Category Archives: a Malaysian chapter

Let Zakir Naik speak in Malaysia.

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Various texts discuss with great length on the practice of religious debates across the ancient world. Often too, such debates were precursors to wars in the name of gods. Wars were perfectly possible all so often because everyone was a believer of something.  And, some of us just needed a reason to get to war…

Intellectuals argue that all is fair in modern comparative religious studies. Discussing religion is a risky affair, more within a diverse community fabric and the act of debating religion brings the entire argument to an elevated dimension. Both, the giving and receiving parties need to be in an able state of mind to compare – agree and agree to disagree, with utter rationalism. An ideal state. Difficult. Very difficult. Emotion stimulates the mind 3000 times faster than rational thought. Men, are emotional animals.

Why risk it?

If you prove to me that Shri Ganesh is “Bhagwaan” then I will eat the prasad. – Zakir Naik.

Yes… of course… for a healthy discussion purpose aimed in building inter-faith ties, in a perfect world. Far, far, away.

Shri Ganesh is Bhagwaan. Allah is Bhagwaan. And, in Einstein’s words, I too see a clock, but I cannot envision the clockmaker. The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions, so how can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are as one? To understand my answer, you need to understand my faith a little better. It will go to the extent of wave-particle duality concept in quantum mechanics…. and beyond it. It will take time. It will take a lot of patience.

It is the same faith that allows the likes of Zakir Naik to speak in India and let them live.

Interesting it is that the message comes from a world acclaimed (needs further citation) authority whose centre of belief is لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله  – lā ilāha illà l-Lāh, Muḥammadur rasūlu l-Lāh – there is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. – Zakir Naik should not even be questioning the existence of another bhagwaan in the first place. All for a prasad? Is he going through a series of deliberate reaffirmations towards his own faith? You see, I too read the Quran. No authority like Zakir Naik or Shah Kirit. Just a curious mind.

The elders would agree that the holiest of us are often the quietest. In Hinduism, in Tamil, these men are known as Mouna Gurus. Silent teachers. A spiritual guru who speaks very little… and in his silence we hear all the truths of the world. Ever experienced one? They are hard to find. To a greater extent, I believe that it is the silent ones who hold the world together.

Let Zakir Naik speak in Malaysia. It is a noisy world. And, it may end in 2012.

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in-ter-locked \ˌin-tər-ˈläkt\ : connected so that the motion or operation of any part is constrained by another.

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I guess it is true… that the world gives you, to write something every time: I have not read the book myself so it wouldn’t help by me giving you a commentary. It wouldn’t do justice to it’s champions if I do.

I do not intend to read the book.

There is one paragraph which deserves attention though:
“Di dalam kapal itu ada kira-kira 120 orang penumpang atas dek. Mereka datang dari berbagai daerah – Pondicerry, Pulikat, dan Madras; dan ada juga dari Malabar, Kerala dan Hyderabad. …..Mereka yang datang dari arah ke utara sedikit bercakap bahasa Malayalam atau Telugu, tetapi hampir semua tahu bahasa Tamil. …Satu perkara besar yang membuatkan mereka senang bergaul adalah kerana mereka tergolong dalam satu kasta Pariah. Mereka tidak perlu takut akan mengotori sesiapa kalau bersentuhan” – extracted from page 210-211 of Interlok, Tingkatan Lima, Edisi Murid.

A rough translation could go something like this :
In the said ship, there were about 120 passengers on the deck. They came from various districts – Pondicerry, Pulikat and Madras; and also from Malabar, Kerala and Hyderabad. …..Those that came from slightly north spoke Malayalam or Telugu, but almost all knew Tamil …One big factor that made it easy for them to interact was because they are classed into one Pariah caste. They need not fear making anyone dirty if touched.

Apparently the Ministry of Education feels that it should be made an imperative part of the Malaysian education system because the main theme of the novel is the integration of various majority races of Malaya ………………………………………………………………………………………… YES, I feel you!!!

interlocked? …the joints look kinda nasty.

