Saturday, February 19, 2011

If Malaysians Rule The World

Got this idea while nearly dozing off in a 'hubungan etnik' class last Saturday. The lecturer talked about Westernization, and this idea came to me: What if Malaysians rule the world, what would 'Malaysianization' sound like? Here's a sneak peek:

OLD TOWN WHITE COFFEE, BROADWAY, NEW YORK

(The door opens)

Bartender: Welcome to Old Town! What can I get you?

John: Hazelnut white coffee for me…and you?

Jessica: I’ll just have the original white coffee

Bartender: Aite, that’s it? Have a seat, will serve u

John: Great, thanks man!

(John and Jessica took a seat by the window. Outside, it is snowing)

John: Sure is cold outside, nothing like a good cup of hot white coffee!

Jessica: Totally! Thank God we have Old Town at our place. Heard they ain’t got any down in Florida

John: For real? Well that sucks. But ever since Old Town got in here, every other shop’s turning into a café now. Put up weird names too: Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and Gloria Jeans? Can you believe it? I mean, c’mon, who the hell would put up their own name up for a café? If it's Haji Tapah it'd sound cool...but Gloria Jeans??

Jessica: Yeah, well, but I’m sure it’s a long way to go before they can catch up with Old Town. I’ve tried their coffee. Nothing like white coffee…like they’re making white coffee using tea leaves

John: Guess we’ll stick to Old Town for now. Speaking of the weather, have you’ve seen our friends’ photo on Facebook? Those studying overseas…in Malaysia?

Jessica: Hell yeah, God, I’m so jealous of them! There it’s like summer every day, and here we are, stuck in this frickin’cold weather with our cars sinkin‘ in the snow

John: Yeah, I know. Sucks to be us. Why didn’t you study there again? I thought you were on top of your class?

Jessica: Yeah I nailed 2400 for my SAT, 4.00 GPA, 34 for MCATS, and got pending offer for a scholarship to National University of Malaysia, but…

John: Shit, National University of Malaysia…like the ones in the movies?

Jessica: Yeah, like in the movies…anyway, my mom wouldn’t let me go there. You know how Republican she is. Just because Bush didn’t like Mahathir, she has this delusion that the old Harvard school is better than any university in the world. The joint’s 100 years older than this country, for God’s sake!

John: Dang, what a waste! Should have given me your scholarship!

Jessica: Yeah, oh well, it’s kinda hard to enter Malaysia nowadays. We have to apply for VISA now. The government found out that many US citizens overstayed there after finishing their studies

John: Haha, of course, who doesn’t want to? We get better pay there, the job’s secure, and we don’t have to pay a single cent for healthcare services! Geez, I wonder when that Obama will finally walk his healthcare reform talk. It has been years.

Jessica: Hm, oh by the way think I’m gonna visit Malaysia next year.

John: For real? Dang, can I come along please, please, pleaseee? I wanna see their 100 storey mega tower!

Jessica: Where do you live John, in a cave? Don't you ever read MalaysiaKini? Now they're not even sure if they're gonna build that frickin' tower. The Malaysians don't want it.

John: What the hell?! Why?

Jessica: Hell do I know, guess they already got too much towers.

John: Bloody rich country...

Jessica: Yeah. They rule the economy. Anyway, I’m starting to learn Manglish slang now

John: Give me a preview

Jessica: Well, okay: Aiya John, if you want to follow me to Malaysia ah…you got to learn to speak Manglish you knooow? So, how do I sound? Good or not? Goood rite? I know it’s good maa!

John: Holy shit, u sound exactly like Phua Chu Kang’s wife!

Jessica: Phua Chu Kang’s Singaporean

John: Yeah, whatever, they sound the same

Jessica: It seems like everybody’s putting on a fake Manglish accent around here. It’s true what our 'Ethnic Relations' lecturer said. The kids nowadays are so influenced by Malaysians. They’re ‘Malaysianized’.

John: Yeah, they waste their money and time at tanning saloons and beaches to get their fake tan. Color their hair black, putting on dark contact lenses. Geez, what’s wrong with these young people?

