Posts Tagged ‘Najib Tun Razak’

PM Najib visit to Batu Caves controversy a failure of religious leaders?

February 15th, 2012
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I  can’t believe this! Just few days ago, the Mufti of Perak said the following things:

Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria today expressed his dismay over the prime minister’s decision to “sacrifice his faith” to attend Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves recently.

 Harussani said even though he advised Datuk Seri Najib Razak every year not to join such events, the Barisan Nasional (BN) chief appeared not to place much importance on his faith or Islam.

It’s an idolatrous act. I don’t know why this happened… when we don’t join in the celebrations of other races in their houses of worship.

“The prime minister should have sent a Hindu minister to take his place… as Muslims cannot be involved in other religions’ festivities,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Harussani added that the minister in charge of Islamic affairs or a religious advisor should have advised Najib not to attend the event held two days ago.

We cannot join in (on other religions’ celebrations). They perform religious rituals, and as Muslims, we cannot be present,” he said, adding that going to open houses was acceptable but not places of worship.

source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/najib-sacrificed-his-faith-to-attend-thaipusam-do-says-perak-mufti/

Another article quoted the following:

The Ulama Association of Malaysia (PUM) has urged Muslims to stay away from non-Muslims religious festivals following the prime minister’s visit to Thaipusam celebrations last week.

 Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria had criticised Datuk Seri Najib Razak for “sacrificing his faith” by attending the Hindu festival at Batu Caves last Tuesday, the prime minister’s third visit in as many years.

PUM noted that guidelines set out by the National Fatwa Council on April 12, 2005 stated that Muslims cannot attend events which incorporate ceremonies that go against the teachings of Islam.

“Based on that decision, in PUM’s opinion, it is very clear that if the non-Muslim ceremony contains non-Muslim religious rituals, Muslims cannot participate as it can threaten their faith,” it said in a statement yesterday.

All religious authorities at state and federal levels should work to ensure that “correct advice” is given to political leaders and urged the latter to abide by such counsel, the association stressed.

PUM also called on the Islamic Religious Development Department of Malaysia (JAKIM) sponsor a dialogue session to explain the importance of this restriction to state and national leaders as well as Muslims.

It added that non-Muslims should understand and respect that faith was a core component of Islam and to be more sensitive to issues concerning the religion and its laws.

Najib’s visit to the annual Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves last week prompted Harussani to remind Najib that his predecessors had sent representatives in their place instead of showing up in person.

“It’s an idolatrous act. I don’t know why this happened… when we don’t join in the celebrations of other races in their houses of worship.

“The prime minister should have sent a Hindu minister to take his place… as Muslims cannot be involved in other religions’ festivities,” Harussani had told The Malaysian Insider.

The Perak mufti said that while it was acceptable for Muslims to go to open houses, they could not enter houses of worships where religious ceremonies were being carried out.

source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/stay-away-from-non-muslim-religious-events-ulamas-tell-muslims/

And today, he does an about turn saying this:

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s presence at the recent Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves was not against Islamic doctrine, said Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria.

 He said this after Najib informed him what actually happened when he attended the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves, when the two met at the opening of a Pekan Umno-organised seminar on “Professionalism of Islamic Religious Speakers” by the prime minister, here, today.

What the prime minister did was to be at the hall to explain government policies, he was not involved in the religious procession and did not enter the cave temple,” Harussani said when met by reporters, here, today.
He said as a national leader, it was not wrong for Najib to be together with the other races in conjunction with a festival celebration.
“It’s okay if there is no intention of celebrating or endorsing the rites of other religions,” he said.
The Perak mufti was prior to this, quoted as saying that it was unIslamic for a Muslim to bless and join in a religious celebration in a temple.
On Najib wearing a kurta when witnessing the Batu Caves Thaipusam celebration, Harussani said it was only a traditional attire which was also worn by Muslims in India.
Instead, Harussani said, he was more disappointed with Pas’ action in Perak where during the Thaipusam celebration, they set up stalls and canopies and flew the Pas flag as though they were celebrating the occasion too.
— BERNAMA

source: http://www.nst.com.my/latest/pm-s-presence-at-thaipusam-celebration-not-unislamic-perak-mufti-1.47075?localLinksEnabled=false

That’s one hell of a turnaround indeed!

To make matters worse, not only the Perak Mufti is confused, so is the the others like “oxford trained people” below:

It is all right for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as a Muslim leader, to attend non-Muslim religious celebrations like Thaipusam if he follows established guidelines, said a former Perlis mufti.

