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Here are two different but fascinating stories. It takes place in different countries and different times, but they both tell the story about how you can fool (and intimidate) all the people some of the time but not all the people all the time.
The first is set in the US in the 1950s, when the country was gripped by Cold War Tensions. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy exploited the fears and uncertainties and claimed that he had a list of Communists and Soviet sympathizers in the US Government and society.
Thereafter, using Senate Hearings as his bully pulpit he proceeded to launch a witch hunt against the putative Communists. Many innocent lives were affected. Careers were destroyed and some of his victims took their own lives.
For a moment he seemed unassailable. If you spoke out against then that meant you were a Communist or a sympathizer. There were some dissenting voices but by and large most people were afraid to provoke the ire of McCarthy because of his thuggish and intimidating tactics.
Then one fine day, the mirror cracked. McCarthy was trying to implicate a young man who belonged to the law firm of US Army legal counsel Joseph Welch in senate hearing that was broadcast live on TV. Welch stood up to McCarthy in his now famous “You Have no Decency” response (see YouTube video below) and it was over. From there McCarthy was exposed for the charlatan he was and stripped bare. People realized that the King had no clothes and McCarty went on a downward spiral. The Senate censured him and he died 10 years later, supposedly of a heart attack but widely suspected of dying from alcoholism.
The second story is set in present day Indonesia, which is in the grip of indecision and political intrigue between the various political parties and government institutions . Habib Riziq exploited this situation to build his base of support in Jakarta through the FPI and is now trying to extend his influence in the rest of this country.
His tactics, like, Mccarthy’s are similar. Thuggism that intimidates dissenting voices. The FPI has been threatening people and even the police with impunity. Even though there are dissenting voices, people are generally afraid of confronting him or the FPI. They not only destroy lives but also property.
Now comes the fine day yesterday in which hundreds of people from the Dayak community in Kalimantan stood up to Habib and the FPI by banning him from landing in Palankaraya airport and rejecting the FPI’s presence in their backyard. Is this Indonesia’s “You have no decency” moment?
“Ini momentum bagi masyarakat lain, bisa jadi contoh untuk jangan diam saja kalau melihat ada benih-benih intoleransi,” kata Bonar.
Keberanian masyarakat adat suku Dayak untuk menolak keberadaan Front Pembela Islam FPI di Provinsi Kalimantan Tengah harus dihargai dan menjadi contoh bagi masyarakat lain untuk berani menentang benih-benih intoleransi antar umat beragama.
“Keberanian masyarakat Dayak untuk menolak FPI secara terbuka itu harus kita hargai, dan seharusnya menjadi inspirasi bagi yang lain untuk berani bicara dan bertindak melawan intoleransi,” kata Wakil Ketua Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, hari ini.
Ratusan masyarakat adat Dayak di Palangkaraya menolak kedatangan anggota FPI ke kota tersebut dalam rangka tablig akbar, karena khawatir keberadaan mereka akan mengganggu keharmonisan antar umat beragama di Provinsi Kalteng.Menurut Bonar, penolakan tersebut sangat wajar dan bisa dimengerti mengingat catatan aksi FPI.”FPI kan sudah ada di Kalimantan Timur, mereka sudah melakukan sweeping beberapa kali dan bahkan menganggu komunitas Ahmadiyah di Samarinda. Wajar kalau para pemuda Dayak khawatir kalau kejadian yang sama akan terulang di provinsi mereka,” kata Bonar.
Menurutnya, ada lebih banyak lagi pengikut Ahmadiyah di provinsi Kalimantan Tengah, bahkan jumlahnya adalah yang terbesar di provinsi Kalimantan.Lebih jauh Bonar menambahkan bahwa penolakan masyarakat adat Dayak terhadap keberadaan FPI tetap membutuhkan alasan yang sangat kuat agar tidak menentang hak umum untuk berserikat dan mendirikan organisasi.
