Thursday, August 24, 2006

Seeing Too Much

Last night I was listening to a Chicago radio station over the internet. I don't remember the name of the show but the two hosts had so much fun talking about What Your Freshman Don't Know.

For example, smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines. There has never been a Soviet Union. And the funniest comments from the two hosts came when they got to Young women’s fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.

They talked about how they have seen things from strangers that they had hoped to see, in their younger days, from their girlfriend after six months of dating.

This brings me back to an earlier entry on this blog that had two pictures of thongs being exposed. Since that entry Paris, France has an official ban on the wearing of thongs on their beaches. Talk radio had a field day with that news from Paris. To them, it was Paris's way of kowtowing to the demands of their increasing Muslim population.

Here in the US, some people with young children were offended by a group of men wearing thongs at Vandercook Lake during the recent heat wave. Now that is one sight that I would not want to miss, provided of course, the men had the body to show off with their thongs! Otherwise, the sight would spoil my appetite. Heheh.

I have never seen an exposed thong on anyone. Maybe I haven't been watching too carefully or those who wear thongs have taken the advice of fashion experts. "It's an inappropriate thing to show your thong sticking out," said Elycia Rubin, lifestyle director for E! Networks. "I don't think it looks nice. It's tacky."

Besides peeking thongs on wearers of low rise jeans, flabby tummies and tummies with stretch marks are also things that I find tacky. I know that there are people who are such slaves to the fashion trends that they don't care that certain fashions are just not suitable for them.

For your entertainment here's a link to Google Video, where you can feast your eyes on a parade of thongs! Doug got quite a kick from that video clip! :-(

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One Year

Puteri's Musings is one year old today! Woo hoo! Heheh.

I am really glad I got into blogging. Not only has blogging become an outlet for rantings, ravings, and trivial thoughts, it has also brought me into contact with the most unexpected people.

A few people have written to me because they discovered my blog through the search engine ... other Iban ladies living in different parts of the world. I have made friends with other Malaysian bloggers and despite not having met them, they have become people that I really look forward to meeting in person one of these days.

Thank you to Blogspot, the best free blog hosting site on the planet!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Religious Rights Undermined in Malaysia

Compass Direct) – Hotels in Malaysia have refused to host a series of religious rights forums after angry protestors shut down an event on May 14 and accused the organizers of being “enemies of Islam.”

Article 11, a coalition of 13 religious and human rights groups, had organized a series of forums to discuss constitutional rights and the dilemma created by a dual legal system incorporating both civil and sharia law.

The coalition is named after the same article in Malaysia’s constitution, which guarantees the right of every citizen to “profess and practice his religion.”

Cases such as Lina Joy’s failed application to drop the word Islam from her identity card after becoming a Christian, and the sharia court’s insistence that national hero M. Moorthy had converted from Hinduism to Islam prior to his death, have stirred heated debate in Malaysian society in recent months.

Third Forum Undermined
Two initial forums were held in Petaling Jaya and Malacca without incident. On May 14, however, police cordons and a crowd of roughly 500 demonstrators waving banners and shouting slogans greeted participants arriving for a third forum in Penang.

Some banners protested against a planned inter-faith commission, although Article 11 would have no connection with such a commission. Other banners carried slogans stating, “Allah’s laws prevail over human rights.”

Police allowed about 50 protestors into the venue to attend the forum. When the protestors stood up and interrupted the speakers, police insisted that the forum be shut down, despite having issued an official permit for the event.

“This incident shows how serious the breakdown in constitutional values is,” National Human Rights Society deputy president and lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a speaker at the forum, told local reporters. “We have lost the ability to dialogue. If we cannot speak on the constitution, where are we as a nation?”

In an open letter to Prime Minister Dato Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – a task force of the United Nations – reprimanded the police for failing to control the protestors.

“The Observatory is very preoccupied by the fact that the police decided to cut short the forum, instead of guaranteeing the security of the organizers and ensuring that it would take place without being disrupted,” the letter read in part.

The Observatory urged Malaysian authorities to honor the U. N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which awards every citizen the right to “promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights,” and “to draw public attention to these matters.”

In conclusion, the Observatory called on authorities to comply with international human rights agreements signed or ratified by Malaysia, “all the more since Malaysia was elected on May 9 as a member of the new United Nations Human Rights Council.”

‘Enemies of Allah’

Two days after the forum was shut down, a group calling itself the Anti-Interfaith Commission (BADAI) issued a press release, which was e-mailed to the Malaysian Bar Council. BADAI’s president described Article 11 as an “enemy of Allah” and threatened the coalition members, saying, “I guarantee that the Article 11 coalition and the like will face greater risk than what happened on May 14.”