Jessica: I don’t know. People just don’t appreciate our own culture anymore. The country singer’s are losing their popularity. Like, who listens to Hannah Montana or Taylor Swift anymore? Even Lady Gaga's extreme attention seeking behavior didn't take our kids' eyes off Maya Karin

John: Yeah, kids these days. All they know is Zee Avi, Yuna, Nana, Mawi, Aizat. Oh, and have you heard that Colbie O’Donnis made a duet with Mizz Nina?

Jessica: Whaaat? Colbie O’Donnis with Mizz frickin' Nina? How the hell did they get him to sing with her?

John: I don’t know, they must have pulled some strings

Jessica: Oh geez

(Awkward silence)

Jessica: Think we should get moving. You know your cheap 'General Motors which went bankrupt' car can’t last for long in the snow

John: Yeah, let’s go. Dang, how I wish I have a Proton Inspira!

END

I know this is far from the reality, but come on man, let's love our country, yeah!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Muslim Dilemma

The upheavals in Arab countries can be traced down to an unequal society. There are the rich, the poor, and nothing in between. It is a sad fact that this scenario plagues many Muslim nations. It might be the factor that none of the Muslim countries being classified as a developed nation. Not UAE with its architectural splendour, or even Turkey with its proud secularism. The scenario is made worse when the rich use their power to put favour on their side, manipulating the system, lobbying others and executing competitions. Speaking in particular of the Arab countries, those who call themselves ‘in power’ are in fact delusional. It is no secret that most of the Arab leaders are put in the throne by the help of Western countries, therefore forever being indebted. If they are in fact in power, why do they seek help and protection from the West? Isn’t that a sign of weakness?

How did we come to this? Why are we so weak both politically and economically? Is it because in Islam, success in this world is not worthy of pursuit compared to the success in the afterlife? Does Islam teach its followers to settle with weakness in this world, to live in poverty, to be oppressed, looked down upon, killed and slaughtered, because the world is just transitory? If so, if Islam teaches us to completely focus on the afterlife and ignore worldly matters, why would Salahudin Al Ayubi dedicate his whole lifetime to conquer Jerusalem? Why would Sultan Ahmad Al-Fatih risk his life to conquer Constantinople? Why would Taariq bin Ziyad take the hardships of bowing Andalucían kings to their knees? If worldly success is not that important, why wouldn’t they stay in the comfort of their homes, and spend their time doing usrahs, waiting for people to come and join in instead of them going out into the world to inspire people to embrace Islam?

The nations in power today are not afraid to oppress and discriminate against Muslims because they know that we are weak. They know that we are incapable of defending ourselves and will always depend on them for economic stability. Hence, they can do what they will. Every Muslim know that there will be a day where Islam will rise again, but how do we expect the forthcoming of that glorious age, when we let ourselves ignore success in this world and be content with weakness? Many believe that the rise of Islam in the future will be attributed by swords, shields and courage of steel. I beg to differ. I believe that the rise of Islam will not be through military might. In fact, it has never been. I won’t deny that Islam has great military strength throughout its glorious days, but it doesn’t mean that Islam won the world by the tip of the sword. In fact, the Quran states that it is forbidden to make others to embrace Islam by force. Islam was spread by the message of truth, peace and love. People in the past embraced Islam willingly because for the first time in their lives, they see justice and equal treatments towards all layers of society. Whether you are a slave or an aristocrat, you get the same protection, the same treatment and the same opportunity to achieve success. Our weakness today can easily be traced down to these rhetoric questions: where is the justice today? Where is the equal treatments to all layers of society?

It is surprising that when talking about the glorious days of Islam, many of us focus on military rather than economic domination. Military force could not last for centuries, but a sustained economy and stable society could. During the time of Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz, the economy was so stable that they achieved 0% poverty rate. The government at one time had no idea on whom to give zakat aid to. This impressive economy feat leads to a stable society, witnessed by decrease in crime rates, social ills and corruption to the level of non-existence. Logically, why would you rob or accept bribe from others when you truly have enough for yourself? Sadly, today many hold on stringently to the belief that money corrupts. They dismiss the fact that poverty corrupts society just as well. We resist the pursuit of financial wealth, believing that wealth corrupts moral and distracts us from religion. Humans have the gift to choose. With or without money, if a person chooses to corrupt himself, become corrupt he will. The thing is that with money, it gives you the opportunity to help the poor. Without money, it gives you the burden of helping yourself.