Some may argue that it is unfair to quote one paragraph from a 418 page novel and deem it unfit to read anymore as the entire subject has been taken out of context. I can just smile, in bitter angst on that argument.

and, there are some others who argue the actual relevance of the subject to the caste system which is being practiced within the Indian community… even today. Yes. It is unfortunate that to a certain extent, the spree of colonization over the last 1000 years has robbed the Indians of their own identity – the caste system is extremely complex, perhaps the oldest systematic segregation of individuals in a society known to men and I will refrain from discussing that in this note. I will, one day.

BUT …there is something else, some of us keep missing bout Interlok.

No one actually cared bout the book back in the 1970s when it was 1st published. Why NOW? I actually feel sorry for the author. He is 91 and is being accused of being a racist for something he wrote 40 years back! An outdated ignorant yes. A racist? Abdullah Hussain has been misunderstood.

At one end we have the author, a national literary laureate who defends his work with tears and at the other end we have the entire community against the inclusion of the novel as a literature text for Form Five students from this year. Well, the entire community, almost.
….and in between this two, you have that bloody lot which excites itself at the very instance of controversy. Can’t blame them, they breathe and breed on this!

A couple of questions to the ministry’s decision to introduce and now deliberately retain the novel as a literature component in Malay studies:
Was there an actual panel of experts who reviewed the novel BEFORE the ministry decided to …make this a national agenda? I am sure you have other worthy novels around. I recall a few myself and people who have wrote real good stuff about life in pre-independent Malaya. I bet you know them better.
I am not ridiculing that wise old man’s novel …I am sure he has got some good stuff in it and I am sure he had his share of ignorance when he wrote the book BUT clearly this has cost him and the country too much unwanted attention. So, what is the whole fuss of NOT withdrawing it from the syllabus altogether now – owh coz you guys think that novel STILL promotes national integration? You ni serious ke? Sure?

The latest decision effectively retains Interlok as part of the syllabus in Malaysian schools but amendments were to be made to parts of the novel which were deemed too sensitive to the Indian community. The Indians aren’t very happy with this… again, almost all of them – some couldn’t be bothered much, but there comes a point when YOU got to start bothering about issues – Indian, Chinese or Malay, it really doesn’t matter. After all, they say this is all about nurturing national integration …isn’t it?

p.s. I am not against the book that I never read, I am against the manner THIS is being managed.

empowering தமிழ் – a Malaysian chapter

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சங்கம் வளர்த்த தமிழுக்கு என் முதற்கண் வணக்கம்,

am making it straight to the point:
= raise the standards of Tamil schools, raise the standards of teachers who teach in Tamil schools… RECREATE if it needs to happen. YOU would see a difference to the entire system then!

MIC perhaps, needs to propel a grand vision to encourage Tamil education from the primary in Malaysia. But, this does not need to happen ONLY from within Tamil schools… does it? YOU are already losing a point if you claim Tamil education stays within the traditional Tamil school environment in Malaysia.

The government may continue to do its part in the spirit of 1Malaysia. Alternatives?

I see privatization as a possible option. It may not be a total solution but it is… a baby step. All it takes is for ONE richer Indian to put his feet down for the community and establish a private school, with Tamil as compulsory in its syllabus. Everything else can be in English or BM, parallel to national education standards.

Tan Sri G has come forward for the Indians, I am sure there are many more who can be just as generous. It may happen through a group – SMC perhaps?

Yes, MIC can surely play a part in this privatization process to establish a cluster of “Premium Schools – primary & secondary” in each State which emphasizes in Tamil education. Performing students from government Tamil primary schools may be given full scholarships by the government, MIC (or any political party for that matter) and NGOs to continue their secondary education in these schools.

It really doesn’t matter WHO initiates all these – that is not my concern. JUST DO IT RIGHT.

While we need to applaud all efforts to transform current state of Tamil schools, perhaps some efforts in creating a new state of affairs for empowering Tamil education SHOULD take place in Malaysia. It is high time it does.

The concept “Premium Schools” will complement and emulate Tamil to greater excellence. IT creates a reason for the existing Tamil schools to excel and us to be part of the system… and as much as I don’t need a reason to learn Tamil, A REASON is what the common society has been missing all these years.

YOU raise your standards so high that these are the best in class schools in the country that, every Indian wants to be in it! It may be so good that you might have Malays or Chinese wanting to be in it and yes, learn Tamil with it!