As a (national) leader and administrator, attending (a non-Muslim religious celebration) to give advice is allowed, as long as he is not involved in the disciplines and rituals of another religion,” said Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

The Oxford University visiting lecturer said that Muslim leaders attending such events cannot display aspects of their dressing, or perform any act, that condones the rituals of another religion.

The only error was that the PM was involved in a ritual.

“That does not mean he is apostate. Maybe he was not given proper advice,” opined the former mufti.

Asri explained that the proscriptions of Muslims attending non-Muslim religious celebrations are not absolute and depend on the situation at hand.

For one, he said, that those involved in administration of the event and public order such the police, are allowed to attend.

Perlis mufti Juanda Jaya agreed, blaming the premier’s religious advisors for neglecting to advise him better.

“Guidelines about this matter are there. I am disappointed with the PM’s religious advisors. This will mar the PM’s image,” he lamented.

Last week, Najib attended the Thaipusam celebrations in Batu Caves, decked out in a light yellow kurta (an Indian traditional outfit).

He was draped with a silk cloth and also donned the traditional Indian flower garland.

Najib’s actions had drew the ire of Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria, who slammed the leader and expressed disappointment, accusing Najib of cheapening the Muslim faith with his annual Thaipusam visits since becoming PM, despite advice to the contrary.

source: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/189173

pic from The Malaysian Insider.

Among the contentious issues where the attire he wore and the garland. It was said to be religious. Looks like the Mufti and his ilk need to attend some classes on religion and culture because they can’t seem to differentiate between the two. These kind of misinformed people can easily create havoc if not properly educated.  And I shudder to think that many Muslims are being influenced to be antagonistic towards other religions by these kind of misguided folks. So, everything would be viewed with a suspicious eye.

The attire is common in Indian sub-continent regardless of race. It may have even existed before these religions. Same goes for garlanding people. Its a culture to show respect towards the person. Its common to see in many events in India, like in schools, government functions, movie launches,  etc.

Temple and church weddings consist of religious rituals (as with many other religions). Does it mean that our Muslim friends cannot attend such functions? If that’s the case, what would the impression of Islam be on non-Muslims? Even our King attended Prince William’s wedding in a church. So how? These people rebuked him or not? Berani ke?

As explained by the PM below, those in power need to be careful with their words. Need to understand difference. I really wonder if these people have ever attended or mingled with Malaysians of other race/religion or not.

Efforts to promote understanding and awareness through discussion, dialogue and education are important so that the public understands clearly the differences and similarities between the various races in the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the people should not be confused with what constituted cultural and religious beliefs.

Najib cited as an example, his attendance at the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves recently, which according to him, has been questioned by some quarters because he wore the “kurta”, a traditional Indian attire for men.

But they are not aware that in India, millions of Indians who are Muslims wear the kurta daily. Are they then not Muslims,” he said.

He said this when addressing a gathering of religious leaders in conjunction with “World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012” at at his official residence Seri Perdana here Wednesday.

Najib then gave the example of the attire usually worn by Malaysian Chinese Muslims Association (MACMA) president Datuk Mustapha Ma, which according to him, had Chinese cultural elements and should not be linked to the question of faith.

“He is a seventh-generation Muslim. This is a question of culture and not faith. Thus, issues like this, if we don’t understand, it could lead to suspicion and hatred among the races.

“As such, it is incumbent upon the committee tasked with interfaith understanding to clarify such matters,” he said.

Najib also said with the rapid advancements in information technology, whatever was said by anyone could spread like wildfire, causing the world we are in today to face a more challenging environment and requiring more efforts to promote understanding and awareneness on a continuous basis.

source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/2/15/nation/20120215183404&sec=nation

So, its indeed scary that we, after half a century of independence, and with the power of Internet, still not able to understand our fellow Malaysians culture/religion. We are living in our cocoons, imagining that we are right. And worse still, we are in the position to influence others, which can lead to hatred and anger. Our social and education systems seemed to have failed, by producing such folks.

Nambikai

October 29th, 2011
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As mentioned by Senator Ramakrishnan, its probably a first time a Prime Minister attended so many Deepavali open house on the day. Makkal Osai, Hindu Sangam and MIC open house, after arriving from Riyadh (Saudi prince funeral) and flying off to Australia (for CHOGM). That’s shows some extra commitment from PM.

“Nambikai” would be a common word now for the politicians and likes to woo Indian voters.

