What sets a nation apart from other nation is the ability to have its people to live freely as individual. That is why advanced democracies are able to nurture great people while also attract best talents from outside. Its people are able to enjoy equality and rights as a person, freedom to be who they aspire to be, without fear from state.

State in its nature is dictatorial, it aims to organise society into compartments that is easily managed, to dictate what right or wrong through legislation, law and enforcement. But how far is the power of the state acceptable? As we look back from civilisations in the past, it is the effective power of state that a city or empire is able to manage resources effectively and ensure its people are able to live a peaceful life within its territory.

Yet, when state becomes too powerful and desperately wanting to clutch its power to the last breath, it is willing to do anything, even controlling every step and thought of its people, paradoxically, which in fact leads towards the state own natural death. Humans in nature crave freedom.

The case with the Peaceful Assembly Bill, it is by nature a bill that shows the desperation of its leaders. They ought to realise that a bill like this will meant the end of the state as it is denying the very freedom of its people in expressing their thoughts. The people can either choose to flee to other advanced democracies, or to fight and preserve the only place that they know home.

Our nation are starting to become a backward country, with such leadership and political party that uses favouritism, corruption money, religion and race, and most importantly hijacking democracy with rhetoric, the people ought to think for the future what do they really want for their kids and the next generation to be, a hostage in this country? Or a proud and free person?

On the other hand, society itself is at fault for being resistant to change for the betterment of humanity. As Malaysians, we ought to start living for the future and fate of our country, the reality is, the societal conversation of this nation is and has been always very dogmatic, especially in the area of religion and race. Hence, the universal idea of freedom and progress is diluted to almost nothing. I noticed society get so excited with the area of accusing individuals of murtad, LGBT (Do you know there’s a different interpretation of the story of Lut which has nothing to do with LGBT hatred), and every forms and structures pertaining to religion and race, yet nothing is being said when our very freedom as individual is undermine, or our economy is rocking downwards or if the repression on the rights of the vulnerable such as the extreme poor, the orang asli and the immigrants.

Exception for the brave few individuals and civil society groups.

We choose to withdraw into our own little materialistic cocoon, withdraw into our supreme racial comfort, withdraw into our religious narcissism of being holier than thou, and refused to know what’s out there or mingle with people of different point of views.

As a victim of religious bigotry, it is saddening that this is what our nation has succumbed to. Religion become a playground for people to spread hatred and fitnah, to invade the privacy of others, and to show how religious he/ she is, when realizing that they are the ones who are making our nation a backward flop.

I leave this article with a research about the Islamicity of a country, believe it or not, New Zealand is the most ‘Islamic nation’ in terms of the Islamicity index (and the least corrupted nation too!), and Malaysia is only at 38, a far cry. In fact those “atheist” nations top the list of Islamicity. Again, at another study on the economic islamicity index, Malaysia is merely at 33, while most “atheist” nations which practice the separation of church and state tops the list, and the “catholic” Ireland ranked at No. 1. This shows that Islam is more than mere hijab or prayer or adopting an Arabised-culture,  it is about values and ethics, about progress and equality, intellectualism and innovations, about a nation and society that is free from corruption, barbaric culture,hatred, fitnah-culture, and indoctrination of dogmatism…

Instead, we are reversing back in time, falling arrogantly in ignorance.

This shows a lot about who we are, ain’t it?

Having a long holiday for this festive season, I am excited to share 12 documentaries that inspire my worldview and thoughts. Ranging from global affairs, poverty, philosophy, history, religion, science, and so on. Most of the documentaries are from BBC Horizon and they never fail to widen up my curiosity,  passion and discoveries about life and the universe at large . I hope my readers enjoy the documentaries shared and do not forget to give your valuable comments/ feedback. Remember: Question Everything. =)

Last 2 weeks ago was a tough week for me as it really taught me the values of patience and forgiveness. Despite all these, I felt sad that in this Holy month of Ramadan, there are still people out there that do not understand the importance of respecting truth and upholding the good values taught in Islam.

This article is written in response to the event unfolded last 2 weeks, when a bunch of school-kids self-proclaimed to exposing the identity behind Sitt Wuzara. These kids called themselves as Gaysec and they had unfortunately caused a huge damage and hurt to my personal life as they falsely accused me of being Sitt Wuzara, exposed my identity and personal information in the internet, and worse they created disinformation by accusing me of murtad/ insulting Islam.

