ZR
Kajang Tuan, Kajang Hamba

Kajang tuan kajang lipatan
Buat berteduh di lembah sunyi
"Demi rakyat" jadi sandaran
Di waktu kempen meraih undi

Kajang tuan atapnya rumah
Tempat berlindung di waktu hujan
Bila berkuasa mula bermewah
Harta rakyat jadi buruan

Kajang tuan kajang mengkuang
Jadi teduhan orang Mandailing
Politikus saling berperang
Rakyat jadi mangsa tergiling

Kajang tuan kajang berlipat
Kajang hamba hanya sehelai
Asal mulanya “demi rakyat”
Tiba masa rakyat terabai

Kajang tuan kajang permatang
Pauh dilayang di atas peti
Demi kuasa kawan tersilang
Bunuh membunuh sesama parti

Kajang tuan kajang bertindih
Daun mengkuang tersusun tertib
Musuh utama menjadi dalih
Niat sebenar tetap terintip

Kajang tuan kajang bersambung
Akhirnya layu dimamah terik
Niat rakus cuba dilindung
Itulah dia sifat munafik

Kajang tuan pandan bersilang
Luntur diasak siang mentari
Apa niat tuan berjuang
Hati rakyat tiada peduli

Kajang tuan kajang berlipat
Kajang tersusun satu persatu
Disangka ikhlas peduli rakyat
Rupanya kita semua tertipu

Kajang tuan mengkuang layu
Pudar kusam warna hijaunya
Kini rakyat akhirnya tahu
Janji tuan kami waspada

ZR 
Desa Bistari 
16 Feb 2014

Menggila

Zaman menggila makin memuncak
Jiwa muslim dipalu digertak
Niat insani jadi umpanan
Membakar hati mengundang rawan

Apa niat nurani dibakar
Ramadan jadi medan meliar?
Apa ertinya hasutan nista
Mudah benarkah Islam dihina?

Sayu memandang nasibnya umat
Minda masih terkongkong terikat
Rantaian Syaitan tiada berguna
Nafsu insan mudah diperkuda

Sempena musim Syawal menjelang
Ambil yang jernih, keruh dibuang
Murnikan jiwa, bersihkan niat
Moga selamat sekalian umat.

ZR
Desa Bistari
3 Aug 2013

EO - Satu Penolakan

Bila keadilan jadi samar
Fitnah gelisah merebar liar
Hati manusia terkabur gelap
Jarum si Shaitan datang menghendap

Bila hak insani diperlekeh
Yang nyata salah menjadi boleh
Adil dicemuh batil disanjung
Kanun manusia jadi pemancung

Sedarlah insan sebelum lambat
Cara yang salah memansuh niat
Peganglah pada hukum yang adil
Nescaya umat tiada terkucil.

ZR
Mutiara Damansara
3 Ramadan 1434

Menyambut Ramadan

Ramadan mubarak tiba lagi
Wajah muslimin indah berseri
Menyambut bulan penuh barakah
Hati disimbah cahya sa’adah

Esok bermula ibadah puasa
Iman diuji lapar dahaga
Doa diaju mohon bersantun
Agar khilaf dosa terampun

Marilah kita segenap umat
Menyusun saf barisan yang rapat
Moga Tuhan dzul jalaalil-ikram
Cerahkan Jalan lenyapkan suram.

ZR
Bukit Damansara
1 Ramadan.

Why You Ought to Watch “Parah”

A few days back, I went to the theatre with my wife. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a play in KL, but the plug on The Edge seemed interesting enough, and coming hot on the heels of the most controversial General Elections of my lifetime, I thought a play on race relations in Malaysia, seen from the perspective of 4 teenage Malaysians, would be topical and relevant.

I didn’t expect to be blown away.

