dengan yang mati atau yang masih hidup. Contains profanity and porn language. So, moral Nazis among you, please do not read.

Date: 09/09/'09

Time: 09:09 hrs

Location: Somewhere near the Middle Rock, Selat Tebrau, Johore.

Depth: 9999cm

Commander's log: It's been more than 12 hours that we are down here. Morale is low. The crew obviously missed ASTRO and the BPL. Some have begun to display signs of acute withdrawal symptoms. As to what they are withdrawing from, I have not a clue. I just want to go home. ET goes home. ET goes home. Okay, gtg. Laterz...

Commander Isa "Rempit" Ibrahim sat behind the control console. It was quiet. The drone from the engine and the massive propellers at the back of the vessel served to fill the silence.

Somewhere in the background, somebody was singing "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, Merrily.....". "Good God," Commander Isa was thinking. Bloody irritating. This is not a bleeding boat. This is a submarine! And we are not going down a stream. We are at the bottom of the sea damn it!

"Could you stop singing that blinking song you stupid idiot?", blared Commander Isa, his piqué showing. Warrant Officer 1 Pardi was startled. Trembling in his pants, he stopped singing and managed to softly say, "Sorry Tuan Komander, saya tak buat lagi".

"Hmmmph...", grunted Commander Ahmad. "Bodoh macam lembu!", he said.

"Eh eh...steer la this sub elok-elok sikit. And get your freaking hands off that torpedo button. I tell you, if you whack that little rock in front, habis ler kiter. That rock if you must know, is not just any other rock you know. It is the, I mean, THE (pronounced "de") rock okay. The Middle Rock. If you tertembak Midlle Rock tu, mampus aku! That's like showing our country the middle finger Bro!," screamed Commander Isa.

"Okay okay Tuan...", said the Warrant Officer Class 1 Pardi bin Joned.

The truth was, Commander Isa was getting bored. I mean, who wouldn't be, right? Trapped in a small submarine with nothing to do for days would not be anybody's idea of fun. He couldn't move much. Couldn't eat roti canai and nasi lemak. Let alone drink teh tarik. Could not see anything else other than bloody rubbish thrown by whoever at the bottom of the sea. To compound the boredom, his Play Station 2 is now out of battery and he has forgotten to bring the charger. "Shit! What have I brought unto myself when I agreed to take up this job,", he uttered in his head.

"Bini aku ni pun satu la, aku suruh dia pack battery charger tu dia lupa pulak. Ini la yang aku rasa macam nak kawin lagi satu ni....", he said to himself.

He has had enough of this silence and boredom. He must do something. With that, he slammed his palm on the huge red button near the control console. The siren wailed away. Wheow wheow wheow....well, it did not exactly sound like that but you all get what I mean.

"This is not a drill. This is for freaking real. All crew come to the control room now. Like N.O.W.!!!", yelled Commander Isa through the intercom. "I give you all 2 minutes to come here, counting, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.....that's it," he screamed. "Those of you who are still not here, 150 push ups!!"

"But but Commander, you said 2 minutes, that was only 10 seconds", some smart spark said. "I am the law, when I said 10 seconds, I mean 10 seconds!" said the Commander. "But Sir, you said 2 minutes", the smart spark said. "Well, whatever," the Commander retorted. "Tangkap, tangkap those who are still not here!", shouted the Commander.

"Okay, listen up guys. Like it or not, we are going to be here for the next 3 months. We have to learn to live with each other. Race and religion regardless. Remember we are here together. Like one for all and all for one. This is our home. This is 1 Submarine. Understand?", announced the Commander.

"Sir, yes Sir", said all the crew.

"1 Submarine boys, remember that. Nation First Performance Now. Okay? That is our motto. But in case of emergency, remember, the motto is Commander First Performance Whatever okay?", screamed Commander Isa.

"Sir, yes Sir", responded the crew.

"Okay okay, now, let us all sing Negara Ku, Pardi, play the music now," ordered Commander Isa.

"Negara Ku, tanah....", they began to sing.

"Bangsat, bangsat, ganyang Malingsi, ganyang Malingsi, bangsat, pencurik, tak malu...sapu Malingsi", suddenly a commotion broke out at the back. Two persons were shouting and screaming.

"Hey bahalol, siapa awak ha?", thundered the obviously upset Commander. "Bapak, saya Prebet Dermawan Supranissan dan ini pula teman saya Suntoyo Tempemasin. Kami dari Indonesia Bapak. Itu lagunya lagu Indonesia Bapak. Malingsia sudah curik. Enggak boleh nyanyi Bapak, nanti kami sapu Bapak semua," explained Prebet Dermawan.

"Bloody hell these Indons, how the hell did they end up in my submarine?", the Commander was thinking. "Where the hell do both of you work?", asked Commander Isa.

"I am the strategic armoury personnel Bapak and my friend Suntoyo is the submarine's waste management and administration officer Bapak", explained Prebet Dermawan.

"Oh, you mean you are the torpedo head polisher and your friend is the toilet cleaner? Okay, shut the fork up okay. That song is Hawaiian you morons! Bodoh macam lembu!", thundered Commander Isa.

"Okay, sing again," ordered Commander Isa.

*********************************************

Date: 10/09/09

Time: 20:20 hours

Location: Not too sure. Sat-nav is down.

Depth: 100 meters

Commander's log: We are lost. The sat nav is not working. Somebody knocked on his beer and it seeped into the system. Bodoh macam lembu! England beat Croatia 5-1. Wonder whether some Malaysian businessmen were also playing.

"Beer. Bloody hell. This is no good. Nobody should be drinking beer in this thing. What more if you are a Muslim,", Commander Isa was thinking. "And that 2nd class officer who knocked his beer into the sat-nav thingy was a Muslim. I must punish him!", Commander Isa thought.

"Second class Officer Selamat bin Mat Diah, come to the control area now!", screamed the Commander through the PA system. "I give you 2 minutes, counting, 1,2,3,4,5,6...", the Commander counted. "Yes Sir, I am here", said Officer Selamat while in the "attention" pose.