I am saddened that people believed in such misleading allegation and in fact even spread the false news to others. It became like wild fire that I was feared for my life as never in my life that I had been fitnah by people who have no regards on other people’s lives.

Before I rewind back on what actually happened to me last week, I want to be clear about who I am what I did or didn’t do. Due to Gaysec’s misleading information, many assumed that I am a member or knew about the Facebook group Apostate of Malaysia and Singapore (AMS). The truth is, I have NEVER been a member of AMS and in fact I never even heard of AMS until last week when I was falsely accused by Gaysec. For your information, I am all for free speech and freedom of expression but I am definitely against any sorts of hate speech or mockery of any religion.

On the other hand, I was active in the debate and discussion in the facebook group Malaysian Atheist, Agnostics, Freethinkers and Friends (MAFA), as well as Unscientific Malaysia (UM) because these groups promoted healthy discussion on various issues, ranging from science, philosophy, religion & faith (any religion, even scientology), supernatural, controversial issues, etc. What was interesting about this group, it encouraged people from all spectrum of believe-system, from religious, to conservative, to liberal, to secular, gave their two-cents worth of views.

The so-called “evidence” that Gaysec proudly cropped and display came from a long thread of MAFA facebook group discussion entitled “Malay Atheist?” back to more than 1 year ago. I think as Muslim, it is important never to judge others and understand the plight of others.

As an avid traveller, what inspires me are the knowledge, cultures and people that I met along  the way. I noticed Islam prosper tremendously and Muslim display the values of Islam within themselves much better in places where people are free to choose their religion, especially secular nations where religion is free from political manipulation and state hijack. That is why in most of my writings I advocate the importance of upholding faith as a personal relationship with God, rather than wearing religion as if it is mere marketing brand to show off others. I care a lot of Islam hence I feel it is a duty for me as a Muslim to uphold these values.

Coming back to the night of Gaysec’s false accusation and harming my personal privacy and information. I received random calls from people I do not know and SMS of death threats and people kept on sending me hate messages in my phone and facebook with really horrible messages.  Some wanted to rape me, some wanted to kill me slowly until I die a horrible death, some called me a whore and animal names, some even said I was born because my mom had sex with a dog…. what was my crime to receive these hate messages? Is it wrong to comment about the authorities and looking for a clean religion that lives in the hearts of believers? Asking the authorities not to downgrade the value of religion? Have anybody who sent me these dirty words think why they are doing that? I felt the world has became dark as I was drowning in sadness. These people were just following a very clear mistake without questioning, this time I was the victim, but it was possible that this could happen to anyone, what if their own family or themselves had been threatened like that? Would they forgive? Could they stand? The eager and hatred of us to find the identity of Sitt Wuzara is understandable but abusing religion and people’s emotion to seek for attention and make noises for nothing will never help it. All I can say is Istighfar to God and seek for His guidance. I got even more horrid when I saw blogs dedicated on how I should be killed, some became stalker and dig deeper information about me, but none of them care to check their facts correctly or even thought about the grave sin of fitnah in spreading the lies.

I was under so much stress and sadness from Gaysec’s despicable act, is this how easy for them to accuse another Muslim of Murtad just because of differences in opinion? Islam is forced to become mere playing field for these Gaysec hooligans in order for them to satisfy their sadistic need to their so-called Jihad. The night when Gaysec exposed my information to the internet, I received so many calls that I got a really bad feeling that something wrong is happening. I was so sleepy and tired but a good friend brought me to the Police Station in the wee hour to make the police report. I was forced to skip work a few days as I feared my life was threatened. After the police report I consulted a lawyer and lodge a report to SKMM as well. I went to SKMM to cooperate with the officers on their investigation. I also wrote a public statement that I was wrongly accused but instead I received so many hate and vulgar comments in my blog. These has made me feel very sad.

To add salt to injury, Gaysec only state a public apology when the damage had been done. In fact, they treated the whole episode as a small mistake and again falsely accused me as “keliru dalam agama”, when they did not see that they had in fact committed a serious crime of false accusation and a serious sin of fitnah which is despised by Allah. Again, religion has become  mere tool for these people to simply brand someone that do not share their views as “confused”.

