Monday, May 25, 2015
The best there is, there best there was, the best there ever will be. So long, captain. 

Thank you for everything. 

You'll never walk alone. 
posted by Izham Ismail at 1:42 am | Permalink |
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Choosing to be Human
He's not done yet. It's 2015, and Ku Ali is not done yet.


A humanitarian crisis is upon us. And we are all being tested, both at sea and on land. Those at sea are being tested with physical hardship, starvation, disease, the unforgiving sun, torture and death at the hands of human traffickers. While on land, our conscience as part of the human community is at stake. Can we sleep well at night knowing that in our waters, people are dying? 

The Rohingyan community is a prosecuted group in Myanmar. Under the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law, the Rohingyans are specifically excluded from acquiring citizenship. They are subjected to horrendous conditions and treatment in their home country. Dignity and freedom are taken away from them. The abuses they endure in Myanmar are well documented. Under such conditions, how can we not expect them to leave?

Undoubtedly, Myanmar has a lot to answer for this human tragedy. Yet it would take years for them to even consider this a problem. For them, the Rohingyans, being non-citizens, are not their concern. Unfortunately, ASEAN, holding steadfast to the principle of ‘non-interference’ lack the political will to resolve this issue.

So, in droves, the Rohingyans turn to the sea, in order to survive. But what an unfortunate lot they are. At every shore, they are turned away. We can see their weakened bodies; we can hear their pitiful cries. Yet we turn them away, anyway.

Our governments had decided to let them drift at sea. To them our shores are too good to be soiled by refugee footsteps. The refugees only bring problem to us. So their boats must be turned back towards the sea and be someone else’s problem. That is their choice. And history will judge them accordingly for it.

Yet for us citizens, we have a choice on how we want to respond to this. We can blindly follow the dictates of our governments, and pretend we bear no responsibility. Or we can rise to the occasion and for once prove to the world that we are the kind, caring, and compassionate people we always promote ourselves to be. It is our choice, and no one can compel us otherwise.

Malaysians, Thais, Indonesians. We are better than those who pretend to represent us. They talk about national interests. Let’s talk about keeping humanity alive. Let us not be uncaring just because these people are not our citizens. Let’s prove that our kindness, humanity, decency and compassion are for all, and not discriminated on account of the passport we hold. 

We praise the Acehnese for stepping up to the plate. Perhaps it is the suffering that they themselves had gone through that shaped their response to this crisis. Should we wait for God’s wrath to descend upon us before we honour our human duty to those desperate at sea?

We champion the causes of the Palestinian, Bosnian and other oppressed peoples. We send peacekeeping missions all over the world. We send humanitarian aid to conflict and disaster areas, most recently in Nepal. And we do all this with great fanfare. Since we had always cared so much about human disasters all over the world, would it not be more genuine if the same level of kindness were extended to those suffering in our waters?

Every year, during the Muslim New Year, we praise the Ansars of Madinah for warmly receiving the Muhajirins, who had fled prosecution in their native land, Mecca. Our children also grew up listening to the story of the King of Habshah (Abyssinia) who protected the Meccan refugees. We also sing praises of the Ottoman Caliphate for taking in Andalusian Muslims and Jews, refugees from Spain. 

Yet, when the opportunity comes our way to be part of this glorious tradition of human kindness, some of us and our governments are comfortable ignoring the cries for help. All of us, Malaysians, Indonesians and Thais must realize that this is not about legal obligations, but about being human. We must put value on human lives. One life lost when it can be prevented is a stain on us all. 

The Rohingyans are already here, so let’s deal with this. How many more lives can we bear to see lost before we extend a hand? 

How can we ignore the plight of others so clearly visible from our shores? Let’s have a heart, and let that heart be moved. 

Should we allow ourselves to be defined and dictated by our governments, or should we follow the innate kindness of our hearts and help our brothers at sea?

Let’s decide for ourselves.


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

P.S. Click here here here here here here here and here for his old ramblings.
posted by Izham Ismail at 8:21 pm | Permalink |