Quote of the Day (QOTD) #1

“Because if Left populist candidates keep missing the mark, and Democrats keep putting up establishment candidates in their place, there is every reason to expect an increasingly belligerent Right to keep on winning,”

– Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough

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Time to say “No”!

Reading Naomi Klein’s “No Is Not Enough” is an eye opener to just why we need to move on to a policy battleground rather than just the acceptable “mud wrestling” spectacle that is Malaysian politics.

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The book. Currently being placed on a very messy table

Klein points out something that is similar to Malaysia in what happened to Hillary Clinton – while she did win the majority vote, Donald Trump won 2,600 of the 3,000 counties in America.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Continue reading “Time to say “No”!”

Is “confusion” a good excuse to ban books? And where does it lead?

Is “confusion” a good excuse to ban books? And where does it lead?

by Hafidz Baharom

This question still lingers, since the whole “Ultraman” ban in 2014 by our authorities here in Malaysia. Apparently because someone wrongly translated a character in the comic as “the Allah’s of Ultraman“, it got banned.

And this use of one word to describe God has led to yet another charge of how using such a word, and defining it, will somehow lead to “confusion”.

In today’s case, the people from the Selangor Religious Department (JAIS) testified that Ezra Zaid’s translation of Irshad Manji’s book titled “Allah, Liberty and Love” into Bahasa Malaysia, was “confusing” and wrongly describing God, therefore the cause to take him to court.

He is facing a maximum RM3,000 fine, a 2-year prison sentence, or both. Continue reading “Is “confusion” a good excuse to ban books? And where does it lead?”

Us and Israel, a love hate relationship

Us and Israel, a love hate relationship

By Hafidz Baharom

We have been against Israel since Tunku Abdul Rahman declared them persona non grata in 1965. However, we have been on and off again trying to establish relations with Israel since the 1990s, dependent on whatever happens in their relationship with Palestine.

Thus, having Israelis come to Malaysia, even to attend a United Nations (UN) conference will earn you brickbats when you are the government. In the most recent case, an Israeli delegation made its way into Kuala Lumpur for the UN World Urban Forum (WUF9) which was held two weeks ago.

Thus, what has somehow become a matter taken advantage of by Pakatan Harapan, is truly after the fact that it had happened. It really is an easy target to whack anyone about voicing an anti-Israeli stance. I would know, I have done it before for a column on a now defunct online portal in February 2012.

Continue reading “Us and Israel, a love hate relationship”

Why Pakatan is freaking out over #UndiRosak

Why Pakatan is freaking out over #UndiRosak

By Hafidz Baharom

There have been so many parables over Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional that I have pretty much lost track of which one actually tells the tale properly.

Initially, it was a mere story of Pepsi versus Coke, and both of hem might trigger diabetes and make you lose your leg. And from there it has moved on to fruits A versus B, Bakery A versus Bakery B and even McDonald’s versus Ramli burger selling stalls and food trucks.

To myself personally, I’d rather look at it now and see Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional more akin to Samsung and Apple – and I’m sure tech enthusiasts might see this and experience a lightbulb effect.

The parable is simple, Apple runs on Samsung chips. And both models using the same batch of chips burst into flames due to a defect. Both have sued each other for copyright infringement, both openly mock each other in ads, and both evolve over time. Continue reading “Why Pakatan is freaking out over #UndiRosak”

Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?

Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?

By Hafidz Baharom

I read the letter from Liew Chin Tong lambasting analysts as being biased and justifying a Barisan Nasional victory with a main question – who is he trying to convince?

He is correct by saying that if Pakatan Harapan should win over 50 percent of the Malay vote, they would win the next general election. Yet, herein lies the problem – Pakatan Harapan does not have that vote.

And here is something he is perhaps less keen to admit, his side lost a lot of Malay votes when it dumped PAS, while their replacements PPBM and Amanah are not yet gelled together nor gained the momentum of membership to take on both PAS and Umno. Continue reading “Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?”

Muharram, Hijrah and seeking refuge

With the upcoming celebration of Awal Muharram, it is important that we recall this event in a historic situation.

