Tuesday, August 25, 2009
All Failed Shamefully
It has been months since he tried to get his writings published in mainstream media and whatnot, much to his dismay. Even if his writing was to be published, it'd be stupidly edited and sounded different comparatively. Being rejected is one thing, and unheard is another. But both could do enough to break your heart into pieces, especially when you know you have something worthwhile to be heard.

I'll tell him about this guy later. He has a name. But for now, let's just call him Ku Ali.


I deliberately delayed my writing of this article as a test of character for our politicians, especially Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, the Chief Minister of my home state. We feel, the period of about 10 days since his decision concerning alcohol sales in Selangor is quite sufficient to expose their true colours. Unfortunately, most of them, let it be from PKR, DAP, MCA, MIC, PAS or UMNO, had a most mediocre performance in this test. In this article, we Malaysians will analyze the blunders of some of these so called leaders, with regards to the alcohol crisis in Selangor. We hope, these politicians, and others, will take heed, and try to improve themselves. We definitely deserve better.

The decision by Selangor Chief Minister to continue allowing the sale of alcohols in Muslim majority areas in the state was not unexpected. It is, in every sense, a political decision, one that aims to appease certain groups in our society, while totally disregarding the welfare of the people. I will explain this further in the article.

That decision was unimpressive, uninspired, weak, populist, yet totally not addressing the real problem. All the brouhaha about not following procedures; beer definition according to the law etc. is really annoying when the core problem is sidelined. And what is the core problem? The answer is – The detrimental effects of alcohol consumption in our society, be it in Selangor or the nation.

Real leaders address problems. Ideally, decisions should be popular and beneficial to the public. Sometimes, a decision is unpopular, but in actual sense is good for the people. This is the course of action that will be taken by true leaders. At other times a decision is detrimental, but is popular. This is the course of action that will be taken by true politicians, so as to ensure they’ll get voted again next election, whatever the cost to us. Another type of decision is quite literally senseless, as it is neither beneficial nor popular. This was the course of action taken by the Selangor Government. Disappointing.

I quote Ronnie Liu, “But I told them that something like this (alcohol seizures) was unacceptable in a multi-racial society.” Now, Mr. Liu, stop lying to us. Some of us had been abroad, and some of us know that it had been enforced in a multi-racial, non-Islamic society. Take Canada for example. Early last century it did enforce a total ban on alcohol. That prohibition was later modified, making the sale of alcohol possible, but with very strict conditions. Ontario is one of the states that actively enforces these restrictions. In some areas, despite the modification of the ban to allow designated shops to sell alcohol, the local government and society banded together to continue the blanket ban in their area. They did this because they understand the harms of alcohol consumption far exceed its benefits.

To know more about this, read up Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), Temperance Movement, and alcohol prohibition in the west. I am not going to elaborate further on the Canadian system, as I am not paid by the Selangor Government to research for them. Instead, elected persons like Ronnie Liu, who are paid by tax payers’ monies, should do the research, and come up with a better solution than Canada’s. That is, if it is true that Pakatan Rakyat is the “Harapan Baru Untuk Malaysia”.

I quote Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim,”Our aim is not to infringe on the cultural rights and beliefs of the non-Muslims.” Your aim is supposed to be improving the quality of life for us in Selangor. Alcohol consumption definitely does not contribute to an improved lifestyle. Maybe certain expensive red or white wine is beneficial once a day for health, but not the stuff you find lying around in convenience stores. How many lives need be lost on the road due to drunk drivers? How many families need be broken because of abusive, alcoholic members? How many futures need we destroy through chronic drinking? How many delinquents shall we produce before it is clear that alcohol consumption is detrimental? There is money in the alcohol business, but at what cost? Answer us, Selangor Government!

The Selangor Government encourages stores to “self regulate” the sale of alcohols. Now, this is what we call wishful thinking yet totally detached from reality. As part of my research for this article, I went to a few stores to see how easy it is to buy alcohol in Selangor. And as expected, it is quite easy. None of the cashiers asked for identification. Maybe they thought I was Chindian (Chinese plus Indian), and thus could drink. But what if I was underage? Who cares, right? Grow some facial hairs and we’re definitely of drinking age. These are businesses, Tan Sri Khalid. When there is demand, and a chance for profit, it will be satisfied. We thought you would have known this, Tan Sri Khalid. If there isn’t a clear and strict rule concerning alcohol sales, irresponsible consumption will definitely continue.

