Monday, February 13, 2012

The Valentine’s Day equation

One Man's Meat
By Philip Golingai

Why is PAS so against Valentine’s Day? It has equated the day to: roses + candlelight dinner + love = sex.

FROM what I’ve been reading, PAS has been equating Valentine’s Day to: roses + candlelight dinner + love = sex.

Curious to know how Feb 14 can lead to sex, I met PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan at-Tantawi at the party’s headquarters in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. I thought the secret would be revealed.

“Why is PAS so against Valentine’s Day?” I asked Nasrudin.

“We don’t want to ban Valentine’s Day. What we want is to state that Muslims cannot celebrate it as it is not a day which is celebrated by Muslims,” he said in Malay.

“Non-Muslims are free to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Why can’t Muslims celebrate Valentine’s Day?” I asked.

“It is not a Muslim activity. It is from another religion. I am not clear about it.

“Some say it is from the Christians or other ...” he said, stopping abruptly as he probably decided not to speculate on the origin of Valentine’s Day so as not to offend non-Muslims.

“But it is usual in Malaysia that it encourages couple to go for date at a suspicious, quiet and dark place like a hotel, a park or a beach. And that is wrong.”

“Religion aside,” I said, “what’s wrong with Valentine’s Day?”

“For example, I read in the newspaper a few years ago that a hotel in Terengganu had a promotion for its Valentine’s Day dinner where the first 10 couples to register would get a free night stay,” Nasrudin said.

“Doesn’t that show that Valentine’s Day leads to immoral activities?”

“Is it true that PAS thinks that Valentine’s Day will lead to ... ermm...,” I said, and because I couldn’t find the right word for “sex” in Malay, I fluffed my question.

I decided on zina (illicit sex).

“We are taking pre-emptive measures,” explained Nasrudin.

“Usually when Valentine’s Day is celebrated a couple will go for a date and we don’t want that date to lead to zina and etc.”

“We have three conditions for a Muslim couple who wants to go on a date. First, they can’t be berdua-duaan (going out as a couple), they must be chaperoned by a mahram (a close relative).

“Second, the woman can’t wear clothes that show her aurat (parts of the body that should not be exposed according to Islamic belief) and that is menjolok mata (in Defence Ministry lingo: poke eye).

“Third, the couple cannot do activities prohibited by their religion. (i.e. khalwat and zina).

“But when I say that couple can date with these three conditions I don’t mean they can celebrate Valentine’s Day. They can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.”

The PAS Youth chief explained that it was not only zina which was salah (wrong) but also berdua-duaan.

Berdua-duaan is the mukadimah (prelude) to zina,” he said. “That is why a couple can’t be berdua-duaan. They must be accompanied by a mahram.”

“What is the percentage of berdua-duan couple ending up having sex?” I asked.

“It is not impossible (that they would end up having sex). But I don’t have the statistics. But when a couple berdua-duaan in a room, there is a third party,” he said.

“Interesting,” I thought, “threesome with the mahram.”

“Who?” I asked.

Syaitan (devil),” he said. “We have to worry about syaitan.”

Syaitan, according to the Ustaz, will seduce the couple into doing the nasty.

“In most rape cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim. And this is because when the couple is in a place where they are alone, the perpetrator will succumb to his desire,” the politician known as Tantawi explained.

“That is the danger of berdua-duaan. It will lead to other social problems such as rape and baby dumping.”

But it is not only Valentine’s Day that PAS thinks encourages free sex.

“We know pergaulan bebas (free association) happens on public holidays even on Hari Merdeka,” Nasrudin said.

“How?” I asked, surprised to learn that celebrating Hari Merdeka can lead to sex. Must be something to do with the word “independence” I thought.

On the eve of Hari Merdeka, according to the ustaz, there were couples who waited for the clock to strike midnight in a dark and secluded place.

And they would be drinking alcohol and eventually (to use a visual metaphor in Malay movies) the champagne cork would pop.

I can’t wait for PAS to ban romantic celebrations of Hari Merdeka.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Outrage over ‘merger’ prediction

One Man's Meat

There are Malaysians who have no love lost for Singapore, more so after years of fighting over water, airspace, bridge, sand, rock and chicken rice.

IN Datuk Dr Hasan Ali’s world, if the Opposition won the 13th general election, Malaysia and Singapore would become one.

“Imagine what DAP will do once they take over Putrajaya. They will merge Malaysia with Singapore and join hands with Singapore’s PAP,” the recently expelled PAS member told 1,000 people in Bangi, Selangor, as reported by a news portal.