While there are changes being made to overcome the neglect in last 4 decades, I think the community has to evaluate if the changes (or transformation) are holistic, permanent, appropriate, on par with those for other communities, impactful and swift.  No point if you get RM1 million if others get 10 times more than that. Can’t be no budget for you but got for others right?

Nambikai works both ways, you know. Its not easy to earn it. We don’t to want to have the case where “nambinor kai vidda pattar”. That applies to any coalition who is wooing the voters.

 

What matters now to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak are the Indian voters who had sided with Pakatan Rakyat out of anger for Barisan Nasional. It is their trust, confidence or hope’ that he seeks at the next general election.

NAMBIKAI. It’s a frequently-used Tamil word by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during his Deepavali rounds.

Warm reception: Well-wishers flocking to shake hands with Najib at the MIC Deepavali open house in Batu Caves on Wednesday.

Variedly translated as “trust, confidence or hope” the word, as used by him, refers to the high level of confidence the Indian community had in the MIC, Barisan Nasional and Najib’s predecessors prior to the 2008 political tsunami.

He wants the community to return to that level, saying that the Government was doing much to help the Indians overcome their issues by providing them with government jobs, blue identity cards, birth certificates and, above all, attention from the Government.

Soon after he flew home from Saudi Arabia, where he had attended a royal funeral, Najib criss-crossed the capital to attend Deepavali open houses. He then left for Perth to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Nambikai featured prominently in his messages, suggesting he wants the community to believe in what he is doing and to have confidence in the Government, especially in what it can do for them.

Before 2008, nearly 80% of the Indians in the country had backed the ruling party and their votes were considered a “fixed deposit”.

Right up to the Ijok by-election in Selangor in April 2007, the Indian voters still believed in the Government although, by that time, the urban Chinese votes had already swung to Pakatan Rakyat.

It all changed with the Hindraf protest seven months after the Ijok polls.

The Indians gathered in their thousands in the capital and protested against marginalisation, discrimination and loss of jobs.

They lost their nambikai in the Government. In its place was disenchantment, disillusionment and disbelief in anything that the Government did or said.

The MIC and especially then president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu came under heavy shelling.

Barisan was punished over policies that allegedly included breaking temples, demolishing squatter homes and denying jobs even low-skilled jobs for Indians in the Government.

Pakatan gained tremendously from the Indian revolt but since Najib took over as Prime Minister, they have begun to lose out to Barisan’s charm, campaign and the transformation plans.

The Indians who voted for the Barisan in 2008 remain hardcore supporters of the coalition.

What matters now are the rest of the voters, who had sided with Pakatan Rakyat out of anger at Barisan.

It is their nambikai that Najib seeks as the drum beats of a coming general election grow louder.

On his campaign trail in the 2008 polls, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wore dark glasses and self-styled himself as Sivaji, after a character in a Tamil movie. He was a hit.

But after winning the Indian voters, almost by default because they were angry with the Barisan, Anwar has virtually forgotten them.

Najib, on the other hand, is working hard to earn the community’s trust.

He set up a special implementation task force and proceeded to redress some of the most glaring wrongs that the Indian underclass had suffered from.

Gradually, he worked his way through meetings with various ethnic groups living under the “Indian community” label, i.e. the Sikhs, Telegus, Jaffa Tamils, Malayalees and the Tamils.

He met and embraced their leaders and offered vital financial help to their organisations.

For example, the Sri Murugan Centre, which helps poor Indian children in education, got an injection of funds. Likewise, the Temple of Fine Arts.

Four years after 2008, the winds of change have begun to blow in the community and the Indians are warming once again to Barisan and the MIC, as believed by the party.

More than just his policies to repair damages, Najib has gone to the ground to mingle with the ordinary people.

The challenge is to translate his popularity into votes for Barisan.

How Najib will do it is yet to be seen but for now, he is asking the Indians to have nambikai in the Government, and they are beginning to respond.

Losing nambikai is easy but winning it back is hard, as Najib knows.

source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/10/29/nation/9797384&sec=nation

Confusion over Deepavali holiday in IPTAs

October 14th, 2011
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The 1Malaysia Indian Students Movement (1MISM) launch at UM July this year by PM Najib saw an important announcement regarding extra holidays for Deepavali. It seems, the letter from JPT MOHE to IPTAs on 15th September stated that such holidays are to be given for Indians students only (There’s a copy of the letter here but not sure if untampered). Meaning, Indian (actually should be Hindu, this also don’t know means who la???) students will miss out classes because the classes will still go on.

