Wednesday, December 10, 2008
This week, we speak with Balinese activist Termana Ngurah about the reformasi of the late 1990s, and its continued effects on the student and civil society movements in Indonesia. Check out the episode at: http://popteevee.popfolio.net/default.aspx?e=50
Termana took part in the recent REFORMASI'LAH! - Membincangkan (lagi) 10 Tahun Reformasi Malaysia dan Indonesia forum, comparing the different trajectories of the Reformasi in both countries. He shares with us how Indonesians became quickly disillusioned after the initial euphoria of ousting President Suharto, and decided to focus on building local communities and fighting against the State's interference in their personal lives and local politics. Lots of interesting parallels to consider for Malaysians.
Termana Ngurah is an activist with the Taman 65 collective in Bali, Indonesia. He is in KL for 2 months with the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD).
Download, forward, embed!
Mark Teh (producer of Fahmi Reza's Revolusi 48)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Bar Council is organizing its inaugural HR Debate for participants next week!!!! FREE to watch and to see the fireworks!! This should be verrrrrrrrry EXCITING! So, do make time to go.
Unfortunately, no public transport to KDU College--you will need car or cab to get there--but can take LRT to Central Market or Masjid Jamek and walk to Bar Council Office, no problem. Very near both LRT stations.
For full info, please go check out: http://hrdebate08.wordpress.com/
TENTATIVE SCHEDULE (Topics will be given on the day itself so it will be a surprise!)
a) Day one (9 December 2008):
At Bar Council, 13, 15 & 17 Leboh Pasar Besar, KL
8 - 11 a.m. Opening ceremony
b) Day two (10 December 2008):
All events at KDU College , PJ Campus
10 - 11 a.m. Round one
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Round two
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Round three
c) Day three (11 December 2008):
All events at KDU College , PJ Campus
10 - 11 a.m. Round four
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Round five
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Quarterfinals
d) Day four (12 December 2008): Venue as specified below
10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Semifinals (Debate Category) @ KDU College
2 - 3 p.m. Public Speaking Preliminary/ Semi-Final round @ KDU College
8 - 11 p.m. Grand Finals & Closing @ Bar Council, 13, 15 & 17 Leboh Pasar Besar, KL
Monday, December 1, 2008
Oppressed People’s Network (JERIT) has initiated a nationwide cycling campaign that carries the theme of ’Rakyat Pengayuh Perubahan’ which explains the rakyat drives the change. The participants for this campaign comes from various background such as from plantation workers support comittee, industrial workers’ coalition, farmers, urban pioneers, students and youth groups.
Other NGOs, trade unions, human right groups and political partys also will be a part in this campaign. The idea of this campaign is to reach the public by cycling to city and main town in Malaysia whilst spreading awareness on the issue that affects them extremely such as oil price hike, draconian laws against people, global issues i.e. food crisis and dying planet.
This core issues has been overshadowed by the twisted political scenario and economical that takes away rakyat’s mind and focus from the real problem their are facing daily.
Therefore, the cycling campaign would be a great move to empower the rakyat to focus on their real life issues and demand for change.
- To increase awareness to rakyat on their real problems and solutions.
- To increase awareness among rakyat to be enviroment friendly to save our dying earth.
- To popularise JERIT’s main demands amongst the people
- Enact Minimum wage Act
- Abolish draconian laws
- Adequate housing for all
- Controllled and affordable goods’ price
- Revive local municipal council’s election.
- Stop privitisation of public services such air water, hospitals and education.
The campaign will be tentatively launched on the 22nd of November 2008 and continues for three weeks.
- 150 cyclist will cycle through at least to 50 state’s main town and city whistl distributing pamphlets.
- Programmes like speeches, street dramas or carnival will be arranged and participated by the local people at the each stop in states.
- A memorandum will be handed over to the Menteri Besar of each state during the cyclist tour in the respective state in order to get their support and endorsement on the JERIT demands.
- The campaign will kicks of from three points of the country as mentioned in the route below :
- Northern Malaysia: Perlis-Penang-Perak-Selangor-Kuala Lumpur
- Southern Malaysia: Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur
- Eastern Malaysia: Kelantan , Terengganu, Pahang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur
Highlight of the Campaign
The cyclist will be arriving in Kuala Lumpur and the highligh event will be the handing over memorandum to the Prime Minister at the parliament. This event will be witnessed by approximately 1000 people from the Coalition and partners in this campaign.
The total cost of the campaign is estimated to be around RM270,000.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Calling all youths out there!!
Amnesty International Malaysia and DEMA will be organizing a 3-day Human Rights Youth Camp for the first time in Penang from 29th Nov - 1st Dec.
Come and learn about fundamental human rights, the Malaysian human rights realities, movies, games, exposure trip to see and speak to human rights victims and how they stand up for their rights, as well as discussions, sharing sessions with human rights activists and many more!
Fees: RM30 (inclusive of meals, accomodation, transportation for the exposure trip)
Venue: Yayasan Aman, Permatang Pauh, Bukit Mertajam, Penang.
Hurry! Register quickly as we have limited places!
For more information, please contact Yohen at 03-79552680 or Ti Hui at 017-6663855.
9-10am - Registration
10-11am - Ice breaking / introductions/ expectation checks
11-1pm - Introduction to human rights
1-2pm - Lunch
2-4pm - Analysis of Malaysian Human Rights Situation
4-6pm - Sex and Gender
6-8pm - Bath/ Dinner
8-830pm- Exposure Trip briefing
830-11pm - Human Rights Movie sharing
11pm - supper / end
8-9am - Breakfast
9-4pm - Exposure trip to 4 different issues locations
4-6pm - Group discussion and preparations for presentation
6-7pm - Tele-match
7-830pm - Bath / Dinner
830-11pm - Group presentations
11pm - Supper / end
730-830am - Breakfast
830-11am - Case Study
11-1230pm - Activist Sharing session
1230-130pm - Lunch
130-3pm - Youth participation session
3-330pm - Introduction to AI + DEMA
330-4pm - Conclusion / end
4-5pm - Tidy up / Depart
*Issue and locations of the exposure trips will be informed to the participants at the venue itself.
But it was the black vote that was the most telling – McCain managed only 4%, while Obama scored a resounding 95%.
It is an important first step, sure, but America will only have transcended race when a white man votes for a black man, and a black man votes for a white man, without giving a damn what his skin colour is. "
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Bangsa Malaysia. I think first we have to understand the meaning of the word Bangsa Malaysia. Bangsa Malaysia may have many interpretations and i define is as, I race where there is no discrimination between inner ethnicity, gender age and etc. Being as one for fight for what is believed to be good and profitable to many people. Have concern and care for the unfortunate with out seeing difference. Have a proper political system and no barrier between the ruling class. I think that is a part of what I think is Bangsa Malaysia.
I think that Malaysia is not really to have a Bangsa Malaysia. There are problems that has to be faced first before this new rage of Bangsa in being introduced. we have to ask ourselves why. Look around! What do we see?
This is what I saw: A Chinese boy was having tea with Malay.I will call them A and B. They looked like friends.A and B were have a normal conversation and joking to each other. Both of them don't hate each other. They don't feel hatred towards the opposite race. That's good. Then after sometime both of them went back. While on the way back he met with a racist Malay and that gave hatred in him saying that " Malays are racist" So I will be racist. This effected A and B's friendship.... The moral of the story is, no matter how happily a person is with another race but there will be discrimination among other races.
Let me prove something. There are a large group of Malays will not be satisfied is any benefit is given to other races. Simple, UITM case. Having a mix student population is good but looks like the Malays see education as religion. UITM is for us not for others. So we are nowhere to Bangsa Malaysia.
The Chinese, Haha. Quite a number of Chinese will only go on to fight or support something only if it has to do with Chinese. You name it, Chinese schools, poverty, culture, language and etc.If there is no effects to the Chinese community, sorry to say there will be no support from the Chinese. They are united but among themselves. I have seen cases where a particular community held a protest against the ruling government.This incident happened late September 2007 They protested not to close a Gas station in Kepong. The station belonged to a Chinese man. It was a "Caltex" Gas station beside it was Petronas Gas station. Dunno what is wrong with the gas station, the government ordered it to be closed.
