Sunday, September 16, 2012
Unnecessary Divisions
Ku Ali is one romantic dude. He loves his country way too much and wishes his fellow countrymen a very Happy Malaysia Day 2012.


49 years ago, this country Malaysia was formed.  Her birth was not without complications. The differences between the various peoples inhabiting this new Malaysia, spread across both sides of the South China Sea, were significant. These differences had to be reconciled, into a national compromise, without diminishing the unique identities of each group. That was a delicate task in itself. In addition, this new Malaysia had to endure hostilities from her neighbours, whom had challenged her very right to exist. They landed troops on our soil to emphasize their opposition to this newly formed Malaysia. Internal divisions, combined with political manoeuvrings, eventually saw the exit of Singapore from the Federation in 1965, thus forming the current state of Malaysia.

Despite it all, Malaysia stood strong. We were united in repelling the Confrontation of the 1960s. We chose to put aside our differences, so that a feeling of national belonging can take root. In that process, we did not demand any group to dilute their uniqueness. Instead, we encouraged each group to preserve their traditions and gave breathing space for all to flourish. We chose to let past conflicts, be it domestic or international, to be just entries in our history books – recorded, but not dwelt upon. We chose to be united in what mattered. We chose not to be bigots. We chose be good, kind, generous, and forgiving. We chose to make this country work.

However, these past few years have seen the emergence of certain groups within our society that refuse to allow this country to work. We say they ‘refuse’ because they sought, through their actions, to create unnecessary divisions in matters that Malaysians have decided to be united in. They form a minority in our society, but their voice is disproportionately loud.

We are not referring to the typical political divide which is so commonplace today, as we uphold the right of all voters to be politically biased as deemed fit. This is a fundamental right of citizenship that we shall respect, protect and encourage. The nature of the divisions created by these dissenters is much graver, as they involve the distasteful practice of politicizing things that should not be politicized. The phenomenon of creating senseless division alludes to the rise of the unintelligent amongst us. Let us look at several examples, so that we may better understand the nature of these divisions and its threat to our survival as a nation.

In September 2011, a Malaysian journalist, Noramfaizul Mohd. Nor, died in the line of duty. The whole nation was united in grief, as we waited for his remains to return home. Uneasy with this show of unity, certain groups had to find faults and put blames. As if, those they blamed for this had actual power over life and death. They forgot that death is the prerogative of God. And they also conveniently forgot that Noramfaizul was an experienced journalist (who had covered various conflict zones) and had made this choice to enter Somalia freely. We feel the dissenters had hijacked a day Malaysians could have been proud of, when we welcome home a son who had died a hero. This they did because it has become a culture for them to blame everything on their enemy, even in matters that need no blaming. We are unimpressed.

In the recent Olympics, another son, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, had done us proud. He not only brought home a silver medal, which is a great achievement in itself, but charmed the World with his dignified grace, sacrifice and humility. He apologized when he did not have to. He united us. We put aside our differences and just focused on being proud of this nation. As expected, uneasy with this unity, an unintelligent MP had to make a statement. He ridiculed our hero, whom had managed to unite us better than any politicians could, in the public domain. Bad move, YB. We are unimpressed. As a famous American judge once said: “Beauty fades, dumb is forever.” The only consolation to this case is that we can confidently reveal that we had no part in placing this mediocre person in Parliament and he is not our representative.

This year’s Merdeka celebration was a joke. It was hijacked by politicians in a bid to woo us. This is the problem with the unintelligent amongst us. They do not understand that we are unimpressed with things that do not make sense. It does not make sense to have several themes for an occasion that is supposed to belong to all Malaysians, and not to politicians. Firstly, there is no need for slogans, as slogans mean nothing if nothing is delivered. Secondly, if they feel they absolutely can’t live without a National Day theme, the least they can do is to agree on just one. If we can’t even set aside our political differences to honour Merdeka, what hope is left for this nation? Let us be clear, we are unhappy.

The hooliganism displayed on the eve of this year’s Merdeka was a most unacceptable show of stupidity. So much was wrong with that incident. We feel repulsed at the reporting that focused too much on the picture stomping, downplaying the main offence – the displaying of an alternative flag and distribution of flyers urging our current Flag to be replaced.