It is high time we restore the image of Islam. It is time to practice what we preach in sermons, usrahs and religious talks. Until when do we da’wah among ourselves in closed vicinities and expect the world outside to change? Many give talks about social ills ruining the Muslim society, but few ever went down the stage to tackle the root of the problem: poverty and socio-economic inequality. Not many are brave enough to pursue economic dominance, believing ‘duit tak bawak mati’ and just let fellow Muslims ‘mati’ by economic oppression. Many still choose courses on ‘Cara-cara bercinta menurut Islam’ and ‘Mendirikan mahligai rumah tangga’ over courses on international relations, socioeconomics and modern science that could truly advance the Muslim society. Many are inspired by the courage of Salahudin Al-Ayubi, but yet few are courageous enough just to stand up and speak. Many are furious when the non-Muslims label Islam as terrorists but few ever took the time to get involved with the public to show them what Islam is all about. Isn’t education by example the best way to inspire others to embrace Islam? Everything in life is about balance, Islam never separates between the world and afterlife success. It is time to compete and become winners in all aspect of the world. Let us get involved in international issue, acquire knowledge that could advance the Muslim society and pursue success. Isn't the azan we hear 5 times a day has the phrase 'Let us achieve success?'. Here’s hoping that our generation is the one that contributes to the beginning of the rise of Islam. InsyaAllah


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Love Airports!

I love airports. My parents would kill me if they knew this back when I was studying in MARA College Seremban, but I used to take a trip to KLIA in the evening and spend a whole night there just sitting at a cafe with a good book to read. It was such an amazing experience. Airports never sleeps. The cafes are always open, and I can just sit there till morning overlooking the huge windows and watch planes land and take off. Sometimes I just watch and observe people coming out from the arrivals gate and play a guessing game of where they come from. Back then, I was so determined to travel around the world. So watching planes gave me that strong motivation.

The kind of airport café I love

Today, my dreams of traveling around the world is partly fulfilled. Everywhere I travel, I always take time to sit at cafes in airports and reminisce the days when I spend the whole night at airports. I still spend nights at the airports these days. I had one of the best airport stay in Singapore's Changi airport where me and my friends stayed the night waiting for our flight to Boston the next morning. We were given VIP lounge tickets. The lounge was absolutely amazing! There's unlimited supply of food (not mentioning the unlimited supply of coffee). There's a gym, shower and sauna. Coolest night in airport ever!

I also like Narita's airport in Japan because it's cute. I don't know how to describe it, but the hallways had low ceilings as if accommodated for cute asians only. Haha. I spend the whole time at Narita listening to 'Lovers in Japan' by Coldplay.


Then there's Detroit's long long airport I spent an evening waiting for my friends being 'interrogated' by US homeland security. The airport's cool because it had a train that transverses its whole length. I took the train back and forth just for fun, or because I got too bored waiting for my friends.

I also like Jakarta airport where me and my friends talk all night at Bengawan Solo coffeehouse till morning come, and we took our flights back home.

There's nothing much interesting about the airport in Madrid, but sleeping near the counter ticket for one night was quite memorable.

Then there's Stanstedt airport in London where my friend spill a full cup of coffee on the cafe table. Hong Kong's airport was so memorable because I bought a book about the rise of China's economy there to read at a cafe while waiting for my flight. Little I know that the book will take me back to Hong Kong 2 years later (June this year) because an interviewer for a Hong Kong conference was impressed that I, as a medical student read such book, and hence I was chosen to go.

It's weird how the places outside the airport are much more interesting, like the Eiffel tower, the Alhambra, the New York Times Square, but it is the airports experience that are most memorable to me. Weird, but airports changed my life