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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rangers move in to catch croc in Kota Kinabalu mosque pond

KOTA KINABALU: A video of a crocodile in the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque pond has gone viral as wildlife rangers moved in to set up traps.
© Provided by The Star Online
The 40-second video shows the crocodile swimming near the banks of the lagoon at the iconic mosque, which is popular among tourists for boat rides and photo shoots.
Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said a team was sent Thursday to set up traps in the area after the report on the presence of the crocodile in the pond.
He said it could not immediately be ascertained if it was the same crocodile that was spotted over a year ago at the Likas Sports Complex and later in the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Lagoon in Likas Bay, near here.

Man persuaded not to jump off apartment block in USJ

PETALING JAYA: A 24-year-old man who tried to take his own life was talked out of jumping off an apartment block by his wife and family in Persiaran Kewajipan, USJ 19, near here.  
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department assistant director of operations Mohamad Sani Harul said the department was alerted about the incident around 6.20pm on Thursday.  
© Provided by The Star Online
Mohamad Sani said that the wife and other family members of the man managed to persuade him not to jump off the apartment block.
He added that the man was later handed over to the police.

Teens found drowned after falling into monsoon drain

PETALING JAYA: Two teenage boys were found drowned after they fell into a monsoon drain at Jalan Sungai Panjang in Sungai Besar near here.  
© Provided by The Star Online
A spokesman from the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department said they were alerted about the incident around 5.30pm on Thursday.  
The spokesman said the first victim, identified as Mohamad Salman Rahmat, was found at 5.50pm while the second victim, identified as Mohamad Riduan Jamhari, was discovered three minutes later.  
The two victims, both aged 14, were believed to have been playing nearby before falling into the monsoon drain.

No dates for me, thank you

Traditions and beliefs have shifted, so while the Prophet broke his fast with three dates, there is nothing wrong that we do it today with coke, almond cookies and fast food.
“Iftar or breaking fast traditionally in the home with family members or in a mosque in a spiritual environment, has been turned into a ‘feast with a 100-dish spread’ and for ‘corporate entertainment’. Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with only three dates.”
The President of the Consumers’ Association of Penang, S M Mohamed Idris said this in his article, published on FMT, a few days ago. His words left me feeling uneasy. I can barely remember the last time I broke my fast with dates.
In this modern age, commercialising culture and religion is common – from getting giddy over presents under Christmas trees to shopping for new carpets, curtains and kitchenware every Ramadan – our traditions and beliefs have shifted somewhat.
Growing up in a traditional Muslim family, I was taught the “Islamic” way to fulfil my Ramadan obligations – it was compulsory to wake up in the wee hours of the morning for sahur, consume homemade dishes for iftar and perform prayers after iftar. We never really did anything out of the ordinary for Ramadan – it was usually a simple meal with extra fruits and some kuih.
The only thing extraordinary I can think of was having dinner together – no more sitcoms at 7pm for the kids and no more 8pm Buletin Utama for dad. Everyone had to be seated at the dining table at the sound of azan – that was under mom’s strict orders which no one dared disobey.
Living far from my parents and raising my own family today, I soon realised that traditions I grew up with did not fit so well in my “new” world. Today, when the TV announces the azan, my kids and I gather around our iftar table with “non-homemade” scrumptious favourites bought from the Ramadan bazaar. Instead of dates passed around to end our fast, Coke does it for us. A “glug, glug” followed by a long “aaaaaaah”, marks the official end of our fast.
But it doesn’t just end there. Iftar at my home also means dinner in front of the TV. We fill our plates with food, find a comfortable spot on our couch and with TV remote in hand, dig in. Technically, it is still a family dinner and we still talk to each other and laugh together but it is a lot more fun the way we do it than staring at each other’s faces across the table as we munch away.
Over the weekend, we treat ourselves to one of the many Ramadan feasts offered by restaurants and hotels. To call this an extravagance and an utter waste of money would be wrong in my opinion as I am entitled to grant myself and my children some degree of luxury as a reward for my hard work as the family’s provider.
The thing is, while SM Mohamed Idris spoke about reviving the Islamic spirit, my children and I are trying to create our own traditions, still very much grounded in Islam. Instead of expecting my children to emulate the Prophet Muhammad by breaking fast with three dates, I want to help my children get excited about Ramadan. Surely after a long day of struggling with thirst and hunger, they are entitled to break fast in their preferred way.
As a new generation, my children need something they can relate to, something that speaks to them. If that means they prefer to have some Coke instead of water or a RM19.90 jar of almond butter cookies instead of dates – then so be it. No amount of Coke, cookies, television or hotel feasts can deter a Muslim’s faith unless they do not have strong faith to begin with.
What matters is where you draw the line.
Yes, Ramadan is truly a sacred month. However, it is our duty as Muslims to draw a line when it comes to indulging in feasts and mindless spending. The commercialisation of Ramadan would not be an issue if Muslims were capable of abstaining and keeping our senses under control. If we need special provisions to ban and prohibit things that promote extravagance in order to keep the syaitan within us chained, where is our Taqwa?
Mind you, fasting is also an exercise to keep our desires in check. If we are incapable of that, we have failed the test of Ramadan. In other words, the commercialisation of Ramadan is actually doing Muslims a favour – it requires us to put in more effort to rein in our lusts and desires.
The truth is, the commercialisation of Ramadan may be a subtle process of the secularisation of our beliefs and culture. However, commercialisation is not the termite that is silently eating away at our pillars of iman. It is our own incapability to understand what it means to be a Muslim and to practice our religion in this modern age. With all due respect, calls to safeguard Muslims by issuing fatwas prohibiting the exploitation of Ramadan as suggested by S M Mohamed Idris, the way I see it, only shows how weak we are as Muslims.
The rhetorical question that begs to be asked is, if Islam is against the commercialisation of religion, what about Islamic banking? What about luxurious Haj packages? Islam does not teach us this. But then again, Islam does not teach us many other things which Muslims seem to be religiously following these days.
With Ramadan a week away, let us embrace the holy month for what it truly represents. Ramadan is a month of joy. It’s a month of sluggish days with little bowel movement. It’s a month when food never tasted better. Ramadan is when the evenings are lively and cheerful. It’s when everyone looks a bit grumpy waking up in the wee hours of the morning for sahur. Companies, marketers and the entertainment industry may use Ramadan for potential profit but Ramadan will never be only about lavish feasts and over-spending.
Ramadan is and will always be about bringing family and friends together and being genuinely thankful for a full tummy.
Happy Ramadan, Malaysia!