Personally I think the reason for the government wanted to close the gas Station was because there was a Chinese school just beside the premise. Just beside it. Maybe government takut, nanti Station blow the School students also blow. I don't really know. But during the protest, there were parents who brought their children to protest together as if like there is no other Gas station or maybe their kids are in need of gasoline. The scene was so funny. Oh yea, those kids i told, they were from the school beside the Gas station. With uniforms they were brought to the protest. Was a sunny day and kids who are suppose to be studying and leaning were out on the roads with parents in the name of supporting. United to the extreme. I think that what they did was wrong! Protest for a wrong purpose and using the wrong idea.
Land problems are between the person and the government/land office. There is no need to have a protest. Is this what we call as Bangsa Malaysia?
Indians. Please lah. Let me keep it simple. Indians will give a helping only if there is any reward. Not all there are a number of them and Indians are very good in influencing other Indians do do something if they have reward. Sorry. Im an Indian and I have seen a lot of this "bs" so don't come and bull with me.
In short we cant be going to Bangsa Malaysia if we are only back up our own race. Race based party should be abolish first of all. I think for now we can do that. They are not serving the purpose but they are just there flashing their flags and banners. Abolish alone will not do. There has to be parties where it is multiracial or else die,,, Some are out there just to find fault and to create chaos. They are able to input wrong information into our brains. " This party is 1 race based. They will not fight for our rights. " Bla bla bla. I think that race is not a factor to have leaders . Why? If a country is being run by all Chinese, I don't think there will be a problem as long as they are able to relate and understand the peoples needs and not being favorable to on particular race.
We are progressing but to reach Bangsa Malaysia, still far way to go. What we can do is speed things up. Speeding in a civilized and manned way. We don't want to be called baboons or monkey as they breed in the Malaysian Parliament.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The year 1998 was a chaotic year for Indonesia. The nation which was ruled by Suharto faced financial crisis and Suharto's government was full of corruption. University students and other who were dissatisfied had held massive protests against the government. The nation was at the state of war when military forces were brought in to handle the situation.
There was massive killing done by the army and there were 3 major incident which had cause the revolution of Indonesia.
2) Tragedi Semanggi 1
3) Tragedi Semanggi 2
Friday, November 14, 2008
The term postmodernism was coined by a Frenchman Jean Francois Lyotard (1924 - 98). It is a new approach to thinking about the world. Some call it an ideology. Postmodernism is not primarily political. Although postmodernism is not generally thought of as an ideology, let alone a political ideology, it can lead to a position that asserts with absolute certainty that there is no truth. This crude form of postmodernism can sometimes look a lot like an ideology, but most postmodernist take a different position, arguing that truth depends on where you stand.
In this form, postmodernism has potential for undermining belief in any ideology because ideologies have traditionally claimed to have the singular truth, to be universal. Today, influenced by postmodernism, we in the 21st-century are much more aware of the local and contingent, and if the standpoint is ideological, postmodernism can be seen as actually reinforcing ideologies rather than undermine them. Each ideology is now probably best thought of as composed of subsets of closely related ways of viewing the world.
A complication for most of us is that we stand in more than once place. We view the world through lenses provided by ideology, gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and so forth. For many people, one of these will dominate, but others look through different glasses at different times regarding different issues. Most of us manage this shifts in perspective without conflict, often without even realising that we are doing so. We see ourselves as a whole rather than as multiple selves.
I'm thinking of writing about anarchism next. Any suggestions of would be welcome.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Discussion on 10 Years of Reformasi in Malaysia and Indonesia
REFORMASI Sebuah kata yang banyak didengungkan, bergema di Malaysia dan Indonesia. Puluhan ribu hingga jutaan orang turun ke jalan meneriakkan REFORMASI menuntut adanya perubahan.Sepuluh tahun telah usianya, adakah perubahan itu?Apakah reformasi sekarang hanya menjadi sebuah kata tanpa makna? Apakah reformasi masih merupakan sebuah gerakan yang patut diperjuangkan?Atau hanya menjadi slogan yang menyimpan kisah-kisah heroik para pejuangnya? Lalu bagaimana dengan masa depan reformasi?
REFORMASI is a word that is frequently being bandied about, resonating in Malaysia and Indonesia. Thousands, if not millions of people flood the streets roaring 'REFORMASI' and demanding CHANGE. Already a decade old, but has there been CHANGE? Or, has REFORMASI now become a meaningless word? Should we continue with the struggle for REFORMASI? Or, is REFORMASI just a slogan that conjures images of the heroics of REFORMASI fighters? So, what now? Is there a future for REFORMASI?
1. Sdr. Amirudin Shaari | ADUN Batu Caves, Selangor
2. Sdr. Fathi Aris Omar | Pengarang Berita Malaysiakini (Edisi BM), Penulis Buku "Patah Balek"
3. Sdr. Hishamuddin Rais | Pengarang Buku "Pilihan Raya atau Pilihan Jalan Raya", "Keganasan, Penipuan & Internet"
4. Sdr. Ngurah Termana | Aktivis Komunitas "Taman 65" Bali, Indonesia
5. Sdr. Yoshi Fajar Kresno Murti | Aktivis Kampung-Kota Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Tempat | Dewan Perhimpunan Cina Selangor & Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Maharajalela Kuala Lumpur
Hari bulan | Khamis, 13 November 2008
Waktu | 8 - 11 pm
Pertanyaan | Zulhabri: 019 389 3804
Saksikan juga pemutaran filem 9808!
Mr. Chong Ton Sin
Pengarah Eksekutif, SIRD
Monday, November 10, 2008
12 November 2008
18:00 - 20:00
Dewan Kuliah 3, Faculty of Business & Accountancy,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2008 has seen the United States experience one of the worst economic crises in two decades, disasters in its subprime market leading to housing foreclosures, and the complete disintegration of the banking and financial system. America and other European governments have stepped in to bail out companies suffering from tremendous losses, whilst the stock markets around the world have plunged to dangerous levels.
The Asian markets are not spared: Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia have and will continue to experience shocks. RM33 billion has been wiped out of the Malaysian stock market in the past two weeks. The world is one global market; hence no one country is excluded from the negative impacts reverberating on foreign shores. Analysts have predicted an impending global financial crisis worse than that witnessed in the 1997 crisis, reminiscent of the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
It is therefore necessary to discuss the impacts such a Global Financial Crisis will have on Malaysia in an open and transparent manner. The CPPS brings together economic experts to raise real issues and how Malaysians will be affected. Speakers will also discuss those most badly affected from different spectrums of society: small businesses, low-to-middle income groups, and the average citizen. How resilient really is the Malaysian economy to weather external storms and shocks? How sufficient are Malaysian reserves, especially as the government embarks on continued pump-priming measures to stimulate growth? What are some steps that should be urgently taken as alternative means?
Join us as we bring together experts to engage in dialogue with members of the public.
6.00pm:Welcoming Remarks, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Chairman, Centre for Public Policy Studies
6.15pm: Panel Discussion
• Dr. R. Thillainathan, Former Advisor, Genting Bhd.
• Prof. Dr. Sieh Mei Ling, Adjunct Professor, Universiti Malaya
• Dato' Syed Amin Aljeffri, President, KL Malay Chamber of Commerce*
• Teh Chi-Chang, Economic Advisor to Democratic Action Party Secretary-General
• Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria, SUHAKAM Commissioner, SUHAKAM
• Stewart Forbes, Executive Director, Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry. *
Moderator: Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Chairman, Centre for Public Policy Studies
* = unconfirmed speakers
7.00pm: Interaction with the Floor/Open Roundtable Discussion
8.00pm: Forum Ends
For further information, please contact Noel at (03) 20934209 or via email at email@example.com.
"Perspectives on Freedom of Expression in Asia and Europe "
11th November 2008
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) and the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) cordially invite you to a public lecture on "Perspectives on Freedom of Expression in Asia and Europe".
