Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Bar Council’s wavering stand


Seven months ago, the Bar Council president, Christopher Leong, said that a resolution had been passed to ask the government to prohibit retired judges from litigating in court.

“It’s understandable that a person represented by a lawyer will feel that he is at a disadvantage if the adverse party is represented by a retired judge. It is not the question of whether there’s actually bias or advantage. 

The point is, it affects public confidence and that outweighs their ability to appear in court,” said Leong. “This amendment doesn’t stop them from practising, they can still do conveyance and consultation, just not go to court.”

Leong cited examples of Singapore, Sri Lanka and India, which prohibits retired judges from litigating in court. Australia’s Victoria state even punishes those breaking the rule by forfeiting their judicial pension. The Bar Council has vowed to take all reasonable steps to educate the public on the reasons for the proposed amendment to the law.

Yesterday, Syahredzan Johanin, a Bar Council member, said there is nothing wrong for retired Federal Court judge, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, acting as Anwar Ibrahim’s lead counsel in his sodomy conviction appeal. How would that reconcile with the resolution passed by the Bar Council and would they make a special exception for Gopal Sri Ram?

Syahredzan explained that the Bar Council resolution was only a proposal and not legally binding. Recently the Bar Council also passed a resolution asking the government to abolish the Sedition Act. Can we treat that resolution the same way we are being asked to treat the resolution regarding retired judges?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014



Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement today that it is not wrong for Ibrahim Ali to suggest that Bahasa Malaysia Bibles be burned and that such a statement is not seditious does not go down well with Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak.

The argument that even Qur’ans can be burned is not valid. Qur’ans that are old and tattered and can no longer be read must be burned to ensure that it is not treated like trash and thrown into a dustbin alongside other dirty things and whatnot.

Burning Qur’ans, in this case, is an act of respect. Burning Qur’ans as a mark of protest is not a mark of respect, especially if done by non-Muslims to protest against Islam.

In this instance we are talking about Muslims burning Bibles to protest Christians using Allah in the Bible. This is not meant as a mark of respect like Muslims burning old and tattered Qur’ans.

We should put this issue to sleep instead of continuing to fan the flames. Tun Dr Mahathir should speak out with a voice of liberalism and not with a voice of extremism.

Telling Malaysians that it is right for Ibrahim Ali to call for the burning of the Bible is not something Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak will endorse. Even if the Christians do not protest such statements, Muslims will still feel uncomfortable with something like that.

I, of course, am speaking as a Muslim from Sabah, which may not be the way Muslims from West Malaysia will look at things. But it is something that has to be said although I am not claiming to represent the voice of every single Muslim in the state.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Oleh SSK

1. SAYA tertarik dengan intipati ucapan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak sempena perhimpunan sambutan Maal Hijrah peringkat kebangsaan di Pusat Konvensyen Antarabangsa Putrajaya (PICC) Putrajaya pada Sabtu.

2. Perdana Menteri menekankan mengenai prinsip Wasatiyyah yang menjadi rahsia kejayaan dalam mengemudi pentadbiran negara.

3. Formula Wasatiyyah yang dipraktikkan kerajaan merangkumi beberapa elemen tunjang iaitu kesederhanaan, berimbang dan mementingkan kecemerlangan, sekali gus membawa pembangunan kepada masyarakat secara menyeluruh berdasarkan ajaran Islam.

4. Saya setuju dan sependapat pentingnya kita bersederhana dalam semua aspek kehidupan. Baik dalam berbelanja, bersahabat mahupun berpolitik. Ini penting untuk menjadikan hidup kita lebih indah.

5. Maknanya kita kena pilih jalan tengah -- berbelanja mengikut kemampuan, bersahabat dengan semua tanpa garis pemisah, dan berpolitik jangan terlalu extreme.

6. Berbelanja tanpa mengikut kemampuan menjerumuskan kita ke kancah hutang, bersahabat mengikut kelompok kita terpisah dan tersisih, dan pegangan politik extreme tidak menjamin kebahagiaan, sebaliknya membawa salah faham dan kesangsian.

7. Contoh mudah dalam berbelanja, mengapa harus membeli dua kereta jika sebuah kereta sudah cukup. Apalagi jika pembelian itu mengikat leher kita bertahun-tahun dengan hutang di bank.

8. Contoh kedua dalam persahabatan, mengapa harus kita bina tempok pemisah dengan hanya bersahabat pada golongan dan darjat tertentu saja tanpa mendampingi kelompok lain? Bukankah ini akan menyebabkan wujud komuniti tidak berimbang dan saling memandang serong antara satu sama lain?

9. Dan ketiga, kenapa harus kita terlalu taksub  dan extreme dalam berpolitik sehingga mengetepikan nilai-nilai murni perjuangan politik itu sendiri?

10. Percayalah, jika kita memilih jalan tengah dalam semua hal ini, kehidupan kita akan menjadi lebih ceria, apatah lagi dalam konteks keunikan dan kepelbagaian kaum dan agama di negeri Sabah ini.

11. Dalam laman Facebook,kadangkala saya `upload' petikan-petikan menarik yang boleh dijadikan inspirasi dan renungan dalam kehidupan harian kita.

