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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What is Harapan’s Islamic agenda?

“Man and fascism cannot co-exist. If fascism conquers, man will cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed with reason and kindness, should conquer, then fascism must perish, and those who have submitted to it will once again become people.”
― Vasily Grossman, ‘Life and Fate’
What does the Malay ruling establishment and the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) think about Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin’s comment that the loser of the debate between Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy and Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik, “dihantar pulang ke India seperti yang menjadi hasrat mereka”?
Well, I know for a fact that Zakir Naik does not want to be sent home to India and Ramasamy is a citizen of this country, so what is the establishment stand on the racist remarks of the Perlis mufti towards a Malaysian citizen? Does this challenge our value system?
Also, who judges this stupid debate? How would we know who “won” the debate? And why even talk about the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)?
Wouldn’t it be easier for Asri to point to comments made by Ramasamy about his religion (Islam) which could be deemed “extremist”? Would it be easier to point to Ramasamy's long career and public record of his comments to demonstrate that he is a hate monger? I mean that is what people are accusing Zakir Naik of, right?
But that’s not all of it. Where is the outrage in the Malay/Muslim establishment on the death threats and worse, threats legitimising the murder of a Malaysian politician? If this happened before the election, the opposition would have been up in arms. Indeed, we would have the “true Muslim” members of Pakatan Harapan coming to the aid of their comrade and talking about how unIslamic these types of threats were.
These days, it would seem when it comes to these types of provocations, the ruling establishment is silent. Since Harapan took over, we have had provocateurs at Kampung Manjoi, a prime minister hopeful telling us not to spook the Malays, a mufti telling a deputy chief minister of a state to leave the country if he loses a rigged debate and of course, a Malay politician threatened with death because of the fake news that she wants to destroy an Islamic institution.
We are supposed to believe that this is a normal situation? We are supposed to not draw attention to this because the hard work of saving Malaysia means we have to put up with this horse manure?  
You know what I really cannot understand about this whole Zakir Naik tension?
Okay, you put forward a legal argument as to why he cannot be extradited. It is a poor argument and easily rebutted, but you put it out there for whatever reason. But what people are forgetting that the words of Zakir Naik and his interpretation of Islam are anathema to the supposed ideals of Harapan. You could make the legal argument that he has a right to be here, but what you cannot make is that his ideas are accepted by the religious establishment in this country. Or does it?
The fact that the Harapan religious establishment and by this, I mean the religious bureaucracy has not condemned his ideas, says a lot about the religious imperatives of this new administration. The fact that the religious bureaucracy did not come out and condemn the death threats against the Sri Delima assemblyperson should tell you something about how Islam is propagated in this country.
Where is the minister in charge of Islamic affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department when it comes to these issues? That is right. He is too busy telling the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to hide in the closet and not challenge our value system.
If this is our value system, where Zakir Naik roams about without challenge, death threats in the name of Islam are made against a politician goes unchallenged by the religious establishment and we are constantly reminded not to spook the Malays, they should be challenged. I did it with the Umno regime, I will definitely do it for a coalition I urged people to vote for.
Real targets
I have often been accused of being anti-Islam and anti-Malay. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, I have publicly disagreed with the “true Muslim” meme propagated by the then opposition. I have written that there should be a plurality of Islamic voices in this country, even going so far as to state that any kind of perceived Islamic views should not be silenced but rather open to rebuttal in the public discourse.
What I have always maintained is that the state interpretation of Islam should be inclusive but reject any and all extremist statements or actions that threaten the stability of the state and the security of the citizens of Malaysia. I am on record of advocating that the beliefs of people should not be the concern of the state – however they choose to define it – and the state should not sanction behaviour deemed unIslamic.
Always remember the real targets of these types of extremist provocation – “Do not make the mistake of thinking that the main targets of these religious extremists were the non-Malay community. No, the real targets of those extremists are the Malay-Muslim community. What they are attempting to do is control the narrative of Islam in this country. They are aided and abetted by the political apparatus as demonstrated by the soft warning of the Perak MB and the silence of the federal government, including the normally boisterous non-Muslim politicians.”
Jakim director-general Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim claimed that his department’s new approach – tolerance – was brought upon by a conversation he had with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. But what does this really mean? It seems to me - and maybe it does to you - that all Jakim does is harass people who have “slipped” from the path.
Have they ever attacked religious extremism which is a more of threat to this country? Have they sanctioned hate speech? Have they warned Muslims that there are external forces out there which are attempting to subvert the democratic institutions of this country or enemies who would destroy democracy from within? Instead, what they have done is target Shia adherents, labelled dissenting Muslims as “liberal”, selectively enforced their edicts, estranged the Malay community from the non-Malay community, but most importantly, decried excessive laughter.
If you think that these are unimportant in the larger scheme of things, then you are sorely mistaken. Islam and race are not mutually exclusive in this country. What happens to Muslims eventually has a direct effect on non-Muslims. Why hasn’t this administration made firm commitments to resolve the issue of unilateral conversions? Why have they not condemned hate speech against non-Muslims?
The reality of "do not spook the Malays" is because Harapan does not have a firm Malay base. Statistics emerging from the last general election reflects this. The solution is not to retreat to the old ways of doing things but ensure that the Malay base you have grows. While some Malays did not vote to change the Islamic system, reforming the Islamic system - making it more about welfare and not about religious enforcement - is the way how you change mindsets.
When the Malay community understands that these religious bodies are there to ensure there is welfare in terms of access to education and healthcare and not to enforce morality, then they will slowly understand that there is more to religion than just dogma.
For the Umno regime, it was taken for granted that this is the tactics they engage in. However, in the new Harapan order, non-Muslims have silenced themselves when it comes to holding their representatives accountable. Encouraging a plurality of Islamic voices in this country and the state bureaucracy rejecting Islamic extremism will create a greater democracy for this country.
If we do not speak with one voice with this, we will always be at the mercy of those who wish to subvert our democracy in favour of religious fascism.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. -Mkini