Impossible? Difficult maybe, but not impossible! God bless those who are working for தமிழ் – the gods always have.

p.s. Thank you for a wonderful discussion Sivanesan. YOU stirred this article.

Putera’s Identity

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சங்கம் வளர்த்த தமிழுக்கு என் முதற்கண் வணக்கம்,
Dear Putera National & State council members,

It was awesome to note that we are better recognized now, especially after having Dato Seri and his highest comrades walk-in during our AGM.

There were queries however, amongst us, on who we really are and what are we being recognized for. I believe the Council needs to address this again, a sort of reassurance. Putera should continue to regulate itself as a non-political entity… and that means a few good things.

I can understand the sentiments of Putera when we walked into HS – that was for our chief, Mr.Kamalanathan. I personally refrained myself from a physical presence because however you wish to call it …it was downright a political activity, and made known my reasons to Mr.Kamalanathan and Mr.Thana. I did something else – campaigning for him online is something I could do at a personal level, it may have pulled in a few votes – my words were in The Star the next day.

No issues there. I will continue to do this.

But, what interest does Putera have in the next general election? Why are we being told to prepare ourselves for it? WHY are some of US excited about it? Aren’t we losing a point here already?

Quoting Mr.Kamalanathan’s own words, Putera is a brand-name to MIC and our focus should entirely be in uplifting the community. Some of us are already doing a great job in it. That is all we do. If we do that right enough, then MIC by the grace of god will win!

Politic is someone else’s game. By saying this, I am not in anyway suggesting that a PuteraMIC member can’t have a political ambition – YOU can, and when YOU decide you should… do it on a different platform-Pemuda.

PuteraMIC should restructure its activities as to complement Pemuda. I do not mind if the aspirants in Pemuda gain political momentum because of my activities – why should I mind when my purpose is served? Puteri, for Wanita. With that openness, positive difference will take place within the party. That’s what consorted effort is all about.

The sustainability of a corporation lies not on what they do but how they do it. We, can definitely do things better in here.

I joined PuteraMIC, chose it over PemudaMIC because it works as an NGO within the party – a concept that I couldn’t entirely digest coming from a political entity. But, I can just hope it stays that way for the betterment of the party,its members and the society.

Do let me know YOUR thoughts. Thank you.

Murali Prasad
National Welfare Bureau

p.s. Originally posted in the national council fb but i’m really not sure if everyone of us visit it anymore. fb can be used to better use, we proudly quote 95% of PuteraMIC being net savvy but our communication appears to be disbursed in many directions. I do not have all the council members in my friend’s list so plz pass this around for a discussion round OR get everyone to tune into the national council’s page at least every week.

in the spirit of democracy in its varied forms, Samy Vellu has wronged.

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I try to write …, whenever something matters. And, I was contemplating whether I should write now – is THIS something that would matter to YOU?

The Malaysian Indian Congress is in an obvious dilemma and at least everyone from both camps i.e. WITH or WITHOUT Samy Vellu, will agree to the notion. But, history has proven again and again that my assumptions can be wrong and if it is …GOD bless those ignorance!

Just like many of us, I do not have any priority interest to dwell into the facts and fictions that dwindle back and forth around MIC. The post-independence, post-patriotism era thought us to relate ourselves as an individual to the country than the other way round. For many, the subject matter has conveniently switched!

I, also refrain myself from opinionating details that are not clear to me, that I am not sure of …just like SOME of us.
This single note, is just about that.

Samy Vellu claims that he has met more than 350,000 Indians in his years as the party president. I do not think he is exaggerating as I have seen Kamalanathan attending people in Malacca in the morning, Penang in the afternoon and back to KL by night… for yet another meeting session, or at least 50 people walking in and out of Devamany’s office within 1 hour!

His fiery opponents insist that he has not done anything for the Malaysian Indians – how could someone be absolutely not been doing anything for 31 years? How could YOU have allowed someone who has not been doing anything to be around as the-chief-representative of Malaysian Indians for 31 bloody years?!Something just doesn’t fit right eh?

He could have done more? Yes, sure… when is it ever sufficient for us? You could have done more? Yes, sure!