Bonar juga mengatakan sebaiknya dijalin dialog antara kedua pihak dan FPI harus berjanji bahwa mereka tidak akan melakukan tindakan kekerasan dan melanggar hukum.”Jika mereka tidak mau menurut syarat tersebut, barulah bisa ditolak keberadaannya,” kata Bonar.Bonar menambahkan radikalisme adalah hal yang tidak mungkin bisa dihindarkan, namun selagi para penganut kepercayaan radikal tersebut tidak melakukan tindak kekerasan atau menyebarkan pesan kebencian maka keberadaannya masih bisa ditoleransi.
“Ini momentum bagi masyarakat lain, bisa jadi contoh untuk jangan diam saja kalau melihat ada benih-benih intoleransi,” kata Bonar.
In Unspun’s last posting we featured the silliness of TV8 in Malaysia and its Ramadhan message. While the flak is still flying in Malaysia, Indonesia’s TVOne (what is it with TV stations and numerals?) seems to have come up with silliness of their own.
TV stations traditionally air a videoclip to accompany the adz an prayers. Typical messages are, of course, exhorting people to be religious, to be tolerant, to have compassion. This year, however, TVOne has a different message:
It starts with a tailor being treated badly. This inspires him to get even by doing well for himself. So he goes to the bank to get a loan, start a business. As he prospers he buys a car.
Here’s where product placement gets ridiculous. The camera has the requisite handshake-to-denote-closed-deal shot and as it pans out, very prominently we see the Daihatsu marqe and the make of the model of the car – Sirjohn (what sort of an idiot will name a car Sirjohn anyway?)
As the car leaves the showroom, breaking all the rules of the Highway Code because it does not have a legit number plate but the ridiculous SIRJOHN, the camera carefully pans across a – you guessed it – DAIHATSU showroom and the fact that it is part of ASTRA International.
What were the marketing people at Astra Daihatsu and their advertising company thinking? Unspun supposes the question is moot because if they were thinking at all they would have realized that something like that smacks of a brand exploiting religion to sell its products, would backfire.
Already, Twitter is all abuzz with this insensitivity on the part of Astra and Daihatsu. Let’s see how they will drive their way out of all this.
It is easy to blame the violence in Banten and Temenggung on the usual suspects – poor laws, poor law enforcement, a decline in religious tolerance or dark political forces at play.
They would all be correct but fails to hit the mark as to why this violence is played out again and again in Indonesia.
The real reason for this never-ending cycle of violence, Unspun humbly posits, is a simple lack of accountability. This is the reason why even though several people have been killed in the recent round of violence, so little is being done to bring the culprits to book.
Nobody, from the President down, seems to have any direct accountability for the incompetence of the police and the fact that you have thugs roaming around every draped with a cloak of impunity merely because the name o Islam is invoked.
Hence we see the President and the police head as well as dozens of apparatchiks under them opining on the causes and usual suspects lined up whenever violence is discussed.
The media play along and nobody asks the vital questions: who shall be held accountable for the failure of the state security apparatus? Shouldn’t the chief of police and other top brass resign because this violence happened on their watch?
And what about the Justice minister? Shouldn’t he be held accountable for this failure too?
Sadly, none of them are held accountable so the message that gets through is that like madrigal times once you ascend to the ranks of the nobility you are immune from enemy attacks.
Unseen jinks that if SBY were to have the guts he should just sack the police chief and the justice minister. If he can do that then the message of accountability will percolTe down the ranks.
But politicking rules the day in indonesia – the best lack all conviction while the worst is full of righteous piety. So let’s all slouch into our living room sofas and continue to watch the inane talk shows where people who should be losing their jobs opine on poor laws. Poor law enforcement, declining religious tolerance….
There was once a time when Malaysians would make a virtue of how tolerant they were of each other’s religion and culture. The Open House, where you would invite your neighbors and friends from other races and religions to your house on the festive days you celebrate. The Government would also make a virtue of it, with Ministers holding Open House.