"You think you are bloody smart ah Selamat. I gave you 2 minutes and I have not finished counting up to 7 and you are here. Who are you shitting huh? Now, go back and do not come until I count to 120!", shouted Commander Isa.

120 counts later. "You, a Muslim, have been found drinking beer, which contains alcohol. As Commander, I sentence you to 80 lashes", announced Commander Isa. "Captain Syed Barakbah Al-kohol, whack Officer Selamat with 80 lashes now", ordered the Commander.

"But er Sir, we have no experience in doing this'", the Captain said.

"Commander Sir, Captain Sir, I know how it is done," said Lieutenant Karam Singh.

Before the Commander could say anything, Lieutenant Karam took a rather large and longish plastic ruler from the control console and hit it on the Commander's chair.

"Oh, like that ah,", said Captain Al. "Like that okay lah, it doesn't seem to be that hard. In fact the caning in my school before was a lot harder. Okay Commander, I can whack Officer Selamat now," said Captain Syed B. Al-kohol.

"Permission to speak Sir," cried out Officer Selamat to Captain Syed.

"Sir, Officer Selamat asked for permission to speak Sir," Captain Syed related to the Commander.

"Do you bloody have to ask me for permission to give permission to Officer Selamat to speak Captain? Are you an idiot or what?" Commander Isa was getting pique again.

"Sorry Sir, but you always have a committee and then another committee to look into the first committee's report and then another committee to oversee both the previous committees and..." "Okay, I get it. You don't have to go on and on...", thundered Commander Isa, obviously getting impatient. "You have my permission to give permission to Officer Selamat to speak," said Commander Isa.

"Thank you Sir. Officer Selamat, I have the Commander's permission to give you permission to speak. And now I am giving you my permission to speak. So, please speak", said Captain Syed.

"Commander Sir, may I speak with you in private please," pleaded Officer Selamat.

"No, I am transparent. I don't like private this and private that. You speak to me here. In front of everybody. So that there wouldn't be any suspicion whatever," said Commander Isa.

"But but Commander Sir, I would like to plead for leniency and I...", explained Officer Selamat.

"Well, you plead here," ordered Commander Isa.

"Well Sir, you see, erm...I, erm...I have the Play Station battery charger," said Officer Selamat.

Captain Syed pretended he did not hear that.

"Okay, I have changed my mode. Now you may speak with me in private, Officer Selamat. What was that you wanted? Leniency?" asked Commander Isa.

*********************************************

Date: 11/09/09

Time: 20:00 hours

Location: Somewhere near Singapore. Lieutenant 1st Class Odysseus Ong had managed to repair and commission the re-operation of the sat-nav system.

Depth: 150 meters

Commander's log: I am so happy. The sat-nav is okay now. Phew... was afraid we could never find our way home, ever again. And to top it up, I have a Play Station battery charger. Perrrggh.

Commander Isa was at the control console. He was about to doze off after a really heavy buka puasa do when suddenly the emergency siren sounded and the red alarm light blinked. "Commander, Commander, emergency at the diesel room Sir, I repeat, emergency," Captain Syed could be heard raving on the intercom.

Commander Isa rushed to he back of the submarine, dodging the light bulbs, fans, underwear and various other things which are dangling from the wall and ceiling of the sub. Reaching the diesel room, he saw various Malay officers spitting and stomping on a picture of a cow head. In front of them, Officer Samy and Warrant Officer Moorthy looked real agitated.

"Hey hey hey, guys, what the hell are you all doing?", screamed Commander Isa at the Malay officers. "This is so wrong! You are mocking the religion and hurting the sensitivities of Officers Samy and Moorthy here. Knock it off will you?", ordered Commander Isa. Captain Syed, meanwhile, looked frightened.

"And what the fork are you doing here Captain Syed? Why the hell did you not stop these madcaps?" screamed Commander Isa.

"Er..Sir, the situation was very fiery Sir. I was afraid that if I interfered, the situation might get worse'", explained Captain Syed. "You forkin' woosy wimsy whimp!" admonished Commander Isa. "All of you stop doing that now or else I would tie you all up in an empty torpedo head and jettison you out from this sub now!," threatened Commander Isa.

"Awak pengkhianat bangsa. Pengkhianat agama. Lu pukimak! Lu datang saya punyer decker kalau berani, gua sekeh sekeh lu punyer kepaler. Lu pukimak Commander!", shouted Officer Nazrin, who was then chewing up the picture of the cow head. "Ya, ini jihad Tuan, they want to put their statue near our decker Tuan. That statue with many hands!, Lagipun Tuan, lembu tu bodoh!" explained Officer Zaki. "That will disturb our faith Tuan," said Officer Gani.

"Oh, okay then. Okay okay. You see aah Samy and Moorthy, these Malay officers did not intend to hurt your feeling. They are just venting their frustration. Its okay. Furthermore, I don't think they knew where the picture of the cow head came from,", said Commander Isa further.

"Tuan, in addition Tuan, there was an incident where a picture of a pig was put in my locker Tuan. By Chief Engineer Timothy Tiong and Warrant Officer 2nd Class Charleston Chua yesterday Tuan. We did not do anything pun," Officer Nazrin added.

"Ahhh, ya ya, see Samy, Moorthy, we all 1 Submarine okay. Be a bit more tolerant la okay...," advised Commander Isa.

*********************************************

"Oh My God! Oh My Gawwwd, someone is dead. Quick. Do something. Someone is bleeding dead!", wailed a Prebet under the staircase leading to the upper deck. Commander Isa was standing in front of the body. On the floor, Officer Odysseus Ong was lying, motionless in a fetal position. There was some blood near his head. His pants were torn at the rear. His hands were tied up together. And a black handkerchief was tied around his forehead covering his eyes. A bullet hole could be seen on his forehead. His face was swollen on both cheeks. "Who did this?" Commander Isa was thinking to himself.

