Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lawak Minggu Ini

Kring Kring Kring

Me : "Hello"

Pelawak : "Hello. Apa Khabar?"

Me : "Maaf, siapa ni?"

Pelawak : "Kawan lama awak, 12 tahun dulu"

Me : "Wow. Lamanya. Tapi saya tak cam siapa awak"

Pelawak : "Ala, kawan yang awak pernah tolak"

Me : "Err, bila saya main bola or futsal dengan awak?"

Pelawak : "Ni kawan yang awak tolak hati dia la"

Me :"@#$%^&&" (Read: Shit!!!!) (Dalam hati)

Pelawak : "Tak ingat lagi ke? Ni xxxxhis namexxxx la"

Me : "@#$$%%^%^^" (Read: I'm in deep shit!!!!!!!) (Dalam hati lagi) "Oh, it's you. Hahaha sorry, saya dah lama delete data dalam CPU saya. How did you get my back anyway?"

Pelawak : "Kesian saya. No. awak saya dapat dari reliable sources. 6 tahun saya cari awak sampai dah kawin lagi and dah dapat baby lagi. So, awak masih membujang ke? Saya dah xxxxxToo Much Info (semua benda dia cite)xxxxxxxx"

Me : "Good for you, alhamdulillah"

Pelawak : "Boleh tak kita jumpa for the last time?"

Me : "Err, kenapa ya?"

Pelawak ; "Eh, awak ni anti social ke?"

Me : "Hahaha ya, saya memang anti-social"

Pelawak : "Dekat dekat office awak je. Just for a short while, please. How about lunch? Lunch sekejap je kan?"

Me : "Actually, lunch pun saya jarang jarang keluar"

Pelawak : "Tak kan tak boleh kot? Ajak la kawan you but kawan yang reliable la. And I boleh suruh driver I pergi jauh-jauh"

Me; "I'm so sorry. I really can't"

Pelawak : "It's OK. Think about it and when you want to see me, you text me or miss call me OK?"

Me : "Thanks for your call" (Read: No thanks for your call)

Pelawak : "BTW, next week I buat Open House so I nak you datang OK?"

Me : "Insya Allah"

Pelawak : "So ingat, kalau you nak jumpa you text or miss call me OK?
Me : "Insya Allah"

Tut Tut Tut

p.s. I wasn't sure if I want to laugh or cry after that call but this is definitely not the best time to be reminded of all those characters, who forever think I'm a sucker. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent", hence, the reason why I considered the call as "Lawak Minggu Ini".

Thursday, August 25, 2011

UK Riots: The Necessity of Inclusive Governance

I cry every time I read about the UK Riots on The Guardian - seeing familiar sight of places and people, once warm enough to thaw the wintry wet English weather - coming together to bring back civility to their community after days of calamitous riots that broke in places, well defined with high rates of unemployment and crime. My prayers are with them now, wishing hard they would be given the strength during this perilous period in their lifetime.

How could megalopolis like London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester succumb to such riotous incidents that claimed 5 lives and caused scores of properties and businesses doomed? Why not people who live in the enchanting Lake District, leafy Hertfordshire or idyllic Shropshire? Does urbanity silent humanity, I wonder.

How could a nation, as developed as the UK, wasn't prepared to curb the infectious riots? Was it purposely let to be out of control that when it went totally out of control, extreme forces could be used to stop them?

It is easy to see, over this riotous incident, that poverty, in all forms and faces, could bring out the worst in a human being, turning one inhumane. If Martin Luther King described "riots are the language of the unheard", we are wrong to say that those rioters are inhumane and cruel because we, the bystanders, haven't been standing up for the social rights and justice we all deserve from our Government of the day. The government is not at all hesitant to bail out corporations but never think twice about cutting the public spending.

The purpose of poverty abolishment isn't about making all the poor people rich but to ensure that they are never alone in time of need. People need rewarding job. People need affirming roof over their head. People need enlightening education. People need effective healthcare. People need real opportunities to grow. People need assurance that they will not be left behind, no matter what happens. Hence, there is an urgent need of an inclusive government - that genuinely serve the people, understanding and taking care of their concerns and needs.

