Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Malaysian Lawyers Egroup Posting Part III: Death for Muslims Who Fail to Pray

Note: One of the Egroup members posted a newspaper article with the above title. A law was passed in some country imposing the death penalty on Muslims who do not perform the obligatory prayers. Then this member whom we shall call "J" (whose second name is Kaur & therefore we assume she is a Sikh) posted a comment that she is glad she is not a Muslim. This sparked off a spate of angry response from Muslim lawyers and there were some responses from Christian lawyers trying to be helpful but who were inadvertantly drawn into the fray. It was turning rather nasty so I thought I should intervene before it goes too far. That stupid girl "J" exascerbated the situation in her response to these postings by calling Malay Muslims "You people" and referring to them as "Bumiputras who behave like they have just come out of a dungeon when they are overseas". She further commented "Why is your religion so complicated that you have so many different interpretations" or something to that effect. Why oh why are people so ignorant & foolhardy to the point of recklessness that they make such flippant and blase remarks about other people's religion & culture? Below was my response posted on 12 July 2006:-

Dear J (& everyone who have posted comments on this issue)

I have been following the discussion by members of this group on the Lina Joy case and now this. And so.... our level of communication with each other has now come to this - affectionately calling each other "you
people" and fondly relating the escapades of "Bumiputras behaving like they have come out of a dungeon whilst abroad". Making sweeping statements "why is your religion so complicated that you have so many different interpretations" and soon another person will respond with "why do you people have so many Gods" not realising that not all Indians are Hindus or the difference between Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians....Whilst others recklessly make further sweeping statements, though well-intentioned and without malice, like "you should be thankful she is still praying to the same one God" or "Isn't Jesus also a prophet in Islam so what's the big deal, its the same teachings" or something to that effect.

Then there are those who are Holier Than Thou - comparing which practitioner of which religion has more faith and fervour for their respective religion and not being satisfied with just that comparison, they seek to then distinguish between those who do diligently practise the religion and those who choose to practise only some parts of the religious requirements. Comments like these coming from Joe Bloggs (or Mat Motor) off the street, I can understand. But comments such as these from lawyers trained to apply coherent thought processes and objectivity above personal feelings & emotions, I find difficult to digest or comprehend. Soon we will be calling each other "terrorist" and "infidel" and so the tenous grip we have on our respect and courtesy for each other crumbles as we join the masses in our mudslinging frenzy.

In the backdrop to this scenario we have religious leaders who seem afflicted with some curious malady propelling them to pass strange edicts proclaiming "Kongsi-Raya" as a non-kosher activity and our police chieftain waking up one morning struck by a sudden brainwave (or a message from God perhaps?) announcing that from that day henceforth all policewomen shall don the headscarf regardless of race & religion. You start wondering - is this a cheap publicity stunt to justify their existence or are they experiencing a surge of religious fervour?

And so... our people are flung into this whirlpool of confusion as fear
seeps in - it's us against them, Muslims vs non Muslims, Extremists vs Moderates, Bumis vs non Bumis. Should we visit each other for Hari Raya? Oh yes, why not? We can visit our friends for Chinese New Year but choose not to partake in their food and drinks as perchance these oranges, peanuts and coca cola they serve may not be halal. And perish the thought of allowing our children to visit their friends of another race/religion.

Let us not get caught up with this national obsession over haram & halal causing a rift between and disrespect amongst fellow human beings. Let's take a good look at our children these days. Are they mingling like we used to at school? Let's not put all the blame on the Government or the religious leaders. Let's take some responsibility ourselves. When we, as lawyers, supposedly the last bastion of objectivity (if not sanity) left in this country, decide to jump into the same bandwagon and start calling each other "you people" and making references to "Bumiputras behaving like people out of a dungeon", what hope is there for our children? Let us go beyond tolerating each other, let us respect each other. In respecting each other, perhaps we should first refrain from making sweeping statements about religious practices and beliefs which we are not familiar with. Every religion & race has its fair share of bigots. Let's not judge the rest of the people practising these religions by the actions of a handful of bigots. We can choose - to either get carried away by this tidal wave of national dementia with underlying threats of people running "amok" when provoked or we can step back, observe objectively and use our rational thought processes before we make any comments, issue any response or decide on how to behave.

Let our strength of faith not be measured by how much we are willing to die or to kill for our religion but how much we are willing to love & forgive for our God.

This Alice would like to return to her Wonderland where she opens her school textbook and reads :-
"Ah Chong, Ali dan Gopal adalah kawan baik dan mereka pergi memancing ikan bersama-sama setiap hari Sabtu" and not remain in this Hinterland where she opens her emails and reads "You people are the ones.....coming out of your dungeons....".

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Malaysian Lawyers' Egroup posting II: In Defence of the Single Professional Woman - Part II

Note: DA replied and this was my response to him. As you can see it was written before the Bench & Bar Games (see my earlier posting on the Bench & Bar Games 2006). After this response, DA & I sent some private emails to each other to clear any tension/misunderstanding. We are friends now (I hope) though we have not met & he seems a really decent chap doing his best to make this world a better place.