Cabbies, take a look in the mirror before protesting

YOURSAY | ‘Grab is restoring trust in public transport, which has been damaged by taxi drivers.’
Lkkeong2: I really don't understand why the taxi drivers are protesting. Your service is horrible!
We have been cheated by you for so many years - drivers who purposely inflate the fare, who don't use the meter, refuse to take customers if their destination is not to their liking, and so on.
And not to forget, many of the taxis are old vehicles that are not safe to be in.
So, if you can't change and improve to meet the needs of the market, you are to be blamed. Don't go protesting just because there is another better competitor/choice in the market.
VijayR: Yes, this is utter nonsense from the taxi drivers. I've been using taxis for a long time before the emergence of e-hailing services. The fact is, our local taxis/taxi drivers are:
1. Expensive and do not use the meter
2. Old and filthy (so uncomfortable)
3. Rude (because there were no competitors)
4. Drive haphazardly
5) Have useless air conditioning, etc
Are these enough or need I continue? Well, it will be embarrassing for our taxi drivers if I do.
I had always hoped they would be replaced by other means of public transport, and it was a sign of relief when e-hailing came in. I plead to the Transport Department not to give in to their unrealistic demands.
Freethinker: Ride-hailing company Grab has been here for years. Why protest now, and not during the BN era?
Grab offers better service and fair prices. If you can't survive driving a taxi, switch to driving Grab.
The Pragmatist: Grab is restoring trust in public transport, which has been damaged by taxi drivers. Think of Tourism Malaysia - we don't want taxi drivers chauffeuring our tourists.
They are not held accountable for their actions, and it is time the Transport Ministry gets tough with them.
Use Singapore as a model for a trusted taxi system that can co-exist with Grab.
Anonymous #20999887: How is Grab (or Uber, Mycar) illegal? It's a free enterprise and drivers and passengers choose to be part of the platform.
Is there a law against the public willing and wanting to pay for this service (whether or not they are being insured, etc, etc)? It's the same thing as online stores such as Airbnb, or eBay, Mudah.
The taxi drivers need to wake up and do something about their business model and service offerings. Or else they will end up like music recording or video rental companies - irrelevant and obsolete.
Ultimately, we could in future have self-drive Grab cars, and then even Grab drivers would be disrupted.
Anonymous_1527658987: I don't really have much sympathy for taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. They are rude and they cheat.
In Penang, they refuse to use the meter flat out. They prefer to fleece one tourist for RM50 than serve five regular passengers.
So, I hope that some accommodation might be made for Grab. I like its transparency and accountability for its rates (you pay for what you get).
That said, I don't think the police needed to have had the kind of presence it had at this demonstration by taxi drivers. Tear gas guns on standby, really? The police, like our taxi drivers, need a new standard operating procedure.
Anonymous 1802761448130592: As a consumer, I must say I had suffered enough under the underhand dirty tactics of taxi drivers - refusing to pick up on certain routes during peak hours, refusing to use meters, overcharging, being rude and abusive, and using dirty and rickety vehicles.
Should the taxi drivers now have the moral standing to call e-hailing illegal?
I used to have fear and trepidation each time I needed to hail a taxi then. Now with e-hailing, I feel much more confident and comfortable calling and riding in one.
However if, as claimed by the taxi drivers, e-hailing services are not legal or regulated, or the drivers are being taken advantage of by the e-hailing outfits, then the Transport Ministry should look into these seriously.
But please, do not ban e-hailing and throw us back onto the streets again to be abused by the taxi drivers.
Clever Voter: Indeed, before Uber arrived, then Grab, the majority of commuters are subject to awful and rude services from these taxi drivers.
Despite having the so-called deluxe version but more expensive blue 'limo', the commuters were made to pay whatever fares they insisted. These lazy rent-seekers have no idea what customers want, and they are reluctant to embrace new technology.
Protesting for better fares is one thing, but the insistence on monopoly is a no-no.
Jack Lim: Dear transport minister, with due respect I disagree with your formulation of getting the e-hailing service to be on par with taxi operators.
This is the digital world. If the e-hailing service has to go through the rules and regulation set decades ago, then we are akin to be moving backwards.
Furthermore, if e-hailing has to go through the formal process; what about those online sales sites and services which I don’t think any regulatory body can control?
Instead of protesting, the taxi drivers should look at their service, their attitude, even the cleanliness of their vehicles. Face the real world - if you need to take down your taxi badge, so be it.
Solution: Stop issuing any new taxi licences, cancel those that can be cancelled, train the drivers to be on e-hailing platform, and disallow younger drivers from continuing to drive taxis if they refuse to learn the new way.
In short, the industry has to die a natural death. - Mkini