Here are just 3 reasons why you ought to watch this play:

1. A powerful meditation on the state of race relations amongst young Malaysians. In the light of the recent General Elections and its contested results, the ensuing fallout of the Prime Minister’s observation of a “Chinese tsunami” and Utusan’s now-infamous “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu” headline, race relations in Malaysian are as fraught as ever. This, of course, comes as no surprise: Malaysia has always been a strange melange of ethnicities, brought about as a result of the accidents of colonial history. But the 13th General Elections took place in the backdrop of the growing political maturity of a younger generation of voters, for whom racial identities are less monolithic, and the memory of the tragedies of May 13th 1969 are a learned history, rather than an experienced terror. And these younger (read: urban?) voters, with a different experience of ethnic relations compared to their parents, and a different set of expectations borne out of the rise of middle-income Malaysia, exercised their votes in a way that perplexed traditional Malaysia. Parah gives us all a better idea of the hopes and aspirations of these younger urban voters, and how Malaysian politics will need to change to accommodate these new demands.

2. Thoughtful enactment of the breakdown of friendships. The inter-ethnic tensions surrounding the controversy of the novel Interlok are the subject matter of Parah, but these tensions take place within the context of the friendship of four friends: Melur, Mahesh, Kahoe and Hafiz. In its well-paced unraveling of the ties of friendship between the four young protagonists, Parah charts the many ways in which the strongest ties of friendship are tested when personal identities are tested and laid bare.

3. Great acting. While Parah is superbly anchored by the nuanced play script by Alfian Sa’at and the deft directing of Jo Kukathas, it is the acting chops of Iedil Putra and the rest of the cast which gives Parah its raw and visceral power. By turns earnest, insistent and furious, the performances of the four lead actors gives great hope that there is a younger generation of Malaysian thespians who are able to rise above the morass of contemporary Malaysian entertainment to give powerful expression to the growing pains of today’s Malaysia.

I would give Parah two big thumbs up, and urge you to catch it before it current run ends on May 26th.

Surah Munafiquun ayat 4

Assalamu Alaikum,

Have you read verse 4 of chapter 63. المنافقون in the Holy Quran?

۞ وَإِذا رَأَيتَهُم تُعجِبُكَ أَجسامُهُم ۖ وَإِن يَقولوا تَسمَع لِقَولِهِم ۖ كَأَنَّهُم خُشُبٌ مُسَنَّدَةٌ ۖ يَحسَبونَ كُلَّ صَيحَةٍ عَلَيهِم ۚ هُمُ العَدُوُّ فَاحذَرهُم ۚ قٰتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ ۖ أَنّىٰ يُؤفَكونَ

English-Sarwar translation
______________________________

Their physical appearance attracts you when you see them and when they speak, you carefully listen to them. In fact, they are like propped up hollow trunks of wood (They are so cowardly) they think that every cry which they hear is against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. May God condemn them. Where are they turning to, leaving behind the Truth?

Please Stop the Blame Game

As the dust begins to settle after the 13th General Elections, the blame game has begun. 

On the part of the Barisan Nasional, this was a disastrous outing. While they have won back Perak and Kedah, the BN representation in Parliament receded further to 133 seats, with thin majorities notched up for many of those seats. While some of the Indian vote went back Barisan’s way, the Chinese vote was swung decisively against the BN, and urban voters across the board also voted against the ruling coalition. BN hung on, but just barely.

For the Pakatan Rakyat parties, there is a palpable feeling amongst their supporters that “we was robbed”. They won the popular vote for the first time since 1969, with monster majorities especially won in many Chinese-majority seats. But for alleged gerrymandering and the first-past-the-post electoral system, we would have seen a new Government in power. Anwar Ibrahim has seized on this, announcing that the PR would only accept the results of the General Elections once instances of “electoral fraud” have been properly addressed.

Looking across this growing political divide, several observations come to mind:

1. whatever the politicians think, most Malaysians are relieved that this was, on balance, the right result for the country. The BN leadership may well blame a Chinese tsunami for this; and PR politicians may cry foul over the results, but many Malaysians are actually relieved. While the mood for change was quite palpable, PR must admit that they have done precious little to sort out their own ideological differences, or to truly paint a clear picture of what their “ubah” really means. Vilifying the ruling coalition, and promising cheap petrol, free education and other goodies, may be enticing, but the rakyat deserves a much clearer articulation of what a new Malaysian consensus would look like. And the response of the markets on Monday morning, with Bursa Malaysia hitting record highs, is a reflection of the relief among the business community that this was, on balance, the right result: 5 more years for PR to prove that they can form a durable coalition, and for BN to step up and take heed of the rakyat’s sentiments for change.