This is how blind faith works where people are subjected to conform without question (especially when it comes to the superiority of religious authorities), the essence of Islam is buried within the books untouched and collecting dust (while pretenders scream loudly as the “defenders of Islam”), Islam is being played according to the politics of the day, while constructive criticism and expression of free thoughts are refrained.

I call all moderate Muslims who uphold peace and truth to speak out against such hooligans who only care to hijack Islam and its good values. For those who are still hunting Sitt Wuzara to please go to the police and SKMM and provide your evidence, instead of harming the life of another innocent girl by exposing all her personal information in the internet, hence creating even more sins of fitnah among the Muslim community in our country.

For Gaysec, let me be very clear: If forgiveness is what you seek, please

You all must do Taubat to Allah

come forward to me personally and apologise,

Gaysec must also retract all their postings about me in the internet,

 must give a disclaimer message to all the blogs, facebook  group/ page and personal comments that they had fitnah me and caused grave harm and distress to my life

and must demand all these sites to delete the misinformation and stop the spreading,

Gaysec must also do community service at places and with people of other religion/ race, preferably in places of worship of other religion or poverty stricken areas inhabited by non-malays;

and not to forget,  it will be great for Gaysec to blog about their interfaith experience (in their community service)

Do comparative religious understanding between Islam, Christian, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrian, Atheism, Agnosticism, Jainism and Taoism by talking to people of these faiths or do research of your own (the internet for a start?).

Do read books by Islamic philosophers/ thinkers such as Ali Shariati, Rumi, Avicenna and Fatema Mernissi and blog about your thoughts on the writings of these scholars.

Gaysec must also do charity work by volunteering in NGO that promotes welfare to the poor, sick and unfortunate.

Just to let Gaysec know, the sin of fitnah (if not being forgiven) is hell.

For those who helped to spread the fitnah about me, if forgiveness is in your mind too, please

do Taubat to Allah and do as much as you can in promoting good values of Islam. And please stop the fitnah by deleting your blog that falsely accuse me and enlighten your readers to refrain from fitnah/ hate speech.

My sincere hope is for Malaysia to be a nation that uphold true peace and harmony, regardless of race, religion and creed. From now on, we all ought to go against the evil veins of ignorance, hatred/ hate speech, and blind faith. Only through upholding good values in religion (in all religions in that matter), that we can mature and prosper as a nation.

Nevertheless, I want to thank all the people that had stood by me and who did not believe Gaysec accusation. I also would like to thank family and friends that tried their best to counter the disinformation spread by Gaysec. There are good people that went to these blogs and facebook to request people not to quickly point fingers, instead asked them to verify the validity of the accusation. I would like to thank Azwan Ismail for coming forth to clarify the truth regarding on the discussion threat in MAFA. Finally, I would like to thank all the blogs that promote their readers to think wisely not to spread fitnah and respect truth, especially Unscientific Malaysia for quick to respond to Gaysec’s false accusation by debunking their half-baked “evidence” with factual analysis.

Thank you and Salam.

This article is written by Azira Aziz, a young lawyer who harbours hope that one day Malaysians have equal racial and religious rights under the law, as we all are before the eyes of God. She is usually found at Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (http://SayaAnakBangsaMalaysia.net)


Perkara yang membuatkan saya sedih akhir-akhir ini adalah betapa mudahnya sesorang Islam memanggil seseorang Islam yang lain sebagai Murtad kerana perbezaan pendapat. Dalam setiap perbincangan mengenai isu-isu, sudah tentu ada yang konservatif, ada yang liberal, dan ada yang atas pagar, maklumlah semuanya datang dari latar belakang yang berlainan keluarga, kaum, agama pendidikan dan seumpama dengannya.

Kadang-kala, role-playing atau devil’s advocate i.e. mengambil kedudukan yang bertentangan dengan fahaman atau pegangan sebenar menajamkan minda untuk lebih mendalami dan memahami kedudukan orang yang lain. Ini adalah jenis perbincangan yang sihat, di mana kesemua pihak-pihak di dalam perbincangan tersebut, dengan gaya bahasa yang sopan dan intelektual menghujahkan pendapat mereka dengan baik sehingga segala sesawang kemusykilan dapat dibersihkan dan sekiranya tidak bersetuju pun, tidak mengapa, masih saling hormat-menghormati antara satu sama lain.