Of all the articles I read on UK Riots, the best would have to be the one written by Mr. Katy Perry aka Russel Brand - a real tongue-in-the-cheek!

I no longer live in London. I've been transplanted to Los Angeles by a combination of love and money; such good fortune and opportunity, in both cases, you might think disqualify me from commenting on matters in my homeland. Even the results of Britain's Got Ice-Factor may lay prettily glistening beyond my remit now that I am self-banished.

To be honest when I lived in England I didn't really care too much for the fabricated theatrics of reality TV. Except when I worked for Big Brother, then it was my job to slosh about in the amplified trivia of the housemates/inmates. Sometimes it was actually quite bloody interesting. Particularly the year that Nadia won. She was the Portuguese transsexual. Remember? No? Well, that's the nature of the medium; as it whizzes past the eyes it seems very relevant but the malady of reality TV stars is that their shelf life expires, like dog years, by the power of seven. To me it seems as if Nadia's triumph took place during the silver jubilee, we had a street party.

Early in that series there was an incident of excitement and high tension. The testosteronal, alpha figures of the house – a Scot called Jason and a Londoner called Victor – incited by the teasing conditions and a camp lad called Marco (wow, it's all coming back) kicked off in the house, smashed some crockery and a few doors. Police were called, tapes were edited and the carnival rolled on. When I was warned to be discreet on-air about the extent of the violence, I quoted a British first-world-war general who, reflecting on the inability of his returning troops to adapt to civilian life, said: "You cannot rouse the animal in man then expect it to be put aside at a moment's notice."

"Yeah, that's exactly the kind of thing we want you to say the opposite of," said the channel's representative.

This week's riots are sad and frightening and, if I have by virtue of my temporary displacement forgone the right to speak about the behaviour of my countrymen, then this is gonna be irksome. I mean even David Cameron came back from his holiday. Eventually. The Tuscan truffles lost their succulence when the breaking glass became too loud to ignore. Then dopey ol' Boris came cycling back into the London clutter with his spun gold hair and his spun shit logic as it became apparent that the holiday was over.

In fact, it isn't my absence from the territory of London that bothers me; it's my absence from the economic class that is being affected that itches in my gut because, as I looked at the online incident maps, the boroughs that were suffering all, for me, had some resonance. I've lived in Dalston, Hackney, Elephant, Camden and Bethnal Green. I grew up round Dagenham and Romford and, whilst I could never claim to be from the demographic most obviously affected, I feel guilty that I'm not there now.

I feel proud to be English, proud to be a Londoner (all right, an Essex boy), never more so than since being in exile, and I naturally began to wonder what would make young people destroy their communities.

I have spoken to mates in London and Manchester and they sound genuinely frightened and hopeless, and the details of their stories place this outbreak beyond the realms of any political idealism or rationalisation. But I can't, from my ivory tower in the Hollywood Hills, compete with the understandable yet futile rhetoric, describing the rioters as mindless. Nor do I want to dwell on the sadness of our beautiful cities being tarnished and people's shops and livelihoods, sometimes generations old, being immolated. The tragic and inevitable deaths ought to be left for eulogies and grieving. Tariq Jahan has spoken so eloquently from his position of painful proximity, with such compassion, that nearly all else is redundant.

The only question I can legitimately ask is: why is this happening? Mark Duggan's death has been badly handled but no one is contesting that is a reason for these conflagrations beyond the initial flash of activity in Tottenham. I've heard Theresa May and the Old Etonians whose hols have been curtailed (many would say they're the real victims) saying the behaviour is "unjustifiable" and "unacceptable". Wow! Thanks guys! What a wonderful use of the planet's fast-depleting oxygen resources. Now that's been dealt with can we move on to more taxing matters such as whether or not Jack The Ripper was a ladies' man. And what the hell do bears get up to in those woods?

