Monday, July 07, 2014
To Feed Or Not To Feed
Half way through 2014, so where do we begin?


Seest thou one who denies the Judgment (to come)? Then such is the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness). And encourages not the feeding of the indigent. So woe to the worshippers. Who are neglectful of their prayers.Those who (want but) to be seen (of men). But refuse (to supply even)neighbourly needs. (Surah Al-Ma’un: 1-7)
And who are we to argue with God?

We read with alarm the Federal Territories Minister’s directives concerning his solution to the city’s homeless folks. It is disturbing that such a statement could be made by a declared Muslim, in the holy month of Ramadhan, in a country that vehemently insists that it is Islamic. Yet the directive to prevent the feeding of the poor within the city is directly against God’s commands.

Dear Minister, why do you think it is worth risking your soul by doing this? Is it because you have a dream of dividing KL into rich and poor zones? Where the poor is out of sight and out of mind of the rich? Where we can pretend that those unfortunates do not exist? Where Malaysians cease to have any connection with those beneath their perceived social status? Is it acceptable for any decent society to put up signs around that 2km radius of yours, saying ‘No Poor People Beyond this Point’?

Any thinking person would know the answers are negative. But in the spirit of democracy and free speech, we want you to ask yourself these not-so-difficult questions, and come up with your own answers. We hope you won’t disappoint us, Minister.

You want a sanitized, Stepford Wives’ version of KL. We want our real city, warts and all. We want a rich city with stories to tell. A truthful city, not one that drives away its poor so the tourists can consume a sugar-coated, superficial, shiny version of itself.

As a Minister that once held the portfolio for tourism, you seem to be out of touch with the wants of the modern traveller. Modern travellers crave for real experiences. They want to see the real deal, to develop deep insights. They want something interesting. Interesting here means both the good and the bad, human stories, human connections. Imagine what effect this would have on KL’s tourism, if tourists discovered how a minister ordered the poor to be driven out and denied food access. It will be morally incorrect to visit the city. Have you ever thought about that, Minister?

You say that KL has a very bad image. You say that it is dirty. You say that the rats are huge. And you try to put the blame on the soup kitchen volunteers. Very dishonourable and cowardly, Minister. Those volunteers are what make our city great. They prove that KLites are not heartless, even with such a Minister. They prove that there is still hope for humanity in KL. They may or may not read Surah Al-Ma’un, but they certainly practice what that Surah commands. We do urge you to understand this Surah, so that you won’t stray further from God’s grace. It is easy enough to understand.

If the city is dirty, and its rats huge, it is a testament to the ineffectiveness of those workers the City Council chose to contract or employ. Aren’t they tasked with cleaning up the city? And aren’t they answerable to you? So why are you putting the blame on others, when it is your men who should be helping to clean the city. It is their duty anyways. Soup kitchen volunteers not only clean after their activities, but also pick up rubbish not created by them in those areas they operate. The soup kitchen volunteers can put the rubbish in bags and put them aside, but the men contracted by the City Council have to collect them. You can’t expect KLites to be driving to dumpsites to deliver wastes personally. What then, would these men be paid for?

And you say that most of these unfortunates are foreigners. What does it matter if the poor bear names such as Kusumo or Anggraini? Is food and relief to be given only to the Malaysian poor, while only steps away, those unfortunate enough to bear the designation ‘immigrants’ are left to starve? Is that the way to go? Come on, Minister. Have a bigger heart. We indulge in great fanfare over the fact that we are involved with humanitarian works all over the world. Yet, on our home soil, the do-gooders are warned against feeding the poor. Values such as kindness, decency, empathy should be universally applied. Not conditional on possession of the Malaysian ID. Malaysians, we are better than that.

You say that the Opposition is always seeking opportunity to smear the Government’s image. Perhaps, there is truth to this. But that is their devils. Let us, ordinary Malaysians, enlighten you on another truth, one that you seem to be oblivious of. The truth is, it is people like you - holding high ministerial positions, but giving out nonsensical and tactless statements, that makes us unimpressed with the Government. We wonder, do you intend to undo all the good efforts of the Prime Minister? As we all know, the Prime Minister urge all to merakyat, yet you seem to be eager to menekan rakyat. We are curious as why you are not following the Prime Minister’s line. Thank God there are those like YB Khairy Jamaluddin, who tries to clean things up.

And Minister, do you not understand that we live in a democracy? Or do you not understand what democracy is. In a democracy, we shall choose how we want to do charity. If we want to give it on the streets, it’s up to us. If we want to give it through the mosque, it is up to us. If we want to give money, energy or time, it is up to us. Up to us and us alone. The government do not have a say in which form of charity we shall indulge in. Or would you like to now deny that Malaysia is a democracy?

It would be so difficult to teach the next generation about common decency and the right thing to do, when we have a Minister threatening to fine us if we don’t do charity his way. Would you like to be responsible for that, Minister?

On this matter, Minister, we are sorry, but we shall not follow your order. We, Malaysians, have a greater obligation to God, than to you. We suggest that you also think about your greater obligations.

Read Surah Al-Ma’un and understand its meaning. It is said that mighty mountains would shatter should God’s words descend upon them.  We hope your heart might at least be moved when you read the Surah.

At the end of the day, Malaysians, ask ourselves, to feed or not to feed?


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

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

posted by Izham Ismail at 12:10 am | Permalink |