Ministry proposes discounts for AES summonses

Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi says AES cameras to catch speeding motorists at 14 locations will continue to operate as usual.
PETALING JAYA: The Automated Awareness Safety System (Awas) is one step nearer to implementation after the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament today.
Awas is a combination of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) and the Demerit Points System (Kejara).
The Star Online reported Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi as saying in Parliament that previous AES summons were still valid but that the ministry would propose that a discount of RM100 to RM150 be given.
Abdul Aziz also said the AES cameras at 14 locations would continue to operate as usual.
AES cameras will be installed in stages at other accident-prone areas along highways, federal roads and intersections.
Responding to a query, the ministry will have a system where traffic offenders can check their demerit points online.
Under the Kejara system, drivers who accumulate 60 demerit points will have their driving licences revoked.
Those with 40 points will have their licences suspended.
Motorists who beat the lights and cut double lines will receive four demerit points.


(NST) – A man, claiming to be a former volunteer with the Election Commission (EC), has admitted to selling confidential voter information to various parties, including private companies and other individuals.
He claimed that among those who had bought the information was a person purportedly linked to the Dr Mahathir-Lim Kit Siang Declaration initiative. The information, he claimed, was bought to boost the number of signatures of people who purportedly supported the declaration.
Speaking at a press conference today, Azharuddin Othman @ Abdullah, 30, from Terengganu claimed that he was contacted by a woman known only as Ema, on April 27. Ema, he claimed, was also referred to as Ratu Naga (Dragon Lady).
“She wanted to purchase the Malaysian residents’ database to gain the 1.2 million signatures needed by (former prime minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for his declaration project,” he claimed, adding Ema knew he had access to a database of millions of Malaysians, which could be broken down into several categories.
“Ema offered me RM5,000 to get the database of 1.2 million people through her email. “She informed me the database was needed for the declaration project to be sent to the Yang di Pertuan-Agong,” he claimed. Azharuddin, a freelance computer programmer, also claimed he was told that they needed the signatures quickly as the person leading the initiative did not want his name linked to the transaction.
He claimed that although he was promised RM5,000 for the database, Ema only paid him RM1,000 via a bank transaction last month. Asked by reporters on how he managed to get access to the database, Azharuddin alleged that he was a volunteer during the 13th General Elections with the EC.
“Every elections district will have a CD of voter registration, and the CD is available to any volunteer,” he claimed. Azharuddin was accompanied at the press conference by Keadilan member Badrul Hisyam Shahari, better known as Chegubard. Badrul Hisyam said Azharuddin’s claims showed that the Dr Mahathir-Lim Kit Siang Declaration was based on a lie and that the people should not be duped.
“Yes, I agree there are changes needed in the government but let us be clear that the end does not justify the means,” he said. Badrul Hisyam said while many politicians were occupied with the Sarawak elections where Mahathir was nowhere near, somehow the declaration received 1.2 million signatures.
“How could Dr Mahthir’s son Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir claim that they received 1.2 million signatures within two weeks?” he asked. Badrul Hisyam claimed that prominent opposition members such as Datuk S. Ambiga and Mohamad Sabu had no knowledge of the fraud but were victims themselves.
Badrul Hisyam also admitted to have purchased personal data information from Azharuddin for business advertising purposes. “What we did was for business but what they did was try to cheat Malaysians by using this database,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, lawyer Haniff Khatri, the legal representative for Dr Mahathir, when contacted said it was too early for them to comment on the matter.
