Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Everybody's talking about....Anwar

Everybody seems to be talking about sex, lies and video these days. I was in a taxi the other day and the cabbie asked about the so-called Anwar sex tape after I told him that I work in the newspaper publishing industry.

"Did you watch the tape?" he asked in Malay.

"No, but my boss did," I replied.

"Is it Anwar?" he asked.

"Yes, that's what the boss said."

"Is it really him? It wasn't a camera trick?"

"Don't think so."

At the office, a group of reporters was spotted in one corner of the newsroom and they were talking about - you guessed it - the Anwar sex tape.

So far I know of two people who have watched the tape and both have said it was Anwar who had sex with a mainland Chinese prostitute.

Anwar has denied that he was the man in the video and said his stomach is smaller than that of the man in the video.

He also claimed he was tweeting with his family during the time when the sexcapade took place and his aides have come up with a list of tweets that he sent out on that night - Feb 21 - to back up his claim that he was busy tweeting instead of busy having sex at that material time.

However, many reporters and bloggers have pointed out that there was a gap of about 20 minutes when there was no tweet from him that night. And the sexcapade lasted 21 minutes.

So far, the video has not been posted on YouTube yet.

I think it’s only a question of time.

When that happens, then Anwar will be judged by the jury of the people and it could end up like the V.K. Lingam tape episode when the lawyer said: “It looks like me, it sounds like me...”

Two things can happen - Anwar may become something like a bad joke or people may sympathise with him and for some peculiar reason his star may shine brighter.

Whatever the case may be, the people’s greatest desire right now is to have the chance to watch the video.

Everybody I know has asked me two questions: “Is it really Anwar in the video?” and “Where can I get a copy of the video?”

Winning the Christian votes

It looks pretty obvious that Pakatan Rakyat is milking the Malay Bible issue to the maximum in order to sway the Christians in Sarawak to vote against Barisan Nasional.

It is not as if Barisan Nasional did not expect Pakatan to embark on such a strategy and if Barisan leaders themselves added fuel to the situation by imposing all sorts of conditions on the release of the impounded Malay Bibles, then they have themselves to blame.

Barisan leaders were fully aware that the situation would not only be inflammatory, but could work against them by angering and instilling fear in the Malaysian Christian community who would then vote against Barisan.

After all, the moderate and accommodating stance of Pakatan - "We have no issues with Malay Bibles" and "It's okay for followers of Abrahamaic faiths to use the Arabic word 'Allah' for 'God'" - sounds very attractive to Christian voters in Sarawak, Sabah and peninsular Malaysia.

Barisan leaders should start listening to the people and pay heed to their fears, anger and frustrations. Seldom do Christians make their feelings and fears known to the authorities publicly. Thus when they do, it can only mean that things have reached the stage when they have no choice but speak up in one strong voice.

The recent prayer meeting in Sarawak which attracted an unexpectedly large number of Christians is an indication of the mood of the people, especially Christians who feel that their right to freedom of worship has been trampled on by a Barisan government that is sticking to rules and regulations of its own making, and its own brand of chauvinistic and divisive politicking.

The Christians in Sarawak feel that the situation in Sarawak had always been peaceful and harmonious - and Malay Bibles had been used by them for decades without any issues - but it is the racist, chauvinistic and divisive politics championed by 'Semenanjung' politicians, especially those from Umno, that has been encroaching into the 'safe haven' of Sarawak and causing racial and religious disunity.

The point is this - if Christians in Sarawak can be swayed to vote against Barisan, what about the Christians in peninsular Malaysia?

Barisan leaders have themselves to blame if they lose the Christian voters due to their own chauvinistic and racist attitudes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More sex, lies and videotape

The people who are in the business of setting up hidden cameras in hotel rooms to film politicians having some steamy sex with their mistresses or prostitutes must be doing a roaring business.

When I heard about the latest video tape allegedly of adhoc Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim having sex with a Chinese prostitute in a Kuala Lumpur hotel room, I mentioned that whoever was responsible must have hired the same team that filmed a certain MCA leader in action some years back.

"No, the video quality is much better this time," a colleague said. So it must have been a different team using latest-generation and higher-definition cameras.