2. we need reconciliation, not racial finger-pointing. While we all agreed with PM Najib Razak that a new national reconciliation was required, the immediate finger-pointing towards the Chinese community was certainly no help. And if reconciliation is what is needed, having Utusan Malaysian scream “Apa lagi orang Cina mahu?” is not only counter-productive, but may simply serve to stoke up racial tensions which are plain dangerous. When cooler heads prevail, as they should, the BN must realize that the only way to beat a path back to political leadership is to rebuild the BN coalition, and this cannot be done by simply writing off a quarter of your electorate! If anything, the PR has cobbled their own coalition of Chinese and urban voters who are demanding for change, especially in terms of the basic arrangements of affirmative action and greater fairness. We have a new generation of voters, no longer bound to the old consensus of the 1970s, and BN must step up to embrace this new reality. Blaming Chinese voters, or the social media, or “ingratitude”, is counter-productive and downright dangerous.

3. the rakyat wants to just move on; politicians should too. While partisans on both the BN and PR corners seem to be ready to square off to feed their own post-election grievances, most Malaysians just want to get on with their lives. While we can quibble over many issues, the world moves on. We want to know what the new Federal Cabinet will look like, and how the Federal Government will review their policies to take into account voter sentiments from the 13th GE. We want to know who the Mentris Besar will be from both the PR as well as BN states, and we want to see if our politicians will fulfill the promises they made with such abandon during the campaigning season. Most of all, we want politicians to get out of the way so that we can begin to live our lives again in harmony, and make our own decent and honest livings, and we want both BN and PR administrations to help us on our way, rather than obsess about their own narrow politician fortunes. 

The questions now on most Malaysians’ mind: can we all move on, now, and stop this blame game?

Some thoughts on today’s historic elections

Today, about 80% of Malaysia’s 13 million registered voters came out to have their say on the future of their beloved country. While there were many dark warnings about nefarious efforts to subvert the democratic process, many Malaysians can testify that their experience of voting this year was calm, orderly and peaceful. Kudos to the SPR workers and volunteers for their no-fuss handling of the voting process, and word must certainly go out to the millions of Malaysians who ignored all the bluster and chose to vote cheerfully and with good spirits.

Of course, when the stakes are as high as they are this time around, there will be arising issues and controversies. My own humble take on some of the key talking points of today’s voting:

1. Indelible ink is but one safeguard in the voting process, we shouldn’t expect it to be fool-proof. Many took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about the “delibility” of the indelible ink used by the Elections Commission. But the ink is but one of various safeguards involved in the voting process, which includes IC checks and verification, as well as the presence of polling agents for each of the candidates. Furthermore, many voters have claimed to have been able to remove the ink, but most photographic evidence seem to show some detectable residue of the ink, however little. And really, ink is ink. Takkan la nak letak cat Nippon Paint on your fingers, nanti sampai 14th GE pun masih melekat on your fingers!

2. Claims of “phantom voters” are mischievous at best; at worst, a cynical attempt to subvert the democratic process. There were many dark warnings, mainly from PR politicians, claiming that there were busloads of Bangladeshi workers being flown or bussed in to voting centres to subvert the voting process. Firstly, there was never any hard evidence to back this, other than flight schedules which could well have been part of legitimate get-out-the-vote operations. More perniciously, it has led to scenes in several voting centres where legitimate Malaysian Indian voters were harassed, or even beaten up, while in the course of trying to perform their civic duty. One wonders if the specific targeting of “Banglas” may have been a pre-meditated effort to discourage Malaysian Indian voters to cast their votes, following Dato’ Seri Najib’s assiduous courting of the Indian vote for the past several years.

3. Politicians can bluster all they want, but we Malaysians can make up our own minds without being badgered. At the end of the day, after all the Sturm Und Drang, most Malaysians have made up their mind about where their votes would lie. It has been a long, hard campaign, which kicked off almost immediately after the March 2008 elections, and has dragged on for the better part of the past 5 years. Unfortunately, our politicians have not found it beneath themselves to scare voters with talk of phantom voters, threats of religious persecution, delible indelible ink, last-minute sex videos and corruption exposes, and other such desperate last ditch attempts to win votes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes our politicians would treat voters like adults, rather than witless children to be scared into voting one way or the other.