That upper deck was occupied by Captain Syed as his work station. Commander Isa knew Captain Syed was questioning Officer Odysseus Ong the night before.

"Captain Syed, can you tell me what happened?", asked Commander Isa.

"Sir, I was questioning him last night. He was a witness Sir. I suspected someone was bribing the chef for extra whip potato Sir. I released Officer Odysseus at about 3 am Sir. But he said he had wanted to rest at the upper deck. I think he must have tripped from the stairs Sir. Or he could have killed himself," theorised Captain Syed.

"So, you mean, after you released him, he hit himself on the cheeks, blindfolded himself, tied his hands together, took a gun and shot his head, and then tripped on the stairs and fell down? Is that what you are saying Captain?" asked Commander Isa.

"Erm...yes Sir," nodded Captain Syed.

"Okay, obviously a suicide then," declared Commander Isa. "Put his body in the fridge Captain," ordered the Comander.

"Aye Sir."

*********************************************

Commander Isa was sitting at the control console looking at the radar. He was falling asleep. This job sucks. Sucks big bloody time. He was thinking.

Suddenly Captain Syed, followed by Officers Nazrin, Selamat bin Diah and 5 others rushed into the control room. Captain Syed had a gun in his hand. Pointing it to Commander Isa's head, he said, "this is a mutiny Tuan. We are taking over the control of this submarine. We are unhappy with you and your ways!"

"Oh shit..." Commander Isa exclaimed. "But you can't do that. All the officers are loyal to me," said Commander Isa while looking helplessly at Officers Nazrin, Selamat, Timothy Tiong, Samy, Moorthy and Charleston Chua.

"Well Tuan, no pun intended, but they all have jumped ship. Please get out of that control chair Sir to prevent any untoward incident. I give you 2 minutes to do so Commander," Captain Syed ordered. "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8... Samy, Moorthy, remove him from that chair!" ordered Captain Syed.

Samy and Moorthy grabbed Commander Isa from the chair and removed him from the control room.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia - SUHAKAM or S.H.A.M.?

I refer to the report titled "Dire Human Rights Situation In Malaysia" appearing in Malaysia Today this morning.

During the annual human rights talk organised by HAKAM (a Human Rights NGO whose President is Malik Imtiaz) about two months ago, leading lawyer, Raja Aziz Adrusse, in his speech, said that the actual acronym for Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia should be S.H.A.M. and not SUHAKAM, as it is presently known.

When comments from the floor were invited, I quickly went to the microphone and blasted SHAM for being and "armless, limbless, powerless, lame and impotent" organisation. And this was in the presence of one of the commissioners from that organisation!

To say that I am disappointed with this statutory body would be an understatement. What do you think of a human rights commission which is headed by a person who, during his tenure as the Attorney General, oversaw Operasi Lalang; amendments of the Federal Constitution to take away judicial powers from the Courts; amendments to the ISA to render our Courts into one of the most useless Courts in the world when it is only permitted to scrutinise full stops and comas in a habeas corpus application; amendments to the Federal Constitution yet again to give the Attorney General to pick and choose the Court in which he wants to charge a person and also to pick and choose the procedure which he wants to use in such Courts?

Where was this SHAM when the 5 lawyers were arrested by the police just because they had wanted to see their clients? Where were this SHAM in cases involving Lina Joy and all others? What have they done about the Kugan case? What about the state of our detention centers and the death cases occurring there? What about the allegations of torture and sexual abuse there? Did you all take an interest in the Irene Fernandez case? What about the Penan girls who were raped and whose human rights trampled every single day?

Where were you during the anti-ISA rally? Oh, of course, you did not attend because it was an illegal assembly. But excuse me, is it not your function to fight for the right of peaceful assembly - a right which is guaranteed by our Federal Constitution - in this country? Have you even fought for the right to wear black t-shirts? What did you do when Edmund Bon and some lawyers were arrested some time ago for orgainising and participating in a Human Rights walk?

Why was there no representative sent by this SHAM to the Courts to obtain observer status or to watch brief in cases involving blatant human rights abuses such as the Raja Petra Kamaruddin case and many many others? As a lawyer, I had even been issued with a mandate to appear as an observer in Court for the International Commission of Jurists in a case involving a conversion from Islam case. The ICJ did it. But did SHAM do it? No.

Are they too busy? Or they don't see the need?

I admit that it does not have executive powers. But hell, can't you all be vocal just a teeny wee bit more. You can shout and scream and make a hell lot of noise. So that you would get the attention that you want.

There is no use for this body to have so much powers if it does not intend to use them. There is also no use for its members to cry and whine about the lack of executive powers blah blah blah. Just USE THE POWERS WHICH YOU ALREADY HAVE TO THE HILT and see what would happen.

If you think that you could only sit down in your air-conditioned room and "investigate" and "inquire" and make some reports here and there, than just bleeding forget about it please.

I think SUARAM and HAKAM, the two NGOs, have done more and have made their presence felt even more than this statutory body despite their limited resources.

Human Rights Day celebration in Malaysia. What a freaking joke!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond*

* I was consumed by all the happenings in our country lately and I am sure most of you are too. I just realised that it was the 3rd anniversary of Syd Barret's death on 7th July. This article was originally published by me on Navel Gazing as a tribute to him. It's time to take a break for a while from socio-politics and goes back to my root, ie, music. I would like to share it here with all of you.

Johnny died one night, died in his bed
Bottle of whiskey sleeping tablets by his head
Johnny's life passed him by like a warm summer's day
If you listen to the wind you can hear him play
Don't you know, don't you know

Dont ya know
Dont ya know that you are a shooting star

Shooting Star: Bad Company

Rock and roll’s folklore are filled with tales of fame, fortune, excesses of life and the attendant self indulgent, which ultimately would culminate in self-destruction to those unlucky few, the “shooting stars”. “Johnny” was, and indeed, is a common name. Nobody knows exactly who “Johnny” was in the above song. But Jimmy Hendrix was born Johnny Allan Hendrix, and he did die in his sleep after taking alcohol with sleeping pills called Vesperax (or was it Asperax? – I am not too sure) causing him to choke on his own vomit.

