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Rumi's gift

You've no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You. Nothing seemed right. What's the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean.
Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.
It's no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these.
So- I've brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.

Jalaluddin Rumi said it all.  
That's her in the mirror. The face is the mirror of the soul. 
She sees joy, despair, hope, doubt.
This is the end of another year in her life. A time to reflect and express her emotions. Love, forgiveness, healing and trust dominate all kinds of thoughts.
She did many things right but she wavered too.

Listen to your inner voice. Pressure? Deal with it! Quiet successes inspire her with confidence. Failures provide just the spur she needs. As she looks back on the past year, she is grateful that she got through it. Rumi, thank you for your gift!

X'MAS greetings

It isn't child labour when ...

First among equals

These three scholars have earned their places in the history books when they were named Malaysia's first Distinguished Professors recently.

Read about them here:

Distinguished Professor Datuk Shamsul Amri Baharuddin

Distinguished Professor Dr Lai-Meng Looi

Distinguished Professor Tan Sri Mohd Kamal Hassan

Background

Criteria

X'mas is where Koh Soo Ling is

There are 19 days until Christmas and New Sunday Times contributor Dr Koh Soo Ling is feeling Christmassy!
She knows that successful gatherings need good planning and preparation for her first Christmas in Ireland started early.
In addition to the traditional decorations and tree, she will be introducing Malaysian cuisine on the Christmas table.
I asked her to describe her Irish Christmas "fever" and this is her reply via email.
See below for a new poem from the pen of Soo Ling: Wintry Charm. 

If you are meeting Soo Ling for the first time, read about her here.
"My freezer (Mat Sallehs have this very serious business about having an extra freezer in the shed) is stocked up with Christmas game and frozen food, my windows and two fireplaces are decorated and I'm
expecting two Malaysians to come over and stay during the Christmas season. 
"So I will dish out turkey, cranberry sauce as well as ketupat (bought earlier from Malaysia, so just throw into boiling water), sata…

Fast train to Ipoh

The ETS (which stands for Electric Train Services) intercity is another indication that Malaysians love travelling by train. 
Since its launch on August 12, this year more and more people are catching the train to Ipoh-Kuala Lumpur-Seremban. 
That is the observation of an Ipoh-based  KTM employee who declined to be named. 
The Kuala Lumpur-Ipoh service is popular with professionals especially lawyers, he says. 
They get on the early morning train from Kuala Lumpur and arrive in Ipoh in time for their court cases, he adds. 
Some Ipoh residents who work in Kuala Lumpur are contemplating commuting between their hometown and Malaysia's capital city.
I took the ETS from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh recently and understood instantly why my relatives and friends are passionate about it.
"Speed, comfort and convenience" are among the reasons enthusiasts offer. And I agree with them.
I boarded the train at 8.30am, fell asleep almost immediately and woke up at Tapah Road, the fourth stop before …

A question for ETS intercity

I have a quick question for the managment of Electric Train Service (ETS).

When will passengers, who board the ETS intercity train at the Kuala Lumpur Old Station, have access to the Internet?

Passengers especially mobile office professionals expect good Internet access while travelling and waiting at railway stations.

I wonder what the two computers -- visibly placed next to the cell phone charger area (opposite the ticketing counter) -- are for?


Since its launch on August 12 (2010) the Ipoh-Kuala Lumpur-Seremban route is gaining popularity among locals and foreigners.

This is an opportunity to enhance the reputation of your service.

JMM wants Malaysian Insider to shut down

Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) wants local news portal Malaysian Insider to vanish off the face of the earth -- and plans to hold regular peaceful protests to drive its point home.

"Malaysian Insider has betrayed Malaysia and its people," says JMM head Azwanddin Hamzah.

He was referring to, among other things, the news portal's relationship with Indonesian nationalist group Bendera.

"I have the documents to prove it," says Azwanddin, adding that he had passed them on to the police for action.

JMM is also upset about Malaysian Insider's recent reports which it said "insulted the Sultans and Malay royalty".

Azwanddin said this after JMM had staged a 30-minute peaceful protest against the conduct of the news portal this afternoon.


The group had chosen the premises of the LRT station in Bangsar as the venue for the public meeting.

Many commuters lingered for several minutes to absorb the points raised by Azwanddin.

As in the first rally last Friday -…

When life was all gloom

I met her in Ipoh -- my hometown -- when she begged for money two years ago.

Nini -- my niece in Ipoh -- called me a minute ago to say that she had died.

She had been infected with HIV for many years but the details of her death are sketchy.

I, like many in Ipoh, don't know her name.

She had approached me at the Central Market in Ipoh on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr in 2008 and asked for money. I gave her RM20; she thanked me profusely and went away.

That was my first and last encounter with her.

She was a beauty in her teens but her tragic life turned her into a demented soul, by all accounts.

Apparently she was raped repeatedly as a teenager.

Some allege that the perpetrator of the crime was her father; it is unclear whether he was her biological father or stepfather.

The disappointments and betrayals in her life later forced her into prostitution.

It appeared that everything had conspired to make her life a misery.

I don't know if she had sought medical help for her condition.

Ac…

Satisfy your curiosity

Did curiosity kill the cat?

It appears that the Union of Concerned Scientists does not believe that to be true.

Instead, it argues for "scientific curiosity" because that "is the key to solving our world's most crucial environmental, health and security problems -- such as global warming".

The grouping of scientists accuses those with "a vested interest in denying global warming" of "trying to kill the public's curiosity and thus squelch the truth".

"Scientists are curious for life," states the Union and it pleads the cause of supporting curiosity and urges us to start by being members of the grouping. 

We should take a leaf from Union's book.