Article 11 immediately reported the incident to police, accusing BADAI of criminal intimidation.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) and the human rights group Aliran also expressed their concerns. Both groups assisted Article 11 in organizing the forums.

Amidst the furor surrounding these events, Abdul Hadi Awang, president of the opposition Islamic Party of Malaysia, remarked that, “In our political history, the position of Islam has never before faced such a challenge. It is the responsibility of every Muslim ... to protect the position of Islam in this country.”

Equal Rights
Article 11 members insist that the forum was called simply to reaffirm the supremacy of the constitution and to reiterate the fundamental rights of all Malaysian citizens.

Some protestors had claimed that the forum was held to undermine the special position of Islam, described in Article 3(1) of the constitution as the “religion of the Federation.”

Non-Muslims, at 40 percent of Malaysia’s 26 million-strong population, form a significant part of the federation.

Article 8 of the constitution guarantees equal status before the law for all citizens, according to Siew Foong of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia.

“But in recent years, we’ve seen a worrying trend,” Siew explained. “The civil courts are refusing to exercise their jurisdiction on freedom of religion cases. People accept that Malaysia is an Islamic country because it is constantly proclaimed. Some have argued that the constitution recognizes Islam as the official religion, and therefore sharia should be the underlying principle of all civil laws.”

In a landmark court case in 1988, then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas ruled that the mention of Islam in Article 3(1) referred only to the practice of Islamic rituals and ceremonies and was never intended to raise Islamic law above civil law.

“Islam is the religion of the federation as stated in Article 3, but it is not the basic law of the land, and only Islamic laws governing personal and family matters are allowed by the constitution,” Siew said. These laws, he added, should not be applied to non-Muslims – hence the need for a clarification of the dual legal system.

State-Funded Islamic Missionaries
In a curious aside, officials in Kelantan state, northeast Malaysia, reportedly hope to convert 10,000 people to Islam through state-funded missionaries.

The state will provide missionary candidates with training, free housing, a monthly allowance of 1,000 ringgit (US$271) and a four-wheel-drive vehicle, Hassan Mohamood, head of Kelantan’s Islamic development and missionary panel, reportedly said.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, in power in Kelantan since 1990, has closed betting outlets, restricted alcohol sales and banned rock concerts in the state. The party also wants to impose sharia law, including extreme punishments such as amputations and public lashings for criminals, but is prevented from doing so by federal law.

Member Organizations of Article 11

- All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
- Malaysian Bar Council
- Catholic Lawyers Society
- Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship
- Malaysian Civil Liberties Society (MCLS)
- Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism,
Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS)
- National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
- Pure Life Society
- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
- Vivekananda Youth Movement, Seremban
- Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)
- Women’s Development Collective (WDC)

Reprinted from Persecution Alert June 29, 2006

Inter-faith Discussion Ban

“ ... no cause to fear any discrimination or persecution on account of religion because the Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of worship”. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, when addressing students at the Jakarta Islamic State University (Universitas Islam Negeri Syarif Hidayatullah).

The ban by Malaysia's Home Ministry on inter-faith discussions, as repeated in yesterday's news article, is at best a case of burying one's head in the sand.

Preserving ethno-religious harmony of the country at the expense of mature, intelligent and measured discussions in a democracy makes a mockery of Malaysia's aspirations of becoming an industrialized nation.

Malaysian leaders, it would seem, prefer to pretend that there are not already tensions amongst the citizenry. They would rather sweep aside the legitimate concerns of Malaysians who think that their religious freedoms are under attack, and shut off any civilized debate.

In any modern society there are bound to be diverse views but the proof of that society's maturity is the ability to conduct civilized and rational dialogue on "sensitive" issues without resorting to censorship or worse, imprisonment of people for holding certain views.

Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's words, as quoted above, are a sham because Malaysians are not allowed to address their legitimate concerns regarding the guarantee of religious freedom as provided for by the constitution.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Air Travel Woes

Photos by Reuters

I was dismayed to hear the breaking news late last night about the additional security measures for air travellers. Flying international has always been such a hassle since 9/11 and now with additional security measures in place, it is almost enough to make me want to just stay home and forget about going back to Malaysia later this year.

Why can't there be a more sensible plan in place to keep air travellers safe? Yeah, like I don't don't know why! Forget about being politically correct and get the travelling masses out of their misery, and out of the airports and onto the planes!

Yes, use racial profiling. We know who the enemy is. If I am in the group that is being profiled then it is just too bad. One of the most ridiculous sights in the name of airport security is to pull aside, for so called random checks, an elderly woman on a wheelchair!