A few matters provoked this incidence that we see in MIC today, one provoked more than anything else – Maika Holdings was his brain-child and it disastrously failed, shattering a great Malaysian Indian dream with it. As the President, he is definitely accountable for that failure with Vell Paari, and all the past CEOs. But then, there are also popular allegations that he and his gang of thieves have swindled all the earnings and knowingly failed the business arm …I am not sure.

Some other matters are however, just left not noticed… not to be noticed, perhaps? AIMST is his other brain-child and I see a magnificent Indian dream there – one that allows more young Indians to pursue their dreams and is also able to produce note-worthy graduates in the field of sciences.

… and YES, that I am very sure!

Why do we not learn to loud a success as much we can for a failure? How is one, any less significant than the other?

*** A couplet from Thirukkural comes to my mind… but I’m not getting it right – well, never-mind that for now.

It was Samy Vellu’s prerogative as the President to dismiss his able secretary general, a few CWC members and Deputy Youth Chief as it was Mahathir’s to dismiss his DPM. Prerogative …however, does not go very well with democracy.

Thus, in the spirit of democracy in its varied forms, Samy Vellu has wronged today.

… but, if you can just allow yourself to view a person beyond his wrongs, you might see a better man – well, you MIGHT!

Zaid Ibrahim vs Kamalanathan Panchanathan

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Dear Sensible Silent Majority,

I would not have written this if it was not about the two. I, have high regards for both.

Zaid Ibrahim is NOT your average politician and Kamalanathan is DEFINITELY NOT your average last-minute substitute!

and …This is one EVENT, that needs all attention!It might give you a glimpse of what the future will be for all of us.

I do not recall any other election which had such intense atmosphere on the nomination day itself. It is an unprecedented move that took into account what the people wanted-that, at least according to UMNO. If it is true, then UMNO could have simply volumed it …along with whatever other reasoning that needs to be silent enough.

But, it was just right enough for MIC to listen. Some, may argue.

MIC needs to stay focused clearly enough the constituency demanded a change; it is either we do it within or someone else does it …without us!hard fact? it is!

What fight is MIC giving up by opting that change-fielding Kamalanathan?! With no offence to the other party hopefuls, every MIC member needs to be able to move and take things in a constructive manner as this is not the time to squabble over ‘smaller’ issues…

and while saying it, I can still empathize the sentiments involved and appreciate the heartache of Palanivel’s aides BUT shouldn’t this be a time for reasoning instead being rigidly opinionated? Why did UMNO not agree for Palanivel? I personally, do not know but it is a good question to ask ourselves…

It is OK if you do not get an answer-politics is not easy.

This too, won’t be easy and you do not get any weaker by acknowledging the strength of your opponent. Zaid Ibrahim is an able man, and I believe the BN government needs to acknowledge that 1st to win…

Call it a clash of the titans if you want but THIS, will be a fight like no other! May the best man win, the loser will never be any lesser!

Zaid is a tough contender but my bet is with Kamalanathan-what is yours?

but, Muhyiddin… was simply truthful enough.

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perhaps, it is a question that you never expect someone would ask you…

and maybe another question could be posed to him, for the sake of questioning-Tan Sri Muhyiddin, are you Muslim 1st, Malay 1st or Malaysian 1st or that 3 in any order of preference?

OR, we can just go beyond all social definitions and question him,the PM… and Lim – would you in any event put yourself before any of the 3 above?be truthful now!

What is 1Malaysia? – http://bit.ly/98wguG – pg.11, 4th para : “… every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race,religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second”

and… with that Lim’s question is justified enough.

1Malaysia is in fact an ideal concept-a great “Malaysian Dream”. Onn Jaafar championed it 50 years back, he failed. Tunku was more strategical but there is only so much ONE man can do.

Najib… well it’s all for good cause!

but, Muhyiddin… was simply truthful enough and he gave us all dash of realism. unfortunately, a concept no matter how unreal it may appear needs to be championed by it’s preceptors, at the least.

nvm them… they are ALL politicians, after all!

and there IS and WILL be obvious contradictions-we are all stuck some where between the ideal and the real.

if i ask you the same question, what would you answer?- hypocrites amongst us, just too many?