As I write this, early results are trickling out. Let’s pray that all goes well, and whichever way the results go, let’s accept the verdict of the rakyat, and close ranks as a united nation!

Lain Kalilah…

Last Saturday, I attended my first ever DAP ceramah. I have attended a few BN ceramahs in the past, and I had also been to a few PKR and PAS ceramahs too. This time around, Lim Kit Siang was going to be the star attraction, so this was going to be a novel experience, I was sure.

3 things in particular that I took note of:

1. all politics is local, local, local. Despite all the highfalutin rhetoric of multiracialism in the Pakatan manifesto, the DAP message in Johor Bharu was clearly tuned towards the hopes and fears of the Chinese working class. There was a lot of talk on the fear of crime in JB (which is sadly a very real issue), as well as endless recounting of various “scandals” of the BN government. I suppose this is what sells amongst the thousands-strong Chinese crowd that night, and Kit knew which strings to pull.

2. ten years on, Tun Mahathir is still the bogeyman of choice for DAP. For a former prime minister who had resigned ten (!) years ago, you would have thought the old man never left the scene. Kit Siang took swipe after swipe after Mahathir. Every mention of Najib and/or Muhyiddin was never complete without a final flourish of linking them to Mahathir as the “syaitan yang dikenali” (I kid you not, he actually said that.) It’s as if, in the glorious mind of Saudara Lim Kit Siang, the past ten years were all a dream, and we are still living in the bad old days of Mahathirism.

3. no one has a monopoly on the politics of fear. Again, a huge disparity between the national rhetoric of “Pakatan Membawa Harapan”, and the rousing connection made with the crowd that night. Kit Siang spoke at length about the fear of crime in JB. After expounding on the failures of BN, his solution? “Appoint a new Minister for Home Affairs, and we’ll sort out crime in 3 years.” Not exactly detail-oriented. And time after time, he hit on Mahathir, and implied that another 5 years for BN would be another vote for Mahathir.

I went away feeling rather disappointed, but just as palpably, I was scared. There is a real possibility, this time, that PR might take over. But apart from some prettily-put together manifesto promises, mostly declaring that the prices of so-and-so will come down (magically somehow), PR seems to think that it can trade on the anger and disappointment of certain sections of the Malaysian population, without a clearly-thought programme of how (if at all) PR would be different to BN, and that would be enough for it to coast to power.

Notwithstanding what I think of Anwar and co, I sincerely do believe that Malaysian voters deserve a better choice. And while Najib is trying his best, there is no denying that BN has done many things in the past which were clearly against the public interest.

But I can’t bear to imagine Malaysians sleepwalking their way into a perilous future, putting their fates in the hands of a bunch of politicos who think that exploiting fear and anger is enough to earn them a stint in charge.

Lain kalilah.

How refreshing!

Bucking the trend of Malaysian “artistes” eagerly inflicting their artless “talents” onto the unsuspecting (and often undiscriminating) Malaysian public, Aizat Amdan (who I must admit is a really good singer) recently announced that he wasn’t much of an actor.

"Jujurnya saya langsung tiada bakat sebagai seorang pelakon dan penglibatan sebelum ini hanyalah sekadar untuk mencuba sesuatu yang baru."

How many Malaysians in the entertainment industry would be as honest as Aizat? In fact, quite a number of Malaysia “actors” and “actresses”, who we would expect to at least have some minimum ability in their chosen vocation, are actually quite terrible at it. 

As we have seen in recent years, you can have a voice like Doraemon’s, and make Lassie cry at your palpable lack of acting chops, but it’s ok, you can still make it in the industry (well, at least make it onto the covers of Mangga and URTV on a regular basis, failing everything else) and bag yourself a rich Datuk’s son at the end of it all.

So here’s to Aizat, the paragon of self-aware Malaysian artistic talent. I salute you.