What the Fatwa?

We all can understand Islam forbidding rioting, causing disturbance and damaging public property.

But what about corruption, Gerrymeandering, arrogance and utter disrespect for the intelligence and integrity of citizens?

How do these clerics sleep at night and face their children? Do the children have a hard time in school because they have to live up with the fact that their daddies were government flunkies and hyppocrites because they claim to be men of God but are serving banal masters instead?

Malaysia fatwa council advises Muslims against demonstrations

Kuala Lumpur:  Malaysia’s top clerics on Monday issued a fatwa, deeming it ‘haram’ for Muslims to participate in the demonstrations that cause disturbance in the country, days after thousands defied government orders to stage a rally.

Malaysia’s National Fatwa Committee, which a few years ago had ruled that the Muslims should not do yoga, has now advised them against participating in any gathering that is unproductive, against the law or causes disturbance.

National Fatwa Committee Chairman Proffesor Emeritus Abdul Shukor Husin said that the committee viewed seriously the issue as some Muslims had resorted to rioting during the opposition backed electoral reforms demonstrations here on April 28.

“Rioting, causing disturbance and damaging public property are all forbidden by Islam. This also applies to any intention to topple a duly-elected government by organising such demonstrations” he said.

“No one is exempted, and cannot support any efforts that can cause harm, anxiety or unrest among the  Muslims to the point of the community becoming split, what more if there is bloodshed,” he added after chairing a meeting of the committee here.

via Malaysia fatwa council advises Muslims against demonstrations.

Malaysian Police solving wrong problems precisely with Bersih 3.0 video

Watching the Bersih 3.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur from a distance and following it on social media, Unspun was struck by the efficiency of the Malaysian police in the use of video and YouTube.

It was first very quick off the block in airing the video of the “attacked” and upturned Police car, providing “visual proof” of the thuggery of the Bersik 3.0 protesters.

Their efficiency reminds Unspun of one of the books he’s currently reading called Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely by Ian Mitroff and Abrahms Silvers. Mitroff, for the uninitiated, is one of the best thinkers on crisis management.

One of the main points made in the book is that unless we frame the problems properly we will get the wrong answers or solutions, which we then go on to solve with great precision if we are capable.

If we follow this logic the Malaysian Police seems to have framed their problem has one in which the public is often fooled by others and not getting the facts right. The solution of that problem then is to give the public “the facts”, especially in visual form, then they would be convinced how good the police and government is and how bad the others are.

Thinking along such lines, getting a videoclip fired off into YouTube and the net is an great solution.

Unfortunatley that is not the problem being faced by the police. Their problem is one of credibility – unless they work hard at showing themselves to be a non-partisan professional body, most people would not want to believe them.

The “car attack” video showed a police car seemingly being attacked. A later footage showed it overturned and bashed up. Yet, because of the lack of credibility, most of the audience who saw that thought that it was a contrived video, with the police’s or the government’s agents provocateur attacking or starting the attack at the car to discredit the Bersih protesters.

On the other hand Bersih sympathizers, individuals and other groups are also using video and YouTube. They are less professionally done and was slower than the Police’s. They, however, showed footage of Police officers brutally beating up on protesters.

These, Unspun is willing to be, are believed much more than the Police’s video clips.

So instead of fooling themselves into thinking that they are doing the right things and that the Malaysian public would believe their videos the Police would be better off solving their real problem: a lack of credibility.

Bersih 3.0 Jakarta

It’s been 25 years since Unspun left Malaysia. The reason for leaving was Operasi Lallang, when the Umno-led government, headed by Mahathir closed down The Star, the paper where Unspun was working at, for political reasons.

Since then life has taken Unspun to many countries, with the past 16 years mostly in Indonesia which I consider home these days. For all its faults, Indonesia is more democratic, freer and less hypocritical than Malaysia society.