"Curiosity killed the cat" is an idiom meaning to tell somebody not to ask questions or try to find out about things that do not concern them.

That is appropriate for personal affairs but in all other matters we, like the children in our midst, should show curiosity about ev…

Why Shamsul Amri dislikes Facebook

People who do not use Facebook fall into three broad categories.

The first group is completely indifferent to it, the second finds it mildly irritating and the third dislikes it intensely.

Malaysia's prominent sociologist Professor Shamsul Amri Baharuddin is of the last type.

I made the mistake of asking Shamsul, who is director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, if he was on Facebook, the social network which was hatched up in the dormitories of Harvard six years ago.

"I have a face and I keep thousands of books. Why do I need Facebook?"

How do you react to that reply?

I didn't. I meekly invited him to elaborate on his reasons.

"Facebook will take away my soul and I won't allow that to happen because I am a believer," says Shamsul fiercely, who launched into a tirade of accusations against Facebook.

Ninety per cent of the things you read on Facebook are either petty, bitter, rude or offensive.

"I refuse to rea…

The impersonal open house

It has been non-stop feasting for many Malaysian Muslims as they continue to manage or visit open houses during the month of Shawwal which began on September 10.

Many have expressed admiration for this "unique and peculiar Malaysia tradition".

The Malaysian open house or rumah terbuka (in the Malay language) is mostly held during major festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Diwali, Christmas, Chinese New Year and Hari Gawai, among others.

It is the season to welcome relatives, friends, colleagues and sometimes strangers from the different ethnic groups into their homes.

The activity creates goodwill and may lead to friendship for some people.

While I like the idea of an open house, and by extension an open heart (because that is what the gesture implies), I find the sort organised by corporations a little impersonal.

I prefer small gatherings of family and close friends. I am actually terrified of mingling with thousands of people I do not know.

That was how I felt when I attended …

Why I love Malaysia

Globetrotters often express the following sentiment: "The best part of travel is coming home".

I am going to modify that slightly: "The best part of travel is returning to Malaysia."

After a few days in a foreign land I begin to crave for all things Malaysian and that include teh tarik, street food, ethnic diversity and even the corny (some may say racist) jokes that Malaysians are fond of making.

It would be nice if the weather was kinder, the transport system more efficient, traffic flow smoother and people remembered to hold doors behind them as a courtesy to others.

It's not perfect but we are getting there.

Today Malaysians celebrate the 47th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia when Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined Malaya on September 16, 1963. Singapore left the federation in 1965.

From this year Malaysia Day is a national holiday.

The following pictures show some of the things that make Malaysia so lovable.








Eid-ul-Fitr: A time of great rejoicing

Yesterday was Eid-ul-Fitr, the first day of Shawwal, which marked the end of Ramadan.

Muslims in Malaysia celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri in true Malaysian fashion: holding open house to spread the festive joy with friends and colleagues from the different ethnic groups.

It's always open house at the homes of most Malaysians during major festivals. It is a well-established tradition in Malaysia.

Believers had gathered in mosques all over Malaysia on Friday morning to offer the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers.

After prayers they exchanged greetings by saying "Selamat Hari Raya (Happy Eid)" and asked for forgiveness for any wrongdoing they had done.

Then it was time to welcome guests to their homes. For some the open house is held later in the month of Shawwal when Malaysians continue to engage in festivities until the very end.

This is because they want to focus on other things on the first few days of Shawwal such as visiting graveyards to pay their respects for the …

Eid-ul-Fitr: When the hometown beckons

Indonesian house helper Ien was reunited with her teenage daughter and parents in Brengkok Village, Central Jawa, Indonesia last week.

The reunion was an occasion she had longed for because the last time she returned to the family abode was more than two years ago.

Ien and her husband -- a Kuala Lumpur-based construction worker who is also from Indonesia -- made the journey home because they wanted to savour Eid-ul-Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri with family and friends this year.

It's the first day of Shawwal -- the month that marks the end of Ramadan -- tomorrow and by this time many Muslims who are residing outside their hometowns are with their loved ones or are on their way to be together with them.

Malaysians have a term for the social reunion: balik kampung which literally means "going back to the village".

Malays are not the only ones who observe balik kampung as a form of social reunion. The Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Murut, Iban, Bidayuh and other ethnic groups i…

Muslims still sore about TV3 ad!

Muslims in Malaysia are still upset about the controversial Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Eid-ul-Fitr) advertisement which was pulled out recently following protests from viewers.
They cannot believe that TV3 -- a popular television station in Malaysia -- had approved the festive commercial which depicted Hari Raya Aidil Fitri as Christmassy.
There were elements of Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism in the commercial: flying trishaw (which resembles Santa Claus' sleigh), lamps and lotus.
"This is totally unacceptable," says an academic from a well-known private university college, who requested anonymity.
"It is possible to be 1Malaysia but not 1Religion," he adds, alluding to the 1Malaysia concept, which Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak is promoting.

Soaking up the Eid-ul-Fitr mood

Today is the last Sunday before Eid-ul-Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, as Malaysians call it, which is likely to fall on September 10, this year.

Eid-ul-Fitr is the first day ofShawwal, which marks the end of Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar.

This is the day Muslims celebrate the end of fasting and "thank Allah for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month to help them practise self-control".

For some Muslims in Malaysia preparation for the day of rejoicing started early.

Many wives and mothers did their Raya shopping, as we name it in Malaysia, about a month before Ramadan began while others prefer to do it later.

Land Public Transport Commission chief operating officer Shahril Mokhtar window-shopped two days after the start of the fasting month to "check out the prices" and to observe the festive trends this year.

"Today is my actual day of shopping," said Shahril, who was trying skull caps for size…