Mr. Ronnie Liu and those from DAP, what is “Malaysian Malaysia”? Isn’t it a Malaysia that is supposed to be governed detached from racial and religious nuances? From this crisis, we can safely deduce that your leaders do not fully comprehend your party’s ideals. If you did, you wouldn’t have viewed this crisis from a racial perspective, but rather from a health, social and developmental point of view. Now, did you do this? No. And as such, I’d like to suggest DAP either to change their leaders, since clearly they don’t understand the “Malaysian Malaysia” concept, when we the public can understand it well; or sacrifice your core principles, since clearly your leaders are struggling to live up to it.

By the way, Tan Sri Khalid, a gag order? My, my… Do you understand the meaning of “freedom of speech and press”? Wasn’t this one of the core values of Pakatan Rakyat? Thank God Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim did not continue with the plan to impose a gag order in PR during that meeting between the component parties. If it had happened, PR would be greatly humiliated. But for us the fact remains, that option was considered.

We would also like to express our disappointments at MCA and MIC, for failing to be mature, by viewing this crisis only along racial lines, and not recognizing the real problem of alcohol consumption as we had outlined earlier. MIC National Youth Deputy Coordinator, S. Murugesan said, “PAS practiced extremism.” What is “extremism”, Mr. Murugesan? People in Canada do not view restriction on alcohol consumption as “extremism”. “We are ruled by law and not sentiments based on race or religion,” said Datuk Ti Lian Ker, MCA Non-governmental Organization Liaison Bureau Chairman and Central Committee Member. Another shortsighted statement that viewed the problem solely from a racial angle. We should rule based on what is best for the people, and clearly convenient access to alcohol is not good for us. Shame on MCA and MIC for trying to pit Muslims against non-Muslims. Shame on us for letting these kind of characters to represent us.

We understand that we do not have much effective laws curbing alcohol consumption in our country. The minimal laws that we do have, according to Ronnie Liu, is inherited from the British. Not all laws inherited from them are good. We believe PR will not argue with us on this. The next mature course of action, concerning our alcohol dilemma, is to formulate better rulings, replacing the old, ineffective and to a certain extant dangerous laws that the British left us. That is, if the people ruling us really want the best for us.

We’d like to say well done to Datuk Hassan Ali for championing the ban on alcohol sales. However, you too are guilty of viewing this issue only from a religious and racial angle. PAS must change their perspective if you truly aspire to lead the nation one day. You must not only fight for Muslims, but also the welfare of the non-Muslims. You had a chance to prove that you care about all Malaysians, regardless of religion, but you wasted that opportunity by focusing too much on Islamic views, while totally missing out on improved lifestyle for everyone.

By the way, Ahmad Shabery Cheek, UMNO Supreme Council Member, had said that PAS’s insistence for an alcohol ban is merely a show. You will wane and quietly accept this decision by Selangor Chief Minister. Please prove him wrong. PAS cannot continue using the name “Parti Islam Se-Malaysia” if you accept this decision. So far, since the ruling had passed, you had been very quiet. Why? Are you changing your name?

Now, we come to UMNO. Don’t think for a second that you can politicize this issue to your advantage. It disgust us to no end to see some of your leaders, like Khairy Jamaluddin and Ahmad Shabery Cheek, among others, using this crisis to discredit PAS. You should be working together to curb alcohol consumption in our country. During your rule in Selangor, and in the states you control now, rules concerning alcohol are also ineffective and does not deal with social ills related to the beverage. So don’t gloat!

Finally, I announce the sources I used in this article: The Star, Utusan Malaysia, Harakah Newspapers and Malaysiakini website. I tried to get some information from Ronnie Liu’s blog, “Colour Blind”. However, that avenue was rather unsuccessful, since despite the name, it is quite evident that he is quite colour conscious. The articles in that blog that is relevant to our article were written in Chinese characters, effectively preventing many Malaysians from understanding it.

Thus, I place the validity of the facts highlighted in this article on the Government and Opposition controlled media I had announced. If any facts are found to be flawed, it is a testament to the kind of journalism that they practice.