Speakers : Prof. Kevin Boyle Prof. Cherian George
Human Rights Centre
University of Essex, United Kingdom
Head, Journalism & Publishing
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information
Nanyang Technological University , Singapore
Date & Time :
11 November 2008(Tuesday)
7.30PM – 10.00PM
Venue : Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
ASEM, the Asia-Europe Meeting, is a forum that promotes various levels of cooperation among Asian and European countries. Under the ASEM framework, a series of informal seminars on Human Rights have been organized since 1997 to promote mutual understanding and co-operation between Europe and Asia in the area of political dialogue, particularly on human rights issues. The 9th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights (held in September 2008 in Siem Reap , Cambodia ) centred on the theme "Freedom of Expression" and discussions resulted in a number of key messages.
Countries in Asia and Europe are converging around the principle of freedom of expression, recognising not only its intrinsic value for realising everyone's full human potential, but also its indispensable contribution to developing tolerant, prosperous and harmonious societies. The key debates in the seminar, therefore, were not over the principle of freedom of expression, but the challenges of implementing this freedom in effective ways among ASEM partners.
The translation of lofty principle into meaningful practice requires much more work. Effective implementation, in turn, requires the clarification of a number of key issues:
* First, there is a common misconception that combating state censorship will produce less responsible media. On the contrary, the goal is to promote responsibility through independent systems of media accountability that do not rely on state action.
* Second, the role of the state is too often cast in negative terms, such that freedom of expression is equated with simply the absence of repression. In truth, the state has a vital positive role to play, in providing people with access to the media they need.
* Third, freedom of expression debates too often overlook the huge impact of non-state actors, such as media corporations and other powerful interest groups, in restricting or expanding the flow of information and ideas.
* Fourth, the argument for freedom of expression is too quickly framed in zero-sum terms, implying painful trade-offs with other aspects of human development, and denying the powerful contribution that communication plays in development.
In this public lecture, two distinguished speakers, Kevin Boyle and Cherian George, will discuss the norms relating to freedom of expression and its permissible limitations, its relations to other rights, as well as democracy and rule of law, with special focus on challenges to freedom of expression particularly with regard to the media including the Internet and emerging actors (such as bloggers and "netizens"). Recommendations from the 9th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights will also be discussed.
Admission is free. Please contact us at 03-77843525/03-77835724or email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your attendance or for more information.
We look forward to seeing you at the forum!
Profile of Speakers
Kevin Boyleis professor of Law at the University of Essex UK and a barrister at law with extensive experience of litigation before the European Court of Human Rights. He was director of the University's Human Rights Centre until 2007. He was educated at Queens University Belfast, Cambridge University and Yale University .
In 2001 -2002 he worked for the United Nations in Geneva as Senior Adviser to Mary Robinson during her last year as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He has also been a consultant to the United Nations on human rights issues. Born in Northern Ireland he moved to the Republic of Ireland in 1978 as Professor of Law at the National University of Ireland Galway where he founded the Irish Centre for Human Rights.
He later moved to London and was the first Director of the NGO Article 19: the Global Campaign against Censorship. In 1990 he was appointed to Essex University where he helped build the University's world renowned Human Rights Centre. He is Chair of the International Council of the NGO, Minority Rights Group International.
Cherian Georgeis a media scholar and journalist from Singapore . His research and writing focus mainly on social movements. He is the head of the journalism programme at the School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University .
Cherian is the author of Contentious Journalism and the Internet: Towards Democratic Discourse in Malaysia and Singapore (Singapore University Press & University of Washington Press, 2006). He holds a doctorate in communication from Stanford University , and degrees from the universities of Cambridge and Columbia . Before joining academia, he spent 10 years as a journalist at Singapore 's national daily, The Straits Times, where he wrote mainly on media and politics.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
Other - Festival
Time and Place
Friday, November 7, 2008 at 6:00pm
Sunday, November 9, 2008 at 6:00pm
New Era College, Kajang, Selangor
Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) invites you to SOCIALISM MALAYSIA 2008
"Socialism in the 21st Century"7-9 November, New Era Kolej, Kajang, Selangor, MalaysiaSocialism 2008 is an annual international gathering of socialists from different currents to discuss and debate issues concerned of the left, socialists and social movement in the world today. It was initiated by Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) in 2005 and since then it is rotated among Socialist Party in South East Asia. In 2006, Workers Democracy from Thailand organized the event while last year it was held in Philippines, organized by Laban Ng Masa with the theme – "Renewing Socialism in the 21st. century".
This year, PSM is proud to organize this event again as it is held in conjunction with the 10 year anniversary since the party applied for registration. "Socialism 2008 - Malaysia" would continue with last years theme "Socialism in the 21st Century""Socialism 2008 - Malaysia" will be held on 7-9 November 2008, at New Era College.
We invite participants locally and Internationally to participate in the event. The official language used would be English and Bahasa Malaysia. While translations would be done in Mandarin and Tamil based on needs and request.
We have invited participants from all over the world and have received confirmation from socialist from the following countries Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, Korea, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and Venezuela.
Come and join us in the debates and discussions. It would be a gathering of interesting people. Bringing together socialist from different currents, different eras, progressive, unionist, grassroots activist, students, anarchist and everyone out there who believe in talking, thinking and making this a better world.
For more information regarding this event, please view this link from Facebook.
Do we go for this,guysss? =) =)
Friday, October 17, 2008
Many feel that Christmas marks Christ's birthday and that it honors Him. After all, can 2 billion professing Christians be wrong? At the same time, some few Christians don't observe Christmas, believing that Jesus didn't sanction it and that it dishonors Him. Who is right—and why?
by Jerold Aust
One day, years ago, someone asked me why I kept Christmas. "The Bible says to keep it," I responded. "Somewhere in the Gospel of Luke, it speaks of the nativity scene. An angel told some shepherds that were keeping their sheep in the fields at night that the baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I think they went to see Jesus at that time.
"That was the first Christmas! And that's why I keep Christmas, because the Bible supports Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ."
"That's not true and here's why," my friend replied.
I soon learned that the Bible didn't teach Christmas. I also found that its origins have nothing to do with the Bible. It was an important lesson about things I'd long assumed to be true.
Just because some 2 billion people—roughly 1 billion Catholics and another billion in Protestant faiths—observe Christmas, does that make it right? Does it really matter one way or the other?
Why do so many people observe it?
If you were asked, "Why do you celebrate Christmas?" how would you respond? Many would say Christmas honors the birthday of Jesus. Others feel that Christmas is a good Christian family get-together. Many do it simply because they've always done it.
Christmas can appear tantalizing to the eye and ear. People appear happy, generous, full of good cheer. Twinkling lights decorate many houses. Santa Claus and his reindeer are pictured as poised to lift off from snow-covered front yards or rooftops, although in the southern hemisphere and tropics there is no December snow. The colorful, peaceful-appearing Christmas scene can be intoxicating, addicting.
Shoppers pack stores, browsing for gifts they hope to buy at bargain-basement prices. Soaring strains of "White Christmas," "Silent Night" or "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" resonate everywhere.
The December weather of the northern hemisphere might be frightful outside, but the feeling and warmth inside is delightful. Christmas trees with twinkling lights and bright, sparkling ornaments create a mystical and glowing environment. Entire families want to experience the special mystery that only comes with the Christmas season. There is no religious holiday quite like it for the millions everywhere who observe it.
Was Jesus really born on Dec. 25?
But stop and ask yourself: Was Christ really born on Christmas Day? After all, the Bible nowhere tells us the day of His birth.
In fact, most credible secular historical writings tell us that Christmas, more than 200 years after Jesus' death, was considered sinful: "As late as A.D. 245 [the early Catholic theologian] Origen . . . repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, 1910, Vol. 6, p. 293, "Christmas").
In A.D. 354, a Latin chronographer mentioned Christmas, but even then he did not write about it as an observed festival (ibid.).
There is no biblical evidence that Dec. 25 was Jesus' birth date. In fact, the Bible record strongly shows that Jesus couldn't have been born then.