Obviously, the viewing session organised by Datuk T at Carcosa Sri Negara on Monday for a select group of top editors from print and online media has a political purpose - to kill the political career of Anwar and to sabotage the chances of Pakatan Rakyat doing better in the coming Sarawak state election.

Everyone is pointing the finger at the Barisan Government for the dirty trick, but the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has denied the involvement of the police (or, presumably, the Special Branch).

I have actually heard two versions of the story - one story has it that it was another trap set up by the people in power and Anwar unwittingly or wittingly walked into it; the other story is that he was set up by his enemies within his own party with the aim of getting rid of him and his wife and taking over control of PKR.

Whatever the case may be, Malaysians from both sides of the political divide are frankly not that bothered about who the plotters are but are more eager to know when the tape would be uploaded on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Najib makes wise decision

The administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should be praised for making this decision (read story below).

This way, Pakatan Rakyat will be deprived of ammunition to shoot the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition with.

And non-Muslim Malaysians will feel assured that their rights as enshrined in the Constitution are protected.

It also proves that no government or political party or radical people can stand in the way of the Word of God and that no Prime Minister or President is more powerful than Almighty God.


KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — The Najib administration ordered the release of 35,000 Malay-language Bibles which were seized at the ports of Kuching and Klang, bowing to pressure from Christian churches and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) politicians.
“This is a reasonable compromise in managing the polarities of views between Christians and Muslims in the country,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala in a statement this evening.

The Cabinet was set to discuss the issue on Friday with one eye on the Sarawak polls set to take place next month.

But with the seizure of the bibles drawing protests from Christians nationwide, a majority of whom live in Sabah and Sarawak, the federal government was forced to act today.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia, which represents 90 per cent of churches in Malaysia, has said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made a decision to release the Alkitabs but so far, the home ministry, which controls customs, has refused to hand over the bibles.

Christians, who make up close to 10 per cent of Malaysia’s 28 million population, use Bahasa Malaysia in Sabah and Sarawak churches to preach to the multi-ethnic congregation who each have a distinctive tribal language.

But evangelist churches there, such as Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB), have crossed the South China Sea to preach to the growing number of Sarawakians and Sabahans who are settling down in the peninsula after furthering their studies or finding work here.

Jala, who is a Sarawakian Christian, said that the government had decided on the release of the Alkitab in line with a 1982 gazette under the Internal Security Act which allows its limited and controlled importation and circulation on condition that the books are stamped: “For Christians Only.”

“Since 1982, with this gazette, there have been no problems in its implementation. As such, taking into account this fact, the government has decided to apply the 1982 gazette and release the bibles accordingly,” the statement said.

Jala said that after a careful and thorough review, the Attorney-General confirmed that the release of the bibles did not prejudice the ongoing court case of the Kalimah Allah issue.

The minister also noted that the Sarawak government categorically expressed its view that the impounded bibles should be released.

Great chasm over Malay Bibles

It looks like there is a great chasm between the Barisan Nasional government and the Opposition Front, Pakatan Rakyat, over the seizure of Bibles issue.

While the government has been giving rather confusing statements as to whether the 5,000 Malay Bibles impounded at Port Klang have been released or not, the Pakatan Rakyat leaders have not been confusing and have indeed been consistent in their stand that there is no issue with non-Muslims using the Arabic word "Allah" for "God".

Today, the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin denied that the Cabinet had approved the release of 5,000 Malay Bibles confiscated by the Home Ministry since 2009, The Malaysian Insider reported.

The deputy prime minister said that Cabinet had yet to discuss the status of the seized Bibles.

His remarks come after DAP MP Tony Pua claimed yesterday that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had issued orders last June for the release of the Malay-language Bibles currently impounded at Port Klang.

The home minister had said over the weekend that the Bibles had been impounded due to the ministry’s pending court appeal on the Catholic weekly The Herald’s use of the word “Allah” in its publications, The Malaysian Insider reported.

However, Pakatan's adhoc leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has said Pakatan has no issues with non-Muslims using the word "Allah" for "God".