I hope this article will be read by all those mentioned in the text, involved in the crisis, responsible for the public, and all us Malaysians who will determine our next Government. I hope it will inspire many of us to improve our society, ensuring a dignified future for our descendants.

Ku Ali


Remember the name, it's Ku Ali. In case you have forgotten already.

posted by Izham Ismail at 8:14 pm | Permalink | 11 comments
Friday, August 21, 2009

Ramadhan is like an intimate relationship I once had with someone who used to be my favorite. The one who I anticipated greatly of its arrival, only to gently lose interest in the middle of the story. But before I realized how beautiful it is, it ended like it never even happened.

It has been few times that I mentioned that i am not the guy you would seek for religious advice, but I am a Muslim, and no one can stop me from talking about my own religion.

Ramadhan is the month where Muslims' book were revealed which was in the last ten days of Ramadhan, and it is also the month when Muslim army won the historical Battle of Badr, killing swarms of Quraish three times larger than them while fasting.

It was when the expansion of my religion began. They did it with courage, a little help from themselves and above all, elegance.

Ramadhan is a commemoration of Muslim's faithfulness in keeping up to religious duty, and a symbolic way of doing it is by fasting, where you have to abstain yourself from eating from dawn, until sunset.

Like praying five times a day, fasting is one of the pillars of Islam, hence an act every Muslim have to abide.

I think that is the problem, we see it as an act, rather than an opportunity to learn about something we overlooked in life. Maybe that can explain why even the pious among us, whom allegedly closer to God than anyone else, are caught doing bad things you can never imagine.

Maybe the first mistake is by calling them pious, when they are actually not.

Ramadhan is the leader of all months, as the Prophet claimed, and as a leader, it leads Muslims all over the world, and Muslims I know in becoming a better Muslim. With the benefit of hindsight, the latter might turn out to be better Muslim - but better person, I am not that sure.

Anyhow, it is celebrated in good spirits in Malaysia, for many different reasons.

Hawkers celebrate another opportunity to feed Malaysians daytime hunger and itch for foods which comes around only during Ramadhan: murtabak (meat filled fried folded bread), kurma and my favorite tauhu Anora (available only at Taman Melawati).

First-timers would battle it out to fast and taste the tastiest gulp of drink upon break-fasting time.

Mosques and Musollas will anticipate a bigger crowd, either for mass prayer, or free food.

And suddenly television will be raided by food and beverages advertisements all day, and come Eid, creative filmmakers will come up with tearjerking Eid ads, usually exploiting the issue of abandoned parents, with emotional music as the background.

Ramadhan has the same effect like the World Cup gave to male Muslims in Malaysia. We would wake up to see Zinedine Zidane or Ronaldo play for the cup even at dawn. But this time around, it would be for sahur, meal eaten before we start fasting.

You see, it is beautiful how the schedule was made up, the day starts earlier, people will be more conscious, life will look rewarding as sunset nears, and people will actually live their life with a purpose during Ramadhan.

What about after Ramadhan?

A question I have been asking myself after I wasted another Ramadhan in my life.

As for now, I will try not to waste it, because sad stories are not to be repeated, like the relationship I once had.

Salam Ramadhan.

posted by Izham Ismail at 11:53 pm | Permalink | 5 comments
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Macam Mana Nak Tau You Ni Kepala Gangster?

Ada pengikut peluk tubuh, muka ketat jaga dari belakang time you sibuk borak business dengan gangster area lain.

posted by Izham Ismail at 3:05 am | Permalink | 3 comments
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Orange Juice, Nike Tiempo and My Five Minutes

A cornball for the day, as someone asked for my take on his shaky relationship and how to deal with it.

WIth football in half an hour, it was wrong timing for anyone to talk about girls with me. I was actually more interested in packing up and get ready to entertain my bad knee.

I need to be quick.

Let her go, because you told me all these instead of growing up. If you are not ready to share your secrets with her, then forget it. Share problems, secrets and dreams - not just kisses you tool. Talk to her, not me. Fuck off and good luck.

"Thanks mate," he replied when I was driving back home after a great night of futsal.