Saya tidak berapa berkenan dengan mereka yang suka menggunakan kata-kata kesat dan sengaja menyinggung untuk mengutarakan pendapat masing-masing dan meninggikan suara kerana tahu posisi yang diambil tidak kukuh tetapi mahu menang juga. Saya terkilan sebenarnya dengan perangai kurang matang sesetengah pihak yang sanggup menunding jari dan menggunakan pelbagai tohmahan dan cacian tanpa menggunakan akal fikiran untuk menimbangtara buah fikiran yang dikemukakan oleh individu tersebut. Ada yang sehingga sanggup mengugut untuk membunuh, merogol dan mengancam keluarga dan rakan-rakan individu yang menjadi mangsa tersebut.

Untuk kesedaran umat Islam saya sendiri, terutamanya di dalam bulan Ramadan yang mulia ini, silalah membuka minda dan hati mengenai betapa seriusnya dakwaan-dakwaan yang dibuat tersebut dan betapa undang-undang Islam menghalang perbuatan tersebut. Bagi mangsa-mangsa yang terkena ataupun yang mungkin dipanggil kafir/murtad pada masa hadapan, ini adalah salah satu cara untuk melawan perbuatan-perbuatan yang keji tersebut.

Dari Akta Kesalahan Jenayah Syariah (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) 1997 Act 559, menyatakan seperti berikut;

31. Takfir.

(1) Subject to subsection (2), any person who alleges or imputes by words, either spoken or written, or by sign or visible representation, or by any act, activity or conduct, or by organising, promoting or arranging any activity or otherwise in any manner, that any person professing the religion of Islam or person belonging to any group, class or description of persons professing the religion of Islam-

(a) is or are kafir;

(b) has or have ceased to profess the religion of Islam;

(c) should not be accepted, or cannot be accepted, as professing the religion of Islam; or

(d) does not or do not believe in, follow, profess, or belong to, the religion of Islam, shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both.

(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply to-

(a) anything done by any Court or religious authority established, constituted or appointed by or under any written law and empowered to give or issue any ruling or decision on any matter relating to the religion of Islam; and

(b) anything done by any person pursuant to or in accordance with any ruling or decision given or issued by such Court or religious authority, whether or not such ruling or decision is in writing or, if in writing, whether or not it is published in the Gazette.

Di dalam kes Amnah Bt Shaari Lwn Roderick John Brooks [2007] 2 LNS 9, fakta pendeknya adalah seperti berikut; Pemohon, seorang wanita Islam yang lahir dari keluarga Melayu Islam adalah isteri kepada Responden. Mereka telah berkahwin di England dan ketika perbicaraan tersebut tidak lagi bersefahaman. Responden mendakwa isterinya telah keluar daripada agama Islam ke agama Kristian dan oleh kerana itu, bahawasanya perkahwinannya dengan Pemohon adalah tidak sah dari mula (void ab initio). (Nota: Saya rasa ini taktik suami tak nak bayar nafkah selepas bercerai).

Mahkamah telah membincangkan mengenai bidangkuasa agama, dan menyatakan bahawa Mahkamah “bersetuju dengan hujahan pihak Pemohon bahawa hak untuk memulakan posiding bagi penentuan agama atau pertukaran agama keluar dari Islam hendaklah dimulakan sendiri oleh individu itu sendiri atau pihak berkuasa Agama jika pihak itu masih hidup. Jika individu itu telah meninggal, hak tersebut boleh dilaksanakan oleh waris-warisnya atau pihak berkuasa Agama. Membenarkan individu lain mempersoalkan keimanan seseorang akan membuka jalan kepada ruang gejala kafir mengkafir dalam masyarakat dan akan mengkucar-kacir keharmonian dalam masyarakat. Kafir-mengkafir adalah suatu yang haram berdasarkan nas-nas yang sahih.

Rasulullah s.a.w. bersabda:[Ayat Arab] Bermaksud:-

“Janganlah seseorang menuduh orang lain dengan fasik atau kafir, kecuali hal itu akan jatuh pada diri si penuduh itu jika orang yang dituduh tidak bersifat demikian.”

