I have vivid and happy memories of dinner dances at the ballroom of the Taj Mahal Hotel (photo) and many lunches and dinners at the Leopold Cafe in the Colaba district of Mumbai during my pre-sea cadet training ship days there more than 40 years ago. So it was with profound shock and horror that I read that both places were among a few which have been attacked by militant Islamist gunmen a couple of days ago, leaving many dead and wounded.
My blogger friend MarinaM has also written about this, here, pointing to an online petition started by an organisation called Avaaz.org. This is to register our sense of outrage and extend our undivided support and show solidarity with the people of Mumbai at their hour of grief.
Yesterday's NST online front page headline, here, says it: "Yoga Ban: Don't question fatwa, says Council" referring to the recent ban by the National Fatwa Council on the practice of yoga, a form of Indian exercise, breathing technique and mind control popular worldwide, by Malaysian Muslims.
But in a breaking news today, Singapore's The Straits Times headline screamed: "Sultanquestions yoga ban" when it reports, here, that HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor has made an 'unprecedented comment bordering on rebuke' when he said that "Before banning Muslims from performing yoga, Malaysia's top Islamic body should have first consulted the country's nine hereditary rulers who are considered upholders of Islam here".
In his statement, HRH said he hopes that in future, any fatwa decision that touches on issues involving the general public should be referred to the Conference of Rulers to be approved first before it is announced. "This is to ensure that the process of channeling the fatwa decision is implemented wisely to avoid any confusion and controversy," he said.
HRH also said that the fatwa or religious edict on yoga is still not enforceable in Selangor because it has not been brought to the state's Fatwa Committee. "The committee will meet to discuss this matter in greater detail regarding yoga activities in Selangor so that a decision is not made hastily," he said.
None of the other rulers - including Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu, the current Yang Di Pertuan Agong - have commented publicly on the yoga ban since the Council gleefully went on a fatwa issuing spree recently which also include one for tomboys or 'girls who act like boys' or whatever ...
Sorry for being too busy the past week to update my blog. I have been helping a friend who wants to build a factory in, you wont believe this, the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) in Pulau Indah. But I am glad I moved out of Klang and set up home in Kelana Jaya after I retired early about 10 years ago, especially after narrowly missing the havoc caused by the rain in Klang town yesterday.
There seems to be no end to the daily chaotic traffic nightmare in Klang. (Read the Star Metro online report, here). The new rerouting of traffic over the last two weeks is adding to the already utterly confusing and disorderly traffic situation caused by the ongoing construction works on a roundabout and a flyover in the town centre. This has also caused a number of fatal accidents. Having spent most of my life in Klang and suffering the never ending traffic problems there, I can understand the frustration felt by many Klangites.
For me, the subject first cropped up almost 40 years ago when as a young officer aboard a ship in a home port, I was visited by a relative* who was then managing the UtusanMelayu. At dinner, when asked by a fellow officer (an Englishman) about how free and independent were the newspapers in Malaysia then, he merely shrugged and said, "As free as we can be, bearing in mind that we need licenses to publish and these have to be renewed periodically".
Fast forward 40 years, the situation have changed but the requirement for licensing remains although several of the national mainstream newspapers have for the most part evolved into ruling party media organs. With news being skewed to reflect only government positions, these rags have begun to lose credibility and even readership. It is no wonder that online news portals and weblogs have become very popular, especially amongst the younger set.
Perhaps it was with this in mind that the government now no longer regards online news portals and weblogs as alternative media but as part of the mainstream and have proposed the set up of a Malaysian Media Council, to include bloggers' representatives. To my mind, this would probably end up as another regulatory body if laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Official Secrets Act are not amended first.
At a meeting of 40 editors and media activists and chaired by the Home Ministry's Chief Secretary to discuss the proposal yesterday, AhirudinAttan a.k.a Rocky, who is the pro tempresident of the National Alliance of Bloggers (All-Blogs), was of the view that blogs and on-line portals SHOULD NOT be included in the proposal to set up the Media Council. He said that it was very ambitious on the part of the sponsors of the idea to think that a single council would be able to deal with old and new media. He suggested the formation of an independent Press Council instead. (Read his take on the meeting,here)
I truly and wholeheartedly agree. Just leave us bloggers be.
* Dato Idris Hj. Ibrahim, later an MP and founder of Pemadam.
On my way to Port Klang this morning, I received a cellphone text message from my lawyer friend Elviza at the Shah Alam High Court that blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) is to be released by this evening. Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy had ruled that his detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) was illegal and unconstitutional. I immediately then made a detour to the courts complex to meet and congratulate RPK's indefatigable wife Marina, her lawyers Malik and Haris and the many supporters present.
The judge ruled that Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had not followed proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA to issue the detention order against Raja Petra. There was also no relevance for the minister to issue the order on the basis of mala fide. "I agree the formulation of the ISA was to protect the security of the nation and is constitutional. However, the court can review the detention order if it finds instances where the minister could have acted beyond his jurisdiction to issue the two-year detention order," he said.
In other words, it was implied that there was an abuse of power by the minister. (Read the Malaysiakini report, here)
Pak Habib, please resign now that you have made a complete ass of yourself.
Americans yesterday elected Barack Hussein Obama II, a young African-American, as their first black president of the United States. The incumbent junior Democrat Senator from Illinois is expected to take office as the 44th President on January 20, 2009.
Congratulations to the American people who clearly voted for change.
Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reports, here, that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said the decisive victory signals a new chapter in the history of America. "The support that president-elect Obama draws from across racial, religious and generational lines parallels the sentiments felt by many Malaysians from all walks of life, who earlier this year cast votes in vehement opposition to the failed policies of an incumbent regime," he said in a statement.
At the end of his victory speech, Obama had said, "Yes We Can".
When a blogger cum lawyer friend SMS'd me the other day from the Shah Alam High Court that Abdul Razak Baginda has been freed from charges of abetment in the Altantuya murder case, I couldn't resist asking her: "Is this good news or bad news?". She must have been absolutely flabbergasted when she shot back: "Haven't the faintest idea!"
Whatever it is, questions remain. The acquittal will not help the rakyat trust the judiciary as the decision reflected the outcome in a string of SMS messages from the PM-in-waiting and his lawyer bum chum, which the former had insisted were private and did not constitute an abuse of power. "Be cool," he had said.
So Razak is now free. But is our judiciary free too?
Has justice been finally done and should the people just accept the verdict?
The two para-military cops facing charges of blowing up the Mongolian beauty with C4 explosives didnt know her from Eve and the motive is seriously lacking here. So who authorised her "neutralisation" and why?
It'll be an insult to our intelligence to suggest that they did it for fun.
Whatever happened to and where is private investigator Balasubramaniam who had suggested Najib himself had an affair with Altantuya, only to retract it the very next day and then disappear into thin air?
Questions, questions. Perhaps to put an end to all these, everyone involved should just do a sumpah laknat in a mosque and be done with it.
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