However "unacceptable" and "unjustifiable" it might be, it has happened so we better accept it and, whilst we can't justify it, we should kick around a few neurons and work out why so many people feel utterly disconnected from the cities they live in.

Unless on the news tomorrow it's revealed that there's been a freaky "criminal creating" chemical leak in London and Manchester and Liverpool and Birmingham that's causing young people to spontaneously and simultaneously violate their environments – in which case we can park the ol' brainboxes, stop worrying and get on with the football season, but I suspect there hasn't – we have, as human beings, got a few things to consider together.

I should here admit that I have been arrested for criminal damage for my part in anti-capitalist protest earlier in this decade. I often attended protests and then, in my early 20s, and on drugs, I enjoyed it when the protests lost direction and became chaotic, hostile even. I was intrigued by the anarchist "Black bloc", hooded and masked, as, in retrospect, was their agenda, but was more viscerally affected by the football "casuals" who'd turn up because the veneer of the protest's idealistic objective gave them the perfect opportunity to wreck stuff and have a row with the Old Bill.

That was never my cup of tea though. For one thing, policemen are generally pretty good fighters and second, it registered that the accent they shouted at me with was closer to my own than that of some of those singing about the red flag making the wall of plastic shields between us seem thinner.

I found those protests exciting, yes, because I was young and a bit of a twerp but also, I suppose, because there was a void in me. A lack of direction, a sense that I was not invested in the dominant culture, that government existed not to look after the interests of the people it was elected to represent but the big businesses that they were in bed with.

I felt that, and I had a mum who loved me, a dad who told me that nothing was beyond my reach, an education, a grant from Essex council (to train as an actor of all things!!!) and several charities that gave me money for maintenance. I shudder to think how disenfranchised I would have felt if I had been deprived of that long list of privileges.

That state of deprivation though is, of course, the condition that many of those rioting endure as their unbending reality. No education, a weakened family unit, no money and no way of getting any. JD Sports is probably easier to desecrate if you can't afford what's in there and the few poorly paid jobs there are taken. Amidst the bleakness of this social landscape, squinting all the while in the glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity. That daily, hourly, incessantly enforces the egregious, deceitful message that you are what you wear, what you drive, what you watch and what you watch it on, in livid, neon pixels. The only light in their lives comes from these luminous corporate messages. No wonder they have their fucking hoods up.

I remember Cameron saying "hug a hoodie" but I haven't seen him doing it. Why would he? Hoodies don't vote, they've realised it's pointless, that whoever gets elected will just be a different shade of the "we don't give a toss about you" party.

Politicians don't represent the interests of people who don't vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, "He must've known") that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.

Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, "mindlessly", motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that's why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.

These young people have no sense of community because they haven't been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron's mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there's no such thing.
If we don't want our young people to tear apart our communities then don't let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together.

As you have by now surely noticed, I don't know enough about politics to ponder a solution and my hands are sticky with blood money from representing corporate interests through film, television and commercials, venerating, through my endorsements and celebrity, products and a lifestyle that contributes to the alienation of an increasingly dissatisfied underclass. But I know, as we all intuitively know, the solution is all around us and it isn't political, it is spiritual. Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

In this simple sentiment we can find hope, as we can in the efforts of those cleaning up the debris and ash in bonhomous, broom-wielding posses. If we want to live in a society where people feel included, we must include them, where they feel represented, we must represent them and where they feel love and compassion for their communities then we, the members of that community, must find love and compassion for them.

As we sweep away the mistakes made in the selfish, nocturnal darkness we must ensure that, amidst the broken glass and sadness, we don't sweep away the youth lost amongst the shards in the shadows cast by the new dawn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lessons From The Belly: The Story of Prophet Yunus (PBUH)

One day, Mak caught me watching Prophet Yunus' story on TV Al-Hijrah's Al-Quran: The New Dawn, as others were busy breakfasting. I was so touched by the way the story was explored as it drew a lot of relevance to what's happening around us these days, it brought tears to my eyes.