10% service charge is not govt tax

Collectible: A restaurant in Gurney Plaza, George Town, displaying the service charge.
Collectible: A restaurant in Gurney Plaza, George Town, displaying the service charge.
The 10% service charge imposed by hotels and restaurants will stay when the Sales and Service Tax (SST) returns to replace the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on Sept 1.
The Malaysian Association of Hotels president Cheah Swee Hee said the service charge is not to be confused with SST, which has a 10% tax on sale of goods and 6% tax on provision of services (the same rate as pre-GST times).
“The SST is a government tax while the service charge is distributed among the service crew of the hotel,” he said.
Cheah said the service charge is collected by hotels with unionised employees.
About 30% of hotels nationwide include the service charge in their bills – a common practice in Malaysia for years, he explained.
“The rest of the hotels implement clean wage system to meet the minimum wage requirement,” he said.
Adding that he did not foresee SST affecting their business, Cheah said the hotels just need to re-programme their payment systems to implement SST.
The Customs Department website states that the service charge is a charge over and above the cost of goods or services imposed by businesses in a bill.
This is normally applied in the hospitality industry and the normal rate is 10%, in place of a tip system. The sum is pooled into a fund to be paid to workers in an establishment.
Industry players say it is standard practice to retain a certain percentage of the service charge collected to cover breakages and staff events, while the majority goes back to the staff.
After GST was rolled out in April 2015, the then Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry said restaurants and hotels were only allowed to impose service charge if they had an employer-employee collective agreement in place, and a notice on the charge must be put up.
An owner of a popular chain of restaurants in the Klang Valley said the service charge is not related to the services tax component of the SST.
“This means we can still impose the service charge after the SST is introduced,” he said.
Under the previous SST regime, the Government only imposed a 6% service tax on businesses which made more than RM450,000 per year.
“We are waiting for more details in order to figure out how prices will be affected by the reintroduction of SST,” he said.
Several restaurants in Penang said service charge is here to stay as the collection is for the benefit of the workers.
The manager of Foong Wei Heong Restaurant, who wanted to be known only as Ooi, said a 5% service charge is imposed for the provision of services, including cooking and serving.
“The service charge is also a form of motivation for the employees who do not earn much,” he said at the restaurant in Jalan Sri Bahari yesterday.
Ooi is worried that when SST is re-introduced, many might take the opportunity to increase prices again, and he hoped the Government will take the necessary precaution to prevent that.
“GST is actually a good system if done the right way as the traders can claim for a refund when buying raw materials and other inputs for their business,” he said.
Jade Palace Seafood Restaurant managing director Edmund Leong said the eatery will also retain its service charge of 5%.
He also did not think the return of SST would have much impact on the industry. -Star