It didn’t matter whether the festive days were religious. The point was to celebrate together with fellow Malaysians your festive days and to celebrate with them their festive days. All sounds very 1Malaysia but while the APCO-inspired key messages of integration and tolerance are being pumped out by the Najib administration by the terrabyte-ful, the Government is also shooting itself in the foot.
Below is apparently the latest directive from the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development titled Guidelines for Muslims Celebrating Religious Festivals of Non-Muslims.
Unspun thought it was a joke until he checked out the content’s veracity at the Department’s official website. Imagine the line of reasoning is that if you are a Muslim and attend someone’s Christmas party and their house has a cross, blinking lights, candles or a Christmas tree you would have tarnished the Islamic faith? Or you go to a Hindu friend’s house for Deepavali and he has some ask smeared on his forehead as is the customary thing, and that tarnishes Islam? How can the mind work in such fallacious ways?
The only thing that gets tarnished if anyone follows these guidelines or take them seriously is their own intelligence.
Does this earn the Department a shit-for-brains tag or a shit-for-brains tag?
Provocative? Inflammatory? Or a gem of unconventional and inconvenient truths? You decide from this article in Malaysia Today that raises questions about who is a Malay, whether the Chinese brought Islam to Indonesia and whether the Javanese hate the Chinese.
The next time you meet someone who claims to be a “Melayu”, ask him, or her if he/she is a “Melayu Deli” or “Melayu Riau”. That’s the first question the individual needs to answer. A Javanese is definitely NOT a Melayu. He is a Javanese. The same applies to a Batak, Achehnese, Bugis, Sundanese, Sumba, Florence, Balinese, and so on. BTW, the Bataks are further subdivided into Karonese, Toba, PakPak, and so on. And NONE see eye to eye, and have much heated debates on which group is more “Pure”. I guess that they forgot that the concept of Thoroughbreds is directly propagating the concept of in-breeding. Somewhere, somehow, people just forgot this.
The Cantonese phrase Tak Han Mo Yeh Cho comes to mind when Unspun read the story below.
Roughly translated the phrase (literally, too much time, nothing to do) refers someone who engages in frivolous things because they have nothing better to do. It is totally apt for Malaysian officials and Ministers over the ridiculous issue of caning.It is apt because Malaysia has in recent years been failing its citizens in the issue of law and order.
Robberies, burglaries and mugging is all too common in Malaysia these days, even in the better neighborhoods. The situation there is so bad that some of Unspun‘s friends have emigrated to Singapore, which they think is a boring place but at least it is safe enough for their children to go out and have fun, and catch public transport to school without them being worried sick.
The situation is so bad that when Unspun went back to KL for the Chinese new year, he was treated to a litany of stories about robberies and muggings of neighbors, friends and friends of friends.
So you’d think that the priority in Malaysia, if they had their heads screwed on the right way, was to restore law and order and then, once they have this under control and if they had a lot of free time to spare, get around to curbing the libido of Muslims
But no, what the Malaysian government does instead is not only to perform the first caning of Muslim women who’ve had extramarital sex but to choose to make a to public statement about it. Why?
And the forced rcanting of the women through the mass media, where they said that th caning did them good, wasn’t that out of a chapter of Arthur Miller’s Crucible? Bolehland turns police state?
And now the Malaysian government goes to the trouble of conducting surveys to gauge the support of the public oncaning naughty Muslim women, as well as thinking of organizing a conference on caning? Don’t these people have anything worthwhile to do?
And why the injustice of it all of not caning the men too? It is as if, in their view, all the sins of Muslims are caused by women. It is these lewd women who enticed the innocent men to have sex, to go astray. The men by themselves are originally pristine. That’s so much bullshit.
The only way to interpret this is that the Malaysian government is so morally and politically bankrupt that tak han moh yeh cho has even become a viable strategy, to them at least, to shore up their polularity or votes. So sad. (earns a shit-for-brains tag)
Nothing like a bit of S&M to stop extramarital sex
Most Support Caning of Women, Says Malaysian Official
Most Malaysians accept the caning of women under the country’s Shariah courts, Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz said on Wednesday.