As distasteful as it was, the picture stomping was a personal attack. If the Prime Minister and wife feel offended, they should sue. Or, if they feel particularly generous, they may forgive. But only they have this right to pursue the case or to forgive, and nobody else should meddle and interfere. The Prime Minister and wife are individual citizens. They are not national symbols. Why should we fight personal battles on their behalf?

We consider the flag incident to be the most serious and treacherous crime against our nation. The Malaysian Flag is a national symbol, and any contemptuous display against it is construed as an act of lèse-majesté. It is a most heinous offence, as it injures and compromises the dignity and sovereignty of our country. The hooligans that waved this alternative flag apparently wanted to educate the public on an alternative historical narrative. We wonder whether they actually realize the flag represented the Melayu Raya aspirations. Nothing is wrong with that aspiration, except that it was a goal that was rejected. Reviving that idea and pursuing its goals mean that Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei would eventually have to cease existing as separate, sovereign nations. Is that good or bad? Only time can tell. But the fact remains; it is a path we had rejected.

For 55 years, our people had chosen to rally behind the Jalur Gemilang. If the purpose was educational, the place for the Sang Saka Malaya is in academic journals or museums. It cannot be displayed alongside the National Flag with the same dignity. We must accept, the Sang Saka Malaya was the flag that was not chosen. So please, do not force it upon us.

Since we are on the subject of flags, we feel compelled to inform that the National Flag’s dignity had been compromised for years. This is because, in Malaysia, we have this misguided understanding that the wearing of the Flag as pieces of clothing is an act of patriotism. That act is actually a clear form of lèse-majesté. This is because, in producing such garments, the Flag is cut and mutilated, and when worn, the flag is insulted further by being sat upon. The practice destroys the majesty of the Flag and reduces its status to just an ordinary piece of cloth. Let us put a stop to this indignity.

How should we handle these divisive elements in our mids? Some has suggested leniency and forgiveness. We feel this is not the way.

Firstly, it sends out the wrong message. It says that we do not care, and these incidences are insignificant. It says that we accept our dignity being defiled. It says we tolerate stupidity and hooliganism. It says we may be bullied and trifled with. It says we would not rise in defence of our nation. It speaks of complacency. Tyranny, by either the minority or majority, should not be allowed to take root and prevail.

Secondly, we should not be lenient for the sake of the hooligans. Being unintelligent and immature is not a crime. However, they need to be redeemed. One of the ways to earn redemption is by bravely accepting punishments befitting the offence. Grovelling for leniency and forgiveness is pitiful, and cowardly. Cowards can never gain redemption. Thus, we urge the deviants amongst us to take the opportunity, when sentences are passed, to redeem and rehabilitate your membership in this society.

Several offenders related to the flag incident had been identified. We hope their parents and authorities will not deny them the opportunity for redemption. Please grant them appropriately harsh punishments so that they can be seen as brave individuals, rather than cowards.

We want this country to work. We want to be united in things that matters. So let us send a clear message to those who sought to create unnecessary division in this country: We do not want you.


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

P.S. Click here here here and here for his old ramblings.
posted by Izham Ismail at 11:11 pm | Permalink |
Thursday, September 13, 2012
"Some are blessed with musical ability, others with good looks. Myself, I was blessed with modesty." - Roger Moore.
posted by Izham Ismail at 2:46 am | Permalink |
Dear Audrey Barker
I get it.

I'm sorry for wasting your time.
posted by Izham Ismail at 2:35 am | Permalink |
Sunday, September 09, 2012
Sem Sem Sem Sem
is the number of semesters I've completed.

New semester starts in few hours and the build up to the occasion is shaping up quite nicely.

I started the pre-season with the new club as we prepare for the new season, and my new boots have been helpful so far to allow me control and bend the ball as I like. End result, I scored a goal from a free kick and provided a cross for another. My team won the match we bossed and the last time I felt so good after playing a football match was years ago, and it feels good to be back. I can't wait for the next one.

