On yoga…

*sigh*

Haven’t been blogging for awhile now, been so buried in work and preparations for the upcoming wedding, but today, I chanced upon this little gem :

PUTRAJAYA: The National Fatwa council has declared that the yoga practice which involves three elements of physical movements, worshipping and chanting as haram (prohibited) in Islam.

Read the rest from The Star and Malaysiakini here…

First of all, what I understand is that when one practices the three elements of yoga, one committing a ‘haram’ act. OK, fair enough. Just a very quick and simplistic list of what else is ‘haram’ for Muslims – drinking, use of recreational drugs, smoking (in some places), premarital sex, extramarital sex, sex within the same gender – basically any sex sans legal spouse, OK? – and for women, walking out of the house without your husband’s consent or not covering your hair… That is ‘haram’. Don’t forget, not praying five times a day too… A disclaimer before I get skewered for putting this down – I am not an expert at the subject, and I myself am a tenuous Muslim at best, and am guilty of several of the abovesaid sins, so forgive my incomprehensive and incomplete, and possible erroneous list…

On a daily basis, I see a whole lot of people, presumably some of them are Muslims, engaging in the said acts… So what about yoga, newly declared ‘banned’ for Muslims? I suppose we will continue seeing yoga classes being filled by Muslims. And I don’t expect them to bat an eyelid at the ‘fatwa’, because these same people, could be committing other sins and not giving a hoot about it… Yoga? Nahh… Don’t worry about it!

Back to the subject at hand – yoga being declared as ‘haram’ when a Muslim practices all three elements. I wonder, is the faith of Malaysian Muslims so feeble and fragile, that practicing yoga will erode their beliefs so irrecovacably?

Do the authorities feel the need to try and control every aspect of Malaysian life, that we are now no longer allowed to choose their means of exercising or relaxing? All I want to say is, lighten up, and have some faith in humankind, you people.The beauty of Islam is that we are taught that the difference between humans and animals is that we are blessed with a mind – that can rationalize and decide what is best for each and everyone of us. Try using it once in a while, you might find the human mind to be a wonderful and sharp tool with which to negotiate the world we live in…

God works in mysterious ways, and banning yoga won’t make such a massive difference – if they had no faith to begin with, it would not mean a rat’s behind whether they do yoga or not…

I cannot imagine how I would be losing my faith this weekend, since my regular gym class is ‘yoga’ – Jasmine.

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On waiting…

It’s been a season of deadlines lately… September had a whole spate of them, but somehow, just like kids in college with a due assignment, these datelines come and go, and new ones are conveniently announced, together with the requisite scapegoat to take the blame.

The first deadline, on September 16, for me at least, was a day that held hope. Perhaps we have matured as a nation after all. It came and went, and the death of anticipation and excitement came with the setting sun… The next day saw new promises made, that there will be change, and it will come by on the 23rd of September.

Another week of waiting, and this time, I wasn’t holding my breath. It was an uphill battle, and those on the top of the hill are busy hurling stones and axes at the marauding hoardes, while their women hauled away the treasure into a cave down the other side. Again, as expected, the day came and went. No change. Nada…

Today, we read in Malaysiakini that the deadlines will be scrapped. Change or transition or whatever it is they are calling it now, will be made soon. When it happens, it happens. Till then, we will stop making promises and breaking them, like an abusive spouse to a battered partner.

Yes, I am dissapointed. As a Malaysian wishing to see positive change, whichever way it goes, I am tried of being given the runaround, and treated like a gullible child. Not calling an emergency session for Parliament is not right, its just a delaying tactic. And don’t look so gleeful while you’re announcing it.

You are all leaders of the nation! Be responsible! Be transparent! And stop treating us, the rakyat like 5-year-olds who will swallow wholesale your lies and slander. It is insulting to think that you believe we are not intelligent enough to be concerned with rising inflation and cost of living, stagnant wages, lack of transparency in the government, outgoing FDI and all the hanky-panky that goes on while you try to secure your seat for another season…

If you’re not so eager to let go of the ‘hot seat’, why not make changes that are much needed? Root out corruption, or at least make your initial promise of doing that, actually happen. Re-invent your party, and more importantly their mentality, and drop the whole ‘Malay supremacist’ thoughts. In God’s eye, we are all equal… Improve the lives of average Malaysians…

It’s Raya season, ’tis the season to forgive and forget. You know who you are. Forgive the rakyat for not wanting you to lead the nation while asleep anymore. Forget your ambitions. You cannot mix spending ‘quality time’ with the family with official duties. That is called nepotism… Put the rakyat first, as you are supposed to do, and not your family, ehh?