12. Berikut saya perturunkan tiga petikan mutakhir dari laman Facebook saya.

13. "Cari kawan biar macam cermin, kita gembira, dia pun gembira...kita sedih, dia pun sedih. Jangan cari (kawan) macam duit syiling, depan lain belakang lain."

14. "Life is like the ocean. It can be calm or still, and rough or rigid, but in the end, it is always beautiful."

15. "Barangsiapa meringankan beban orang yang dalam kesulitan maka Allah akan meringankan bebannya di dunia dan di akhirat (HR. Muslim)."

16. Sama-sama kita merenunginya demi menjadikan hidup kita lebih indah dan ceria!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What the ulama’ should focus on


Over the last few weeks we have been seeing quite a bit of controversy regarding the Oktoberfest beer festival and the ‘pat a dog’ event. A number of mufti and ulama’ have spoken out against these on the argument that these may mislead Muslims, and that it insults Islam, and so on.

We have to be very careful with how we position Islam in Malaysia. While we can argue that Malaysia is not really a Secular country in the full sense of the word where there is separation of church and state, Malaysia is not an Islamic State either.

For all intents and purposes, Malaysia is something in between while, according to the Federal Constitution, Islam is the religion of the Federation. Hence we need to seek a balance where Muslims must comply to the Sharia while non-Muslims must not be denied their rights to practice their religion, customs, traditions and culture.

The beer festival was meant for non-Muslims so it does not really affect Muslims. On the argument that dogs are haram for Muslims, different ulama’ have different views. While some ulama’ argue that dogs are haram to Muslims, others argue that dogs are not haram but just unclean and if you touch a dog you can always clean yourself with no harm done.

And we must remember that one mufti of Terengganu actually owned a dog and took it for walks every day. This shows even muftis do not always agree on what is allowed and not allowed in Islam. Hence we must differentiate between what is Islam and what is merely the opinion of certain religious people.

Nevertheless, this is not really the point. The point is while beer and dogs may be issues that need addressing, these issues are not really as critical as the more important issues that are plaguing the Muslim world.

We are currently seeing an increase in religious extremism in the Muslim world. Take what is happening in places like Libya, Iraq, and many other places. Even Malaysian Muslims are going to join what they perceive as the jihad being fought by the Islamic State and the numbers are increasing and becoming quite alarming.

Back during the days of the Iraq War, Malaysian Muslims were wearing Saddam Hussein T-shirts while, during the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, Malaysians were cheering.

This is more worrying than the issue of beer festivals and dogs.

The mufti and ulama’ should focus on these issues and come out with statements warning Malaysian Muslims regarding religious extremism. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue there will come a day when religious fanaticism will become a problem for Malaysia.

The other worrying problem is regarding racism, which appears to be increasing by the day. No ulama’ or mufti has yet come out with any statement to say that in his last sermon or kutbah the Prophet Muhammad has declared racism as contrary to Islamic teachings and is forbidden under Islam.

I am not saying that religious scholars must not talk about beer and dogs. However, there are more crucial issues that need addressing and the religious scholars are remaining silent regarding these. If religious extremism and racism are not kept in check, the damage done to Malaysia will be far worse than the issue of non-Muslims drinking beer or Muslims patting dogs.

Friday, October 17, 2014

When the rakyat are treated like fools


The new Secretary-General of PKR has issued a directive asking Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters to assemble in front of the Federal Court in Putrajaya on 28th and 29th October 2014.

PKR’s Youth Movement said in the event that Anwar is jailed they will be organising peaceful protests. But how can they assure us that the protests will be peaceful when in the first place it is going to be an illegal assembly?

All protests all over the world start as peaceful protests but they do not always end peacefully. And if the Malaysian government clamps down on what would be regarded as an illegal assembly the protestors will accuse the government of not respecting democracy and freedom of assembly and so on.

This is nothing short of an attempt to provoke the government and an attempt to trigger unrest. And the government will certainly not allow this to go unchallenged.

However, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should not fall into this trap because this is precisely what they want the government to do. Najib, therefore, has to carefully consider how to respond to this challenge while maintaining law and order and yet not allowing them to exploit this as an example of a draconian course of action.

The issue of the Bahasa Malaysia Bibles in Selangor is another volatile issue that the opposition is exploiting. Christians in Sabah and Sarawak should not fall into the opposition’s trap and become emotional about the matter.

Even PAS, the Islamic party, has not opposed the use of Bahasa Malaysia Bibles in Sabah and Sarawak. They just oppose its use in Selangor and even then because there are certain laws in Selangor that forbids its use.

Instead of putting the blame on the federal government, the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government should pass a bill next month in the Selangor State Assembly to amend or abrogate this law.

If Selangor refuses to repeal this law how can the federal government be blamed for this? After all, religion is a state matter so Selangor has to take action to rectify this.

Let us see whether next month Selangor makes a move to remove this law. Nevertheless, whatever happens next month in Selangor does not affect Sabah and Sarawak so the Christians here need not be worried or react to what is happening in Selangor.