For example, Luke tells us that the shepherds were keeping their sheep in the fields at night when Jesus was born. "And she [Mary] brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:7-8, emphasis added throughout).
But late December is Judea's cold and rainy season. Would shepherds actually keep their fragile flocks out in the open fields on a cold late-December night near Bethlehem?
No responsible shepherd would subject his sheep to the elements at that time of year when cold rains, and occasional snow, are common in that region.
"The climate of Palestine is not so severe as the climate of this country [England]; but even there, though the heat of the day be considerable, the cold of the night, from December to February, is very piercing, and it was not the custom for the shepherds of Judea to watch their flocks in the open fields later than about the end of October" (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, 1959, p. 91).
Luke also tells us that Jesus was born at the time of a census ordered by the Roman emperor (Luke 2:1-3). The Romans were brilliant administrators; they certainly would not have ordered people to journey to be registered at a time of year when roads would have been wet and muddy and traveling conditions miserable. Such a move would have been self-defeating on its face.
The belief that Jesus was born on or around Dec. 25 simply has no basis in fact, even if 2 billion people have accepted it without question. As the famous playwright George Bernard Shaw said, "If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it's still a foolish thing."
Does Christmas really honor Christ?
If the Christmas holiday is an important celebration to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, why is it nowhere mentioned in the Bible? Why didn't Christ instruct His closest followers, His 12 chosen apostles, to keep Christmas? Why didn't they institute or teach it to the early Church?
Before you answer, consider that Jesus gave great authority to His 12 apostles, assuring them that they will hold positions of great importance and responsibility in His Kingdom (Matthew 18:18; 19:28; Luke 22:29-30). But since Jesus never taught His apostles to keep Christmas, nor did they ever teach it to the Church though they had years of opportunity to do so, shouldn't that make us question whether Christmas is something Jesus really wants or appreciates?
So how did Christmas become such a widespread practice if the Bible doesn't sanction it, if Christ didn't observe it and if He never taught His disciples and the early Church to celebrate it?
True origins of Christmas
Most people never stop to ask themselves what the major symbols of Christmas—Santa Claus, reindeer, decorated trees, holly, mistletoe and the like—have to do with the birth of the Savior of mankind. In the southern hemisphere summer climate of December, few people question why they observe a Christmas with northern hemisphere winter scenery!
The fact is, and you can verify this in any number of books and encyclopedias, that all these trappings came from ancient pagan festivals.
Even the date, Dec. 25, came from a festival celebrating the birthday of the ancient sun god Mithras. (If you'd like to learn more about the origins of the many customs and symbols associated with Christmas, request our free booklet Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Keep?)
Jesus never told His followers to celebrate Christmas, but He did warn us not to adhere to false, man-made religious doctrines: "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Mark 7:7). The truth is, Christmas and other non-biblical religious holidays constitute vain or empty worship of Christ.
The Catholic Encyclopedia indicates that the Christmas season came from an ancient midwinter festival that occurred at the time of the winter solstice. Interestingly, the previously noted Origen, despite the early period in which he lived (ca. 182-251), never even mentioned it (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 3, 1967, and "Christmas and Its Cycle," The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913, Vol. 3, "Christmas").
Tertullian, another Catholic theologian who lived at about the same time (ca. 155-230), referred to compromising Christians then beginning to join in the pagan midwinter festival celebrated in the Roman Empire, which eventually evolved into what is now Christmas:
"The Saturnalia, the feasts of January, the Brumalia, and Matronalia are now frequented; gifts are carried to and fro, new year's day presents are made with din, and banquets are celebrated with uproar; oh, how much more faithful are the heathen to their religion, who take special care to adopt no solemnity from the Christians" (Tertullian in De Idolatria, quoted by Hislop, p. 93).
In time Catholic religious leaders added solemnity to this pre-Christian holiday by adding to it the Mass of Christ, from which it eventually came to be known by its common name of "Christmas."
A matter of whether, not what
The purpose of The Good News magazine is to share with you the living truth of Jesus Christ. A true Christian cannot decide what he will obey, only whether he will obey God's truth.
We strive to publish God's pristine truth; people who read that truth have to decide what to do about it and whether they will honor it. Our commission from Jesus Christ is to teach the truth of God and to welcome as disciples and fellow workers those few who hear and obey the truth. We hope the truth about Christmas starts you on the road to true happiness and God's purpose for you.
History shows that Christmas does not represent Christ. It misrepresents sound biblical teaching and is in opposition to God's truth. God wants us to worship Him in truth (John 4:23-24), not fable.
In Deuteronomy 12:28-32, God told His people to worship only in the ways He commanded, telling them "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." He explicitly ordered them not to copy or adopt the religious practices of the pagans, calling such practices "abomination[s] . . . which He hates."
Yet hundreds of millions of men, women and children unwittingly observe Christmas, not knowing or caring from where it came. They assume that 2 billion Christians can't be wrong or that it doesn't matter how we worship God so long as our intentions are good. But why should we think we honor God or please Him when we worship contrary to His commands?
Crucial questions only you can answer
The crucial question is, do we worry more about what others think or about what God requires? Also, can other human beings give us salvation? If honoring God's truth determines our salvation, then why honor men over God?
Jesus Christ said to those who appeared religious but denied the power of His true teaching, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46; compare Matthew 7:21). Since Christ is opposed to Christmas, why would any thoughtful Christian observe it?
Walking in Jesus' footsteps in a world that doesn't is never easy. But it is much better and eminently more rewarding than following the empty ways of the world.
God tells us in 1 John 2:15-17: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." GN
Does It Matter to God?
Over the last two millennia, traditional Christianity has systematically laid aside the "feast days of the Lord" and established its own holidays. Christmas was established to enable pagan converts to come into church fellowship without forsaking their heathen customs and practices. Easter is a replacement for the biblical Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread.
Even the weekly Sabbath was abandoned in favor of Sunday, supposedly to commemorate Jesus' resurrection (which, as we demonstrated earlier, did not take place on Sunday morning).
Although we should immediately recognize that overruling God's instructions is dangerous behavior, let us consider, from the biblical record, whether such humanly designed inventions and alterations are acceptable worship to our Creator God.
Changing God's instructions
When God began working with the ancient Israelites, He intended they set an example of obedience to Him for the nations around them (Deuteronomy 4:1, 6-8). They were to be a model nation, showing other peoples that God's way of life produces abundant blessings. Their experiences serve as continuing examples for us (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).
During their years in Egypt, the Israelites were exposed to Egyptian culture and worship. Notice what Unger's Bible Dictionary says about this culture: "The Egyptian religion was an utterly bewildering polytheistic conglomeration in which many deities of the earliest periods, when each town had its own deity, were retained ...
"Every object beheld, every phenomenon of nature, was thought to be indwelt by a spirit which could choose its own form, occupying the body of a crocodile, a fish, a cow, a cat, etc. Hence the Egyptians had numerous holy animals, principally the bull, the cow, the cat, the baboon, the jackal, and the crocodile" (1966, p. 291, "Egypt").
Shortly after miraculously delivering the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt, God instructed them how He wanted to be worshiped. He gave them His commandments (Exodus 20), along with statutes and judgments detailing how to apply them (Exodus 21-22). God revealed His feast days (Leviticus 23) and gave directions regarding a priesthood, tabernacle and offerings (Exodus 25-31). God told Moses to climb Mount Sinai and gave him two tablets of stone engraved with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:12; 31:18).
When Moses delayed coming down from Mount Sinai (Exodus 32:1), Aaron and the people decided to mix the Egyptian form of worship with the instructions they had just received from God. The practice of blending religious beliefs and practices is known as syncretism.
After creating a golden image of a calf, Aaron proclaimed the next day a holiday—"a feast to the Lord" (verses 4-5). They then "rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry" (verse 6, New International Version). This celebration combined God's instruction with Egyptian religious practice and tradition.
We are not told why the Israelites chose this mix of worship. Perhaps they thought it was not a good idea to abandon all of the familiar forms of worship at once and they simply practiced what they were familiar with from their years immersed in Egyptian culture. Whatever their thinking, God was not pleased. He told Moses: "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them" (verses 7-8, New International Version).