I promised myself that I wouldn't give sadness or anger a chance to dwell and extinguish the fire in my belly. Too often, their reign hurts those I care more than they ever hurt me. If there is to time to spend on this world, instead of taking everything personally, we should all get personal with everything that crosses our path.

Here's the story that somehow gives me a lot of comfort when things are uncertain and I hope you too could draw strength and comfort from it.

In the Belly of the Whale

Have you ever felt as though things are just too much for you, that you are in a situation you see no way of getting out of? Do you look at problems in our world today and wonder how they can ever be solved? All this, and more, is the story of Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him). The mission of Prophet Yunus is a timeless story that tells us there is a way out, if only we have faith.

Almighty Allah called Yunus to preach to the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was a great city, the capital of Assyria, and it had become a very wicked place. Yunus went to the people there and told them to give up their bad ways and to turn, instead, to Allah. But they wouldn't listen to him and so Yunus left them. This is the first very human touch in the story of Yunus. Even though he was a prophet, Yunus was still a man and he stormed off out of the city when he didn't achieve what he had hoped. He even felt that he knew what these people deserved. We can identify with Yunus here, can't we? On a human level, we often give up too soon, and we often stomp off when we don't get what we want. On a spiritual level, we see lots of wickedness in the world and think we know how the evildoers should be treated. Some people even take it upon themselves to punish them.

Having left the city behind, Yunus boards a ship. He has had enough and he sets sail far away from the scene of his failure. Once at sea, though, a storm grows up and the crew are terrified. These pagan sailors feel that the gods of the sea must be displeased with them, so they draw lots to throw one man overboard to calm the storm. They draw the lot indicating that Yunus should be thrown overboard. This happens not once but three times, and the terrified crew throw him overboard thinking that in doing so they will be protecting themselves and their ship.

Once in the water, something extraordinary happens. Allah sends a great fish, some describe it as a whale, to swallow Yunus whole. Once in its belly, Yunus descends to the bottom of the sea, filled with total despair. How can he possibly survive this disaster? What way out of his situation could there possibly be? He is engulfed by darkness: the darkness of the creature's stomach; the darkness of the deep; and, worst of all, the darkness of despair. Even though he was a religious man, called upon to be a prophet, he experiences doubt, and it is when he is in the depths of despair that things change for him. In the noble Qur'an, we read that Yunus "cried through the darkness." He realized that Almighty Allah, not he, was in control of things. He cries out, "there is no god but You," and asks for help. In asking for help, his prayer is heard.

There is a very beautiful book, called Stories of the Prophets, written in the Middle Ages by Hafez ibn Kathir. It is easily available and well worth reading. In it, Ibn Kathir has a moving commentary on this part of Yunus's story. He says that once Yunus admits that there is no god but Allah and that only Allah can save him, something wonderful happens. First, the whale begins to sing the praises of Allah, then all the little fish around it, then all the creatures of the sea, each in its own way, until there is a great chorus of praise. The whale swims up to the surface and ejects Yunus onto the shore. Just as Allah had used it to save Yunus from the storm and from drowning in the sea, so He also uses it to bring Yunus safely to land again.

And there is more. Yunus is feeling sick and sore as he lies on the sand in the scorching heat, still not knowing what will become of him. Allah takes even more care of him and causes a plant to grow up over him and to cover Yunus with its shade. Once he has recovered from his ordeal and his skin has stopped smarting from the acids in the creature's stomach, he decides to return to Nineveh, his travels over, to see what has become of the city and its people. When he arrives there, to his great surprise, he sees that the city and its people have not been destroyed, but have all turned to Allah. His message had got through to them. Perhaps when they saw the terrible storm as it grew up in the distance, they saw in it an image of what would happen to them if they did not repent. Who knows why they turned back to Allah, but they did. Yunus, then, after all his adventures, is finally content that his mission has been accomplished.