Why is it racist for airport screeners to pull aside young men of Middle Eastern descent? How many foiled plots to blow up airplanes involving Middle Eastern/Pakistani/Muslim men do we need to hear about before we are convinced that that particular group of people are the ones that ought to be singled out for profiling?

Of course, I am not suggesting that every Middle Eastern/Pakistani/Muslim man is a terrorist. I am also not saying if a non Middle Eastern/Pakistani/Muslim man looks suspicious he should be given a pass by airport screeners. He should be pulled aside for further scrutiny too.

It is not sensible for everyone to be put through all the additional hassles of airport screening, resulting in long lines and delayed flights, just so we can say that we are not racist.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blessing Israel

Passage Genesis 12:1-3:

1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

2 "I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."

That passage from Genesis is the basis for the support evangelical Christians give to Israel. Israel, as a nation, is not without its weaknessess, but as a Christian I see beyond the controversies surrounding the nation of Israel. I see Israel's role in the destiny of mankind.

With the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the anti-semitic rhetoric is more pronounced than ever. Why are there so many conspiracies involving Jews? Jews are the cause for practically every problem in the world, even the tsunami! The radical Islamists' aim is to exterminate Israel and the Jews.

If only the anti-Israel crowd knows what God has said about Israel. They will be a lot more peaceful than they are today!

Thoughts on the Middle East

In war there is no substitute for victory. - General Douglas MacArthur

Since the war started between Israel and the Hezbollah, I have a hard time writing about things. The current war in the Middle East is occupying most of my thoughts, and the topic on talk radio is mostly about the war too.

The following is part of an article by Michael Rubin that first appeared on National Review. I totally agree with his view on how/when peace is achieved, and what the role of diplomacy is in the context of any conflict, more so in the Middle East.

When academics and commentators decry disproportionate force as an obstacle to peace, they replace analysis with platitude. Lasting peace is seldom made between equals, but rather between strong and weak. The United States ended World War II precisely because it was willing to use disproportionate force. In doing so, it allowed Japan to rebuild and thrive. England and France did not pull back from Germany and allow the Nazi regime to re-arm and try again. Wars are fought until they are won. Among Israel’s neighbors, only Egypt and Jordan have accepted peace with the Jewish state. In 1977, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat sought peace only after a disastrous attempt at war. King Hussein of Jordan also accepted peace — not as formally at first — after understanding the price of war. Negotiations between Jerusalem, Cairo, and Amman succeeded because they accepted that violence could not achieve their aims, an epiphany still lost upon many in the Arab world and Iran. The irony of the Oslo Accords was that those that fought the first intifada were not those handed the reins of leadership. Both U.S. and Israeli leaders enabled the Tunisia-based faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization to take control. Arafat viewed his chairmanship over the Palestinian Authority as an entitlement, without understanding his responsibility.

Diplomacy that preserves a status quo in which terrorists win concession through violence ensures future bloodshed. Hezbollah is not a movement whose existence diplomats should intercede to preserve. While world leaders condemned Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and threats to eradicate Israel from the map, they ignore that on April 9, 2000, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared, “The Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities,” and argued, “Anyone who reads the Koran and the holy writings of the monotheistic religions sees what they did to the prophets, and what acts of madness and slaughter the Jews carried out throughout history... Anyone who reads these texts cannot think of co-existence with them, of peace with them, or about accepting their presence, not only in Palestine of 1948 but even in a small village in Palestine, because they are a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment.” Nasrallah has made his aims clear. That anyone would intercede to enable someone whose goal is genocide to continue is irresponsible, if not hateful. Nasrallah later provided an answer to those progressive tempted to argue the problem to be Israel’s existence. To the Hezbollah leader, Israel is just one part of the fight. On October 22, 2002, Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanon’s Daily Star, “If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them world wide.”

There will be a role for diplomacy in the Middle East, but it will only be successful if it commences both after the eradication of Hezbollah and Hamas, and after their paymasters pay a terrible cost for their support. This does not mean that Israel is without blame. Lebanese politicians may have been cowardly in their failure to exert sovereignty following Israel’s May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The State Department and European foreign ministries were negligent in their failure to keep up the pressure on Hezbollah, Damascus, and Tehran following the Cedar Revolution. But there will never be peace if Syria and Iran are allowed to use Lebanon as a proxy battlefield safe and secure in the knowledge that they will not pay directly. If the peace is the aim, it is imperative to punish the Syrian and Iranian leadership. Most Lebanese are victims, too.

— Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is editor of Middle East Quarterly.