“First and foremost, we will look at the allegations and study whether it has anything to do with us, if not then why bother to comment,” he said. He said his office will issue an official statement once it has a better understanding of the allegations by Azharuddin.
On May 13, Dr Mahathir had announced that his Mahathir-Kit Siang declaration had collected 1.2 million signatures after two months of its launch. Dr Mahathir was reported to have said that 1.07 million signatures were collected online, 200,000 more signatures were on printed forms, and 50,000 recorded on the online petition website Change.org.
He also said that the 1,071,997 verified signatures were received online and 200,000 physical signatures on copies of the declaration. The verified signatures did not include 253,505 signatures that were rejected for being incomplete, duplications or discrepancies.

Malaysia’s Travel Ban: Administrative Stupidity or Political Insecurity?

by Azmi Sharom
BOY, was I worried last week. This paper reported that the Immigration Department was going to bar those who disparaged or ridiculed the Government from traveling abroad.
And those who did so overseas would be barred from traveling upon their return home. For up to three years!
Crikey. This was most concerning. In my job I speak about laws and government policies all the time; at home and abroad.We, lecturers, go to seminars and conferences and we discuss ideas.
So, even if I take special care to say only the sweetest things about the Government, I could still be faced with questions like “Why is your government-owned strategic development company facing so much trouble?”.
What a conundrum. Do I spout some inanity (“err … that is a good question, Malaysia is truly Asia. Thank you.”) or give my opinion and risk being unable to eat authentic Nasi Gudeg for three years?
I suppose I could say something brilliant like “Look, is that an ostrich in the aisle?”, and then make my escape. And furthermore, The Star reported that these disparaging comments can be done in any manner. Good lord, does that include private conversations?
What if I am in a café in Madrid and my Spanish host asks me, “Señor Azmi, why does your Government prevent people from going overseas to get human rights awards?”
What do I say then? “Manuel, I am Malaysian, I cannot answer your question. Please pass the paella.”
Then fortunately, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs comes swooping in and says that there will be no ban on travelling for critics of the Government.
Phew, that’s a relief then. I guess those guys in the Immigration Department just got together and decided amongst themselves to make up this policy.
I did not realise that government agencies had so much autonomy that they could make far-reaching unconstitutional, anti-human rights-type decisions without the OK from the minister or his faithful deputy.
Just shows what I know.
But then the Deputy Minister goes on to say that the ban only applies to those who are a threat to national security and who have violated the Constitution.So I guess Maria Chin is a national security threat and habitual violator of the Constitution then.
It is as though the Constitution is a high-born Roman lady in danger of being attacked by a ravaging Visigoth.How can a private citizen violate the Constitution?
Hey, we are not the ones who make laws that blatantly go against the Fundamental Liberties listed in Part 2 of the Constitution. We are not the ones who say that this is an Islamic state when the Constitution says no such thing.
We are not the ones who obtusely say that there is no separation of powers because the Constitution does not use the term “separation of powers” (even though the executive, legislature and judiciary are each given separate chapters and have clearly defined powers).
It is virtually impossible for a private citizen to violate the Constitution.Short of perhaps companies that treat their workers like slaves or practise gender bias.
So the idea that citizens who violate the Constitution can have their passports taken away is laughable.It’s as though by throwing big words into the mix, this ludicrous and unlawful attack on our freedom of movement is all hunky dory.
Really, all this business about keeping us stuck at home is ridiculous.Do we need to go overseas to belittle the Government when their actions can be spread far and wide via existing technology? Why worry about citizens belittling or disparaging them abroad when they do it so well by themselves?