“Jakim held a seminar to discuss caning long before it became an issue among Malaysians. The outcome was encouraging because the participants understood the whys and hows of it,” he said as quoted by newspaper Web site thestar.com.
“We are aware that some parties are still unable to accept the punishment but given time and more explanation, I believe they will come around.”
He added that Jakim was “willing to explain the issue all over again, to whoever needs an explanation.”
Malaysia’s Women’s Minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, said on Tuesday that she hoped to organize a conference with representatives of other Muslim-majority countries to discuss the punishment.
She told the Malaysia Insider website she respected the caning sentence recently doled out to three women, but she believed physical punishment was not the only option.
“Wrong is wrong, but there are many ways to handle the issue, including rehabilitation and counselling,” Shahrizat said.
The women were caned for having sex outside marriage. They have since publicly defended the punishment, saying it gave them a chance to repent.
Authorities used a light rattan stick to hit the women on their backs while they were fully clothed. The caning of men in Malaysia, by contrast, is done on bare skin and can cause bleeding and scarring.
Unspun was trying to unspin what the Minister for Religion had to say about unregistered marriages, polygamy and the law and ended up in a knot instead.
A minister that considers something illegal legal from the religious standpoint, legal registration of marriages not being encouraged…what is going on with this guy?
Can someone please help to explain what the man is trying to say?
Religion Minister Defends Unregistered Marriage and Polygamy
There is nothing wrong with unregistered marriage and polygamy, Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali said on Friday.
He said that in his personal opinion unregistered marriage and polygamy were legal from a religious standpoint.
“I personally think that unregistered marriage is legal before the religion and if anyone wishes to do polygamy then go ahead,” Suryadharma said, as quoted by Metro TV.
He said that unregistered marriage was like buying a car. The manufacturer made it in order to solve a transportation problem as well as for the passenger’s comfort. If the car is later used for drug smuggling or other bad uses, it was not the carmaker’s responsibility, he said, and they should not take the blame.
“Unregistered marriage is legal before the law because all the requirements are fulfilled,” he added.
However, public stigma meant that unregistered marriage often equaled secret marriage, he said. Suryadharma condemned such stigma as being “very wrong” because even though the union was not registered, the couple was wed by a member of the clergy and the event was witnessed by their families.
“So, it’s not a secret marriage. If it is abused, it’s the individual mistake,” he said. “And what about polygamy? Go ahead, it’s a choice.”
This story has been making headlines in Malaysia. But so far nobody seems to have answered the question of many discerning readers of this episode: How come no men are caned together with the women?
Why is it that only the women were punished for having extramarital sex? What about the men who fucked them? Don’t they have an responsibility in all this? Malaysia Boleh! Once again.
Malaysian Women Caned for Sex Say Punishment Was ‘Good’ for Them
Three Malaysians who became the first women to be caned under the country’s Islamic laws said they “deserved” their punishment and that it would help stem sex outside marriage.
The three women were caned for having sex out of wedlock in a move that has angered human rights activists and some lawyers who say the punishments are illegal in this mainly Muslim country that runs parallel civil and Islamic justice systems.
“I deeply regret my actions as I should have married before having sex,” the New Straits Times newspaper quoted one of the women who it said was aged 17, as saying in its Friday edition.
The newspaper did not reveal the womens’ real names and a picture showed the three clad in traditional Malaysian dress and headscarves seated before reporters.
The Malaysian Government is totally right, of course, in its explanation that Malays in Malaysia are different from Muslims in other countries such as Indonesia. Its insistence that this difference is justification why the word Allah cannot be used by those of other religions as in Indonesia and in Arab nations are, however, spurious.