Oleh kerana gejala kafir mengkafir itu haram, maka jalan-jalan yang membawa kepada gejala tersebut juga tidak boleh dibenarkan. Hukum seperti ini dinamakan dalam disiplin ilmu Usul al-Fiqh sebagai Sadd al-Zari’. Sadd al-Zari’ bermakna jalan-jalan yang membawa kepada sesuatu yang diharamkan dan yang mengandungi perkara-perkara kejahatan seperti melihat aurat seorang yang ajnabi yang boleh membawa kepada kejahatan perzinaan. Sadd al-Zari’ juga adalah sebagai salah satu sumber hukum dalam Islam selain dari al-Quran, al-Sunnah, Ijma’ dan Qiyas.

Oleh itu, mahkamah memutuskan Responden secara individu tidak mempunyai hak untuk mempersoalkan akidah pihak Pemohon. Hak tersebut boleh dilaksanakan melalui pihak berkuasa agama yang mentadbirkan urusan pernikahan Pemohon dan Responden.”

Kesimpulannya, setelah meneliti undang-undang Syariah beserta kes yang mengambilkira sabda Rasulullah S.A.W, Mahkamah Syariah telah memutuskan bahawa mendakwa seseorang Kafir/Murtad adalah perbuatan jenayah dalam Islam dan boleh didenda tidak lebih RM5,000 dan/atau dipenjarakan tidak lebih tiga (3) tahun.


I would like to inform to all readers that I was at SKMM today to cooperate with the officers pertaining to the investigation on this matter. Thank you.


(August 10, 2011): Azwan Ismail has released a statement on his reply to Sitt and his involvement in the MAFA FB group:

On Wednesday, 3 August 2011, I received a Facebook message from Arlene Tan regarding recent accusation by some people saying she is the real identity of a person called Sitt Al Wuzara. This is my explanation (the same one that I gave to Arlene):

About one year ago, there was a person called Sitt Al Wuzara posting in the ‘Malay Atheist?’ forum thread inside the Malaysian Atheists, Freethinkers, Agnostics & their friends’ (MAFA) Facebook group. I replied to his/her posts. I believe his/her posts have somehow been deleted, leaving Arlene’s post, originally between my post & Sitt’s post, as the next one. But still you can see the ‘deleted’ sign. Simple as that. Therefore, I did not reply to Arlene’s post, and did not refer Arlene as Sitt Al Wuzara. I also don’t know Sitt Al Wuzara & his/her real identity.

I only know the existence of Sitt Al Wuzara in that ‘Malay Atheist’ forum thread & checked out his/her blog once (and if I’m not mistaken, I noticed in that blog that actually he/she claimed himself/herself as a Christian). I decided not to continue arguing with him/her after that and also have not been following his/her activities until the recent accusation against Arlene Tan.

I hope people stop spreading lies regarding Arlene Tan as she is innocent & just a victim of situation. It can be considered as fitnah. Like me, she joined MAFA & took part in the forum for a healthy & open-minded discussion (however, I have recently deleted my posts in the ‘Malay Atheist’ forum thread, and removed myself from MAFA, to avoid further unwanted issues). Joining MAFA also doesn’t mean you’re atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, etc. Everybody can have their say there.

Again, I want to highlight that Arlene Tan is not Sitt Al Wuzara, and I also still don’t know who Sitt Al Wuzara is. Accusing Arlene Tan as Sitt Al Wuzara is totally stupid, baseless, and unislamic too.

I am saddened by this situation as this is really a sick act by a bunch of people who love to simply accuse without any proof. For the record, I am absolutely not Sitt Wuzura and I have never known this person before. I was not even aware about this issue until 3 days ago where I got an alert by some facebook friends that I was being wrongfully accused. The first time I ever read her blog was also 2 days ago when I had to show evidence to the police. For your information, I have made a police report against Gaysec and anyone else for the wrongful accusation, for posting my personal details in public, and for encouraging the public to harrass me, including making death threats at me. Dear friends, please let us spread the truth during this holy month where it is not merely avoiding from eating and drinking, but most importantly avoiding from spreading lies and fitna, as well as seeking truth and enlightenment.

I am not really a fan of classical music, but this one really brings the chill to my senses. I once heard it in one of BCC documentaries (they have really good ones), and later heard it again in “Hangover 2”. With the help of Google, I found out that the music is by Bach, entitled Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude. What a wonderful piece of music! To put it in an analogy, it’s like a conflict between the chaotic deep sea and a calm seafarer going against the current. Very inspiring indeed.