Third year of law school means it is time for some serious brushing up and persistent work for lengthy assignment called project paper, and my project paper is another little box I am working on for a tick later for weeks now. I'll be writing some serious academic stuff for the next few months (hopefully to be published somewhere) and the draft is looking pretty. My supervisor has been so helpful with some brilliant ideas and I can't wait to return the favour with something big. The topic I'll be writing is something very close to my heart and I am excited to get both my passions in a writing-up skirmish.

#UMmocktrial is coming soon. I've been secretly working on this project for more than 6 months now and mentioning about it in just a paragraph doesn't do this project a justice. I am blessed with a hardworking team and they are so excited about this project. Everyone is buzzing about #UMmocktrial for months now and I'll only write or tweet about it few days before the actual day, fashionably late, of course.

New semester, please don't disappoint, because you are looking pretty already.

P.S. You can get updates on #UMmocktrial by following its Twitter account at @UMmocktrial, or just click here if you are one lazy bastard. You probably don't have any idea what is #UMmocktrial. I didn't, and I wish I knew about it much earlier.
posted by Izham Ismail at 9:59 pm | Permalink |
Thursday, September 06, 2012
Nak Dara Rindu
One last gig to honour a dying friend. One of the most beautiful thing I've listened to for a long time. Hats off, gentlemen.
posted by Izham Ismail at 3:09 am | Permalink |
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
All In
I usually go for traditional black or white Predators. Not this time. I've lost track on how many football boots have I bought but I am sure that this is my third Predator ever. 

They say third time is the charm.

Football season is back!
posted by Izham Ismail at 4:50 pm | Permalink |
Monday, September 03, 2012
There are two kinds of writer. There are ones who plan everything before they put their pen on their paper, detailing every particulars of their characters - personality profile of some sorts - and maybe with specific plot diagrams akin to a storyboard on their wall.

There are others who believe that the whole point of writing is making it up as they go along, like a traveler without a map or a scout without a compass. This is the kind who would take the risk of maybe having a wonderful ending with boring plot progression or otherwise.

I am a bit of both. I plan my writing but I don't really follow what I schedule for myself. I am a stubborn writer. The meticulous writer in me has been having a duel with the adventurous one for years and I think they haven't really reached a fair compromise yet.

I have been reading Jorge Luis Borges' works to understand writers' infamous Jekyll and Hyde plight of having a split personality. It has long become a custom for a writer to conform with the rest of the fellowship with such behaviour and every writers have accepted that the plight allows them to have a second life.

It's scary but I don't buy any of it.

Writing is not a mean to escape the realities of life. It draws someone closer to appreciate life's little lessons. That is why I don't see a point to detach the person you are with the writer inside you.

They should be the same person, because they are.

But wait, I am not a writer. I just blog.
posted by Izham Ismail at 8:39 pm | Permalink |
Sunday, September 02, 2012
“A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.” 

From second division to world beater. Happy birthday, Shanks.
posted by Izham Ismail at 5:28 pm | Permalink |
Interesting Sentences and What They Mean
The annual ritual continues. Step aside, Ku Ali is here.


Since we have just entered our 55th year of independence, perhaps it is wise to review, assess, and reflect the values and standards we wish to uphold in society.  We, Malaysians, are concerned and alarmed at what we see as the unnecessary lowering of societal standards.  From the characters of representatives (we hesitate to use the term ‘leaders’) we choose to put in Parliament, to our current rojak communication (in any language), we seemed to have settled for less. We hope this article will help wake complacent Malaysians from their deep sleep. Things can be good, if we choose. We deserve better.

The recent outcomes of two statutory rape trials call for urgent discussion on the state of our societal values and standards. Before we delve deeper into discussion, let us be clear that the cases had been ruled upon by eminent judges, and we respect their rulings. All was done with legal provisions, and we appreciate the Judiciary for handling the cases in a professional manner.

However, we still believe that the country may benefit from a frank and honest discussion on the ramifications of the decisions and what those rulings say about us as a society. Let us first briefly describe  these two cases and their rulings.