There is so much that the story of Yunus can teach us. First of all, read it yourself in the noble Qur'an. You will find it in the following verses: 4:163, 6:86, 10:98, 21:87, 37:139-148, and 68:48-50. Ponder over the meaning of the words and listen to what they say to you. Yunus's story is timeless. It is for the whole world and it is for each one of us.

Nineveh, for example, the great city and the capital of a great empire, doesn't even exist anymore. Scholars say it lies in Iraq on the other side of the river from the city of Mosul, but its temples and monuments have gone. All worldly power will go the same way. Even today's superpowers, who behave as though they are Allah, and believe that everyone must obey them, will one day wither and fade and, like all great empires before them, cease to exist. Remember, Allah is in control, not this country or that. Allah will decide the course of events.

Another lesson from the story of Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him) is that we never know the effect our deeds will have on others. We, like Yunus, are called to tell others about Islam, but the results might never be known to us. A word we say to one person might touch them deeply and yet we may never see the effect of that word. But we must keep trying. We never know what effect our da`wah will have.

What we must never do, though, is to think that we are in control or that it is we who call others to Islam. Allah is in control and He, alone, calls others to Himself. We shouldn't get down-hearted or angry when our efforts seem to fail. Muslims trust in Allah. In His own time and in His own way, He will deal with those who do evil, just as He will reward the righteous:

[No soul knows what comfort is kept hidden for them, as a reward for their deeds.](As-Sajdah 32:17)

Allah uses all things to work out His plan. In the story of Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him), He not only uses Yunus, but He uses the sailors and the whale and the plant, to do His will. So we should never presume to know the will of Allah, nor to make decisions on His behalf.

Finally, if you have ever felt as though you are in the belly of the whale, surrounded by darkness and with no way out, do what Prophet Yunus did. [He cried through the darkness](Al-Anbiyaa' 21:87) and admitted that there is no god but Allah and that only Allah can rescue.

Never give up. Trust in Allah. He can use us and all situations to do great things beyond our wildest imagination. It is by Allah's will that we are Muslim. Just as [his Lord chose him and made him of the righteous,] (Al-Qalam 68:50) so we, too, like Prophet Yunus can respond to the call of Almighty Allah and make a difference in our world.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wonderful Life

There were times when I felt bad just being happy simply because I remember others who were still not. There were times when I felt sad because they are people who feel happiness is something to be jealous about and if they can't have it, so mustn't you. There were times I heard gasps for air when someone says he/she is happy for me - deep down I know they are not. Still, I learn that to be happy isn't about imposing self pity on myself but more of sensing that you still have that dignity, even for simply doing one thing right.

But, there were times when I found strangers who saw the genuine happiness I feel for others, the first thing they want to do when they saw me was to hug me. There were also times when I learnt from others' heartbreaking experiences to realise that happiness isn't mechanical, that it will work for itself, as to attain happiness is more like riding a normal bike 1km uphill for someoone like me [Read; So physically not fit].

Happiness is to be worked on. It is to be understood. It is to be felt with our heart. Like love, it is selfless. Like roses, you'd remember the smell even after they have long gone. It's forever etched in your senses, enabling you to relive it at your own command.

Isn't it a wonderful life?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Response to Common Malaysian

I have been following the GTP and firmly believe that Idris Jala is not serving anyone’s agenda. I am glad that Najib has started an effort so big to reform the state of our affairs, unlike any of his predecessors.

It is good that the PM has finally recognised the need to fix the foundation and from there work towards building a high income economy in the long run.

The GTP is meant to give the people better access to improved public service delivery and address the social development of the country. Agreed that it is a little delayed but nevertheless, it is happening. The transformation programmes are exactly what we need as all Ministries have specific KPIs to achieve. If they don’t achieve what is promised, they have too much to lose, especially after they have witnessed the power of the people at the polls during the last election.