God shows from His Word He expects more from those who claim to follow Him. He wants people to worship Him "in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24)—not in corrupted, vile practices rooted in worship of other gods.
Consequences of futile worship
The Israelites were in no way justified in departing from the God-ordained instructions introduced in the wilderness. God was so angered by their actions that He was ready to destroy the nation (Exodus 32:10). Only because of Moses' pleadings did God relent and spare them (verses 11-14).
Ancient Israel's experiment with combining parts of God's instruction with pagan customs and elements was a disaster. In punishment for this sin, 3,000 men lost their lives (verses 27-28). The remaining people had to drink water polluted with the ground-up idol, pulverized into powder (verse 20).
Being presumptuous—taking unauthorized liberty to do things such as altering God's instructions for worship—is sinful. The Bible describes the Israelites' actions as "a great sin" (verses 21, 30, 31). God's law is clear concerning presumptuous behavior (Numbers 15:30-31).
The principle holds true today among God's people. Once we come to understand His truth, we have an obligation to take steps to obey Him. We recognize that the instruction and examples in His Word were recorded for our spiritual instruction and benefit (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11; Romans 15:4).
Additional warnings for Christians
The generation of Israelites who built the golden calf apparently never learned to trust and obey God. Only a short time later, while preparing to go into the land God had promised them, they grew afraid of the land's inhabitants and refused to enter (Numbers 13-14). As a result, God told them they would wander 40 years in the wilderness until all those who had refused to follow His instructions had died (Numbers 14:33). After their deaths, God then began preparing the next generation to enter Canaan.
Part of God's instructions included an explicit warning against incorporating pagan customs into their worship. Here are His exact words:
"When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.'
"You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:29-32).
Regrettably, the Israelites failed to permanently heed God's warning. Time and time again they let their fascination with the religious practices of those around them get the better of them as they lapsed into idolatrous worship.
Around 600 B.C. God gave three more warnings against this kind of behavior. First, through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them" (Jeremiah 10:2). Here God cautioned His people against following the gentile (non-Israelite) practices of worshiping the heavenly bodies (like the sun on Dec. 25) and against astrology in general.
In the following verses (3-5), God describes some of their idolatrous customs. They cut a tree from the forest, shaped it with an ax and overlaid it with precious metals.
Although this account is specifically referring to the making of an idol (verses 6-8), God's command, "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles," applies to all pagan customs. Christmas trees, mistletoe and colorful lights that come from pagan winter-solstice celebrations, rabbits and Easter eggs as fertility symbols, and demonic concepts at Halloween, all fit this prohibition. In giving this instruction against learning the way of the gentiles, God wanted His people to avoid the type of sin their forefathers had committed with the golden calf.
A few years later God again expressed His anger with His people. "For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them. Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths. For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house" (Ezekiel 23:37-39).
Here it appears that Israel practiced one of the customs like those associated with the Saturnalia and worship of Saturn—the sacrificing of children—and then came to worship God on one of His Sabbaths!
Through the prophet Zephaniah God decried "those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the Lord, but who also swear by Milcom" (Zephaniah 1:5). God is not pleased when people are double-minded (James 1:8, 4:8) in their worship—accepting false religions and customs while professing to worship Him.
Consistent message throughout the Bible
Some people wrongly assume that Old Testament instructions that condemned mixing paganism with godly worship were annulled during apostolic times. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To prove the continuity of God's teaching in the New Testament, let us consider the city of Corinth. Here we find one of the most instructive examples about incorporating paganism into Christianity.
Strategically located just south of the narrow isthmus connecting central Greece with the Peloponnisos, this city sat on an important trade route. Its inhabitants grew rich by transporting goods across the four-mile isthmus, which saved them a 200-mile trip by ship. Worship of Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love) had long been part of the city's history. It also boasted a temple to Apollo, the Greek sun god.
What was Corinth like in the first century? "[Here] the apostle Paul established a flourishing church, made up of a cross section of the worldly minded people who had flocked to Corinth to participate in the gambling, legalized temple prostitution, business adventures, and amusements available in a first-century navy town ...
"The city soon became a melting pot for the approximately 500,000 people who lived there at the time of Paul's arrival. Merchants and sailors, anxious to work the docks, migrated to Corinth. Professional gamblers and athletes, betting on the Isthmian games, took up residence. Slaves, sometimes freed but with no place to go, roamed the streets day and night. And prostitutes (both male and female) were abundant. People from Rome, the rest of Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor—indeed, all of the Mediterranean world—relished the lack of standards and freedom of thought that prevailed in the city.
"These were the people who eventually made up the Corinthian church. They had to learn to live together in harmony, although their national, social, economic, and religious backgrounds were very different" (Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, "Corinth").
Paul's instruction on other practices
Writing to this diverse group, primarily gentiles with a tradition of idol worship (1 Corinthians 12:2), Paul addressed the issue of whether outside religious customs and practices had any place among God's people.
". . . What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'
"Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.' Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 7:1).
Instead of renaming some of the pagan customs as Christian or allowing the new converts to retain some of their former practices, the apostle Paul commanded them to leave behind all of these forms of worship. He condemned the sexual immorality that was a common part of the fertility rites in honor of the goddess Aphrodite (1 Corinthians 6:13, 18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). No doubt the new church did not participate in winter-solstice celebrations to the sun god, Apollo.
Christianity that is faithful to the Bible teaches its followers that "our old man was crucified with Him [Jesus Christ], that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin" (Romans 6:6). If someone is strongly committed to following Christ, "he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Paul explains that we are not to retain our favorite past religious traditions. Indeed, "all things have become new"! As part of the "old man" (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9), our former styles of worship must go. As Jesus taught, we simply cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). We cannot simultaneously embrace two competing systems of worship.
We see the obvious continuity between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible; the new forbids mixing pagan tradition with the "worship in spirit and truth" God commands (John 4:23-24).
Authority from man or God?
Since God is so strongly opposed to altering His revealed days of worship (Deuteronomy 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19), by what authority did human beings change the days we observe? Here is what the Encyclopaedia Britannica says about some early Christians: "Though many of [Jesus'] disciples continued to observe the special times and seasons of the Jewish Law, new converts broke with the custom because they regarded it as no longer needful or necessary" (15th edition, Vol. IV, p. 601, "Church Year"). Notice the lack of divine authorization. The people decided to make this change.
One of the first humanly devised changes was to worship on Sunday rather than the seventh-day Sabbath, the day authorized in the Bible. The same source acknowledges that "the New Testament writings do not explain how the practice began" (ibid., p. 603). Though some have theorized this change occurred in honor of Christ's resurrection, we have already seen that this rationale is flawed because Christ was resurrected near sundown on Saturday rather than on Sunday.
Replacing God's annual feast days with pagan holidays was also done in the same spirit. This same encyclopedia article also makes this frank admission: "Unlike the cycle of feasts and fasts of the Jewish Law, the [modern] Christian year has never been based upon a divine revelation. It is rather a tradition that is always subject to change by ecclesiastical law. Each self-governing church maintains the right to order the church year" (p. 601).
When the kingdom of Israel divided after Solomon's death, King Jeroboam of the northern 10 tribes soon changed the date of the annual autumn festival from the seventh to the eighth month of the Hebrew calendar (1 Kings 12:32-33). So the first king of the new northern Israelite dynasty established a corrupting pattern in the nation's religious life, one that eventually helped lead to the northern tribes' destruction at the hands of the Assyrian Empire.
Throughout the northern kingdom's history, the political and ecclesiastical leadership stubbornly persisted in "the sins of Jeroboam" (1 Kings 13:34; 15:30; 16:2-3, 19; etc.), one of which was his unauthorized alteration of the date of a God-ordained religious festival.
Time to leave traditions behind
As creatures of habit, we can find ourselves following traditions that are contrary to God's instructions. Almost 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ pointed out that a devoutly religious group, the Pharisees, was in just such a situation. Christ told them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men ... All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition" (Mark 7:6-9).