For the people on the ‘other’ side of the equation, I have only one line to give you – Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Never. Because once the rakyat loose their faith in you, it will be close to impossible to win it back…

Hoping that this year will be year for change, and for the better – Jasmine.

On current affairs…

Haven’t been writing lately, as I’ve been swamped with so many things… Sometimes it feels like I’m drowning, but then I found this gem. Made my day today!

ROFL – Jasmine.

On politiking…

Heard the news that SAPP will be tabling, or supporting a vote of no-confidence against AAB on Monday. Really now? Even after the bag of goodies landed in Sabah fairly recently?

Quoted below, is Ku Li’s stand on the matter :

For months I have been telling Umno and the Prime Minister about the people’s lack of confidence in the present leadership. Repeating the mistakes that led to the thrashing we received at the Elections, our leaders have remained complacent and live in denial.

Today’s developments around SAPP in Sabah point to the depth of the leadership crisis facing the country. The top leadership of BN and of Umno has lost all credibility, and our component parties are rethinking their relationship with us. This should come as no surprise except to those who have been living in complete denial.

In its management of the economy this leadership has lacked vision and shown a disturbing inability to plan and execute. The haphazard and wavering way in which petrol subsidies were recently removed damaged the government’s credibility in managing the economy at a time when we face very serious economic challenges and our people are hurting.

Politically, instead of listening, the leadership silences voices from the ground calling for change and suppresses democratic processes set out by the party constitution. Instead of change we have been getting media and political manipulation. I warned openly of SAPP’s impending action a week ago, but until yesterday night the leadership dismissed my warning out of hand and the Prime Minister said he knew nothing.

I want what is best for Umno, and I have put myself on the line to reform Umno. If our leaders refuse to face reality, I fear the worst for the party and this government.

It wouldn’t be fair, as much as it seems to be, to place the blame squarely on the shoulders on one man. Many many more are as equally responsible for the turn of events that is cascading towards us now. But then, it is always easier to blame one goat than to tar the whole herd, ehh?

And even better if that one silly goat, can ‘tai-chi’ the blame onto another, stinkier goat…

PUTRAJAYA, June 18 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee’s latest action has been due to the fact that “I have not been able to satisfy his personal greed.”

Abdullah did not elaborate. However, his aides told Bernama that the prime minister would elaborate at a later date.

Yong declared in Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday that his party had lost confidence in Abdullah.

Of late, the former Sabah chief minister has been critical of Abdullah’s political decisions on Sabah as well as the move to increase fuel prices.

— BERNAMA

Perhaps its all about the money after all…

I guess that’s why it’s called politics. And it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted – Jasmine.

On the fuel price hike…

The first major protest was held last Friday, to begin just after Friday prayers. Being a weekday, not many were ‘demonstrating’ their displeasure, but the powers-that-be came out in full force anyways, to maintain order… Or so they claim…

The truth being, it felt like intimidation. I suppose it was psychological warfare, as the sight of those fully laden FRU trucks does make one feel rather queasy…

There is more to come. More protests, more demonstrations, or at least until the rakyat learns to live with this recent hike… The Pakatan Rakyat boys are planning one every now and then, to lead to big one on the 5th of July 2008. It was initially planned for the 12th, but due to tactical considerations, has been brought forward by a week. You know lah, Malaysians are usually ‘hangat-hangat taik ayam’ – or simply put, will lose interest if it drags on for too long…

Well, if you’re in town and feel like a free shower, do come along and voice your unhappiness on the 5th of July. After all, how will those in the corridors of power notice our plight if we don’t bring it to them?

