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WAO: Deepa’s rights: enforce court orders and amend family laws (10 April 2014)
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Deepa’s rights: enforce court orders and amend family laws

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Letter to the editor, 10 April 2014

Two days ago, we were elated by the news that S. Deepa, a client of Women’s Aid Organisation, was awarded custody of her two children, now aged 6 and 9, by the High Court. Justice was served - or so we thought. Just one day later, things took a turn for the worse.

Enforce the two court orders - reunite mother and son

Deepa has gone through a lot. She survived domestic abuse by her ex-husband. In April last year, her children were converted to Islam unilaterally by her ex-husband without her knowledge or consent. Her children were taken away from her.

To claim her rights, Deepa turned to the justice system. She obtained an interim protection order (IPO) to protect herself from further abuse, and she went to the courts to obtain custody of her children. And despite the injustices she faced, she never asked that the father not be allowed to see the children.

Yesterday, one day after Deepa won custody of her children, the ex-husband, assisted by an unknown man, reportedly violently abducted the son from Deepa’s home.

By acting violently towards Deepa, the ex-husband had breached the interim protection order (IPO). By abducting the son, the ex-husband had breached the High Court custody order. Two court orders have been breached, which warrant his immediate arrest.

Yet now, a day later, Deepa’s son has still not been returned to her, and no action has been taken against the ex-husband. We have been informed that the police are still awaiting instructions from the deputy public prosecutor before making any arrests or retrieving the child.

Amend family laws - prevent future injustices

None of this should have happened in the first place. When the ex-husband unilaterally converted his children to Islam, he was gaming the system. He created an unfair advantage for himself, and obtained custody of the children in the Syariah courts, where Deepa had no chance to tell her side of the story.

We’ve seen this happen before, with S. Shamala, R. Subashini, and Indira Gandhi. And though we have seen some positive High Court judgments, we need to rectify our laws to fill all gaps and to make absolutely clear that the rights of the non-converting spouse must be upheld.

The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act must be amended, including to spell out that the consent of both parents are needed to convert the religion of their children, and that when a spouse converts, the non-converting spouse must be notified about the conversion and its legal implications.

Deepa had faith in the system. We hope that the system lives up to her faith by ensuring she is reunited with her son immediately. And if women are to have faith in the system in the future, we must ensure that our laws ensure their rights are upheld.

For more information
Yu Ren Chung
renchung.wao@gmail.com
010 225 7971

- Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) provides shelter, social work, and counseling services for women who experience domestic violence, and advocates for women’s human rights. Together, we change lives.
The Star - Musings - Tidapathy is 'biasa lah' (10 April 2014)
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Tidapathy is 'biasa lah'

Musings by Marina Mahathir

10 April 2014


Shoddy work is considered normal and we now accept standards which are much lowered.

SOME years ago, I remember there was a lot of discussion on the “tidak apa attitude” in our country.

Many Malaysians, it seems, had a very nonchalant outlook on their work. If anything was not quite working well, “tidak apa lah”. It doesn’t matter. If someone hadn’t finished their work but it was time to go home, “tidak apa lah”. When something is made shoddily, “tak apa lah”.

We put up with below par products, attitudes and work because they all still functioned, more or less. So why put in the extra mile to do something properly?

After years of the “tidak apa attitude”, we now have the logical follow-up catchphrase: “biasa lah”. That’s normal. And usually it refers to when something goes wrong.

Let me give two illustrations.

Some years ago after I had moved into a new house, there was a huge power surge which blew out a total of 27 electrical appliances and lights. One power outlet melted and burnt a patch of my parquet floor. Phones that were being charged were all fried.

When the technicians from the power company turned up, their explanation for this phenomenon which could have burned my house down was “biasa lah”.

Apparently it is perfectly normal for the earth wire on the electrical poles outside houses to be so badly fixed that there is nothing to stop power surges that are so strong, we could still get a shock from the microwave oven even after the power had been turned off.

After I made some noise, the power company told me to claim compensation from them for all the repairs that needed to be done.

To cut a long story short, it took me nine months to be compensated but not before we had to endure many unanswered emails and made to feel as if we were claiming more than we should have.