The period within which the song was written by Paul Rodgers also coincides with the death of Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Paul Kossoff (Paul Rodger’s guitarist in the group “Free”), Jim Morrison (The Doors) and later, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin). The song could thus be about rock and roll’s “shooting stars” generally. Those stars which would shine so bright, lit the night with such illuminating colours and lights, which would later dive into self destruction accompanied by a blazing trail of fire leaving behind a world awestruck by their genius and musical passion. Yes. Rock and roll’s folklore are filled with their tales.

Non however, would be sadder, more dramatic and more tragic than that of the “Crazy Diamond”.

“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the cross fire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger,
you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter,
you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”

Shine On You Crazy Diamond(part 1): Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd was a little band with an identity crisis – having changed its name 5 times in one year – when Syd Barett joined them in 1965. Barett himself was born Roger Keith Barett and had adopted the name “Syd” after a local Cambridge drummer, Sid Barett. It was therefore only natural that the Cambridge University art student would change the name of the band he joined, “The Tea Set”, to “The Pink Floyd Sound”, by marrying the first name of two obscure bluesmen , Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The band would later ditch the long version of their name for the now famous “Pink Floyd”. (And thank God for the name changes as I could not imagine an album as great as “The Wall” or “Dark Side Of The Moon” being released by a band called “The Tea Set”! – for that matter alone, I am indebted to Syd Barett!).

Nothing was amiss during his childhood as his pathologist (some say his father was a zoologist) father, Arthur Max Barett and his mother, Winifred, encouraged the young Roger to be active in music. He took up instruments such as a banjo, later played bass and ultimately settled for a guitar while delving into old blues and jazz. At the age of 14, he opted for the name “Syd” and from then on, rock and roll history book was to be written with a chapter named after Syd Barett with a cross reference to Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd was a little band but by no means it was a struggling one. It was already playing numerous gigs or live performances with a cultish followings of its brand of psychedelic rock and the then underground progressive rock. Incorporated in its set would be psychedelic light shows and a long improvised version of songs such as “Interstellar Overdrive” which apparently would go on for half an hour in an LSD-fuelled jams. Pink Floyd’s place in the swinging London era was then well carved. The only thing that was wanting was an album.

The arrival of Syd Barett as lead guitarist, partnering his old pal, Roger Waters, the bassist, together with Nick Mason on drums and keyboardist Rick Wright ensured that a place in rock and roll super stardom would be reserved for Pink Floyd. Coinciding with his arrival, Pink Floyd would a little later engage a reliable management team consisting of Andrew King and Peter Jenner, who in turn befriended Joe Boyd, an American who was building a name in the British music scene for himself. Boyd produced a recording for Pink Floyd in January 1967 during which session Syd Barett’s “Arnold Layne” was recorded as a demo single. This single was later released and peaked at number 20 on the chart. Consider the lyrical simplicity and spontaneity of Barett’s lyric:

“Arnold Layne had a strange hobby
Collecting clothes
Moonshine washing line
They suit him fine
On the wall hung a tall mirror
Distorted view, see through baby blue
He dug it
Oh, Arnold Layne
It's not the same, takes two to know
Two to know, two to know, two to know
Why can't you see?
Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne
Now he's caught - a nasty sort of person.
They gave him time
Doors bang - chain gang - he hates it
Oh, Arnold Layne
It's not the same, takes two to know
two to know, two to know, two to know,
Why can't you see?
Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne
Don't do it again”

Arnold Layne: Syd Barett/Pink Floyd

Apparently, Arnold Layne was about a guy who used to steal underwear from Waters’ mom’s clotheslines. BBC would, upon its release, ban the song for its cross-dressing and transvestism themes. Be that as it may, Barett’s psychedelic work caught the attention of the fickle British music fans who was then accustomed to The Beattles, The Yardbirds et al. Pink Floyd’s music was driven by Barett’s improvised and free style guitar techniques coupled with a tight, and yet to a certain extent, indulgent, rhythm section anchored by Mason’s drumming and Water’s mastery of the bass. Rick Wright, on the other hand, would give an extra dimension to the band’s work on the keyboard.

Barett was an instant hit. He was technically gifted and added to that, he was an experimentalist. He loved exploring the sonic capabilities and possibilities of his guitar. One of his trademark was of course his mirror covered Telecaster Esquire, wired to a distortion and echo box, played by Barett by sliding his Zippo lighter on the fret board creating a rather mysterious and chilling out-of-this-world sound. He was, not unlike Jimmy Hendrix, a showman, ever ready to take centre stage in term of stage performances or creative inputs that one wonders what would have happened between him and the mega-egoistical Roger Waters had he not left, or rather been dumped from Pink Floyd. History would later show that Waters single-handedly destroy the balance of the band by demanding control of creative inputs and directions culminating in an acrimonious break-up.

Barett followed up the success of Arnold Layne with another single, “See Emily Play” which peaked at number 6 on the chart. Barret initially claimed that Emily was a girl he saw when he was hallucinating after a drug binge but he later admitted that he made up that story as a publicity stunt. Be that as it may, he might as well have written the song for himself, considering the theme of the song:

“Emily tries but misunderstands, ah ooh
She often inclined to borrow somebody's dreams till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play
Soon after dark Emily cries, ah ooh
Gazing through trees in sorrow hardly a sound till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play
Put on a gown that touches the ground, ah ooh
Float on a river forever and ever, Emily
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play”

See Emily Play : Syd Barett

It was reflective, to a certain extent. God knows whether Barett was feeling the pressure of rock stardom at the time the song was written. But the theme of a girl, who tried so hard to understand the world while being isolated, depressed and sad was, in retrospect, resonant of a lonely and hard life, despite fame and fortune. Put on a gown that touches the ground/float on a river forever and ever…how hopeless can one be?