In the first case, a bowler (let’s not mention names and increase their celebrity factor, as the offenders had been made famous enough by the press) was found guilty of one count of statutory rape. At the time of the crime, he was 19 and the girl 13. In the second case, an electrician was found guilty of two counts of statutory rapes. At the time of the crime, he was 21 and the girl 12. In sentencing both cases, Section 294 of the Criminal Procedure Code was invoked. The two convicted criminals were served a RM 25,000 good behaviour bond. They will be monitored for 5 (bowler) and 3 (electrician) years respectively. There is no jail time.

Many feel that the punishment is inadequate. However, let us be reminded that this is all conducted within the legal framework. We will not elaborate the provisions under Section 294 and what it means, as we have limited space and time here. And we do not believe in the practice of spoon feeding. We have high regards of our readers, and believe they are capable of undertaking their own independent research on this. We encourage them to arrive at their own conclusions.

We are much more interested to discuss what the rulings say about us as a society. One of the justifications offered for the light sentences was that the sex was consensual. We find this reasoning rather problematic because it basically says that a minor (in this case 12 and 13 year olds) bears legal agency and is mature enough to give this consent. Perhaps the victims were mature enough to make such decisions, as maturity is not necessarily related to age (as we have seen). Furthermore, what is considered mature or immature is highly subjective. Thus, we can establish that ‘maturity’ means different things to different people, and is measured using different standards. So let’s not be judgmental.

However, in approaching some matters that are ambiguous, the Law functions as a guide. And for the Law to have meaning, its prescriptions must be adhered to in a consistent manner. Our Laws concerning statutory rape is quite clear in establishing what constitutes a minor. A female below 16 years old is a minor, and the implication is that her consent to sex is void and she has no legal agency to make such a decision (even for herself). If she contracted venereal diseases, she cannot seek medical care without her parent’s permission. If her agency is not even recognized in the hospital, why should her consent suddenly matter in cases of statutory rape? The whole point of a provision for statutory rape in our Laws is that we don’t recognize sexual consent by a minor. It is about protecting the vulnerable amongst us.

Putting weight on a minor’s consent in sentencing these cases means we recognize that children should bear legal agency on their own crimes. The implication of recognizing this legal agency is that parents and guardians can only exercise minimal control and grant a significant amount of freedom and liberty for their children to make their own decisions at a young age. Malaysians must ask ourselves whether we want this and are we ready to face the consequences. If the answer is yes, good luck to us. If the answer is no, then let’s play by the book. It is our choice, ultimately.

The ‘youthfulness’ of the convicted criminals and their hopefully bright future were other considerations that resulted in the light sentences. What constitute being young (as with maturity discussed earlier) is highly subjective. Thus, in the same light as our discussion on minors, the legal definition of what is considered ‘adult’ must be adhered to. Males age 18 years and above are legally defined as adults, and must be held responsible as adults should. If we say that 19 and 21 year olds are too young to be sent to jail, we must then ask the question: When should we stop protecting people from the consequences of their actions and start letting them learn the importance of responsibility?

Criminals must be given the chance to redeem themselves by bravely facing the consequences of their actions. This includes accepting adequate punishments for the crimes done. We feel the light sentences passed denied these convicted criminals their chance of redeeming their humanity. Is that fair to them?

Perhaps, having represented his nation, the bowler deserved membership in the ‘bright future’ club. However, it seemed that it is not that difficult to qualify as member, as even a high school dropout had gained membership. The club certainly tries to cover the whole spectrum in this respect. We feel it is rather amusing that hypothetical ‘bright’ futures have impact in passing sentences. We detect an element of celebrity privilege in the ruling of the bowler’s case. Since he had represented the country, he must have a bright future, and putting him in jail would not make sense. This had set a precedent, which is proven by the ruling in the electrician’s case. We feel an alarming message was sent out to the public, which basically says celebrity status matter in determining sentences. The fact that the bowler had bowled overseas should not have mattered.

Everybody should be considered equally in our courts. The message should have been: It doesn’t matter who you are; flirt with crime, you do time. Frank, but fair.