When I complained about this, I was told the same thing: “Biasa lah.”

Another story: When I needed to fix broadband in my house, five young men turned up from the phone company. They were dressed as if they were going to hang out at the 7-Eleven.

It soon became clear that only one young man was doing the work while the other four stood around to watch.

Things naturally did not proceed at jet speed. It soon got dark, making it difficult to see the cables they were trying to lay in my garden.

Did they have a torchlight so they could continue to work? Of course not. Instead they innovated. Four of them stood around the sole worker and used their mobile phones to give him light to work in.

Seeing their plight and feeling a bit frustrated by now, I lent them my torchlight. When they finally completed their job, they packed up and went home, torchlight and all. I had to spend another two days tracking them down to get them to bring it back. But, “biasa lah”.

What all this means is that after years of tidak apa, we have come to a situation where shoddy work is considered normal.

We have become so inured to it that we accept standards which are much lowered. People now tell you that they didn’t reply your email from two months ago but provide no excuse for it. That’s just the way it is.

I really wonder where this is going to lead. Are our standards going to deteriorate further until, despite our fancy buildings, we truly become a Third World country again?

The street sign where I live displays one street name on one side and another street on the other side. How could that have happened in this bureaucracy-obsessed country? Doesn’t anybody supervise their subordinates’ work?

I am afraid that if this “biasa lah” attitude carries on, we will see a real deterioration in all our services and professions.

Already, sales people who can’t answer any questions have a tendency to disappear rather than face an irritated customer.

Sooner or later, our trains will be even later, roads will go unrepaired and more strange radar blips will be ignored.

Compare this with my recent experience in Japan. I was buying a T-shirt in a boutique. When I went to pay, the cashier looked at it, left and returned with another T-shirt identical to the one I had picked.

“The one you chose,” she told me, “is from this season and therefore has no discount. The one I brought is from last season and is 30% off. Which would you like?”

I can be excused for gaping for a while at such beyond-the-call-of-service honesty. But that is the mark of a really advanced country. In Japan, “biasa lah” means you just received exemplary service.

> Marina Mahathir is a human rights activist who works on women, children and HIV/AIDS issues. Her column in this newspaper goes back 25 years and has likewise evolved because, in her own words, “she probably thinks too much for her own good”. Marina continues to speak out and crusade for causes that she passionately believes in. The views expressed here are entirely her own.
The Malaysian Insider : Pak Kassim’s arrest an abuse of law – Sisters in Islam (27 March 2014)
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Pak Kassim’s arrest an abuse of law – Sisters in Islam

Dr. Kassim Ahmad’s arbitrary arrest by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) on 26 March 2014 is a gross display of overzealousness and abuse of law to silence dissenting opinions. Sisters in Islam (SIS) demands that the charges against him be dropped immediately.


It was reported that Dr. Kassim was charged under Section 7 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Act (SCOA) 1997 for allegedly uttering statements that might mislead Muslims, while the second offence is under Section 9 of the same act for violating fatwa or acting in contempt of religious authorities.

It is alarming that JAWI was able to embark on a cross-border man-hunt so swiftly to arrest a frail 81-year old man whose health is failing. Dr. Kassim was arrested in Kulim, Kedah yesterday, brought down to Kuala Lumpur overnight and questioned until 3AM. When charged at the Putrajaya Syariah Court this morning, the Syari’e Prosecutor objected to bail, and wanted Dr. Kassim to remain in detention for one week.

The treatment meted out to Dr. Kassim lacks the compassion synonymous with Islam, as much as it is a display of efficiency and alacrity that the syariah system has seldom been known for. We never hear, for example, of similar actions being taken against errant fathers who fail to pay years of child support. This double standard reflects a bias in the priorities of religious enforcement.