709 is not a date to be forgotten. So, I was there, drenched in sweat and rain, running like headless chicken away from the police and FRU, when out of the sudden they were attacking the peaceful gathering outside KLCC. Barefooted,  I managed to take refuge inside a pub called The Library. Noticing that my little toe was bleeding. I straight on peaking to the outside window. I saw the police were catching people were caught by the police, chaos were erupted between the protesters, police and surprised tourists. Earlier, I was running together among the peaceful marchers as we were attacked mercilessly by the piercing tear gas at the streets in Puduraya …

Rewind back, so how all these started anyway?

BERSIH is non-partisan coalition body of NGOs striving for clean and fair election in Malaysia. BERSIH started to gain momentum in 2007, with seas of yellow swarming the KL streets. The infamous  interview between an Aljazeera reporter with the then Information Minister, Zainuddin, during the live BERSIH march best sums it all. It came at the exact right moment when people were starting to get tired by the government propaganda while their daily lives were stuck in a rut. Coupled with the Hindraf movement by the Indians, 2008 election was doomed to change the political landscape of our country,

Or so we thought.

The irony was, BERSIH 709 was not exploded to this extend if the government didn’t respond with  an iron fist. It could had ended up as a festival-like rhetorical chant by the opposition and civil societies in the safe compound of the Merdeka Stadium. It could had been yesterday’s news the next day. Talking about no publicity is bad publicity. Leading toward 709, it was obvious the Najib administration was giving a huge spit to their own faces: BERSIH were on the media almost every day, massive road blocks and traffic jams; wearing YELLOW became a state crime, Even the word BERSIH which carries a neutral meaning for clean is a forbidden word; cancelled bus services and trains; Massive lost in revenue for businesses as KL was shut down into a ghost city; and obvious lies of the government when they forgot that plentiful of video evidence showing people marching in peace while the police were the ones committing brutalities and abuses

Many people were there for very personal reasons. I was at first undecided to go, especially when the protest were confined into the stadium, worse when the King came into the picture. I am against the idea of monarchy and feudalism, especially when their lives are lapped with luxuries and carelessly eating away the rakyat’s hard earn cash. I believe the monarchy should just confine themselves in the museum as a historical monument. That is to be written in another blog post.

Anyway, I knew I NEED to be there. The cause for BERSIH is too important to ignore.

It took me 2 hours to get back from work with the massive jam, I stayed at a friend’s house in KL. A few of my friends were gathering at different places, one went to KL Central, another went to Stadium Merdeka, while I followed some friends to Petaling Street. KL Central suffered really bad due to its confined area, a lot of the opposition leaders and supporters were tear gas-ed outside the Hilton Hotel, and the whole KL Central were blocked by FRU and police.

I was walking along the way from Times Squares, saw some police trucks stationed by the area. Most people came to KL by walking as the whole roads and public transportation were came into a halt. So far no yellow were spotted except for a small foreign kid who was holding his mother’s hand. A lot of people were merely walking  around and pretending to be passerby, but I knew they were protesters that were waiting for the march to start. There were people from SUHAKAM with their bright-coloured  vase, groups of observers from the Bar Council and other NGOs, not to forget foreigners from the West and Middle East strolling mindlessly with their partners and kids. I was thinking to myself, today could be the shock of their lives when their witness the FRU reaction against the peace march.

I had some coffee and chatted with other protesters at Petaling Street. No one was wearing yellow as there were a few undercover plain-clothes police observing for protestors amongst other people there. Then, out of the sudden, while we were walking around the corner of the road, a yellow sea of Malaysians were marching towards us while chanting enthusiastically “Hidup Rakyat Hidup Bersih”, followed by cheers and claps. It was a surreal experience, I once joined the anti-ISA march back in 2009, but this was emotionally overwhelming. You see, the situation on the ground is not as what being reported by the mainstream newspaper. If there’s one time everyone felt a sense of unity, a sense of being a patriotic Malaysian, this was one of the rare moment where we all knew what we want, who we were and why we are here.

I always believe the image of Malaysia is full of colour, that was best described at the march. Ethnicities from all walks of lives, even as far as Sabah & Sarawak, were there as proud Malaysians. Although there were some opposition supporters among the crowd (as heard from their “Reformasi” chants), most were mere simple folks, do not belong to any political parties or civil societies, whom were there to show their right to march peacefully in public. The famed Auntie Anne, an old lady who came all the way by herself with public transport, without any proper attire nor protection, without even aware of BERSIH’s marching time, were there for the very reason as most were – wanting change for Malaysia.