Just proclaiming that something is Christian does not make it so. No matter what our traditions have been or what rationalizations our reasoning may employ, the Bible is clear that we must follow our Creator's directions on His days and forms of worship.
In Colossians 2:8 the apostle Paul warns, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
Similarly, one of the last messages in the Bible reveals this warning for people caught up in a great worldwide system that established itself in opposition to God: "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities" (Revelation 18:4-5).
We have a choice. We can choose the feast days instituted by God or the holidays substituted by men. The choices we make affect our destiny and impact our relationship with our Creator.
We can take great comfort in the meaning of God's days of worship, since they represent the magnificent plan of God, who will give every human an opportunity to understand and accept His way of life either now or, for the majority of human beings, in an age yet to come.
December is coming so i wonder if this article is effective enough for us to put on our thinking caps and ask ourselves what we masing-masing choose to do as practitioners of our own faiths :)
Feel free to comment on the article or you may wanna visit:
to find out more about what you have been questioning yourself of late :)
And to all my friends who celebrate Syawal,Selamat Hari Raya! Hehe.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Personally, I think it is their right to protest BUT to do it the way they did it i have to disagree. It was distasteful of them to crash someone's open house like that. Raya open house is for everyone to get together and celebrate. Why do all this kind of things? I know they want publicity and all but not this way..pls don't make matters worse.
So what say you?
Friday, October 3, 2008
Honestly, their site puts ours to shame. The intellectual caliber is so much higher and the debate is even bilingual! Mati lah kita.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Repost from messychristian.com
If you’re angry about Ahmad Ismail’s latest comments (as reported in Malaysiakini at http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/89318) which I would not repeat here (garbage should stay out of my servers, thank you very much), DON’T BE.
Because you know why this is being done, right?
There are certain political forces in our nation right now who do not have our best interests at heart, but are in fact flaring up racial hatred and tension for their own devious ends.
So, don’t fall for their ploy. Take the higher ground, don’t react violently,
and more importantly, do not take to the streets because that’ll be exactly what
Remember, political games are being played.
If you have a moment, please visit this link:
Its for RPK...
Share the love around!
Friday, September 5, 2008
None other than.... University Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Ibrahim Abu Shah... who 'warned' Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Chief Minister of Selangor YAB Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim not to interfere in the internal affairs of the University. He said that Tan Sri Khalid should not seek political mileage to win over non-Malay support for PR.
Now, this so-called 'academic' sounds to me more like an Umno politician than a academician. This Scribe thus decided to snoop around and find where he got his Phd (permanent head damage) from. Ibrahim it appears, was UMNO Member (1968 - present) Youth Leader, UMNO Kg. Pulai (1981- 1983) Committee Member, UMNO Youths Jasin, Melaka (1982 - 1983) Chairman (Founder) UMNO Club, Carbondale USA (1983) President, UMNO USA Club (1985 - 1987), Exco of Alumni UMNO Club (oversea) (1995 - present) (Note this Umno Alumni fellows were one of the agitators at the Bar Council Forum).
Among the other 'contributions' of this Umno racist include:1.Talk to all Malaysians UMNO division heads about "Gerakan Anti Kerajaan Pelajar-Pelajar di Kampus-Pengalaman UiTM" - 15 November 20012.Panel forum "Agenda Melayu Dalam Dasar Pendidikan"- Conference of Agenda Melayu, Balai Budaya Tun Syed Nasir, DBP - 16 July 20053.Talk to all secondary school principals state of Kelantan about "Meritokrasi" - 4 November 2001 at Perdana Hotel, Kota Bharu, Kelantan4.Presentation of working papers "Intelektual Melayu: Harapan dan Cabaran MRSM" at Convention organized by MARA at Selesa Hotel, Port Dickson - 12 December 2006
Now this Scribe understands where this racist academician is coming from. This Scribe was also right about Umno's involvement in both the UiTM student demonstration yesterday and as well as the Bar Council Forum disruption. Now, it also explains why the Police did not act on both occasions.
This racist Academician must be reminded together with his racists buddies from Umno that every Malaysian have the right to study and work at UiTM because UiTM is funded by the Government using Malaysian (Muslim and non-Muslim) tax payers money. Need I remind the good Professor that some of these tax money comes from 'haram' or sin taxes such as gambling, pork industry, alcohol industry, health clubs etc. Dear Prof, the salary you draw from UiTM also comes from this as well.
It's not surprising why malaysian Universities are ranked so low in the world. In fact, UiTM has the dubious honor to be known as University Terrorist Malaysia because because Al Qaeda Southeast Asian associates, Jemaah Islamiah operatives, were members of the faculty at UiTM. Surely now, the world can see what a racist party Umno is.
This Scribe calls on all non-Malay members of BN to quit it and join Pakatan Rakyat and support Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister.
(I received this via email from a journalist pal this morning)
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Adrian was the guest-of-honour at an NTU convocation ceremony last week, and this is Adrian's speech to the graduating class of 2008:
Life and How to Survive It
I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It's a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband..
My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.
On the other hand, I am a litigator. Essentially, I spend my day telling people how wrong they are. I make my living being disagreeable.
Nevertheless, there is perfect harmony in our matrimonial home. That is because when an editor and a litigator have an argument, the one who triumphs is always the wife.
And so I want to start by giving one piece of advice to the men: when you've already won her heart, you don't need to win every argument.
Marriage is considered one milestone of life. Some of you may already be married. Some of you may never be married. Some of you will be married.. Some of you will enjoy the experience so much, you will be married many, many times. Good for you.
The next big milestone in your life is today: your graduation. The end of education. You're done learning.
You've probably been told the big lie that "Learning is a lifelong process" and that therefore you will continue studying and taking masters' degrees and doctorates and professorships and so on. You know the sort of people who tell you that? Teachers. Don't you think there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without you? They need you to be repeat customers.
The good news is that they're wrong.
The bad news is that you don't need further education because your entire life is over. It is gone. That may come as a shock to some of you. You're in your teens or early twenties. People may tell you that you will live to be 70, 80, 90 years old. That is your life expectancy.
I love that term: life expectancy. We all understand the term to mean the average life span of a group of people. But I'm here to talk about a bigger idea, which is what you expect from your life.
You may be very happy to know that Singapore is currently ranked as the country with the third highest life expectancy. We are behind Andorra and Japan, and tied with San Marino. It seems quite clear why people in those countries, and ours, live so long. We share one thing in common: our football teams are all hopeless. There's very little danger of any of our citizens having their pulses raised by watching us play in the World Cup. Spectators are more likely to be lulled into a gentle and restful nap.
Singaporeans have a life expectancy of 81.8 years. Singapore men live to an average of 79.21 years, while Singapore women live more than five years longer, probably to take into account the additional time they need to spend in the bathroom.
So here you are, in your twenties, thinking that you'll have another 40 years to go. Four decades in which to live long and prosper..
Bad news. Read the papers. There are people dropping dead when they're 50, 40, 30 years old. Or quite possibly just after finishing their convocation. They would be very disappointed that they didn't meet their life expectancy.
I'm here to tell you this. Forget about your life expectancy.
After all, it's calculated based on an average. And you never, ever want to expect being average.
Revisit those expectations. You might be looking forward to working, falling in love, marrying, raising a family. You are told that, as graduates, you should expect to find a job paying so much, where your hours are so much, where your responsibilities are so much.
That is what is expected of you. And if you live up to it, it will be an awful waste.
If you expect that, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don't need years of education by the best minds in Singapore to prepare you to be average.
What you should prepare for is mess. Life's a mess. You are not entitled to expect anything from it. Life is not fair. Everything does not balance out in the end. Life happens, and you have no control over it. Good and bad things happen to you day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Your degree is a poor armour against fate.
Don't expect anything. Erase all life expectancies. Just live. Your life is over as of today. At this point in time, you have grown as tall as you will ever be, you are physically the fittest you will ever be in your entire life and you are probably looking the best that you will ever look. This is as good as it gets. It is all downhill from here. Or up. No one knows.
What does this mean for you? It is good that your life is over.
Since your life is over, you are free. Let me tell you the many wonderful things that you can do when you are free.