Time has also loosened many of the emotional ties that Unspun has had of Malaysia, so much so that I do not keep up so much with the politics any more and generally ignore the trivial pursuits of the opposition and the government.

And why bother? The Opposition and the Government were trapped in their artless polemic, devoid of vision.

The Opposition could only oppose without offering any viable alternatives. There was a brief flicker of hope in Anwar Ibrahim. There was a man who at least seemed like he had a vision. But a closer look at him and you see through the man for what he is – a consummate politician with the same moral consistency of a chameleon’s colors as it moves over a varied terrain.

The Government also disappointed. There was Mahathir who was effective and did a lot of good for the country. But at the same time he not only failed to build the institutions that are essential for a democracy ; he helped destroy them. He also failed to groom any worthy successors. The result was Abdullah Badawi, a man who had less charisma than a five-day old rubbish dump; and now Najib, a man so cautious that he’s have to have his domineering wife inspect the toilet paper before he wiped himself.

So Unspun spralled into total nonchalance when it came to Malaysian politics.

Then something stirred when Bersih 2.0 came around. Watching the leader of the movement, Ambiga, speak and address reporters and their questions Unspun saw, for the first time in many years, a Malaysian leader who was skilled in communicating her thoughts and vision. She was measured, uncluttered and spoke her mind without being defensive, like so many other Malaysian politicians.

So when Bersih 3.0 came around yesterday Unspun decided to shake off his ennui and got the family to attend its gathering in Jakarta. The setting was in a restaurant/bar called Liquid Exchange.

The agenda was to gather wearing the trademark Bersih yellow T-shirts, have lunch, give some people the opportunity to make some short speeches and then disperse. It seems tame by comparison to the risks faced by Bersih supporters in Malaysia and the organizers came up for some criticisms from a Malaysian who lived in Australia (see this link).

But the organizers had good reasons: It was illegal for foreigners o stage demonstrations in Indonesia and they were initially unsure how many malaysians would attend. the initial calculation was maybe five Malaysians as they are not generally known for their defiance of authority.

So they were pleasantly surprised when the turnout totaled over 80 Malaysians, plus three or so Indonesians and one German supporter. At the restaurant we were able to follow the development of the Bersih 3.0 protest in KL through news bulletins on Al Jazeera. Another indication of of how the world is watching.

A few speeches were made, not fantastic ones but those that came from the heart. The gist of it was how we all wanted to see a more democratic Malaysia; that Malaysia had receded in democracy while Indonesia had forged ahead; and, most touchingly, that we would have not done our duty to our country and our families if we had stayed home and not tried to make our country more democratic if only by showing up in an act of defiance against the authorities.

One other thing that I was very proud of was how some of the Malaysians, headed by old friend and former president of the Malaysia Club Jakarta Ch’ng Chin Hon, passed the proverbial hat around to raise funds for a charity – not for Malaysians but for the needy in the community we work in – the disadvantaged Indonesians.

Chin Hon and his friends run Kecara, a foundation helping poor Indonesians in Jakarta by collecting and distributing used clothes, food and even disbursing scholarships.

The gathering then released balloons as a symbolic gesture of releasing our wishes for a free election in Malaysia and dispersed after that.

After that, for the first time in a long while Unspun  felt proud of the fellow Malaysians who turned up in the Bersih gatherings in Malaysia, Jakarta, Bali and at least 10 other cities worldwide.

The fact that so many Malaysians had turned out in the Bersih gatherings, which in the past was something that most people would have feared to do, for fear of government reprisals, is evidence enough that Umno’s days are numbered as the dominant power in Malaysian politics.

The fear is gone and one that happens there is no way they can hold on to power for too long, unless they change. Maybe that was why Unspun could smile so heartily when a Malaysian Embassy political attaché had asked to take a photo with Unspun. His reason was that he wanted to show a blogger that he had met Unspun but I have a feeling that the Special Branch may be admiring my dentist’s handiwork. I hope they like the smile.