On top of the sky, a helicopter hovered so low that I felt the police was up to something. By then, a huge crowd was gathering in front of Menara Maybank. I was standing afar at Plaza Rakyat station observing. The police reported 5000-10000, while the organisers reported as large as 100000. The thing is, there were pockets of BERSIH protest in so many places around KL that it was hard to make an actual number. Whatever the number was, the atmosphere was a cheerful one, people were clapping and chanting happily, some were holding flowers, yellow balloons, yellow umbrella, it was just a very surreal moment for most of us.

Suddenly.”Boom!”. Reality strikes. People were running like crazy, from a cheerful gathering at Menara Maybank, turned into an ugly scene of people being fired by tear gas and water cannons. There were lots of coughing, red eyes and it was extremely hard to breath. The air was tainted by the poisonous smell of the chemical gas. Nevertheless, the crowd quickly gain momentum and gathered at Petaling street again. Then, they slowly march toward Puduraya street where they almost clashed with the UMNO youth group. The rain only added drama to the whole scene. We constantly go back and forth as we were cornered at both sides.

Funny was, at the other end was the so-called the Patriot group by UMNO youth headed by Khairy Jamaluddin. I had a foreigner friend who was at Times Square when the red group of UMNO youth were, interestingly, they were instead busy handling out red t-shirts to foreigners, asking them to wear. What a shame! Their number was so small anyway. Do not even mention about Ibrahim Ali’s PERKASA.

I was amongst the protestors at Puduraya, drenched in sweat and rain, out of nowhere, the FRU squad fired another round of tear gas, this time they fired it so far that even us from behind were not spared. I can still remember as the white smoke filled the air, the piercing pain, unable to breath, coughing constantly, my eyes were in pain that I was unable to open it, my friends were grabbing my arms as the crowd were pushing each other to get off. At that point, the best word to describe is death.

We managed to go behind the Pudu area and recover. I ate salt and the rain sort of helped me to relief from the tear gas pain. We went to the Tung Shin Hospital compound, thinking that it was a safe spot. Never did I thought the FRU fired a third round of tear gas assault, treating us like as if we were the enemy that needed to be eliminated – all at the Hospital! People were cursing and mad, I heard curses “Babi lah Najib nih” “Bodoh polis, hospital pun nak tembak”. There were a lot of kind Malaysians too, trying to give help to fellow Malaysians escaping away. A guy actual gave us a kind hand to climb up the steep hill.

We were temporarily trapped, as the whole Pudu street were heavily guarded by FRU and police. From above the Tung Shin hospital, I saw they sprayed water cannons too. But I needed to get off from the Pudu area, after an hour, we decided to get off using the back road. At first I thought of going back, but we heard whispers that people were walking peacefully toward the KLCC area. One of the PKR leader managed to strike a deal with the police to allow them to walk peacefully. Can you imagine how huge the crowd was. The street from Jalan Puduraya to Jalan Masjid Jamek all the way to KLCC were full of people walking peacefully. At Masjid Jamek, a LRT star train moved slowly while waving to the peaceful marchers, people were clapping and cheering, even to the hovering helicopter above. There were no evidence of destroyed properties nor violent protestors.

At that moment, something came into our mind – this is what Kuala Lumpur looks like without any vehicles – clean air and peaceful. Reminded me of the old days where lives were much simpler. In fact, we walked all the way from Pudu to KLCC for a very short ducration of time. Hmm, could it be possible to have KL as a car-free zone? The environmentalist me think so.

 By the time we reached KLCC, there were a huge gathering outside KLCC.  I thought finally the police had come into their senses. But I knew something was wrong again as the helicopter was hovering so low. Predictably, it was then followed by the usual scene by the over-reaction FRU Squad and police. I was separated from my friend when out of the sudden, a group of police were catching people like animals. I lost my sandals and quickly hide inside a pub at the nick of a second the owner were about to shut the door.

And there I was, ended up barefooted, inside a pub, drenched in sweat and rain, while safely looking to the outside at the red FRU trucks and the police. There were even horses (i do not know what purpose it served rather than showing off how “cool” the police squad were). I saw the police were still chasing the crowd, my friend ended up inside KLCC. In the pub, I was explaining to the shocked waitress (they were foreigners), about what the whole thing was all about. I overheard from other protestors who managed to get into the pub that the opposition leaders and BERSIH leaders were caught.