The single Apple and Oranges followed soon after, also with a degree of success. Pink Floyd was by then a force to be reckoned with. It was perhaps inevitable that a full debut album was to be released, with Barett as a creative pillar behind it. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was recorded between January-July 1967 at Abbey Road with Barett penning 9 of the songs and co-writing another 2 out of the 11 songs in it. It was an instant hit with the album hitting number 6 on the UK chart although a much limited success was achieved in the US. Nevertheless, Pink Floyd was by now developing a large following and was deeply entrenched in the psychedelic and progressive rock world. And the pressure was just building up for Barett.

In fact Barett was already displaying a certain degree of, what was then thought as, eccentricity while The Piper was being recorded. Barett was then known to be heavily on dope, acid , Mandax (or Mandies, as known to junkies those days, a hypnotic tranquillisers) and of course psychedelic drugs such as LSDs coupled with alcohol. There were in fact allegations that he was being “fed” with drugs although David Gilmour, who would later replace him in Pink Floyd, said that Barett would not need any encouraging if drugs were available to him. Sue Kingsford, Barett’s one time one-night stand once said, “We were all feeding it (drugs) to each other. It was a crazy time”.

David Gilmour would later recount how he had met Barett while “Emily” was being recorded. Syd didn't seem to recognise me and he just stared back,' he says. 'He was a different person from the one I'd last seen in October.' Was he on drugs, though? 'I'd done plenty of acid and dope - often with Syd - and that was different from how he had become.'

Whatever it was that Barett was taking, or suffering, the effects were soon beginning to manifest itself on and off stage. Barett would increasingly hate to perform “Emily” and “Arnold” as he did not want to be stuck with the standard 3 minute something “pop” song. During live performances, he would, in a middle of a set or song, suddenly detune his guitar until the strings were flapping and he then hit a note and held that note all night with the echo-machine at full steam! He would, some other time, just stand on stage with his hands by his side, the guitar hanging from his neck, staring blankly at nothing while his band mates played on. Perhaps he was exploring his artistic boundaries. The crowd loved his antics. Or perhaps he was sick. Plain sick.

After the release of “The Piper” in August 1967, Pink Floyd was on a mini US tour in November. And things could not get any worse. The band was not really prepared for the US tour in the sense that it was expecting things to be the same with England. They found out that they had to play at big venues supporting bands such as Holding Company (led by non other than Janis Joplin). They found out that Americans were not really into feedbacks or English psychedelia. Barett would still hit just one note per night or just standing without doing anything at all. When he played, it would be a different tune altogether.

Back in the studio, Barett would turn up one day with a nice new composition titled “Have You Got It, Yet?” for the band to practise. According to Waters, the band thought the composition was quite nice and they set to practise it only for Barett to change the arrangement in the middle of the practice. While practising the newly altered version, Barett would again arbitrarily change the arrangement again and he would the same repeatedly while asking the band “have you got it, yet?” It was only then the band realised that Barett was being cute and stopped practising the song!

It was in the US that the famous Brylcream incident happened. Apparently, Barett had had his hair permed at Vidal Sassoon. And badly too. He hated it. He thought that the “punk” style he had been experimenting with suited him better. And so, he poured a whole tin of Brylcream onto his head in the dressing room. He then crushed a handful of Mandrax and put it onto his hair. David Gilmour however suggested that Barett would not have wasted any “Mandies” but apparently the Mandax addition was confirmed by a lighting man. He then rushed onto the stage and under the heat of all the lightings, the Brylcream melted and ran down his face, making him look like a “gutted candle”! Looking at him as if he was decomposing on stage, with the crowd screaming, apparently enjoying his antics, some of the band and crew apparently abandoned the place for drinks. Later, arriving from San Francisco at Las Vegas, Barett would forget to bring his guitars, fall into a swimming pool and left his wet clothes behind.

Coming back to England, the band was supposed to play with the likes of Hendrix for 3 weeks. Barett could not perform and he had to be stopped from running away on a train. The band struggled along with a borrowed guitarist from another band. It was at this time that Messrs Waters, Mason and Wright hatched a plan. They were to ask Gilmour, a long time pal of Waters and Barett, all form Cambridge, to stand in for Barett. Gilmour was known to be an excellent guitarist and being broke and was driving a van for a living, he accepted a try out. On stage, Gilmour would play and Barett would just walked around or pretended to play. There was no input whatsoever from Barett. On the way to their gig one night, they decided not to pick Barett up. And Gilmour had, on that night, effectively replaced Barett. Barett’s days, as a co-founder of Pink Floyd, and the creative pillars behind the band, were effectively, though not officially, ended that night.

Gilmour thereafter replaced Barett as lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Barett was obviously hurt by this turn of event. He would turn out at the band’s gigs and sat in front while staring at Gilmour. The band later recorded a second album titled A Saucerful of Secrets in 1968 which included Barett’s Jugband Blues. During the recording, Barett would sometime wait outside the studio to be invited to play. He however was resigned to the fact that he was no longer wanted. In Jugband Blues, he wrote, "It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here/And I'm most obliged to you for making it clear/that I'm not here", as the song opens.

In March 1968, it was officially announced that Barett was no longer a member of Pink Floyd.

By autumn of 1968, homeless and probably broke too, Barett would sometime go back to his mother’s house in Cambridge. When in London, he would crash at his friends’ flat, sometimes with disastrous result. After leaving, or was left out of Pink Floyd, Barett recorded 2 solo albums, “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barett”. He did perform live once with David Gilomour, among others, accompanying him on the bass. It was in 1970 at Olympia Exhibition Hall where they played 4 songs. Due to poor mixing, the vocals were inaudible and at the end of the 4th song, Barett politely put down his guitar and walked off stage.

He later formed a band called “Stars” but it was short-lived. He went back to Win’s house in Cambridge in 1981 and his mother managed to persuade some of her wealthy friends to take Barett as a gardener. He did become a gardener but during a thunderstorm, he threw down his tools and quit. He came back to London briefly before going back (walking all the way to Cambridge!) to Win’s house in 1982 where he led a reclusive life and was almost not seen again, ever again, by the public. His sister, Rosemary, became his only contact with the outside world. That year too, he reverted to his original name “Roger” and would refuse to “talk about Syd”.