Wishing I’m in town for the ‘big one’ – Jasmine.

ps – Saw one of those VIP fellas this morning, with their outriders and entourage… Wouldn’t it be cheaper if they all traveled in one big bus?? 😛

pss – Apologies for the inarticulation of thoughts today… fuel tank is running empty, and so are the idea-coffers…

On oil, again…

Found this in Harakah Daily Online.

Basically, it’s a protest of the fuel hike, organized by the Pakatan Rakyat Youth. Come if you’ve got the time, or feel that we don’t deserve fuel subsidies but want to satisfy your morbid curiosity anyways… The target is to get the same numbers as they achieved for the BERSIH rally. It’s going to be tough, since its on short notice, but Malaysians generally come out in full force when its related to money…

The protest will be held after Friday prayers, from the Kampung Baru mosque. For non-Muslims, the suggestion is to join up with the demonstrators along the way to KLCC.

Hopefully, the ‘new, more tolerant’ government will not be out to stop this demonstration with excessive force.

However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re going to the demonstrations, please keep these simple tips in mind :

1. Take public transport to the venue, preferably LRT or PUTRA. It will be almost impossible to enter the city by driving, as the police want to minimize the number of protesters. Not to mention its going to be hellish to park, right?

2. Keep your handphone, wallet and documents in a Ziplock bag, just in case it rains or you get a ‘free shower’ from FRU.

3. Carry a bottle of clean water and some clean clothes packed in Ziplock bags, just in case they use the water cannon again on the protesters. The water ain’t just H2O, its laced with nasty chemicals, and could cause permanent damage if you don’t wash it out of your eyes, and it really stings the skin. Oh ya, forgot to mention there’s also a flourescent marker that reacts to UV light in it, so if they find you later at night at those endless roadblocks, they can make life difficult for you….

4. Finally, do not forget to document the whole experience, either by still or video camera. If the authorities confiscate your device of choice, don’t forget to remove the memory card before handing it over P . It’ll make great bedtime stories for your grandchildren when you’re old, to say you were actually, part of a revolution, no matter how small your part…

For those of you who are not as interested to participate in such street demonstrations, dire warnings of massive traffic snarls especially when roadblocks at points entering the city are already in place.  Roads that are predicted to be affected are Jalan Ampang, Jalan Tun Razak, Kampung Baru area, not forgetting possible massive roadblocks at the Sungai Besi Toll Plaza, Jalan Kuching, Jalan Gombak, Brickfields and surrounding areas, Federal Highway, Middle Ring Road II (near Cheras, roadblocks are up every night!), LDP and Jalan Duta Toll Plaza.

Sharing is caring guys, so spread the news!

Perhaps I can scarfe off work for half a day on Friday? – Jasmine.

On oil…

According to the dictionary, subsidy is a grant, usually of money, especially governmental, to aid private undertakings or to promote commercial enterprise.

Subsidies are granted to promote national interest, as in agricultural subsidy that’s practised by the Americans and Europeans to ensure their farm products are not crushed into oblivion by those from the more productive and thus more competitive farming countries like Australia.

Government subsidy may also be given to arms manufacturers during a war, for ‘bloody’ obvious reasons.

Social welfare packages would be a form of subsidy of national interests, to ensure the financially-economically disadvantaged aren’t left behind and would be entitled to a slice of the national standards of living.

Thus, to justify a subsidy, there must be firstly, a national interest content, where the investment brings home a net benefit, and secondly, a means to ensure the subsidy reaches its proposed targets, whether these be the farmers, fishermen, single parents or the economically disadvantaged in society, and not open to abuse or pilfering.

The fuel subsidy in our country achieves neither.

It’s not in our national interest to subsidize fuel to the tune of RM 54 billion annually. Just because our nation produces oil doesn’t mean we should have cheap fuel to burn away without some returns, when the better outcome would be to translate the oil earnings into something useful and more lasting for our country, like vital infrastructure such as a good public transport system, and improved water, electrical and sewerage facilities.

Building world class education facilities from primary to tertiary level would also merit subsidization because the investment would bring a net gain of knowledge and improved productivity for the nation.

Secondly, the subsidy has been abused by those who do not merit the taxpayers’ sacrifice. When a subsidized system like that for fuel creates a two-tier system, we can bet there will be corrupt siphoning of benefits across the tier, where those not entitled will enjoy benefits at taxpayers expenses.