The knee is getting better and hungry for more.

posted by Izham Ismail at 6:09 pm | Permalink | 6 comments
Sunday, August 09, 2009
We Sing, We Dance, We Waste Money

Pre-season football has always been an overrated bouts. The last time I was so excited about watching pre-season football was when Roman's era was in the brink of European domination. They brought Jose Mourinho to steer The Blues to a new era, and John Terry and Frank Lampard finally made known, at least in Malaysia.

Jose's inclusion also paved way for numbers of world class players that to my likings, should have signed for Liverpool. While money has always been the issue, Roman's ambition and European domination mega project did one hell of an enticing for the likes of Arjen Robben, Mateja Kezman, Tiago, Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Michael Essien to sign for them in 2005.

The next year proved to be another year of explosive summer spending when Jose splurged another rounds of Russian oil money to bring national captains; Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack, together with a Girl Aloud's hubby, Ashley Cole to Stamford Bridge. Petr Cech was unearthed from nowhere to be serious contender to Gianluigi Buffon's golden glove, and with big names in every department, English football once had their Galacticos.

Like fellow Galacticos from Madrid, it has always been a joy to watch their pre-season games, especially when new players are set to make their debuts. There would be huge hype on how Chelsea would screw any teams standing in their way with new lines of armories. But their pre-season games sucked the biggest balls.

At least they do justice to the hype, and won two league titles consecutively. But Champions League? It was that humble Merseysider in red who clinched it in the year their favorite boy Michael Owen left for the Galacticos.

While it may be true that pre-season friendlies and tours is a good way to reach for worldwide fans, I think it is more a commercial exploit, a cheap way to make more money from naive fans who thought that the clubs will field the best players to take on their best local team.

I have been to every top four (Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, except for Liverpool who spared the hassle of dealing with Malaysian government blinkered policy) pre-season Asian tours, and other than seeing how immature Malaysian fans are, I could see rubbish football to make up for some hundreds of ringgit I spent on a ticket.

And the clubs would argue that it is important to keep players' fitness at high-level, so to make an excuse for playing an unknown or unpopular players in a match where fans have to pay the same amount of price ticket in pound sterling, but in their own currency.

So why commercialize tours and friendlies when the real point of flying across the globe is actually to keep the fitness of your players high?

You got me right, it is again money who was doing all the talking.

And that son of a bitch is now roaring even louder this year, with Real Madrid look pretty to bring to light the new era of Galacticos and the blue Manchester seem confident of winning the league with ambition and money in tandem.

Real Madrid is a disease. It is a club with glorious history, I have to admit. Some of world's greatest players have plied their trade playing for Real Madrid. The fans love the club so much and they essentially deserve all the luxuries they are having right now.

But they buy legends, not breed legends.

That is why I don't really care when Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa signed for them. Or maybe I am just jealous; upset with my team who could not dig up enough money and contacts to sign decent players.

Money can buy success, but not chemistry that I hope will kill those clubs with money.

Crazy transfers with massive price tags make pre-season hype even more interesting that 90 minutes of pre-season matches. Ibra to Barca with Eto'o going opposite ways, Adebayor and Kolo turned coat to be the Citizens, so as Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz, Aquilani set to be a replacement for Xabi and so much more, you can tell me. As I am writing, David Villa could be heading somewhere.

Robinho signed for Man City on transfer window's closing day, and I wouldn't be surprised if a switch of that magnitude happened again this year.

So that was this season's transfer madness, and isn't it plain to see that talking about transfer is more interesting than talking about matches? And when the season started, the hype will slowly die down as if it did not happen?

I don't know whether it is just me who thinks yeah, pre-season football is fucking overrated.

That is why I am writing this post, to celebrate the season opener, FA Community Shield, and to celebrate the first day of English football without Cristiano Ronaldo.

Have a nice day, football fans!

Did I just write about football again? Oh, okay.

P.S. I miss them. The best team in International Bacalaureate history. Ha ha. I hope they are doing fine, wherever they are.

posted by Izham Ismail at 5:16 pm | Permalink | 4 comments
Thursday, August 06, 2009
"Stones taught me to fly, love taught me to lie, life taught me to die. So it's not hard to fall, when you float like a cannonball." - Damien Rice.
Cheers boys, see you soon.
posted by Izham Ismail at 12:19 pm | Permalink | 2 comments