It was mentioned that ‘public interest’ was a consideration in the decision. We, the public, are interested to know how not jailing these convicted criminals benefit us? Perhaps it is wise for someone well versed in Law to explain to us the merit of allowing convicted rapists to roam free amongst us. We don’t really see sense here, so please enlighten us.

Was justice served? It is a difficult question to answer. Justice (like maturity and youthfulness) is subjective. It depends on what values we hold dear. However, we feel that an important criterion to establish whether justice was done is how the injured party’s complaints were addressed. The family of the girl raped by the electrician expressed dissatisfaction over the ruling. Thus, we hesitate to agree that the victim’s grievances were adequately addressed.

The Deputy Public Prosecutor acting on behalf of the family had filed an appeal against the light sentence. This is the way forward. We hope the next judge presiding over this will dignify us with a worthy sentence. Please consider real public interest and the precedent that will be set by the sentence in carrying out this duty. We, Malaysians, want to be impressed by the Judiciary. However, the Judiciary must first take itself and the role it is to play very seriously.

Although our discussion focused only on the two recent cases, it relates to a more alarming issue in our society. It alludes to Malaysians accepting lowered standards (in all matters) and being comfortable with it. Let’s stop this rot. Our values and standards should be higher (or at least maintained). Never lowered.

Perhaps, looking at the identity of the criminals, this is a case of 1Malaysia gone wrong. Let’s hope there isn’t a Raju to confirm our suspicions. For the sake of the nation, let’s not be politically correct. Let’s just be correct.

Malaysians, where do we go from here?


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

P.S. Click here here and here for his old ramblings.

posted by Izham Ismail at 1:13 pm | Permalink | 0 comments
Saturday, September 01, 2012
The Quiet One
"With every mistake we must surely be learning, still my guitar gently weeps."
posted by Izham Ismail at 4:54 pm | Permalink |
1st September means a lot of things to me. This first day of the ninth month of the year has annually marked the day I survived the raving hustle and bustle of the 31st August.

My body is aching from hours of futsal I had last night. It is good to be back on the court and the familiar feeling of waking up with stretched muscles and tired feet is a sign that I should do this again more often. 2012 is not the best football year for me. I hung the boots in the first week of the year due to injury and the next months were spent in the faculty without having a single minute of kickabout. My fitness level has metamorphosed from worrying to 'damn, I suck'. To make things worse, my favourite boots was stolen and everything seemed to suggest that I should not play much football this year - not until I got my time, fitness and gear issue sorted.

My mind is occupied by the news about some group of people who are desperate to have a different flag for Malaysia on 31st August as they find Jalur Gemilang a repugnance of nationhood. How is this issue going to benefit millions of poor Malaysians? How is this issue going to feed my future offspring? How is this issue going to guarantee a more economically secured life of millions of Malaysians? Freedom of speech is a right. Being listened to, especially when what you say is nothing but a complete gibberish, is not. Please get over it.

My emotion has suffered from a fluctuating turmoil of transfer deadline day of 31st October. Brendan Rodgers had his piece of mind clear when he said he needed at least 3 strikers for his system to work. It was a promising formation of a new Liverpool team when he decided to offload heavyweight names in Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll and Liverpool fans all over the world awaited the replacements. Fabio Borini was a promising cover but I don't really see him as a first eleven material. This team needs a world class worthy of donning the famous number 9. Clint Dempsey and Theo Walcott are the names linked to fill the attacking gap in Liverpool squad. Dempsey was the more likely one, after rejected to play for Fulham and could not wait to be the next pit bull of Anfield. Transfer window is now closed and Liverpool refused to pay extra millions for any of them - and Brendan Rodgers has only 2 strikers for the next 70 games. I have no idea what to expect other than yet another boring, hopeless season. I hope Nuri Sahin and Oussama Assaidi will step up and prove me wrong. Next up is Arsenal.
After a frustrating match against City and Hearts, Liverpool better win this one.

1st September is an interesting hangover, for better or for worse. 

How's yours?

Happy September, everyone.
posted by Izham Ismail at 2:36 pm | Permalink |