Just like his father Musa, Yamani has gone missing

Yamani Hafez Musa.
Yamani Hafez Musa.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno Youth is in the dark about the whereabouts of its chief Yamani Hafez Musa (pic).
The Sipitang MP was last seen a day after GE14 before the swearing- in of his father Tan Sri Musa Aman as chief minister on May 10.
Musa was initially sworn in as chief minister by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri on May 10, but lost his majority in less than 48 hours. Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal was sworn in on May 12.
Questions about Yama-ni’s whereabouts were raised when he did not turn up for the swearing-in ceremony at Parliament on Monday.
Sabah Umno Youth secretary Bahrin Abdul Karim confirmed they did not know where Yamani was.
“The last I saw him was before the swearing-in ceremony on May 10. We had breakfast together,” he said when contacted.
He said Yamani had also not turned up during the party polls, and did not defend his posts as Sipitang division chief or for Sabah Umno Youth chief.
Bahrin said other members last heard from Yamani sometime around June 24, a week before their party polls.
He said Yamani could be with his father in London at the moment.
“But we are not sure, we are also getting this (information) from news reports,” he said.
The state Umno Youth post is expected to be announced soon by the national Youth chief.
Meanwhile, legal sources said Musa has until Sept 11 to turn up at the Sabah legislative assembly or face the possibility of losing his Sungai Sibuga state seat.
They said Musa, who remains at large and is wanted by police for a criminal intimidation probe, has to take his seat within three months from the first sitting of the assembly on June 11.
Musa, who has not been seen since leaving Malaysia on May 17, is being sought by police over allegations of criminal intimidation against the Governor during the May 10 swearing-in ceremony and also by graft investigators over allegations of buying over assemblymen. -Star


Former Langkawi Wanita Umno member Anina Saadudin has blamed Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for an alleged theft at the storeroom in Seri Perdana, which contained items belonging to his predecessor Najib Abdul Razak.
She also published a photograph of the storeroom, which appeared to have been ransacked, on her Facebook account.
However, Putrajaya district police chief Rosly Hassan said that no reports have been lodged on the matter so far.
“Where did she get the news from? So far, police have not received any report,” he told Malaysiakini.
In her posting, she said the incident occurred because Mahathir had prevented Najib from taking his personal belongings.
“See for yourself what has happened, Tun (Mahathir). Because you did not allow Najib to take his personal things, thieves have entered and taken the things.
“Why are you so cruel? Those are personal things. Is this how you treat a former prime minister? Is this the example you wish to set for the younger generation who voted for you?” she asked.
In what appeared to be a reference to federal commercial crimes director Amar Singh, who is investigating the 1MDB scandal, she said: “Tun, please ask the ‘inspector sahab’ to investigate this.”
The Hindi word ‘sahib‘ or ‘sahab‘ is used to describe a person in authority.
Meanwhile, a source close to Najib confirmed that the storeroom was indeed broken into, and that the photograph on Anina’s Facebook page is genuine.
As for the Can-Am three-wheeled motorcycle in the photograph, the source said: “I believe it was a gift to the former prime minister from the distributor or manufacturer.”
The sprawling mansion in Putrajaya, which serves as the official residence of the prime minister, is currently vacant since Mahathir remains in his private residence.
– M’kini