Worse still, according to one FB entry, there was a comment “Najib bukan VC UKM” (refer here) when students asked why got class on 25th evening and 27th morning.

This will reflect badly on PM Najib and MIC since they were touting extra holidays, but actually its like time off only in some IPTAs. MISM (MIC) better clarify before they cause more damage.

Obviously the IPTAs are in a bind because PM already promised, but to implement, they are the ones who have to figure out ways. I think the IPTAs can do it like schools, by declaring “cuti peristiwa” (event holiday) and replace the classes on Saturdays. If they think that tolerance/sensitivity/acceptance/understanding of various cultures is important, they will find a way and not use reasons like MQA rules as an excuse.

Coming to the question: is convenience of the majority is of more importance than the convenience of the minority, even if the convenience of the minority doesn’t cost/affect much? We talk about national unity and sacrifices, but it doesn’t work for others?

It is very sad that education institutions that are supposed to instill good values of understanding others cultures, acceptance, tolerance etc is in the forefront of being ignorant, apathetic, intolerant and insensitive. What kind of impression are they giving to the students and staff? Should we blame the IPTA management entirely, or the education and social system that they grew up in? Being minority is not easy, and to think its going to get worse is indeed scary.

Even want to implement in IPTA is difficult, imagine want to ask IPTS to provide extra days off for Deepavali! So far heard that MSU having exam on the eve, while Segi KL is closing on eve (half-day) and 27th.

Certain universities are ignoring the government’s directive to give Indian students a longer break to celebrate Deepavali, said the Human Rights Party (HRP).

HRP sec-gen P Uthayakumar (right) in an open letter to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today complained of the “year in and year out recurring problem” for Hindu students who fail to enjoy similar accomodations granted other holidays such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Christmas.

According to him, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was only exempting Indian students from lectures rather than giving an official break.

“This would cause the Indian students to miss their lectures for three days,” said Uthayakumar.

“Apart from UKM, we are also receiving complaints from in particular Indian students studying in Unimas and UMS that lectures will be conducted as usual even on Deepavali day, which is not even a public holiday in Sarawak,” he added.

Najib, he said, had at the launch of the 1Malaysia Indian Students Movement at University Malaya on July 27 announced that the government would direct  universities to make provisions for the Hindu festive period.

The Ministry of  the Higher Education followed up with a circular on Sept 15 to all public universities to reschedule classes and examinations to allow for a longer break for Indian students.

“In that circular, Indian students nationwide were promised a longer break from 25 to 28 October to celebrate Deepavali which falls on 26 Oct,” said Uthayakumar.

He added that they have received complaints that universities are not implementing other provisions cited by Najib, such as a students’ shuttle service to nearby Hindu temples for students and making available vegetarian food.

“Or is this part of ‘the government policy was good but it’s  implementation was bad’ political play gimmick?” said the HRP sec-gen.

source: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/178646

 

Excerpt from a report in FMT is below:

… In an open letter to Najib, HRP’s pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar, named Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) as among those defying the directive.

“UKM’s deputy vice chancellor, Professor Noor Azlan Ghazali, even told the student leader, Kok Kiong Lum, that there are too many holidays in Malaysia,” he stated.

“He said that even Hari Raya and Chinese New Year holidays are only two days long so it is only fair that just one day be given for Deepavali.”

Uthayakumar further said that UNIMAS was conducting lectures on Deepavali day itself as it isn’t a public holiday in Sarawak.

“The Indian students there must also be given the opportunity to return home and be with their families on this auspicious day,” he said.

source: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2011/10/14/keep-to-your-word-hrp-tells-pm/

 

 

 

Vernacular schools won’t be abolished

February 5th, 2011
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This news came out about two weeks back. Obviously its reassuring to hear that vernacular schools won’t be abolished. This is provided for in the constitution (but yeah, I’m sure we know that how things are implemented is a different story altogether).

While the PM compares with neighboring countries, I think there’s a bit of difference. Indonesia did not focus on diversity or mutli-culturalism under the previous dictatorship. It was single language, single name (luckily not single religion). Their aim was different from the beginning. But things change as the world opens up. As for Singapore, I think their schools provides language classes and are secular in nature. No religions/racial discrimination (be it real or perceived). But here, we hear horror stories ranging from bringing food to racial remarks.