It was a Tuesday night and Hasan was in his element during his nationwide roadshow after being kicked out of PAS on Jan 8.

To add spice to his prediction, the former Selangor PAS commissioner speculated that the merged entity would be a republic.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang struck back.

“One should get outraged and incensed at lies and falsehoods, but when they are so far-fetched, with Hasan talking as if he has got more than a few screws loose in his head, it is impossible to get angry and outraged but only have feelings of great pity at the gibberish pouring out from him,” he said, as reported by the news portal.

“It is clearly an utter waste of time to try to reason with such a deranged person.”

Losing a few screws in his head or not, there is method in Hasan’s madness.

The politician, who will set up a non-governmental organisation called Jati to fight for Islam, Malay rights and the Malay Rulers, was speaking the language of his listeners.

In one breath, he introduces three bogeymen — Singapore, PAP (People’s Action Party) and republic. Scary words if you were his listeners.

Hasan’s fear mongering is preposterous. But, for me, it brought back the romantic notion that Malaysia’s prodigal brother could/would return.

(On Aug 9, 1965, following a union lasting longer than a Kim Kardashian marriage, Malaysia and Singapore went their separate ways.)

Maybe it’s because I’m from Sabah — which together with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore formed Malaysia in 1963 — that I would like to see the Federation of Malaysia whole again.

So on Wednesday @philipgolingai tweeted: “Interesting. According to Hasan Ali, DAP will make Malaysia whole again. Welcome back Singapore!”

And my timeline on Twitterjaya (the moniker of the Malaysian twittersphere) fired up as if my tweet was a white ang pow. (The white ang pow insult was sparked by another son of Ali, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, the president of Perkasa who is himself — to some — a bogeyman.)

From some of the tweets on my timeline, I sense that there are Malaysians who have no love lost for the red dot called Singapore.

Perhaps after years of fighting over water, airspace, bridge, sand, rock (Batu Puteh or Pedra Branca) and chicken rice, Singapore is the imaginary monster we used to frighten children with.

@KhanOfWar Khan replied: “PAP’s slave?”

And I tweeted: “I think Malaysians smarter in the art of politics. Sure we can turn them and their Singapore dollars into our slave.”

Here are some of my tweets on why I think it would be fun to have Singapore back into the Malaysia family.

> “We get to shop at Orchard Road with our ringgit.”

> “We also get SIA’s Singapore Girls” to which @patricklsk replied: “Most of them are Malaysians anyway” and @razzbuzz tweeted: “And sarong party girls, bugis street girls/guys?”

> “If Hasan Ali’s prediction comes true, Malaysia will host 2 F1 events and have 3 casinos.”

> “If Hasan Ali’s prediction comes true, it will be Chief Minister Datuk Seri Lee Hsien Loong” which drew @hwabeng to reply: “And he reports 2 Putrajaya.”

@hwabeng (former three-term Subang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng) also tweeted: “If Singapore merges with us again, we shall control Singapore due to our bigger population. Tell Hasan Ali not a bad idea.”

@LittleHantu: “MAS/SIA/AirAsia/Firefly/Tiger/Jetstar/ SilkAir will be World’s Largest Carrier too? Dream on, Hasan Ali.”

@DatuWil: “Hasan’s ‘Msia /Spore Merge’ story. Wow, we finally could be first world.”

@aidilarazak: “And we can make them surrender their taxes! A solution to reduce/eliminate deficit?” to which @_Garylim_ replied: “cannot la ... then they ask (for) our oil reserves. How?”

@ismaeltahir: “Oh we will have sentosa as well! N maybe link mrt to kl.”

There were also anti-Hasan tweets.

@DarellLeiking: “This (deleted) never ceases to amaze me .... and just when u tot it was over with the solar-powered talking Bible :)”

@KerrySin: “He should go to the Moon on a 1way ticket? Maybe he might be more successful governing the moon.”

@m_hafifi: “What did he smoke lately?” to which I replied: “He’s been drinking Tongkat Ali.”

My one big worry about the return of our prodigal brother is summed up in a tweet by @macfaisal: “No wonder I woke up feeling kiasu.”

Monday, January 30, 2012

All a-Twitter over hostage girl

One Man's Meat


In quiet KL, tweets went flying in Twitterjaya as a hostage drama unfolded when a naked man grabbed a 10-year-old girl from her family home in Kampung Baru.

HOSTAGE drama at Kampung Baru in KL. Mentally ill man has threatened to kill 10-year-old girl.