In the evening as everything was settled, I walked barefooted back to my friend’s house. Everything went back to normal the next day. Malaysians were all back in their usual routine lives.  But the subsequent news followed after the BERSIH protest put a huge burden to the government, especially Najib. The international media and community were condemning the government’s brutalities. Najib’s little propaganda to the world also failed miserably too. I was constantly checking the news and all I can say is the damage is done. Too bad, Najib.

My final thought of the whole BERSIH experience: It was definitely an adventure I will never forget, it was the day how we Malaysians were brave souls where showed our strength against an incompetent, colonial-mindset government. Peace!

My passion of travelling has taken me to many places, including Indonesia. It is a country that is close to my heart because of its exotic beauty, friendly faces and diverse cultures.

Fresh from decades of dictator-rule, the modern Indonesia is climbing confidently in the chaotic sea of the free market economy.

Nevertheless, one thing that Indonesians are still struggling to eradicate is poverty.  Strolling around the Jakarta city, it is obvious to see the anak jalanan (street kids), prowling around mindlessly amongst the busy roads and tall buildings. They live day by day begging on the streets.

It was very heartbreaking seeing young kids and sometimes holding a toddler, begging for a few Rupiah coins under the hot sun. Not to mention the danger of the traffic itself. For an outsider like me, it is easy to assume that the government and society are not doing their part to resolve the issue, but is it as simple as that?

My humble observation and discussion with some of my Indonesian friends makes me think otherwise. I believe it is a combination of a lot of factors.

Some Anak Jalanan are the genuine, hard-core poor who ended up begging on the street to survive. These kids have nothing left for them, abandoned by their parents, no shelter, not old enough to get a decent job, forcing themselves to the street. These kids are prone to abuse and exploitation, especially by gangs. These gangs would recruit these kids to beg on the street in return for a little food, shelter and protection.

Some are kids who just want a taste of the outside world. The idea of being independent without any parental control is tempting. These are mostly teenagers who earn a living on a street by either singing/playing guitars, or selling food/goods on the street. I came to know a friend who once ran from home and became an anak jalanan for two years in Bandung. He slept on the street, begged for money by singing, and even bathe in the toilets inside the shopping malls.

On the other hand, there are also kids who are used by their lazy parents to beg on the street. These parents are usually very poor and ignorant. Instead of working for a living to support their family, they force their children to become street kids. Worst is, when these kids do not get enough money by the end of the day, they will be punished. These kids have to sacrifice their education and future just to serve the needs of their selfish parents.

Nevertheless, with high unemployment and higher population growth, it is no surprise that people would have no else place to go except to the street. This is one issue that the government should take a deeper look. With growing income gap between the rich and the poor, city like Jakarta do attract poor Indonesians from other islands to find job opportunities. The over-crowded city may not be able to cater jobs to all.

In an effort to understand the plight of the anak jalanan, we decided to go further to investigate the lives of street kids. When my friend documented his meet with the street kids, he was surprised how tight-knitted the anak jalanan community is. There are kids, adults and a leader to ensure the security of the community. The street is their life, where everybody look after everybody’s back.

Ironically, the street kids community appeared to be ‘happy’ and showed the good side of living as anak jalanan. Without the responsibility of working or finding a job, they even received money and shelter from a local NGO. I was thinking to myself, their lives are not that bad after all. In fact, they refused to get off the street, saying that they are already used to such carefree street life. But in reality, the ‘happy’ faces could be just a façade. My friend saw them addicted to sniffing glue, smoking, exposed to bad influences and social ills.

The issue of anak jalanan will cause a huge burden to the government and the Indonesian society. The sight of street kids in a modern developing city like Jakarta is definitely not a palatable view. Besides, it is bad to the Indonesian’s growing economy.

The problem of street kids is a complex issue that should not be resolved simplistically by the Indonesian government. It ought to be holistic, involving all parties especially civil society groups. More over each cases should be approached differently based on the circumstances. Nevertheless, one thing for sure, these kids should be prioritized to get good education, no excuse for skipping school.

gorgeous love lavender

Timely Rain Drops

October 2016
« Dec    

bitter butter beer ginger~

dusty attic

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