Marina Mahathir has written in her blog about how Arab nations make no fuss about Christians using the word Allah. Unspun has little knowledge about the Middle East but having grown up in Malaysia and spent 14 years in Indonesia feels somewhat qualified to examine the government’s claim that Malays in Malaysia are different from those in Indonesia. Let me count just three ways (Unspun is aware that the three points are generalizations and contain their quota of untruths but generalizations sometimes capture some truth too that may spur informed conversations, hopefully, and it is in this spirit that this post is written):
1. Malaysian Malays get all confused between race, ethnicity and religion, Indonesians don’t
In Malaysia Malays are all Muslims. If they are not Muslims then the Malaysian Constitution itself rules them out of being a Malay. They also think that Malay is a race and the more idiotic fringes think of it as a super race. Hence the term Ketuanan Melayu.
In Indonesia, everyone has no difficulty identifying themselves as Indonesians in terms of nationality but are clear about their ethnic origins. Malay is considered an ethnic group in Indonesia confined mainly to Riau and parts of Kalimantan. Others are Bataks, Sudanse, Javanese, Bugis etc, who may belong to one religion or another.
2. Malaysian Malays are insecure about themselves, Indonesians are at home in their own skins
Over four decades of affirmative action favoring the Malaysian Malays in the guise of the New Economic Policy (NEP) has resulted in some very warped psyches among the Malays. Unspun thinks it was Rehman Rashid in his book Malaysian Journey many years ago who said that at the back of the minds of many successful Malays is the nagging thought of whether they succeeded on their own steam or because of government largesse and favoritism.
On another level the Malaysian Malays that have not reaped to the full the benefits of the NEP become resentful because they see no way out of their relative meagre existences while the NEP-created Malay tycoons and politicians swish around the country in their Mercedeses and BMWs and live in palatial splendor. They are resentful and angry with the world, not least because somewhere deep down they realize that they are now slave to a handout mentality.
These factors contribute to a lot of hangups and anger, and in such a situation religion and race can be come very potential catalysts.
Of course, there are many Malaysian Malays that are cosmopolitan, liberal and top of the class but many of them end up being critics of the Government or migrate outside the country.
Indonesians, on the other hand, are very comfortable being themselves, some would argue too much so that it breeds a certain level of complacency. But the latter point is not true of the new generation of Indonesians growing up who are confident of their nationality, their ethnic roots and their capabilities. The Indonesian business scene may be a jungle but it is a rather fair jungle to all those to venture into it. Many have succeeded on their own steam and you can almost sense a new level of confidence and optimism in Indonesia today.
3. Malaysian Malays are so subjected by the authoritarian political system of Malaysia that also controls religion that there is little room for moderate religious leaders to thrive
If the Indonesian government were to be so silly as to claim that the use of the word Allah by Christians would confuse the Muslims here, they would be laughed out of town by the likes of the late Gus Dur, who, in spite of his eccentricities was a great voice for religious moderation. You would also have the Mohammadiah and Nadlathul Ulama poo-pooing the notion. In Malaysia you have PAS and UMNO trying to out Islamize each other in their efforts to court the Malay/Muslim voters. As a result no moderate religious figure or voice is able to emerge.
Government officials condemned the violence Monday but defended their position, saying conditions are different in Malaysia from those in neighboring Indonesia or in Arab nations where “Allah” is the common term for God.
“These outrageous incidents are acts of extremism and designed to weaken our diverse communities’ shared commitment to strengthen racial unity,” The Home Ministry secretary, Gen. Mahmood Adam, told reporters after briefing foreign diplomats on the situation.
“They don’t understand the situation here,” he said of the diplomats. “They just want to know why it can be allowed in other countries and not here.”
He said he told them: “Be fair, you have to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges. Our landscape is different from other countries. Malays here are different from other countries. The landscape here is different from Indonesia so we can’t compare.”
The violence has strained relations among Malays, who are mostly Muslim and who make up 60 percent of the population, and the Chinese and Indian minorities, who are Christian, Hindu and Buddhist.
Indonesia is less divided, with Muslims making up 90 percent of its population of 240 million.
Some Muslims in Malaysia say they fear that Christians are trying to win converts by using the word “Allah.” They say Muslim believers could be confused by the use.