That was what I tweeted at 1pm on Monday while stabbing into a medium tenderloin steak at Cafe Barbera in Bangsar.

It was the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Water Dragon and I was at the cafe to check whether it was suitable for a tweetup (an organised or impromptu gathering of people who use Twitter).

I was doing a favour for Twitter sensation @tankengliang (Tan Keng Liang, Kedah Gera­kan Youth chief) who was organising a tweetup on Feb 25.

“KL is so dead,” I thought as the only patron in Cafe Barbera was me.

Then my colleague Austin Cameons SMS-ed about an ongoing hostage drama.

I drove to Kampung Baru, a Malay enclave in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

The first thing I did when I arrived at the scene of the crime was to take photographs with my Nokia N8 so that I can tweet them.

Fifi Ramadani was held at knife-point in a single-story wooden house with the Petronas Twin Towers in the backdrop. In front of the house were two ambulances, paramedics and policemen (in uniform and “mufti” – slang for civilian attire) who were watched by members of the media and curious onlookers.

Austin interviewed the girl’s 47-year-old father, Shafrudin Marlis, a one-legged Indonesian with Malaysian PR.

“The man, his wife and three children were watching television at about 11am, when a naked man stormed into their home,” he briefed me.

“The man, who might be mentally ill, grabbed a knife from the kitchen and in a matter of seconds took the girl and threatened to kill her if the family approached him.”

At 1.32pm, I tweeted: “Kg Baru hostage drama: Looks like police ready to neutralise mentally ill man who threatened to kill 10-year-old girl. Ambulance waiting.”

Nothing happened.

At 2.06pm, I tweeted: “Waiting game at hostage drama at Kg Baru.”

2.29pm: “Heard at hostage drama scene. Baik juga polis ni. Tak tembak-tembak (The police are being very nice. They have not shot the hostage-taker)”.

In terms of police action, the only thing exciting, which I tweeted, was “Kg Baru hostage drama: Police have sent in 4 packets of iced tea.”

3.04pm: “If this was a movie, Bruce Willis would have saved the day by now. 5 hours long hostage drama.”

3.06pm: “Looks like a female hostage negotiator has arrived at hostage scene. And she ain’t no Jodie Foster.”

3.13pm: “A doctor in white uniform just arrived to give psychiatric help to hostage taker.”

By then my tweets on the hostage drama had generated interest in TwitterJaya (the moniker of the Malaysian Twittersphere).

@JohariTeh tweeted: “Society should have seen this (coming). Why let such unstable person roam the streets. Could have been anyone’s child. Learn, man, learn.”

Twitterers were asking for updates. My answers were: “ongoing”, “very calm here” and “still negotiating”.

I received some tweets that cracked me up. For example, @saroki19: “Got female hostage negotiator, send in nasi lemak with sedative.”

And those on TwitterJaya discovered that a real life hostage drama was so unlike that in Hollywood.

@abamjoni tweeted: “Jack Bauer needs 24 hours” in response to SidneyNg: @aliamaricar’s “Bruce Willis/Keanu Reaves would have settled it in 2 hours tops.”

@maketab: “Hancock would also save the day in a few seconds.:-)”

At 3.32pm, in reply to @hajarshamsudin who tweeted: “Will the police just shoot the guy. I can’t stand the thought of the girl harmed! It’s almost 5 hours already!”, I wrote: “I don’t think police will shoot him.”

3.38pm: “Looks like something will happen. We’ve been kicked to yellow line.”

3.46pm: “A woman arrived at the scene. Probably connected to naked hostage taker.”

3.47pm: “No sniper. Not necessary” in reply to @throngz’s query, “Is the sniper there yet?”

4pm: “The official language at hostage scene in kg baru is Indonesian. I hear murmurs of Javanese or Bugis.”

Many people retweeted it. Some even politicised it.

4.08pm: Gun shots.

At 4.09pm, my hands shaking, I tweeted: “Three gun shots and girl rushed out.”

4.11pm: “Frenzy at scene. But girl whisked away in ambulance.”

4.14pm: “Crowd in hostage scene cheers police effort. It is all over.”

4.16pm: “Four shots fired and hostage taker is believed to be alive. He was rushed away in an ambulance.”

Austin reported a police spokesman as saying: “All our attempts failed. We then had to shoot the suspect after he became more aggressive. We fired four shots, which hit him in the rib area.”