Secondly, the article doesn’t mention about steps taken to promote and encourage the growth of vernacular schools. That’s why we don’t see new schools, only those being relocated or rebuilt. The national education policy favors national schools, so the vernacular schools only receive minimal support to survive (can check the amount of fund allocated for each type of schools in the Malaysian Plans). Yeah, we should be grateful for that, I suppose.

I think vernacular schools (especially Tamil schools) will gradually be reduced due to non-action – no allocation of land, no political will to relocate, and no relocation fund. Aided by “brilliant” ideas to merge schools, we can expect number of schools to reduce.

The alternative is to set up language classes in national schools and to guarantee a non-racial/religious environment in school, which is impossible. You’ll need 45% of the teachers to be non-Malays, plus have more physical rooms to run a variety of religion classes. Not in the near of far future as far as things going now.

That’s why I think there’s no need to abolish vernacular schools, because in the long run, they will die a natural death due to various reasons.

The Government will not abolish the national-type school system and will continue to assist and recognise them as part of the national education system, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Prime Minister said Malaysia was the only country in South-East Asia which still defended the vernacular school system through the Chinese and Tamil national-type schools.

“If we look at our neighbours, there are no more vernacular schools although they existed at one time,” he said when declaring open the new RM9.3mil building of SJK Chung Hua Sungai Tapang Hilir here yesterday.

He said to ensure a fair policy for these schools, the Government allocated RM145mil in the country’s economic stimulus package for the development of Chinese national-type schools nationwide.

He added that the vernacular school system was recognised not only by the Chinese and Indian communities but also the bumiputras due to the advantage it provided in the learning of Mandarin and Tamil.

He said that since the Education Act was formulated, Chinese national-type schools have attracted 55,975 bumiputra students out of 612,000 students overall.

“The system provides an opportunity for students to learn three major languages – the national language, English and Mandarin,” he said. – Bernama

Impact of Menara Warisan Merdeka

October 29th, 2010
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I’m sure fellow Malaysians would have been bored to death hearing about the 100-storey tower proposal costing RM5 billion as unveiled by PM Najib in his Budget 2011 speech. The project is to be financed by Permodalan Nasional Malaysia (PNB) hence considered private funding.  Its not even investor’s money but PNB’s own money.  So, what can non-investors complaint about. Some details about the location:

PNB paid RM310mil or RM220 per sq ft to buy the 36-acre land from Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd in 2000. Hamad said the market value of the land was estimated at RM800 per sq ft today. Of the 36 acres, around 17 acres are occupied by Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara, which have been identified as a national heritage site. Conservation works have been undertaken to restore their heritage characteristics and the two stadiums are now being managed by the National Heritage Trust.

The project is supposed to have shopping complex and condominiums as well.

Some of the benefits/supporting statement for the project, as mentioned in many reports and speeches are:

– spillover effect to other industries [but for how long?]

– an icon for developing Malaysia [hmm…]

– attract foreign companies to set up office here. [possible of course]

– boost economy [ can other things boost better?”]

– provide 5000 jobs [make KL more crowded!]

– not involving government money [thank God!]

– KLIA, KLCC and Penang bridge was also protested, but now is being used by everyone or by the protestors and brings much benefit to people. [true, but two of them are public infrastructure. Not sure how KLCC is doing]

The reasons given by protestors:

– already have many unleased space in KL area. [but in this case, PNB is going to occupy some of tower]

– congestion [which part of KL got no congestion la?]

– can utilise money in other areas like transportation, poverty eradication etc. [PNB is not doing charity, OK!]

– can relocate to Kg Baru [Can be considered].

– if project fails, government may need to spend public fund to bail out PNB [now, this is worrying!]

– its just a personal icon for PM [well, don’t we all need to be remembered for something?]

– no guarantee that locals (read: bumiputras) will benefit [of course la. Its a global village. You want be jaguh kampung, sorry la].

For me, its PNB’s money and PNB’s land. As long as government can guarantee won’t bail out, should be OK. BUT, since its a development project, there should be proper study and impact assessment done. In this way, public can voice out how the project will cause positive/negative impact to the surrounding area. Can suggest to improve transportation in tandem with the building development, for example.

If given a choice, I would prefer if the project is carried out away from KL city centre area. Reason is that it can spur more development. For example, can set up the tower in Sepang, Hulu Selangor, Kuala Langat, (oops, all PR area! No Go area for the moment) or Negeri Sembilan. This will provide decongestion, spur secondary and tertiary industries, and more job opportunities. The areas mentioned are still relatively near to airport and city centre, so not a big problem to attract tenants.

What do you think?