As a Muslim, we were told that the Hijra – the move from Mecca to Medina, was one that was ordained by God Himself in order to avoid religious persecution.

Religion teaches us that this was not the first exodus in the Abrahamic faith, as a similar fate took place between Moses and his people being expelled from Egypt by the Pharaoh.

Though to be frank, Muhammad did not have to wander the desert but started his community in Medina and united tribes, wrote a constitution and expanded the teachings of Islam from this city which became the first Islamic establishment.

If we were to relate that in current standing, Muhammad literally immigrated to a nation, set up a legal code and even became the chosen leader of the city state by allowing all to practise their faiths while also combining mosque and state into one central organisation.

He was also an illiterate migrant with no wealth of his own, and instead married into wealth. All he had was his reputation as an honest man and a hard worker who survived abuse for a different faith in his own homeland simply by the recognition of his uncle as a renowned trader.

And here was Medina, willing to accept him and his followers with open arms without a concern over their wealth, their faith, their education level, or even their culture brought about from a central city like Mecca. And obviously, nobody in Medina at that time feared they would lose their jobs, I personally hope.

The move of our Prophet from Mecca to Medina to avoid religious persecution, and he open acceptance of the people of Medina to accept him and his followers, are an important one to carry forward today, especially for the Muslim community. It is clear justification that we ourselves must practice the act of open borders when it comes to those fleeing violence and offer them a home.

It is a concept we have practised ourselves in the case of Bosnia, Syria, and hopefully we will extend it to those being persecuted in Myanmar.

But that being said, we should not limit it to just our brothers in religion, but extend it beyond that to the concept of a brotherhood of humankind. It would be shameful to expect us to only take in those who we deem worthy or unworthy, whereas even Christian majority nations have no such clause.

History tells us that migration is an integral part of nations when people are seeking better economic conditions and avoiding persecution.

You can take Muhammad moving to Medina, the Potato Famine causing an influx of Irish immigrants to America, or even the nations protecting fleeing Jews from the Nazis.

And quite honestly, we need humanity to step in before we put faith in God and miracles – and this is something that even our nation and people can do.

We must put stock that Malaysians, just like other people in developed nations, believe in caring for others and not just themselves. As much as we bicker internally over race, beliefs, politics and even class, there is no justification against saving a people – mainly women and children – facing genocidal slaughter in their own land.

We are not a nation of actuarial scientists that probe the cost of life and whether such an amount economically justifies letting people through our borders to avoid dying. Instead, what we must consider is how to make sure that those who do take refuge in our country can live their lives just as well as our own citizens.

We are not a rich nation per se, but I’ll be damned if we can’t even secure people from hunger, thirst, maiming, death from a bullet or even a machete. Personally, I wish we had done this sooner when Cambodia had their killing fields, Vietnam had their war and Indonesia started their communist purge or sectarian violence.

However, we must do this with proper policies and planning, to ensure that we make it a settled issue for times to come as well as to avoid bias in the future. To that end, I urge the politicians to start by coming up with a proper framework on the treatment of refugees and those seeking asylum.

Secondly, recognise the status of refugees and asylum seekers to allow them to seek a living here. And thirdly, in the long run, resolve all issues involving permanent residency and statelessness among our own Malaysians before subsequently looking for the same solution for refugees in Malaysia.

We may not be the richest nation, or the most peaceful, or the happiest, or even the ones with the greatest track record in ending corruption for that matter. But I do hope we can agree that we should at least be a humanitarian one that can support the right to live.

Is our private data really private?

In the middle of last month, I received a phone call from a so-called “Institut Minda Selangor”, which was doing a poll to gauge support for Selangor’s Pakatan Rakyat/Harapan state government.

Now, one would think there would be no problem with just answering a few questions and submitting to a poll, but this is different.

Some details – the phone number I have is a prepaid SIM card purchased from Maxis by my younger brother as a birthday present ages ago. In fact, it could have been close to seven or eight years ago.

And thus, he registered it under his name. It works just fine, other than the fact that the whole “birthday treat” comes in August and confuses me once a year – it’s a good reminder though.