At 8pm, @staronline tweeted: “Hostage drama: The mentally ill man who held a 10-yr-old girl hostage and was shot by police has died in hospital.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Enter the ‘Emperor of Indonesia’


A Tanjung Malim-born Dutch citizen claims he is a descendent of the Emperor of China and that his bloodline is linked to royal families in India, Java and Siam.

IT is not every day that you get to meet a trillionaire. So when I was invited to interview Kamal Ashnawi, a person I've never heard of, I said yes.

On Saturday morning, at a Kuala Lumpur hotel coffee house together with two of Kamal's aides, I waited for the so-called trillionaire.

Wearing a baseball cap, long-sleeved shirt and jeans, he sauntered over to our table. The two aides bowed, pressed their palms together to their forehead as if greeting royalty and kissed his hands.

“We call him Tuanku as he is a sultan from Indonesia,” one of the aides whispered to me.

According to Kamal, he is a Dutch citizen born in Tanjung Malim, Perak, on Jan 1, 1964.

“I'm a descendent of the Emperor of China and in a history that went haywire, my family fled from China to Kedah. I traced my bloodline to the royal families of China, India, Java and Siam,” claimed the man who is also known as Raden Mas Prabhu Gusti Agung Ki Asmoro Wijoyo.

“I grew up in Tanjung Malim and my family here is very simple and ordinary. Nobody in my family talks about our royal blood and wealth. But my grandmother once told me: “You are special and, when the time comes, you will know.”

It was in Holland in the late 1980s that Kamal “found out who he really was”. A member of an Indonesian royal family, kicked out of the country by president Sukarno, told him he was of royal blood.

In London in the early 1990s, a lawyer told Kamal about his royal family's massive wealth. Unconvinced, he told the lawyer to prove his claims.

He and the lawyer flew from London to Hong Kong to meet the “keeper of the royal treasure”. From there, Kamal and the keeper travelled to Kunming in China.

They hiked up a mountain for four hours and reached a cave guarded by an old couple who, Kamal says, are immortals.

“If you tried to pass them without their blessing, you would cough blood and die,” he said.

Inside the three-metre-high cave, Kamal saw gold bars stacked like a pagoda, US$15mil (RM46mil) in jade and US$10mil (RM31mil) in diamonds and stacks of US dollars.

“I took a gold bar and knocked it on a rock. It was really gold. The treasure is the wealth of the dynasties that ruled China. Their wealth was also kept in other mountains and in vaults all over the world,” he said.

About three years ago, when Kamal watched Nicholas Cage's movie National Treasure, he laughed.

“The treasure in the movie was small compared to the wealth I saw in the mountain,” he said.

Next, Kamal told of his meeting two years ago in Kuala Lumpur with Dr Wong Eng Po, a royal physician from China.

Dr Wong placed his hand on Kamal's bald head, then immediately bowed in front of Kamal and ordered his five followers to do the same.

“He said I was the reincarnation of Emperor Nurhaci (1661-1626) of China. He felt an energy on my head which was superhuman because an emperor, unlike an ordinary human, has to think more.

“I'm the reincarnation of two emperors of China,” Kamal added.

He elaborated that a few years ago, the royal family decided he would be the sole administrator of the royal wealth kept in secret accounts in about 1,000 banks worldwide.

“This means that 86.7% of the world's money belongs to me,” he said.

Taking out several folders, Kamal said: “You're lucky, I brought documents.”

He produced an A4-sized paper with the photographs of the national treasure, the immortal couple and several “official-looking” letters allegedly from HSBC certifying he has an account of five trillion euros (RM20tril).

“That is a small amount. I have more money in other banks and institutions,” he added.

I wondered why his name has not appeared in the Forbes' list of world's richest people. And a suspicion lingered about his claims.

However, I could not authenticate his documents since the bank was closed for Chinese New Year.

Kamal has not made any withdrawal from the account as “it is not money that you can move just like that”.

“The money is under the control of Indonesia, Germany, Britain, the US and the Euro Central Bank and I've got to go smooth with them,” he said.

“I can't use the money directly but I will invest in certain projects. Like three trillion euros (RM12tril) to green a desert in China.”

Curious, I asked what was the difference between a billionaire and a trillionaire.

He replied: “A billionaire needs to show he has the money. But for me, I don't need to show that I got money. I can travel in a bus. I can wear slippers.”

Born in the year of the dragon, Kamal believes 2012 is his year. In March, he says he will negotiate with institutions such as the IMF to be recognised as the Emperor of Indonesia.

He says he's rich. But his story could just be as rich.

Let's hope he is not another Elie Youssef Najem, the so-called Lebanese billionaire who made headlines for all the wrong reasons.