Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lina Joy

Triumphant shouts of "Allahu Akhbar"—meaning, God is great—greeted the landmark ruling passed today in Malaysia's highest court. Since 7.30am, 300-odd Muslim supporters from 80 different Islamic bodies had begun joining the concerned and the curious outside the courthouse. Whatever the court's decision (and there were only two possible outcomes), they must have rehearsed their reactions the night before in their heads. Which is why a few hours later, in a 2-1 majority decision (two Muslim judges; one non-Muslim), the Federal Court announced their rejection of Lina Joy's appeal to drop the word 'Islam' from her IC, and spontaneously, unanimously, the circumcised crowd roared.

This Big Issue sets a precedent for future religious-based rulings. It will confirm, to an extent, a nagging suspicion that has bugged our national conscience: How much of an Islamic country is Malaysia? Can citizens still believe in the freedom of religion granted under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, or is the Syariah Court sneaking up to devour any delusions Malaysians, particularly the minority, have concerning our religious freedom? Pertinent questions to a country that is rumoured to face the voting booths later this year.

My initial thoughts on this case are rather convoluted (which pretty much reflects the state of my mind most of the time). I don't know nuts about the law, and I don't hardly read the papers.

Even if I were to spew my thoughts, and in the process spring-clean my brain, they'd probably just echo popular sentiment. Some examples include:

  • There's no hope for Malaysia. We're doomed. The system favours Islam, Muslims and on a lighter note, mamaks (who are Muslim).
  • This case really demonstrates how the Federal Court is allowing itself, via the powers that be inside it, to be shackled by the Syariah Court. The recent string on conversion cases show how they conveniently pass the bucket—and their responsibility to uphold justice—to the Syariah courts who greedily lap up their growing power. (Yes I am being judgmental here.)
  • Perhaps Malaysians surely couldn't have expected any or both of the Muslim judges presiding the case to say yes to Joy. With Lina's Muslim lawyer getting death threats in the past, such a liberal judge would have had his Merc bombed the moment he stepped into it; his family destroyed.
  • It seems like Barisan now wants to attract more Muslim voters compared to non-Muslims.
  • If the Church in Malaysia had come together and fervently prayed for the issue, would the decision have been any different?
(Cue commercial break)

As it is very late and I'm tired (tonight and yesterday, I left work at 12.40am and 10.45pm respectively), and also because I had an Angkor (not Anchor) beer courtesy of Rachel and her recent adventures in Cambodia, I will rush on and merely state that with each passing year, I'm becoming more pessimistic about the country I was born in and now reside, and her future. With alternative news sources booming, the rose-tinted image of Malaysia I held as a kid has shrivelled up and died. I read of corruption, nepotism, greed, injustice. Politics is a shit-smeared undergarment that is never washed.

With troubles all around, let's go back to the Lina Joy case. The demerits of the court's decision are obvious to the minority and especially to Lina Joy herself. Ultimately however, what matters is that Joy has the freedom to choose her God in her heart. At the very least, that's something no one can take away.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Planets, to Scale

Remember that chart in school, with the nine planets in our solar system drawn on it like one happy family? Well, that's a big bullish lie.

On Friday, I read the second chapter of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything while lunching at the Departure Lounge. It was a drone of words compared to the first, but an illustration of how big the universe we live in stood out, which went something like:

"If Earth were the size of a pea, and you tried to draw the surrounding planets to a rough scale, Jupiter would be 300m away, and Pluto (though it's not a planet anymore) would be 2.5km away, the size of a bacterium."

Now that seems pretty far out to me. Also, I learned that our solar system is only a trillionth of the entire universe. What is out there?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

To Anybody, and Nobody

I think, wistfully,
of you
then of all the missed chances
in my sleep.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Teabags & Tears

I am sitting with a damp, used teabag lodged between the plastic lens of my spectacles and a shut left eye. The words 'Cane's Green Tea' dangle freely from the upturned bag, rustling in the fan breeze against my static hair. I look like a pirate, a joke, or both. I have just finished reading Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, reciprocating its pleasure with my tears. Tomorrow is a work day and this is my feeble attempt to escape social scrutiny.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Staring into the screen, I see stars

I want to elope
with your wayward
your yellowed skin

in intent
of emancipating me
from cubicle hell

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Public Appearance on a Public Holiday

Meet Zara. She's a malnourished vegan who doesn't want to eat animals because "I love animals". While I don't doubt her sincerity (two years of being a vegan might have saved err... 3 cows, 2 goats and a few hundred chickens?), I do have reservations that any such love is mutual. For instance, if I dumped her in the rugged (often misconstrued as wildly romantic) African landscape with nothing more than a professed agape love for animals, my meat-fed guts tell me that a starving lion would probably prove my suspicions right.

But I digress.

Meet Zara.

Zara is also my new partner in rhyme (sorry, these lines don't come supplied with a puke bin). And rhythm. And music. In other words, we are going to be rockstars together. Or poor buskers who might, in the hazy future, be able to describe in detail what a Bukit Aman cell looks like. Hey, we've all got to start somewhere.

And so our particular venture into the very public sphere of busking (i.e. begging for money aided by a musical instrument) began last Wednesday, a public holiday. I had only busked once on the infinitely safer streets of Canberra; Zara, zip. After two practices, we had about 11 songs we could cover quasi-decently—enough for one set. We decided to try our luck at the recently revamped Central Market, a stone's throw away from the historic birthplace of KL. Such non-exclusive places tend to congregate the craziest kinds, so for safety reasons, I engaged the services of Reb C, who is a few dozen sizes smaller than me and a few elephants lighter, to protect us from the baddies and also to take pictures.

It must have worked, for we were not robbed. As we sang, smiled, screwed up and said thank you whenever someone was kind enough to actually pop money in, we were never once booed, impaled by another busker's guitar, or bounded off to jail in a flashing police car. While all that would have made a more thrilling blog post than this, I shall be content with the memory of my first-ever busking experience in Malaysia. For those who'd like to see us strut more embarrassment on the streets, my meat-fed guts tell me there will be more to come.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Blowing. Breathing. Brewing.

Over the past week, my scent has changed. I smell of stale cigarettes and communal sweat. I smell like a million bucks stuck in a sewage line. I smell of desperation.



A seismic shift in the seasons.
( ... )

I smell very different these days.