Yesterday, PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa joined his non-Muslim colleagues in Pakatan Rakyat in condemning the detention of Malay-language Bibles asserting that the holy book should be respected, The Malaysian Insider reported.

When approached in Parliament on the issue the Bachok MP explained that Islam recognised Christians as “people of the book” which meant that the Bible should be given due respect by all.

This he added was regardless of what language the Bible is written in.

He added that he even knew of the existence of Bibles written in Jawi that were presently available in Malaysia.

“There are many books in the market many Christian books that are written in Malay. The home ministry has impounded 35,000 Malay-language bibles.

“And even if people cannot read it in Malay they will read it in English so I do not see any reason why these Bibles should be detained ” he said. Nasharudin also rubbished fears that such Malay-language Bibles would encourage Muslims to convert to Christianity expressing confidence in the faith of Muslims.

“The Muslims have a strong belief in their religion and everyone has a right to practise their own beliefs.

“This is just a matter of a book and we should respect the Bible because in Islam we consider the Christians to be the people of the book,” he told Malaysian Insider.

Nasharudin noted that the sensitivity over the issue was in the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims which he described as “rigid”.

“Perhaps it is because of the very rigid interpretation of the word Allah that caused this issue. But then to detain a book just because it is in the Malay language thinking that it might help to propagate Christianity...” he said without ending his sentence.

In January last year, PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat said it was permissible for those following Abrahamic faiths to use "Allah", the Arabic word for "God", which is the norm in Arabian nations where the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam originated.

Whether the Pakatan leaders are sticking to this moderate stand for political purposes like winning the votes of Christians, especially the Kadazans and Ibans in Sabah and Sarawak, is immaterial. The fact is their words sound very pleasant to Christians and may just sway them to vote for them.

Thus you can see the wide chasm between the Government of the day and the Opposition that is trying hard to repair its image which has been badly damaged by Anwar's sodomy trial II and the alleged irregularities in the recent PKR election.

What the Barisan government decides to do will surely influence the voting pattern of the Malaysian Christian community. If the Barisan government decides to continue impounding the Malay Bibles, then the very fabric of the 1Malaysia concept championed by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will be torn to bits.

And Pakatan Rakyat will become the next coalition to champion racial and religious harmony in Malaysia. After all they have always claimed that they were the first to conceptualise the 1Malaysia theme.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Barisan must not make rash decisions

The issue of Bibles in Malay stuck in Malaysian ports is a tinderbox that can be set on fire easily if not handled carefully.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein claimed the detention of 35,000 Malay-language Bibles in Port Klang and Kuching port had been due to its pending court appeal over Catholic newspaper The Herald’s use of the word “Allah” in its publications, the Malaysian Insider reported.

But the Christian Federation of Malaysia has lashed out at the federal government for what they see as a systematic move to deny their religious rights enshrined in the Constitution.
It is such ill-conceived decisions by the Government of the day that will undermine its own political agenda.

At this moment, the Barisan Nasional coalition seems to have the upper-hand with Pakatan Rakyat in tatters with its adhoc leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim drowning in problems of his own creation.

The seizure of Bibles in the Malay language by the authorities will only serve to give the Opposition ammunition to fire at will at Barisan.

Hishamuddin himself seems aware of this as he was reported to have  accused "opposition parties of using the protracted Bible row as campaign fodder with an eye firmly on the impending Sarawak election, which must be called not later than the middle of the year".

So it seems rather foolish for someone who is aware of the implications of the issue to pass the advantage to the Opposition.

Sarawak has many Christians who speak the Malay language and they have been using the Bahasa Indonesia version of the Bible for quite some time.

The Bible issue will surely be exploited by the Opposition, and even Hishamuddin is expecting them to, and many Christian voters in Sarawak may be swayed by Pakatan Rakyat's stance on the issue - that it has no issues with the word "Allah" being used by Christians.

Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan is aware of the danger of the Bible issue causing loss of support for Barisan Nasional and he has called for the Bibles’ immediate release, saying the state government could not understand the rationale behind such treatment of the Bible or why the Bahasa Malaysia version could not be imported into the country.

As I said earlier, Barisan is now favoured to win the general election, but foolhardy decisions can change the situation.