02 September 2008

Ramadhan Al-Mubarak

Today is the second day of Ramadhan Al-Mubarak, the holiest month for us Muslims.

It’s the month of sacrifice; to sacrifice all our unreligious obsessions and greeds for the sake of Allah and the month where Muslims are urged to intensify their prayers and submissions to God the Almighty.

Ramadhan is also the month when all Muslims like us are encouraged to work out introspections to ourselves and to repent, for all misdeeds we commit especially towards fellow human beings irrespective of race and religious faith.

To the fortunate this is also the month to pay tithes to the poor as we Muslims believe what we earn and secure are not necessarily all for us.

We believe we are just the medium of God to dispense some to the needy and those who within the Asnaf, who are fit to receive assistance.

I hope the sense of sacrifice should be inspired and practiced by our big UMNO leaders and do the sacrifices, may be by resigning and withdrawing from positions which have been their important tools to vandalize our beloved party.

Conversely, some may have to be brave enough to go head on with these obstinate leaders for the sake of the country and the people and this is also part of the sacrifices a good Muslim can do in this month of Ramadhan.

The War of Uhud and many other wars in Islam happened in this month of Ramadhan and there were many and numerous incidences in history of our religion where important going-ons were in this holy month.

Changing for the better would be done in this month of mubarak as the long history of Islam have proven to everyone that drastic changes happened in the month of Ramadhan.

I do hope and pray that the actual changes in our leadership should at least start to move within this holy month and we can joyously celebrate the Hari Raya Aidilfitri…hopefully and God willing.

Thanks …………………….Aspan Alias


Unknown said...

salam saudara aspan,

Dibulan yang penuh mulia ini, saya mengucapkan Selamat Beramal Ibadah kepada saudara sekeluarga. Semoga amalan Ramadhan ini akan menjadi bekal buat kita diakhirat kelak.

Sesungguhnya “awal Ramadan adalah rahmat, di tengahnya keampunan dan akhirnya selamat daripada api neraka.”

salam ramadan

Anonymous said...


Political Outlook for Ramadhan-Malaysiakini

Kulitpisang Editorial team

Ramadhan and Malay Politics

Anwar Ibrahim shall return to Parliament on the eve of Ramadhan with a view of usurping power on Sept 16, days before Muslims celebrate Aidil Fitri. This shall present the most audacious political act by a brilliant student of the Malay psyche.

Ramadhan traditionally cleanses political grime and moderates political heat. This effectively means Anwar shall wade into a Malay introspection, that could yield stunning results as they seek to clarify a political quarrel that has distressingly turned murkier and messier. By presenting himself as a celebrity-politician on a quest for higher office to correct wrongs, at a time of a high-profile court case to kick off during Ramadhan, Anwar is actually, unwittingly, presenting himself for a dramatically much-closer examination of both his credentials and foibles.

Anwar was compelled by a rush of events to get the wife to vacate her seat ahead of Ramadhan which is highly compatible with truth-seeking. Malays tend not to leap to judgment during a month of prayers and forgiveness. Anwar will find his audiences up and down the country more subdued, less susceptible to biting oratory and more willing to calmly evaluate the facts.

His strategy of projecting Government leaders as a bunch of conniving individuals out to do him and the people horrible harm has worked marvellously for Anwar. In the next few days, Anwar and his team will have to consider if their tactics are sustainable throughout Ramadhan.

What makes all this very dicey for Anwar is he has successfully projected the image of crusading politician who had to be stopped by a series of deceits and conspiracies.

The Malay political constituency has been laid-back in its mental struggle, choosing the less strenuous and not-so-demanding option of embracing Anwar’s arguments that he has been the sad victim of endless conspiracies. Actual symptoms of excesses in Umno, the party Anwar called home for 16 years, have not endeared the party leaders to the expanded Malay middle classes and to the rest. The inability of many Umno leaders to explain their political stance and policies they support more persuasively has not brought them any closer to a constituency actively looking for alternatives.

They have been drawn to Anwar, not for making more sense, but for his strident “expose” of Umno excesses, minus hard evidence. His political module is wholly dependent on him and his team deepening this concept of him as a celebrated victim, thus the shocking role of Raja Petra Kamaruddin in expanding trash literature.