Just as a small example (and mind you, this isn’t the principal cause of the ‘siphoning’), petrol sales to foreigners near border regions have allowed those foreigners to enjoy around RM 1 billion worth of subsidy at Malaysian taxpayers expense.

Removing the fuel subsidy does NOT mean the end of subsidy to those in need as there are other ways to ensure they receive the publicly funded benefits via, for example, social welfare packages which will be an improved system of ensuring the benefits actually reach the intended target population.

Therefore the fuel protest planned by PROTES, the Organisers Coalition Against Inflation, as reported by Malaysiakini in Mass anti-fuel hike rally on July 12, should be about the new and hopefully more effective form of subsidy to the rakyat, rather than demanding the restoration of old fuel prices.

PROTES hopes to rekindle the Bersih rally but this time with 100,000 people participating.

Unfortunately, as I fear, it’s aim is so predictably narrow, basically to call on the government to reduce fuel prices to its original levels before the most recent hike.

Dr Hatta Ramli, the PROTES coordinator for the planned rally argued the same old tired inflexible story that because Malaysia is an oil producing country and has record profits, the government should use the profit to relieve the public from being burdened by the fuel hike.

He asserted: “We have five weeks to mobilise the crowd and the government has five weeks to react to the people’s demands (to revert fuel prices to their original levels).”

I would have supported his call for the government to ‘use the profit to relieve the public from being burdened by the fuel hike’, except that his proposal has specifically prescribed the regrettable profligate reduction of oil price.

What a shame that while his social objective (“…use the profit to relieve the public from being burdened by the fuel hike …”) is correct, his insisted avenue (“…to revert fuel prices to their original levels …”) is wrong, wasteful, conducive to abuses and lacks strategic national interest.

I am not sure whether his title of ‘doctor’ would be that for a medical general practitioner, and if it is, it may explain his ‘prescriptive’ demands. The problem with being ‘prescriptive’ is that you cut out other forms of remedy.

One doesn’t and shouldn’t spend every damn thing in our kitty to live day by day just because we have money in it. That’s financially imprudent and lacks strategic investing for the future.

Let me provide an example – Chinese parents save and skimp and even mortgage their homes in order to be able to send their children to universities, usually abroad as they may find it difficult to get a place in our local tertiary institutes. Now that’s strategic investing, in their children’s education for a better future.

I just mentioned “The problem with being ‘prescriptive’ is that you cut out other forms of remedy”, so who knows, maybe that’s the way Dr Hatta Ramli intends for it to be, with his real objective being simply to char koay teow*.

* a Malaysian term meaning to stir fry a hot political issue for political opportunism, rather than to solve the problem

I hope the DAP, which has often voiced its objection to fuel subsidization, will stay true to its declared policies and remain aloof from the PROTES drive to reinstitute the non-sustainable fuel subsidy.

But I will support any campaign (by Dr Hatta or anyone) to ensure those who cannot afford the new fuel price receive subsidies in other forms that won’t be open to abuse by those not entitled to them.

And similarly I will support any other campaign that attacks the wanton profligacy of the BN ministerial junkets, like the one reported by Cheras (DAP) MP Tan Kok Wai to Malaysiakini in Oil hike protests in KL, Ipoh, Kuching, about Zulhasnan Rafique, the FT Minister, and his underlings Abdul Hakim Borhan, KL mayor, and approximately 15 officers for going on an expensive trip to Berlin, London and Vancouver, just to study, beat this, ‘administrative matters’.

If these people really want to learn ‘administrative matters’, they should just go down to Singapore where the Island nation’s city administration is second to none in the world.

As Tan remarked: “How can you tell the people to change their lifestyle when the wasteful lifestyle of the government is not changed?”

I don’t oppose AAB’s move to reduce and eventually remove all fuel subsidy, but I deplore his ministers and senior civil servants for putting their snouts into the public trough when it’s a time for belt tightening across the nation.

Thinking of getting the bicycle sooner, rather than later – Jasmine.

ps – Apologies for a long-ish, and slightly late (since by today everyone would have had to fill-up with the ‘new’ price) post… Shifting houses can be mentally challenging 😛