The heart wrenching drama of Syd Barett however unfolded in 1975, when Pink Floyd was recording the album “Wish You Were Here” which contains among others, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (part 1 and 2). Shine On you Crazy Diamond was a tribute to Syd Barett by the band, which had never managed to banish its memory of Barett’s contributions and influences to the band. While recording the song, a plump bald man walked into the studio and sat down. Nobody knew who he was. He had shaven all his hair off, including his eyebrows and he would jump up and down of the sofa while brushing his teeth all the time. When the band members found that the guy was actually Barett, Waters shed some tears. It was as if by design, that Barett would appear in that state while the band was recording “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, a tribute to him. Years later, in 1986, when Pink Floyd released a movie version of the album “The Wall”, there would be a scene where Pink, the lead character in that movie (played by Bob Geldof) was shown completely shaven, including his eyebrows. That scene was inspired by Syd Barett’s visit to the studio in 1975.

Barett continued to receive some royalties for his works with Pink Floyd which Dave Gilmour would ensure get to him. He later was diagnosed with ulcers and type 2 diabetes. He was in and out of hospitals for his ulcers. When Win died in 1991, he destroyed and burnt all his diaries and art books. He painted, collected coins and cooked. He died of pancreatic cancer and complications of diabetes on July 7th 2006 leaving an estate of 1.2 million pound will-ed to his 2 brothers and 2 sisters.

As it turned out, he suffered from schizophrenia. All the drugs and alcohol had just exacerbated his conditions leading to his apparent psychotic behaviour on and off the stage.

Roger Keith “Syd” Barett. The Crazy Diamond. Shine on. For your days passed you by like a warm summer’s day. And if we listen to the wind, we would still hear you play.

May God bless your soul. And may you rest in peace.


Note: The 1st photo is of a young Barett. Wonder whether the black Telecaster is the famous guitar which would later be covered with mirrors. The 2nd picture is the house in which Barett lived till his death in 2006. It was taken after his death. It was later sold for 120000 pound to a French couple who apparently did not have a clue of who Barett was and the significance of the house.


Acknowledgements:
The Guardian
Wikipedia
The Syd Barett Appreciation Society
allmusic
and all the footnotes in the various articles published in the above sites.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Who's Pinochio?

As a litigation lawyer, I am trained to discern facts from non-facts, truth from untruth. However, I must say that it is real easy to spot a lie in Court.

Most of the time, a witness could be spotted lying by his demeanor in the witness box. He would be restless. He would refuse to make eye contact when under cross-examination. His eyes would roll up to his right when he searches for an answer. Some of the witness even break into cold sweat when under intense cross-examination. Some become irritated and would begin raising their voice. All these are tell tale signs of a witness not telling the truth.

On other occasions, the documents tendered in Court prove that the witness has been lying. Documents don't lie. Witnesses do.

However, one of the more frequent sign that a witness has been lying is contradictory statements made by him. There are of course some reasonable explanation why a witness' testimony is contradictory. Sometimes, the event in issue has taken place a long time ago. As such, his may not have a perfect memory on the event anymore. Thus he contradicts himself. On some other occasions, the fact in dispute is subjective in nature and thus open to interpretation. In that event, contradiction may also occur.

Barring those circumstances, contradictions in a witness' testimony is a standard cause for the lying-o-meter bell to ring.

Which brings me to the subject of this article.

After the cow-head incident last week, I remember reading on MalaysiaKini and the Malaysian Insider that the head of the resident committee of section 23 said that they (the demonstrators) did not know where the cow-head came from. In other words, the carrying of the bleeding cow-head and the acts of spitting and stomping on the cow-head were not planned by the organisers. That implies that a third party was doing those things.

Of course, at this juncture normal reasonable people would ask why the hell didn't the demonstrators ask the so called third party to stop carrying the cow-head or spitting and stomping on it. Well, that in itself is a mystery.

Then, Minister Hishamuddin met the residents. In a press conference after the meeting, Minister Hishamuddin said the same thing. This is what he was quoted as saying by a Malaysian Insider report :

"They, the organisers, who are sitting left and right of me, didn't even know that somebody was going to bring the head of the cow during that demonstration".

Okay. I am sure that was not made up by Minister Hishamuddin. He was obviously told by the one who was sitting left and right of him at the press conference as such. And I am sure he believed what he had been told. I don't blame him for that as I would have done the same thing as well.

Now. Today, a new fact crept out in the Malaysia Today report . YB Datuk Dr Mohd Khir Toyo (have I got all that correct?, well, sorry if I didn't) was quoted as saying:

"The reason (the cow's head) was brought was to show that t(he State Government)had acted without thinking as the site (for the Hindu temple) was ready i(n section 11) so why relocate (to section 23)? The state government did not think...the cow's head was displayed because it is a stupid animal, to show that the state government made a stupid decision and disrupted the peace of section 23 residents. (It has) nothing to do with religious issues."

This is what I call contradictory remarks, although in this case, the contradiction does not come from the same person. However, it does come from persons belonging to the same faction, namely UMNO or Barisan Nasional. Do also bear in mind that there were local UMNO hot shots among the demonstrators.

So, which is which? Is it a fact that the cow-head was not brought by the demonstrators? Is it a fact that the cow-head was brought by a mysterious third party without the knowledge of the organisers of the demonstration? Is it a fact that the organisers did not know that the cow head was going to be brought?

Or, is it a fact that, as YB Datuk Dr Mohd Khir so diligently pointed out, the cow head was indeed brought to symbolise the state government's stupidity in the matter (as the cow is a stupid animal, according to him)? If so, then the good YB is implying that the cow head was in fact "brought" by the demonstrators for a specific purpose, to wit, to signify stupidity.