The most important is this: do not work.
Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.
Work kills. The Japanese have a term "Karoshi", which means death from overwork. That's the most dramatic form of how work can kill. But it can also kill you in more subtle ways. If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there's nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.
There's a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are "making a living". No, they're not. They're dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.
People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan "Arbeit macht frei" was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.
Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.
Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.
I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn't do that, I would've been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.
So what should you do? You will find your own niche. I don't imagine you will need to look very hard. By this time in your life, you will have a very good idea of what you will want to do. In fact, I'll go further and say the ideal situation would be that you will not be able to stop yourself pursuing your passions. By this time you should know what your obsessions are. If you enjoy showing off your knowledge and feeling superior, you might become a teacher.
Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don't, you are working.
Most of you will end up in activities which involve communication. To those of you I have a second message: be wary of the truth. I'm not asking you to speak it, or write it, for there are times when it is dangerous or impossible to do those things. The truth has a great capacity to offend and injure, and you will find that the closer you are to someone, the more care you must take to disguise or even conceal the truth. Often, there is great virtue in being evasive, or equivocating. There is also great skill. Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence.
In order to be wary of the truth, you must first know it. That requires great frankness to yourself. Never fool the person in the mirror.
I have told you that your life is over, that you should not work, and that you should avoid telling the truth. I now say this to you: be hated.
It's not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.
One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it's often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one's own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.
The other side of the coin is this: fall in love.
I didn't say "be loved". That requires too much compromise. If one changes one's looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.
Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We've taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.
Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the truth, the worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.
Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn't happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.
You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart.
You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.
Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don't, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.
Don't work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.
You're going to have a busy life. Thank goodness there's no life expectancy.
Monday, August 11, 2008
“It is vitally important for the state to use all of its powers to repress dissent as the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state.” -- Goebbel
Friday, August 8, 2008
Da Huang Pictures and KLPac will be co-organizing a film-screening event starting from August until October. The event features a number of awards winning films produced by Da Huang Pictures, among them are FLOWER IN THE POCKET, LOVE CONQUERS ALL, James Lee's LOVE TRILOGY and a mysterious film by Amir Muhammad(It's so mysterious nobody knows what film it is, not even Amir himself. We are serious!).
Event : Da Huang Pictures Indie Film Series
Venue : IndiCine, Level 2, KLPac, Sentul, KL
Admission : FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
Date & Time : *please check below for details of the respective films
*Screening date & time:
Sun, 17 Aug @ 3.00pm : FLOWER IN THE POCKET by Liew Seng Tat
Sun, 24 Aug @ 3.00pm : LOVE CONQUERS ALL by Tan Chui Mui
Sat, 13 Sept @ 8.30pm : BEFORE WE FALL IN LOVE by James Lee
Sat, 27 Sept @ 8.30pm : MYSTERY SCREENING!!! by Amir Muhammad
Sun, 19 Oct @ 3.00pm : THINGS WE DO WHEN WE FALL IN LOVE by James Lee
Sun, 26 Oct @ 3.00pm : WAITING FOR LOVE by James Lee (eve of Deepavali)
note: All the directors will be present at their own screening to do a Q&A session with the audience. So you could ask them any questions you like. ANY questions at all. If you feel like asking questions but do not have any idea what to ask, we've prepared some questions here for you to start with:
Liew Seng Tat, you seem to like children, how long have you been a pedophile?
Tan Chui Mui, did your mother like eating carrots? Coz you have beautiful eyes.
Amir Muhammad, why are you hanging out with so many Chinese? Is it why most of your films are banned?
James Lee, Love trilogy huh? You are obviously lack of love, can I help you with that?
People, if you have heard about the films before but have no chance to watch them, do come for the screenings(if you have the time). It's ok to waste 1 or 2 more hours of your life!
TELL YOUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBOURS AND CNN TOO. SPREAD THE WORD!!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
the medical report that leaked and published by Raja Petra showed that Saiful was not sodomised. then we have our smart-ass politicians saying the report cannot be considered accurate because it's not done by a specialist...
so my question is...do we really have doctors who are specialised in looking up people's arses?...and do we actually NEED a doctor who is specialised in arses to determine whether the patient has been sodomised? i don't remember we need doctors who are "specialised" in vaginas to confirm a girl's been raped.
i think i can go tell my little cousins who are still at school, "wanna earn big bucks? wanna be famous (or infamous)? study hard, earn good grades, if not, give our DPM a visit at his office maybe he can help you with a scholarship....then take up medicine...and major in an area called ANUS."
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
During that workshop, i feel like home.. because that's how life in Sarawak is.. everyone mix with everyone.. there is no boundary set by the so called race or religion or wealth... the workshop rocks!! :D
Despite all the crappy work and talk by the government, Malaysia's youth still have their eyes open, mind clear, voice spoken and also faith in believing what is right and wrong.. The most important thing is, THE PEOPLE ARE NOT RACIST (or rather.. willing to not be racist! :D )HOORAY!!
I believe what we need to do now is to spread how we feel.. and our awareness to others. I believe when each and every Malaysian share the same feeling towards Malaysia, we could be more unitred, and form a better nation
"MALAYSIA BOLEH!!" :P
What do you think? :)
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Jul 2, 08 12:06pm
Two-thirds of the world’s poor live in Asia. But a random check on mainstream media contents shows the poor are starkly invisible.
For the past week, I’ve been chatting online with a group of Asian journalists on reporting about poverty. What would it take to return ‘poverty issues’ to the front-page, I asked. All ten of them, enrolled in the MA program at the Asian Center for Journalism, Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, recognise there’s no easy answer.
One says her ‘finance’ beat often isolates her from ‘poverty’ issues. Another cites space limitation. An agency reporter blames his bureaucratic editors who are more concerned with serving the government than reporting for the poor. Such is the sad state of journalism in parts of South-east Asia.
Commercial media, structurally more attuned to the fancies of the rich and famous, are breeding the socially insignificant contents we see today. It’s not for the lack of journalistic spirit that the poor are rendered invisible in our media. It’s the editorial system, driven by profits or beholden to governments, that’s prostituting the traditions of a once noble craft.
I’m reminded of a story in the New Internationalist of how a Burmese journalist tries daily to make the best of her situation despite the odds. She writes:“I love to write news stories but I hate the censor board. The censor board vets our stories and they always tell us to publish government policy and propaganda articles, week after week. My boss has two faces. One face is all smiles for the censor board, the other grimaces at us. I think many journal publishers must be similar to him. They all want to hold on to their business and so are self-interested, always ready to compromise, to give in so as to survive.”
This ought to inspire journalists in less adverse circumstances to do better than the vanity lifestyle journalism that dominates the market. We need journalists who’d challenge that which is the existing content structure - status quo journalism - to that which journalism ought to be, transformative.
One of the few transformative journalists I had the privilege of meeting is Palagummi Sainath (photo), rural affairs editor at The Hindu, author of Everybody Loves a Drought, and recipient of the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism. I asked him, for my book-in-progress, about his experience in telling the stories of the poor in India:
Eric Loo: You have consistently criticised conventional journalism’s “service of power” in its coverage of the drought-stricken states in India. Evidently, this “service of power”, which often gives the last word to the authority, is the modus operandi of journalists. How can journalism educators teach their students to go beyond this modus operandi?
I think we need to make a distinction here between journalists and media. Neither is a homogenous group (though the latter moves rapidly in that direction). There have always been journalists who did not and do not believe in the service of power - those who cut through the hypocrisy of pomp and stated the uncomfortable.
I’ve always thought that the boy who said: “The Emperor has no clothes!” and who pointed to a pathetic but powerful moron who was simply starkers was one of the fine early journalists. He dragged into the public domain what others knew but would not say. Once he put it there, it made life simpler for everyone except the Emperor.
Journalism teachers are not a homogenous group either, as I can attest, having been one myself for over 20 years in schools in this country and elsewhere. There are those who squawk from textbooks (mainly establishment American books), rattling off principles that were never followed or applied to the powerful. There are those with a total emphasis on craft, teaching unburdened by moral responsibility. There are those who have taught their students to think and reason and question, who emphasise the ‘why’ of it. And some who also teach their students by personal example. So there are different kinds of teachers.