It is easy to figure out that Anwar and Raja Petra are indeed harvesting the fruits of sustained Malay political inertia because to contemplate the alternative set of realities shall be harrowing. This inertia is allowing doses of insanity invade Malay minds, with Raja Petra effortlessly converting trash into reality and Anwar and gang turning facts presented by the Government into conceit.

For the overall template to work, Anwar has to additionally keep burnishing his persona and disposition as poor, anti-wealth champion of the downtrodden. Hence, the story of him riding in his dad’s car and being penniless to offer drinks to the teeming crowds at his ceramah in Permatang Pauh. The Malays love melancholy especially when cooked with hyperbole. Anwar offers both. His stature among the Malays shall encourage more attempts at winning the hearts of the Malays by playing poor and uninterested in wealth simply because this picture-perfect idea does not intimidate the Malays. The next big Tok Guru in Pas, uncomfortably for him, will have to parade some kind of a very modest lodging or Pas will suffer a chronic loss of connectivity with the Malays.

Over the years, prosperity on the part of other Malays has not dimmed the penchant for sob stories and the underdog. Rather it has roused anger and disenchantment as tales of wealth acquired by unfair means are perpetually spun.

Against this backdrop of political illiteracy amidst greater affluence, will Anwar survive the increased visibility, sustained introspection during Ramadhan and the onslaught of more facts, credible ones? Anwar could either surprise us or fall on his keris.

While it is true that Anwar’s popularity and Umno’s troubles are intertwined, Umno’s biggest error of judgment would be to think that a dip in Anwar’s stature would instantly benefit the party. The Malay mindset is at a stage of penalising the party for its “wrongdoings”. Umno leaders cannot conceivably tour the country in search of answers for its troubles or conduct exhaustive polling on the thoughts and preferences of the Malay constituency – very few are non-partisan or able to give you coherent answers. Umno will require a new, easily-explained ideology and policies to revive interest in the party. The big pronouncement to set the direction of the party shall be accompanied by structural changes and the attendant PR exercise – may be US presidential style election for top posts, may be purging of all those implicated in money politics, and institute frank discussions in the mainstream media.

Above all, Umno needs to understand the Anwar Phenomenon.

Pioneering Rhetoric in Malay Politics

Anwar has, throughout his political career, which started long before his parliamentary debut in 1982, mined the rich reservoir of Malay vulnerabilities, the nature of which, tend to be compatible with prevailing universal trends.

Tunku Abdul Rahman was unapologetic as he flaunted a cavalier outlook on political correctness and fun presiding over a newly Independent nation that fell short on deliverables as seen from the often-cynical eye of the Malays.

The start of Tun Razak’s tenure coincided with the New Economic Policy, deepening Cold War, and tellingly, a massively inclusive political coalition that created space for emerging demagogues who sniped at the power centre’s “frailties”. The scope of these so-called failures was open to cunning definitions by the few learned men then.

The Malay mindset was easily spooked by the racial skirmishes of May 13 1969, the economically unfulfilling first decade of Merdeka , which characterised the end of Colonialism worldwide. The Malays predictably, warmed up to fiery speeches and Hindi songs to calm their nerves.

Anwar Ibrahim duly championed the cause of the poor by modelling himself as an Islamist firebrand while simultaneously asserting Malay rights and crusading against a Government which, history shall show, went about correcting the flaws of the Tunku era.

For inciting University students to rise against a supposedly failed system, Anwar was jailed. He was not maimed politically. Rather, he sought a national audience for his oratory as his political stature as a wronged leader of the oppressed soared.

Recordings of his speeches that taunted the policies of Tun Razak and savaged the Government’s lack of compassion for the poor were making their way to schools and factories.

Pas Roped Its Political Sheen, Anwar as YB, and Promoter of Bank Islam and Islamic University

Ayatollah Khomeini, like Anwar from Kamunting, was transmitting his political messages via cassettes from Paris where he was in exile. His triumphant return to Iran to spark a Revolution was spun as the “marginalised, traumatised Muslim world spanking the American might”.

The Malays were craving for speeches to celebrate their intellectual deficits. Abdul Hadi Awang, Nik Aziz Nik Mat and a legion of other Arab-speaking religious figures filled a new void.