Caveat :This is an incredibly long email and of very low importance and it also contains quotations from a book/play - so please delete immediately if you have better things to do.
I apologise to everyone (especially DA) for posting my reply to DA here. A number of people from this Egroup (most of whom I don't know) have phoned and emailed asking me how DA responded to my emails particularly "In defence of the Single Professional Woman" and requested that I post it in this E-group as it was started here and according to them is a matter of "public interest". I even had irate husbands calling me, defending their "kupas mango" rights. DA, I didn't want to forward your emails and my response surreptitiously and have them ricochet to & fro within the legal fraternity without your knowledge. Anyway you have stated and defended your position very well and I feel its only fair that others should be aware of your stand instead of thinking that you are daft or have been dumped or "talking crap". So lets have it out in the open. I just spotted your email replying to "In defence of the Single Professional Woman" (I don't check my gmail regularly) - the gist of which is the same as "Malaysian women suffer apartheid" so my response to both emails is below.
My Dear DA,

There's no need to break out into a rash over this ( a dash of calamine lotion and a sip of chamomile tea might soothe you). Kindly dismount from your precarious perch atop you high horse before you fracture your collarbone. Ofcourse I read Marina's letter. The full text was emailed to me personally before the abridged version appeared in the BBC news. As I said in my email dated 10.3.06, I was not challenging what she said in her text.

As for reading other publications which you contribute to in order to ascertain where you are coming from and your stand on certain issues, I can't be expected to scour all available publications however obscure todiscover what your views are on these issues. For all I know, you might also be contributing articles to Nestle's Quarterly Review - commenting on how their New Improved Formula One Baby Milk Powder has caused the decline in the number of women breast feeding in this country! Do I need to develop a whole new science of interpretation on what Dev Anand means before I can comment on what you have written? As for referring to your contributions to Harakah, I'm afraid the "Harakah" is not on my "Preferred Reading List ". I'd rather not expose myself to Hadi Awang's (the Ayatollah of South East Asia) rhetoric and diatribe.

When you say you are "well married", I'm not sure what you mean by that. I can understand "happily married" but "well married"? When we say a person "married well" it suggests that the person married someone who is wealthy or of an important position (or both). Just thinking aloud, you don't have to answer that. I'm really not that interested in how well you are married. (Oh, I think you have explained it in your 2nd email).
By the way, do forgive me for not responding instantly to you emails. I was preoccupied with the manuscript for my new book entitled " Toad Exodus". No, I am not writing about your summer holidays with your fellow emasculated Malaysian men at Camp Bravo. Not everything is about you.

"SO DON'T THINK I DON'T KNOW ABOUT WOMEN". Well hurrah for you! Not many men dare make such a lofty claim. As for your declaration "I fear no one except God, I will continue to write and express without fear or favour", I really don't feel that whatever I wrote merits such an impassioned outburst. Stop being such a drama queen. Heavens, there's no need to drag God into this. He has better things to do than to get embroiled in our little tete-a-tete.
Much as I would like to pursue this intellectual discourse and take it to the next level, I fear I may need to conserve my energy to fend off an onslaught of hate mail from Hadi Awang supporters and Harakah subscribers. However, from the gist of our enthusiastic repartee, I feel that we are fast becoming great friends. Perhaps we can settle this over a game of darts at the upcoming Bar Games in Langkawi (April 28,29 &30th). I assure you that you will win as I haven't a clue how to play darts. (Its not on my " Preferred Activity List"). If you don't know what I look like then kindly log on to the Malaysian Bar website, under Annual Dinner 2006 photos, last page (page 8) last picture. I am the one in the black & white polka dot outfit avec ribbon on my hair (supposedly my Mary Quant 60s look which sadly failed to convince or impress anyone...). If you are not attending the Bar Games, then feel free to print this picture and throw darts at it at your leisurely pleasure in the comfort of your own home. (The Harakah may also wish to publish this picture so that their readers may enjoy the same privileges. I recommend an hour of vigorous and aggressive dart throwing before you send me any hate mail).

Carry on writing DA! If I make the occassional jibe, it is merely out of sport. I don't mean to scoff at or belittle what you have written nor to offend. My friends say I have a wicked sense of humour though I do try to curb it, I fail miserably at times and someone has to bear the brunt of it. I apologise. I don't think you are stupid. In fact, can you direct me to the nearest sperm bank? I think its an excellent suggestion to cut out the middle man. (Sorry, there I go again - being irreverent).

To all the men out there, the next time you feel the need to exert your masculinity, I suggest you dig out your turbo-charged Black & Decker series 8000 and drill some nails into the wall or assemble some IKEA kitchen cabinets. Hanging out with your chums drinking beer somehow does not have the same impact.

And to those of you who rushed out to buy copies of "Pride & Prejudice", I'm afraid I have a slight amendment to make on my criteria for my ideal man. He should be reading "The Importance of Being Earnest" instead as I much prefer Oscar Wilde to Jane Austen.