The start of the first Dewan rakyat sitting of the 14th parliament also marks the start of the continued aggressive fights between the rival political camps in the country.
This is because the parliament is an eye-catching platform for politicians to show off themselves.
The first issue raised by the opposition was that the appointment of former Appeal Court judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as Dewan Rakyat Speaker did not follow the point of order and was a breach of house rules.
Consequently, BN and PAS representatives staged a walkout after their objection was ignored.
The opposition’s objection was not completely unfounded, as Pakatan Harapan reportedly finalized the candidate only on July 9.
PH had not been able to come up with a suitable candidate early because of the internal conflicts within the coalition.
DAP had recommended Lim Kit Siang as the new Dewan Rakyat Speaker but PH preferred PKR’s MP for Sungai Petani Johari Abdul, who is also Gurun state assemblyman. If Johari were to become Dewan rakyat Speaker, he would have to quit the state assembly seat and this might affect the stability of the Kedah state administration. In the end, former Amanah disciplinary chief Mohamad Ariff got to become the new Speaker.
Ariff is not a Member of Parliament, and his appointment as Dewan Rakyat Speaker has reneged on Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto.
Despite Mahathir trying to tame down the issue, it cannot be denied that this has already impacted the credibility of PH, and the opposition will not give up any opportunity to attack the ruling coalition.
We can see that indeed internal conflicts have begun to surface within the coalition.
Winning the most number of seats in the Parliament, PKR naturally feels that it is a notch above its PH allies, and PPBM will seize every opportunity to expand its influences, including absorbing former Umno members and making aggressive inroads into Sarawak.
PPBM is also giving Amanah a lift, not only to counteract the influences of PAS but also to serve as a checking force within PH.
The existing factional conflicts within PKR will get intensified following PH’s success in winning the election. De facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s decision to run for party presidency should somewhat cap the factional problems, but past experiences show that Anwar is not an expert in handling administrative and personnel issues.
Will Wan Azizah take part in the party elections? And will Azmin Ali’s position be challenged?
The fact that all party members have the right to vote will add to the unpredictability of PKR elections.
Anwar’s election as PKR president should go well with his position as the PM-in-waiting as well as the highly intricate decision-making environment within PH.
PH’s power distribution involves a whole lot of negotiation skills, and Anwar makes a much better coordinator than his wife in this respect.
PH’s internal struggle is poised to hurt its credibility, but fortunately the opposition is suffering from even bigger problems, especially Umno.
After Ahmad Zahid’s election as the party president, we can see a whole mess in he reshuffling his leadership structure, without a clear direction. For example, the incumbent Johor chairman Khaled Nordin now helms Perlis, while another two VPs, Bera MP Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Padang Terap MP Mahdzir Khalid become chairmen of Selangor and Terengganu respectively. How are these people going to manage problems outside their home states? As Khaled was a supporter of Tengku Razaleigh during the party elections, his transfer from the southernmost state to the northernmost state is widely seen as an act of political retaliation.
As for the appointment of supreme council members, former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia is appointed after a similar offer to former AG Mohamed Apandi Ali was declined. Both men were highly controversial figures in their handling of the the 1MDB issue and Ahmad Zahid’s decision to appoint them shows he does not believe this scandal would bring down Umno one day.
Najib’s influences within the party leadership are set to trigger an internal split. For instance, Kedah Umno Youth is against the appointment of Apandi as supreme council member. Meanwhile, when Umno reps staged a walkout in the Parliament, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin and Kimanis MP Anifah Aman decided to remain seated inside the hall.
Umno leadership’s failure to take the drain of party members seriously is bound to erode the party’s strength further.
The Sungai Kandis by-election in Selangor will expose the cruel reality that Umno has fallen out of the favor of majority of voters. It doesn’t matter whether it will be a heads-on clash or a three-cornered fight, PKR is expected to win big anyway.
Umno continues to play with racial issues even after the May 9 general elections, especially on the UEC issue. This will push Barisan Nasional a step closer to the edge of the cliff.
On the contrary, PM Mahathir is a man of strategy. He visited Sarawak before the first parliamentary sitting to garner the support of GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) to make sure Umno and PAS will not mess things up in the state.
Confrontation is inevitable in politics. It is hoped that the vicious political fights in the run-up to GE14 will not be repeated at the expense of the government’s reform agenda.
– Mysinchew


No one island hops quite like the fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho.
Low, 37 – widely known as Jho Low – is accused of corruption, bribery and money-laundering by law enforcement agencies in several countries in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal.
Reports last week said that Low was believed to be heading for islands in the Caribbean – specifically Saint Kitts and Nevis, where he reportedly holds citizenship.
Located between Barbados and Puerto Rico, the country relies heavily on tourism for its economy, which is no surprise considering its breathtaking scenery, stellar beaches and sunny climate.
It is an ideal getaway destination and these Instagram photos are proof of that.
1. The Pink Salt Pond, which gets its colour from krill shrimps
2. A never-seen-that colour blue
From Beyoncé to Gigi Hadid, hot celebs find the coolest places to chill
3. Where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet
4. Beach, please!
4 exclusive summer camps that your children will love
5. There are a handful of luxury resorts from which to choose
6. Bonus points: the night sky
From coconut water to crystal facials: how to stay hydrated and blemish-free this summer
7. Discover a different side to the island via the St Kitts Scenic Railway
8. Destination wedding, anyone?
Why Porsche’s 911 Turbo S Cabriolet is summer’s perfect car
9. Britain’s Prince Harry was there – to commemorate the St Kitts’ forest joining Queen Elizabeth’s Commonwealth Canopy – an initiative for all 53 Commonwealth nations to contribute areas of indigenous forest to be preserved in perpetuity.
10. Here’s an Instagram-worthy spot
11. This could be you
Restaurants in Hong Kong unveil sizzling summer eating options
12. If you are up for it, so is Mount Liamuiga, a 3,790-foot high stratovolcano
13. Or just take a stroll around the island port
OK, we are sold on it. Are you?
– https://www.scmp.com