A few weeks ago, three of my ex-students came to stay for the weekend. We were driving to Bukit Antarabangsa - the equivalent of Nassim Road in Singapore - to observe the habitat of the top crust, both man-made and natural.
At the back of the car a discussion was going on about the world's economic crisis, its possible origins and effects. Oi Bek mentioned Bernard Madoff, and how she felt sorry for his victims which included several Israeli and American based charities. Bernard Madoff, as we know, is the 21st century's biggest fraudster, who swindled $150 billion from his clients. Unfortunately, Madoff is also Jewish, and many Jewish organisations voiced their concern about mention of his race for fear of reinforcing the stereotyping of Jews.
Now Oi Bek is a caring and overwhelmingly generous soul who would happily part with her money to help others less fortunate than her. Together with Lely and Ruqxana - my, or rather our (they have adopted Iain as their favourite loopy uncle) three girls pooled together a generous Hari Raya 'ang pow' for our husband-and-wife street cleaners before they went home to Singapore. They were aghast to learn that it costs Osman and Aisha nearly a day's wages each just to go home to their kampung.
These three girls weren't high-flying big earners living an ostentatious life with fancy cars and houses. They have family responsibilities too but they had room in their hearts and pockets to be kind and generous.
Back to Oi Bek and Madoff. Poor girl- she got an earful because I sort of blew my top and said, " Who cares a damn about Madoff's victims- big media people like Jeffrey Katzenberger, Mort Zuckerman, Steven Spielberg, Kevin Bacon and his wife and John Malkovitch? Right now my thoughts are with my special young friend, Jagdish, in Leicester. He is registered as partially sighted and the last time I went back I was told he had just been made redundant. He has a wife and mother to support and with his disability and in the current economic mess, he hasn't got a hope in hell of finding another job. He is a dignified young man who is not willing to take the easy way out and live on Disability Benefit which he is entitled to. To today I don't know how to approach him because he won't want me to know of his dire condition - and I don't want to ask, knowing what the answer is.
So who cares about those 50 billionaire victims of Madoff?"
Sorry Oi Bek for sounding like I did when you were in Sec 3F, and I told you all off after Miss Khor's tearful complaints about you horrors!
Now to the crux of this posting.
Jagdish and his family are devout Hindus just like Jayshree my other workmate in Leicester, just like Mr Chauhan our former newsagent, and Mr Mahesh Patel our Chemist. To them and my Hindu friends in Malaysia like Vicky and family in Puchong, my ex-students from Universiti Sains Malaysia like Malini and Shamla, to our Ayurvedic Dr. Raja in Penang and to all Hindus - I extend my deepest and most abject apologies for the despicable antics of my fellow Malay-Muslims over the last weekend in Shah Alam.
I still cannot fathom what was going on in the heads of these Made-in-Malaysia Barbarians?
1.What they've done to the cow's head is comparable to someone ripping off pages of the Quran and stepping on them. As Muslims they have experienced the anger and torment at the desecration of their own religious icons, so how could they do this to the Hindus - whatever the reasons? There is absolutely no justification. Pleading ignorance is just a cowardly cop-out.
2.Where were the Government authorities and the various religious bodies when this was being discussed and organized? Especially for the latter group. They seem to have quite a set-up for nabbing and punishing khalwat offenders, Ramadan delinquents and beer-drinking women.
3.Up to now, Malay-Muslims from Malaysia have had a fairly good record for being upright and tolerant in the eyes of the world. I cannot recall them resorting to such despicable tactics to make their voices heard. That picture above will forever remain firmly etched in the minds of the Muslim and non-Muslim world whenever Malaysia is mentioned.
Muslims in Malaysia and the rest of the world are at the receiving end of a lot of flak and odium. The Shah Alam incident has played into the hands of the adversaries -
as the old saying goes, "Meruncing tanduk kerbau" (Sharpening a buffalo's horns)
4.Do they realise the repercussions on the ummah - those of us who are soaked in poverty, maligned and despised like the victims of war and aggresssion in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza? Malaysian Muslims enjoy such a cosy, almost indulgent life and most of them have no or very little global concept of being Muslims. They seem to pursue a very individualistic agenda of ensuring their own personal salvation. They arch themselves backwards and forwards, scrutinising the fine distinctions between 'halal' and 'haram', 'dosa' and 'pahala' (permissible and forbidden, sins and reward), almost like analyzing how many angels can be found on a pinhead.
If that is all they can offer as Muslims - so be it.
But what they have done in Shah Alam is to make use and smear the faith of over 1.2 billion Muslims for the sake of their backyard politics.
5.Last but not least, what has that poor animal done to deserve this abuse?
"And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fairseeming to each people its own doings, then to their Lord is their return and He shall inform them of all that they used to do."
Surah Al-An'am, The Cattle, Surah No.6, verse 108.