By 1982, Anwar had moderated his zeal by proclaiming his politics to be in tandem with the policies pursued by a new Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar was the arch-Malay leader, browbeating overzealous Chinese leaders, educationists and business icons to establish his presence in the Malay leadership-hierarchy. It must be said that history shall credit him as a tireless philosopher and initiator of the Islamic Bank and Islamic University. He was the new intellectual who successfully changed the system.

His next transformation was murkier, intellectually. As Minister of Finance, from, 1991, the variously Islamist firebrand, Malay radical and political prisoner was now running the system, dishing out contracts to the favoured ones, penalising rivals, muzzling the media and shredding the handbooks on transparency and accountability.

Financial Crisis of 1997-98 and Eventual Transition

The Anwar political bandwagon was galloping, picking up more hangers on and crushing opponents. One man stood in the way of their quest for power and he is Dr Mahathir Mohamad. A culture of expressing views had been stifled during the Mahathir Years due to lack of desire and rewards to think aloud and due to the sheer force in Dr Mahathir’s articulation. The media tended to overlook views deemed troublesome and often second-guessed the likely reactions of the Prime Minister who was strong-willed and determined to strengthen the economy. He believed, and this was flawed thinking, that with prosperity the professionals, the lawyers, the doctors would develop a more refined outlook on politics.

They were like the rest of the Malay constituency, gullible and gossip about politics due partly to the lack of public information and discussion of issues that really mattered. A case in point was it was unthinkable for the media then to start dissecting the differing approaches to addressing the financial crisis by Dr Mahathir and Anwar. The void led to speculation frenzy.

Dr Mahathir meanwhile was startled to learn of Anwar’s moves to position himself as Prime Minister-in-waiting and started listening to critics of Anwar and those with stories to tell pertaining to his character flaws. Dr Mahathir must have figured that once presented with a body of facts, Anwar would leave the scene. The months of speculation and guessing game had allowed the Anwar support machine to develop alternative strategies and battle cries. The moment Anwar was sacked a full-blown internet strategy was activated. Mahathir was made to be Maha-Firaun. Mahathir did eventually step aside for Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who came into the office with a mandate for change. The Mahathir policies were suited for his time. By the time he departed, a restive crowd wished to see things done differently.

Some Realities

1) Umno’s biggest setback is its longevity. This is a hypothesis - regardless of its track-record, some Malays out there simply wish to see change, thus the reason for them warming up to Anwar now that he represents a “new” political persuasion. A lot more people genuinely believe they should be a stronger check and balance. Are there means of placating this crowd?

2) A major contributing factor to the diminished faith in the main institutions is that there is this belief that Umno had in 1998 and now gang up or conspire to bring down Anwar. This effectively means oncoming sodomy trial is not going to sway public opinion unless there is conclusive evidence. This will help restore confidence in the institutions – from Government specialists, public prosecutors, police and judges. Past bungling, did not help. Dr Mahathir had no inkling of the black eye until the Attorney General was told to ask why Anwar has not been charged. The Police wanted to allow the bruises to heal, but were told to produce Anwar in court instantly. A subtle whispering campaign to further challenge idea of conspiracy could prove useful. How many individuals are actually involved in this so-called vast conspiracy against Anwar? In 1998, he named names when they certainly did not act together.

3) Anwar has been the darling of the Press (reporters on the ground) partly because his political moves were restricted to sniping and his Press conferences were sparring. At the Parliament lobby he will be relentless pursued for comments. He could be very prickly when the tougher questions are thrown at him. An Umno leader could challenge Anwar on his first day at Parliament to prove there has been this vast conspiracy against him, and reporters would be scrambling for quotes from Anwar. Utusan and Agenda Daily cannot be possibly barred from the Parliament lobby.

4) As a Parliamentarian, Anwar will have to participate in the process. While his presence will be a morale booster for the Opposition ranks, he will have to offer views and this could be challenged.

5) Pas sees Anwar their ally and Umno as their opponent. A stronger Anwar could plausibly benefit Pas. Pas will be further alienated should Umno be allowed to recover.

6) Despite the Malay political mindset, they will want to listen to politicians making more sense, thus the televised debate or forum should be made a permanent feature.

7) The mainstream media is a considerable force with a massive potential. Unlocking the potential shall require a new political direction for the editors, stronger writing, and a freer on-line reporting.