Thus, when the pollster calls up and mentions my brother’s name instead of my own, we do have a problem. You see, only three people would know that this phone number of mine is registered under my brother’s name – myself, my brother, and the telco itself.

So, where would the pollster have gotten the information?

I decided to take this case to Facebook, and as such, the telco provider has given feedback that their system is secure without a breach. However, they couldn’t provide an answer as to how the pollster could have gotten the details known only to three parties, two of which are pretty much secure and would never reveal that information.

Thus, at this point, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that someone is leaking phone numbers, private information, to pollsters. As to who is doing it, perhaps it can be found out by finding the pollsters since telcos are all convincing that their data handling – from initial registration of buying a SIM card from a kedai runcit or even 7-Eleven, is secure and without a leak.

To those who got the same phone call, perhaps it is time to take note that your data has been sold off to would be pollsters, promoters, and maybe even fraudsters, and perhaps it is time to think about where they got it from.

List of items to be applied GST

Items to be removed from the Zero Rated GST Schedule

Tariff Code Item
0301.92.00 Eels (Live)
0302.47.00 Swordfish (Fresh or Chilled)
0302.74.00 Eels (Fresh or Chilled)
0303.26.00 Eels (Frozen)
0303.57.00 Swordfish (Frozen)
0304.45.00 Swordfish Fillets (Fresh, Chilled or Frozen)
0304.54.00 Swordfish
0304.84.00 Swordfish
0304.91.00 Swordfish
0307.51 Octopus (Live)
0307.51.10 ?
0307.51.20 ?
0307.52.00 ?
0307.59 Octopus
0307.59.20 ?
0709.99.10 Sweet corn (fresh or chilled)
07.10 Vegetables (Frozen)
0710.10.00 Potatoes (Frozen)
0710.21.00 Peas (Frozen)
0710.22.00 Beans (Frozen)
0710.29.00 Others (Frozen)
0710.30.00 Spinach (Frozen)
0710.40.00 Sweet Corn (Frozen)
0710.80.00 Other Vegetables (Frozen)
0710.90.00 Mixed Vegetables (Frozen)
07.11 Vegetables (Frozen)
0711.20 Olives
0711.20.90 Olives in Brine
0711.40 Cucumber and Gherkins
0711.40.90 Cucumber and Gherkins in Brine
0711.51 Mushrooms
0711.51.90 Mushrooms (Agaricus) in Brine
0711.59 Other Mushrooms
0711.59.90 Other Mushrooms in Brine
0711.90 Other vegetables/mixed vegetables in Brine
0711.90.10 Sweet Corn in Brine
0711.90.20 Chillies
0711.90.30 ?
0711.90.90 ?
0804.10.00 Fresh dates
0804.20.00 Fresh figs
0804.40.00 Fresh avocado
08.06 Grapes (fresh or dried)
0806.10.00 Fresh grapes
08.09 Apricots, cherries, peaches (including nectarines), plums and sloes, fresh
0809.10.00 Apricots
0809.21.00 Sour cherries
0809.29.00 Other cherries
0809.30.00 Peaches including nectarines
0809.40 Plums and Sloes
0809.40.10 Plums
0809.40.20 Sloes
0902.10 Green tea in immediate packings
0902.10.10 ?
0902.10.90 ?
0902.20 Other green tea
0902.20.10 ?
0902.20.90 ?
0910.20.00 Saffron
0910.99 Other spices
0910.99.10 ?
9010.99.90 ?
1517.90.61 Margarine
1517.90.67 ?

On the Big Gay Iftar

Seems the brickbats are out for the hosting of the Big Gay Iftar by the Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative (Pelangi) which took place last week.

Before I say more, let me just point out a few things – I am gay. I have been officially out since 2008 (you can find that piece in The Star) and even came out again in 2010. Thus, I do have a bias when it comes to attending events such as this one.

The idea for a Big Gay Iftar, in itself, is not original. In the UK, it is hosted annually in London, and for 2017 will be on June 17. It is when the Islamic community in London have an iftar event for the LGBTQ+ community, and this year it apparently takes place in a churchtakes place in a church.

Continue reading “On the Big Gay Iftar”