Journalism teachers have to decide who they wish to make their students responsible to - readers and people, or bosses and balance sheets. All this happens in a context. As corporate power tightens its grip on the profession, I’d like to see us make the students more and more subversive, undermining of the established order.
This April (2006) in India, the number of farmers committing suicide in just one region, Vidharbha, crossed 400. This was very poorly covered. Very few national media groups sent their reporters to this region. But they sent well over 500 journalists to cover the Lakme Fashion Week. And also gave phenomenal space to the fact that the Sensitive Index (SENSEX) of the Mumbai Stock Exchange crossed the 11,000 figure (it has since soared past 12,000 - and the farm suicides in Vidharbha past 500). This is the Great Disconnect between mass media and mass reality I spoke of. Journalism teachers should realise they are training their wards within this context.
Great journalists are dissidents
I think they all need to point out a fundamental truth to their students: the greatest journalists have been dissidents. Thomas Paine, Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar, you make the list. How many establishment hacks would figure on your list? The establishment hacks are best remembered as high priests or soothsayers. Who remembers those who railed against Paine? Who can recall the names of the editors of the pro-colonial stream of the press who raved and ranted against Gandhi?
Eric: In your lecture at Trinity College in Connecticut 2002 (you were then the first McGill Fellow in International Studies at the college), you were quoted in the campus newsletter Mosaic (April 2002) as saying: “When I’m covering poverty as a journalist, I go and live in the communities I’m writing about. If I can’t see the issues through their eyes, there’s no point going and perpetuating old stereotypes about poverty.”
This approach marks your journalism, for instance in the story “The bus to Mumbai” () (The Hindu, 01 June 2003) where you joined a group of migrant villagers from Mahbubnagar district on a bus in 46 degree heat. How did this immersive form of reporting evolve in your work?
I wouldn’t like to pretend this conclusion was the outcome of some sublime intellectual process. It seems to me fairly simple - where you stand is often determined by where you’re sitting. If you have not been in the hut that has no electric power, not a single bulb, how will you understand why the children in that home can never do well in studies? It’s not important to merely ‘see’ the hut, but to be there when there is no power.
I think it’s a bit fraudulent to write knowingly about their lives if you have never done so. Even if you do it several times and not every single time, you’ll be astonished at the depth it brings to your perceptions. For instance, we know that the average rural woman in India spends a third of her life on three chores: fetching water, firewood and fodder. But ‘knowing’ this is one thing. Walking with her, trying to live her day as she does - would that be the same thing? Try it once. It will give you an insight into the quality of her life that you will never forget, and that will inform your work thereafter.
Eric: Commenting on your Socratic teaching methods at Trinity, one of your students quoted you as saying, “Just having different opinions is not good enough for me. I’m not learning from your opinion if I don’t engage.” Do you see this principle of engagement lacking in the way that journalists traditionally report about poverty and social inequities?
By severely limiting the spectrum of opinion in your paper or on your channel, you can evade engaging gigantic realities. The US media are the best example of this. They steadily kept out any opinion (even from Europe, let alone the Third World) that undermined the case for war in Iraq. It’s been called a cordon sanitaire (quarantine line) by some analysts. Remember that even with Vietnam, American audiences were the last to know what was going on. They promoted the work of journalists consciously planting stories coming out of the White House and Pentagon that led their nation to invade Iraq. Later, they will give themselves prizes and awards for ‘breaking’ stories that show why the decision to go to war was wrong, and pat themselves on the back in an exercise that gives hypocrisy a bad name.
Demolished 84,000 homes
Journalists are not a homogenous group. There are good ones and bad ones like in any other profession. Yet, the demands of good journalism are difficult to meet given the milieu they work in, the demands of the media outlets they work for.
They’ll get any amount of space to cover a natural disaster. But very little to report the devastation wrought by human agency. The tsunami in India destroyed 30,300 houses in the coastal town of Nagapattinam in the state of Tamil Nadu. That was its worst destruction on that score and was, of course widely reported. The same week, the government of Maharashtra demolished 84,000 homes of poor people in Mumbai’s slums. That was barely reported at all. There were actually newspapers that told their reporters to lay off from covering that event. Mind you, 84,000 homes in a week (including some 10,000 on a single day) make the Israeli Army in the West Bank look like amateurs. Yet, it was not worthy of reporting for most media.
How can journalists better apply this principle of engagement in reporting more abstract issues such as globalisation or corruption? By telling their stories through the lives of people. And, by taking up the far greater challenge of reporting the process, not just the events. It is actually relatively easy to report events, especially spectacular ones like fires, earthquakes, etc.
Reporting processes demands a lot more hard work. Digging into things, investigating things, asking difficult questions. Process reporting doesn’t stop with ‘what’ - it digs into ‘why.’ Yet, to my mind there is enormous drama in processes.
If you take up that challenge you’ll find reporting harder, but far more satisfying. Far more educative and sensitising. It touches and deepens your own humanity. It teaches you a lot more. The more you work through the lives of people, the more depth your reporting - and your intellect - will achieve. Of course, the research and knowledge of data are vital. But so is actual engagement with the lives of ordinary people.
Eric: In your work, you travel widely, meet and live with people in different circumstances. Reading your stories, I feel the people’s state of despondency. How do you cope with the sense of frustration and helplessness, which creeps in occasionally?
I actually have tremendous faith in the capacity of ordinary people to find their way - and ours. That’s why I do this work. This country was not liberated from British imperialism by the elites. It won its freedom because of the heroic struggles and sacrifice of poor peasants, workers and other downtrodden people. Two years ago (2004), the 600 million strong electorate of this country gave a stinging rebuke to its rulers, thrashing them at the hustings for following policies that hurt and devastated the poor. That election result made the media look silly.
Astonishing resillience of ordinary Indians
Their predictions, opinion polls, exit polls et al, came a cropper. So yes, the rural poor may be in a terrible state, indeed they are. But I also see that it is they, not the chattering classes, who keep democracy alive in this country. It’s true, the stories on farm suicides indicate despondency. People take their own lives only as a very final step. However, I am also inspired each time I step into the countryside, by the astonishing resilience of ordinary Indians. For every farmer who takes his life, there are millions who don’t, but who struggle on against incredible odds. Odds which you or I would prefer to run away from. So I gain strength from that. There is plenty one can do to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the disenfranchised.
Eric Loo: Your stories are characterised by ethnographic research, a strong sense of history, acute observations, a sharp focus on the grassroots, and listening to what they say. Indeed, it’s hard to draw the line between telling the story as you see it, and telling the story as the victims experience it. Is this a fair observation?
Yes and no. You always have to see it as the people experience it. And I’d hesitate to label them ‘victims.’ I would also not like to suggest they are always passive because they are not. What you do is to try and give their experience context and coherence.
If you meet those who have been part of my stories, you will find they are aware of what I have written and agree with it. Agree that it is a fair summing up of what they’ve told me and of their lived experience. That can never be perfect, but it aims to get close. What’s very hard is not to get crushed by some of those experiences -- which could be horrendous. Maybe that’s where your point gains relevance. That experience can be so overwhelming as to sometimes hurt the larger perspective. That line you’re talking of then makes sense: the ability to retain perspective. Sometimes it cuts both ways.
I have visited hundreds of households that have seen farmers’ suicides and have conducted very lengthy interviews and studies there. At one level, it gives the work far more depth and solidity. At another, it just kills those of us who do it. It destroys you, makes you sick physically and emotionally. Those of us doing it feel trapped. On the one hand, the story has to be told - and privileged above Lakme Fashion Week. On the other, it overwhelms you personally. At one level it enhances our understanding to do detailed work on it. On the other, we begin to drag ourselves to the next household. So it does deepen perspective.
But it also confronts you with an experience, which, however widespread, is highly personal for that family. You have to retain the perspective that this highly personal tragedy is also a part of something much higher.
How does one do justice to both? That’s the challenge.