I won't go into the merit or demerit of such purpose as it is beyond the scope of this article, although I must add that I am far from being convinced that cows symbolise stupidity.

It would appear then that there is an obvious contradiction between the statement made by the resident committee head and Minister Hishamuddin and the one which was said by the opposition leader of the Selangor legislative assembly. Which is the correct version then? Who is telling untruth? I wouldn't know.

However, YB Datuk Dr Mohd Khir did not stop there. He also said:

"I don't know who brought it.."

Which begs the question, if he doesn't have a clue as to who brought the cow-head, how would he know that the cow-head was in fact brought to symbolise stupidity? Who told him that one? Now, if he was told of the fact that the cow-head was brought to symbolise stupidity, then the person who told him must know who brought the cow-head. But the YB said he doesn't know who brought it.

The conclusion to be made from this wholly confusing statement is this. The good YB had made his own conclusion. And, with all due respect, that conclusion was made without any basis whatsoever. In other words, that conclusion is just a personal opinion.

A personal opinion made without basis and without expertise ( I don't think the good YB is an expert in reading minds. I, of course, stand corrected on this, because, in Malaysia, miracles do happen. And quite frequent too, I must say) is inadmissible.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Cows galore!

The content of my stomach flew out of my mouth onto the floor after reading Minister Hishamuddin's apparent defence of the cow-head demonstrators yesterday. Before I had finished wiping it out, I was hit by another nausea inducing curve ball in the form of Dato' Mukhriz' statement supporting Minister Hishamuddin's.

Apparently now an offence should not be prosecuted if such prosecution might cause "further unrest". Yes folk. It is the fasting month. Quite obviously, to certain Muslims, when food and drink are not consumed, blood circulation would be affected thus preventing the supply of oxygen to the brain. The result is calamitous. And not to mention rumbustiously funny.

Dato' Mukhriz must remember that when his father, Tun Mahathir charged Anwar Ibrahim for a cooked up offence circa 1997-98, 100,000 people came out on the street. What do you call that? Peace and tranquility? People resting? Or was that "unrest"? So, please answer this. Since when has an offence become un-prosecutable for fear of an unrest? No wonder that guy from Penang who called the Chinese and Indians "pendatang" was not charged. That would have caused unrest too, huh? I think I should speed up my invention of a talk cock eater.

But as event would have it, while I was spraying Febreeze on my carpet - to clean out yet another puke after that statement - my stomach churned again. This time from Minister Hishamuddin's statement that those responsible for the cow-head demonstration should be charged in Court. I then felt faint. Everything went black. My head was spinning. I blacked out. Apparently I suffer from u-turn phobia.

Speaking of u-turns, guys and gals, you all would remember Minister Rais' internet filter debacle. One minute he wanted to filter the internet and was driving 200 mph in his Proton Perdana to Filterville. The next minute he made a u-turn to his Excellency's usual Boringville. Of course, to the delight of all and sundry. But not after the whole world had read about the earlier decision though. The World - 1, Malaysia - 0.

Then His Royal Excellent I-have-changed-my-mode Minister announced that the Black Eyed Peas concert in Malaysia was only allowed for non-Muslims. Again, Minister Yen Yen of the Tourism Ministry was so thankful for the wholly free publicity that Malaysia was having world wide. It looked like Ambassador Todt would be out of job soon, if our Government continues at this rate. The World - 2, Malaysia - 0.

Of course, a couple of days later, when the anger caused by the first announcement had barely subsided, the decision on the BEP concert was reversed. Now Muslims can go. I thought the news page on which I read the news did not upload completely. Because I was dead sure there must be catch right? Like Muslims can go but shall be confined to a male and female only area on the roof of the stage or something. And they shall not dance. And Fergie must wear only batik baju kurung with a slit of not more than 2 inches in length. But no, there weren't such limitation. Phew.... Anyway, by this time, the World led by 3 to Malaysia 0.

Apparently this is getting to be some sort of a tradition. This u-turning aka flip-flopping like some penguins walking on ice while wearing a diving foot wear. Fleep fleep. Flop. Like that. Fleep fleep fleep. Flop. You get what I mean.

Before this, of course when Teoh Beng Hock was found dead at MACC's office, our DPM quickly said there will be no Royal Commission. About 3 days later, a Royal Commission was duly established. The World - 4, Malaysia - 0.

Before that there was the issue of teaching Maths and Science in Bahasa Melayu aka Bahasa Kebangsaan aka Bahasa Malaysia aka Bahasa Baku and back to Bahasa Melayu. Fleeeeeep and then flop. U-turn.

Ahah. Now His Excellent Minister Refined Rais is thinking of imposing conditions on ASTRO, contrary to the license being granted to ASTRO all these while. OSK has warned that this might have a negative impact on foreign direct investment.

Of course it will. Who in his or her right mind would want to come and invest in Malaysia if the parameters within which his or her business is to be carried out cannot be ascertained with certainty? The World - 5, Malaysia - 0.

But the one which stole the thunder form everything else was His Excellent ex Minister -we-have-erection-once-every-5-years Zainuddin Mydin. Singapore was "sacked" from Malaysia because of Lee Kuan Yew's Chinese-centric mantra. As if now, all Chinese Malaysians who are perceivably critical of the Government could be herded onto an island - ala the stray dogs in whatever pulau recently - and left to become cannibal out of hunger.

Of course, he had to leave the best for last. Yes. Singapore apparently has a third world democracy with a developed world mentality. Malaysia on the other hand has developed world democracy but a third world mentality. Mr Ex Minister, a democracy, unlike sex, does not have many positions or level. Either you have it or not. You do not have a doggie style democracy, a reverse cow gal democracy or whatever. Just plain democracy.

As for third world mentality, well, you can add Mad Cow disease to that as well. But it is not common among all Malaysians mind you. It only afflict some people. They know who they are. The World 6, Malaysia 0.

Then, yesterday, TLDM received its first ever ever ever submarine.

The World 6. 1 Malaysia.