June 21, 2011 6:42 PM

Fi-sha says,

Dear Mr./Ms. Common Malaysian

Firstly, I must apologise for my very late response. Like love has reasons which reasons cannot understand (Blaise Pascal), I didn't know why I was hesitant to respond (when I am, by nature, a tempestuous person).

Secondly, let me express my gratefulness in finding your words on my “YES” post. You certainly made my day for now I have found some zeal to write (certainly not on such trite matters, definitely). Thank you for the enlightenment (and merci to those who have been kind enough to steer Mr./Ms. Common Malaysian’s wheels to my kick-some-heels post).

Let's get back to business in hand shall we?

Yes, Sir/Madam, Idris Jala of PEMANDU is not serving anyone’s agenda – not those in power nor those outside the corridor of power (that is us, common Malaysians). It's a zero-sum-game set-up that spent RM63.9 M hard-earned public funds (and we are still counting) to hire consultants for PEMANDU and to organize 3 Open Days for GTP and ETP initiatives while our economic competitiveness ranking in 2011 slumped by 6 slots to 16, our Corruption Perception Index score dropped from 5.1 in 2008 to 4.4 in 2010 and our Democracy Index fell from 68 in 2008 to 71 in 2010, just to name a few.

I sense your eyes rolling in disbelief seeing how I attach such non-performing results to Idris Jala's 'economic lab' as you may think it is not at all fair to put the blame of such deteriorating ratings to 'a new boy on the block' like him.

Unfortunately, he isn't a new boy after all. The news of Air Asia-MAS shares swap , that was finalised early this week, opens Idris Jala's cans of worms (now I know why i delayed this response). The 'demise' of MAS reflects his short-sighted business acumen and poor management style. Just read what Gomen Man wrote in TMI yesterday, asking him to return the millions! If he was ever good, he was good at 'sweeping everything under the carpet'.

Confucius says that, "Success depends upon previous preparations and without such preparation, there is sure to be failure". Now that he heads PEMANDU, I am more worried than ever as eloquently explained by En Ali Kadir today, questioning the accountability of the office holders, who are being rewarded for their mismanagement, and the deplorable opinions we sought from the highly-paid consultants - over and over again - only to fail us, common people, miserably.

Like a good marriage, success of any plans relies heavily on our willpower to undertake the responsibilities (not merely status and position). If there's a will, there's a way, they say. so, if there's a goodwill towards us, the common people, there is definitely numerous good ways to deliver and most of the time, they don't cost a bomb!

Dear Mr./Ms. Common Malaysia, i personally feel that PEMANDU is useless, especially to common people like me. I don't think you are common enough to see and feel the real hardships face by millions of Anak Bangsa Malaysia in their Ibu Pertiwi, day in, day out (UK riots shed some light of what will happen when these people are left unattended for by the Government).

If you think you are, tell me why Idris Jala has the heart to say that, "GST is a way to fund the poor" when the real problem is lack of enforcement by the government to prevent rampant tax evasion and bloated subsidies structure to IPP, amongst other glaring 'holes in our pockets'?

Please, I must insist, that you assist Idris Jala and his PEMANDU people to visit YES website before they bring our Ibu Pertiwi to its knees (Oh, did you read about Italian Police raided Moody's and S&P's Milan Office?).

I wish you and your loved ones a ma'rifah Ramadhan. While we agree to disagree, I believe we both want the best for this Ibu Pertiwi. Let's not lose hope on that, shall we?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Salam Ramadhan

Last night, I dreamt about running away from two women and after a good cat-and-mouse game, they were apprehended. I wanted to blame the green-and-grey stripy "Alice in Wonderland'''s Cheshire Cat (I recently watched this with my nephew) but I should know too well it's the start of Ramadhan and that those women are 'my own demons' I wish to get rid off during this precious Ramadhan and hopefully many more months to come. Amin 44x.

This is the month when more people are willing to go the extra miles to do good deeds. I pray that, no matter what we do, we do them all in the name of Allah because when we do things for thr right reasons, they all make us more humbly humane.

May this year's Ramadhan makes us better people.