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Showing posts from September, 2010

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…