Syabas.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Of Islam, Churches and Temples

Shouldn't we, Muslims, ask ourselves whether we are - to a certain, if not large, extent - not to blame for the ridicule that has befallen our great way of life known as Islam? Are we blind or too much blinkered by what we believe to be the ways of Islam so much so that we are unable to see the signs before us? Or is it a fact that we just could not care less?

Many of us, Muslims, nowadays have become uptight about Islam. And to make matters worse, in our country, Islam is tied up to our race, - by a Constitutional provision, no less! - our Malayness, so to speak. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Islam and Malayness are almost interchangeable. Say something which could be remotely perceived as against Islam, and you would be challenging not only Islam, but the whole Malay race. And vice versa.

And these people declare that they are the defenders of Islam. The Caliphs. Defenders of the faith. As if Islam is not so great without them. As if God would retreat into oblivion without their help and undying assistance.

In the name of Islam they would do things. And some times in doing so, they smear the good name of Islam. They reduce God into a creature of hate, prejudice and intolerance. Why? Just look at the picture.

6176_118710419829_634874829_2351051_7520265_n

(I am sorry for the language. But I have to publish it verbatim to make my point).

These people were apparently angry with DAP for insulting Islam (or what they perceived as DAP insulting Islam). And so these very good Muslims spent some money on banners and gathered to show their displeasure. All in the name of Allah and Islam of course. Very Islamic indeed.

On Friday, 28th August 2009, right after Friday prayers, it is now well known to the whole civilised world, that a group of people gathered in front of the mosque. They then carried a severed head of a cow - complete with blood and all - and walked all the way to the State Secretariat building. Apparently, they were protesting against the Government's plan to relocate a Hindu temple to their area, which according to them, is a Muslim dominated area.That was the apparent reason. The real reason or motivation we will never know, of course.

The who's who of that group promised bloodshed if that plan is not changed. He said that the temple would disturb them and the noises from the temple would disturb their prayers etcetera. They then stomped and spat on the cow head.

All in the name of Islam. In the name of Allah the Almighty, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Allah the Provider and the Giver. Isn't Islam great? Isn't Islam so wonderful that it has defenders ever ready to defend itself?

I have just one question to them. If all of you are so pious and God fearing, how is it that some noises from a temple could disturb you and your prayers?

And what's with the cow head? You spat on it. You stomped on it. What was the whole purpose? To revile and mock another faith? Well, don't I have news for all of you.

God - and this our God, not any other God - says:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ {21:107}

"And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds." (Translation by Shakir)

Our Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - was sent as a mercy to the whole world. Not just to Muslims, to me or to you but to the whole world.

And Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him -, in his last sermon, said:

“People, hear that your Lord is One, and that your father is one. You must know that no Arab has superiority over a non-Arab, no non-Arab has superiority over an Arab, or a red man over a black man, or a black man over a red, except in terms of what each person has of piety. Have I delivered the message?”

Yes, all human beings are the same, regardless of whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, Arab or non-Arab, Malay or Indian, section 23 residents or Kampung Buah Pala dwellers. The Prophet said so. And as if to ensure that his followers had understood what he had just said, he ended that message by asking, "have I delivered the message?"

Quite obviously, to some so called defenders of the faith - whose faith may be easily disturbed by some noises from some temples - the message has not been so clearly delivered.

And what about this:

وَلاَ تَسُبُّواْ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ فَيَسُبُّواْ اللّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ كَذَلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِم مَّرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ {6:108

"Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did." (Translation by Yusuf Ali).

(Isn't it an irony of sort that the above verse is from Surah Al-An'aam, which means "the Cattle"?).

Did you all read the Quran? God prohibits us, Muslims, from reviling others who do not believe in Allah. Lest they would, out of spite, revile Allah. And what were you doing with the cow head? If that was not reviling the Hindus, I do not know what is.

In fact, in all His wisdom, God had seen it fit even to defend some churches, monasteries and synagogues:

لَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَن يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّهِ كَثِيراً وَلَيَنصُرَنَّ اللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ {22:40

"They are those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, "our Lord is Allah". Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will)." (translation by Yususf Ali).

God creates all of us human beings. Of different colours and races. And also religions. Had He wanted all of us to be His followers, He could have.

وَلَوْ شَاء رَبُّكَ لآمَنَ مَن فِي الأَرْضِ كُلُّهُمْ جَمِيعًا أَفَأَنتَ تُكْرِهُ النَّاسَ حَتَّى يَكُونُواْ مُؤْمِنِينَ {10:99

"If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!" (translation by Yusuf Ali).

That is His way. Because as oft said, there is no compulsion in Islam.

And what will be the punishment for all of you who marched last Friday, spat and stomped on the cow head, all in the name of our faith, Islam and our God, Allah? God bless you all. Because this is what the Prophet - whom I believe is also your Prophet - said:

“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (by Abu Dawud)

Yes, you will get some personal attention from the Prophet himself on the day of judgment. Congratulations guys.

It is interesting to note, what Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi said about these kind of people. Strange. Because while he was saying the followings, he could have been talking about those people who were involved in that despicable act last Friday. This is what he said:

"A clear separating line should be drawn here between the teachings of Islam, which prohibit attacking non-Muslim places of worship, and the acts of some Muslims who possess a narrow-minded view of Islam.

Those people harm Islam and Muslims with their wrong behavior; as the threat they pose to Islam is much more than that of the enemies of Islam.

Along the same line, a traditional Arabic proverb reads, "A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend."

The fanaticism we see in some certain people is often due to reasons that have nothing to do with religion, even if it takes the form of religion. In fact, its reasons may turn out to be social, economic, or political after thorough study. That is why we see it appearing in certain areas and not others; as some social circumstances and inherited traditions sow the seed of fanaticism and help it grow. Therefore, it is unfair to accuse religion of being responsible for such fanatic acts."

To top it all up, that this wholly seditious and unIslamic act was done just after they performed the Friday prayer and in the holy month of Ramadhan is an irony not missed by all Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Well done.