To DA and all those I have offended (or bored with this long email or whose server has crashed because of this very long email), please accept my apology:-
"If we shadows have offended
think but this, and all is mended:
That you have but slumbered here,
While these visions did appear;
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And as I am an honest puck,
If we have unearned luck,
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue
We will make amends ere long,
Else the puck a liar call
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends"
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

See you at the Bar Games
Malaysian Lawyers' Egroup posting I: In Defence of the Single Professional Woman - Part I

I know I haven't been writing anything much in this space for a while. I'm just drained out and hopefully I can take the whole of next week off. Some months ago our lawyers' informal Yahoo group was disbanded. I won't go into the whys etc. I posted some things there in response to other members' postings and I decided I will post them all here without the other members' postings as I don't have their permission to do so but you can basically get the gist of the whole thing.

I spotted this letter (below) in the NST on Friday 17 March 2006. I wonder if this is the same DA who posted that email in this E-group on 9 March 2006 which sparked off the "What a load of crap" emails?

If it is the same person, then it seems that our DA has taken his crusade against professional women beyond this E-group onto a national level. Those who read his email (Majid, surely you must remember it..) will recall his lamentations on the plight of his emasculated fellow Malaysian men.

Quote (from his email): "Sperm banks and casual sex will become a norm and men will inadvertently become the subservient sex...Malaysian women have proven that they only need men to provide the sperm and the initials and ofcourse if he is rich, their agenda will be to suck him dry and make him regret of ever being born in the first place."

Now in his letter to NST (if it is the same person), he says "the Malaysian
professional woman is, I think, a lonely, frustrated individual who only sees her rights as being supreme".

Just out of curiousity DA (if you are reading this), I would like to know - Who rained on your parade? Who dumped you recently to provoke such bitter tirades against professional women who prefer to remain single? Perhaps you have handled one too many divorce cases and the acrimony you witnessed has left an indelible bitter taste in your mouth.

In your letter to the NST (by now I am convinced you are the same person
who wrote the email) you said that in your experience as a divorce lawyer, a number of women initiated the divorce because "they just can't stand having a poor husband or an intellectually inferior one". This comment does not make much sense. If this is an important criteria for getting married, surely these women would be able to gauge the man's financial status (conduct a due diligence exercise!) and his intellectual capacity before embarking into a marriage with him?

I wonder if you were just repeating the estranged husbands' interpretation on why the marriage broke down. Perhaps, being a male lawyer, the women you represented (if any) were not candid enough to share with you the real reasons for the marital breakdown. A common complaint amongst my married friends (women) on why they are dissatisfied with their marriage is not that the husband is poor or intellectually inferior but his poor or inferior performance in the boudoir. Women are more discerning these days - though I'm sure you would use the word "demanding" instead. Successful professional women are financially independent and know that they have choices in life. They will not put up with shoddy treatment nor shoddy anything else. Gone are the days when the husband sits in front of the telly watching football expecting his wife to "kupas mango" for him.

My single professional female friends are a happy and confident lot who don't sit around whingeing about how lonely and frustrated they are, waiting for someone to come along to make them happy. It is my married
friends (some, not all) who complain that they are lonely and frustrated -
living lives of quiet desperation, trapped in a dull marriage but staying
on for various reasons. Being married to someone does not guarantee
happiness or even the end of loneliness. Any woman who has such
expectations that marriage, a husband and a bunch of kids will make her a complete person and give her a sense of identity and she will live happily ever after has, I'm afraid, grown up chomping through a steady diet of Barbara Cartland and Mills & Boons. Books for the consumption of teenage girls should be rewritten to alleviate future disappointment when they discover that marriage is hard work. Both parties must make the effort to ensure the marriage works.

Marriage provides an opportunity for these individuals to grow. Unfortunately they forget that they are individuals and lose their identity in a marriage. They should learn to "stand together yet not too near together:..for..the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow" (Kahlil Gibran "The Prophet"). If the marriage does not allow them to grow spiritually then they must know when to let go. There are many reasons couples divorce - infidelity, breach of trust, domestic violence, lack of communication and respect or they have simply fallen out of love with each other. If these professional women are leaving their husbands because of their lack of money or intelligence then perhaps these husbands are not adding value to the marriage in other aspects. The breakdown of the marriage cannot solely be due to his lack of money or intelligence.

However, I must admit there are exceptions. A very dear male friend of
mine (a lawyer) was dumped by his girlfriend due to the lack of fine dining in the course of their relationship. Anyway, he is now happily married to a gorgeous MTV VJ.

I have friends who are highly successful in their careers, extremely
wealthy and intelligent who waited for the right man and married at the
age of 40. These men are nowhere near as wealthy, successful or (arguably) intelligent as these friends are but they are very kind, loving and respectful husbands. We, single professional women are not the
embittered, lonely, frustrated spinsters you portray us to be. Each of us have different preferences and criteria for the "right man". Should a man
possessing impeccable manners, who does not make promises he cannot keep, come crashing through my office window whilst bungee jumping from the rooftop of our office building (preferably whilst reading Pride &
Prejudice) and lands on my lap, then I may consider marrying him.
Otherwise, I am quite happy to remain single.

There, have I succeeded in "corrupting the others who believe in the
institution of marriage"? These views are my personal views and not
reflective of the views of other professional women, single or married.