As long ago as 1997, SIS had emphasized that the SCOA contained several problematic provisions that are open to arbitrary abuse of power by the religious authority. They have no basis in the textual sources or historical practices of Islam and furthermore, violate fundamental principles of democracy and our fundamental liberties as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

The Qur'an grants the ummah the freedom to criticise. Disputation or jadal is one of the major themes which occurs on no less than 25 occasions where the Qur'an expresses humanity's inclination, as rational beings, towards argumentation. In Surah Mujadila, 58:1, the verse recognises the right of an individual, a woman in this case, to argue her problem with the Prophet (SAW). The whole surah which begins with this passage bears the title Mujadila (disputation). If the ummah has the right to argue with the Prophet, what more our right to argue with a religious authority.

The right to hold differing opinions is also upheld by a sahih hadith, which quoted the Prophet (SAW) as saying that "differences of opinion in my community are a blessing". It was the Prophet's opinion that only through such differences that one can strive to find the best opinion, the best solution to meet the community's needs.

Ironically, instead of upholding the freedoms guaranteed to us in Islam, the religious establishment, in their words and deeds are fundamentally opposed to them and seem bent on governing the lives of Muslims in this country in their obscurantist mould. Islam upholds justice above all and they have clearly gone against the spirit and intent of Islam in trying so desperately to uphold it.

SIS therefore renews its call for a review and repeal of the provisions of the SCOA, in particular those provisions that deny citizens their fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. Subsequently, the charges against Dr. Kassim have no basis and must be dropped. – March 27, 2014
Malaysia Chronicle : ISLAM OR EXTREMISM? Marina Mahathir slams Jawi for grilling 81-yr-old Kassim Ahmad TILL 4AM (27 March 2014)
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ISLAM OR EXTREMISM? Marina Mahathir slams Jawi for grilling 81-yr-old Kassim Ahmad TILL 4AM

Activist Marina Mahathir today expressed unhappiness over the arrest and charging of controversial scholar Kassim Ahmad at the Syariah High Court in Putrajaya today.


Kassim, 81, was arrested by the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) yesterday and is facing two charges, over his views on the hadith (words and actions of Prophet Muhammad).

“Why did they (Jawi) interrogate an old man (Kassim) like him until 4am? Apparently so they could remand him for a week. I think this is unnecessary,” she said when met at the Syariah Court.

The red-eyed Marina, whose voice was trembling during the interview, also appeared to be choked up over the arrest.

The daughter of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived at the court complex at about 11.40am when Kassim's friends were unable to post bail of RM3,000.

Syariah Court judge Umammuddin Yunus had set a condition that bail must be posted by a resident of the Federal Territories.

Kassim was charged under Section 7(b) of the Syariah Offences Act (Federal Territories) 1997, over statements he made at an event officially opened by Mahathir on Feb 16, for insulting Islam.

He also faces charges under Section 9 of the same Act over his banned books Hadis: Satu Penilaian Semula (Hadith: A Review) and Hadis: Jawapan Kepada Pengkritik (Hadith: A Reply to Critics).
‘Authorities did not inform family’

Meanwhile, the organiser of the seminar where Kassim had spoken, Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Hassan, who was also present in court, was also saddened by the authorities’ action on the scholar.

“I feel sad as even Kassim’s children do not know where Jawi is holding him. It is necessary for his family members to know so they could be present,” he said, adding he also does not agree that Kassim should be charged as the matter could be resolved through discussion or dialogue.

Norhayati Karpawi, who is one of the members of the organising committee, said the condition imposed on bail that the person who posts it must be from the Federal Territories is problematic as most who came are from Selangor.

Meanwhile, Sisters in Islam (SIS) in a press statement later today described the authorities’ action as a gross display of overzealousness and abuse of law to silence dissenting opinions.

“It is alarming that Jawi was able to embark on a cross-border manhunt so swiftly to arrest a frail 81-year old man whose health is failing. When charged at the Putrajaya Syariah Court, the prosecutor objected to bail, and wanted Kassim to remain in detention for a week.

“Such treatment lacks the compassion synonymous with Islam, as much as it is a display of efficiency and alacrity that the syariah system has seldom been known for,” said SIS programme manager Suri Kempe, adding that the Quran allows the people the freedom to criticise. -Malaysiakini


Source: http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com
The Malaysian Insider : Penahanan Kassim bercanggah syariat Islam, kata Sisters in Islam (27 Mac 2014)
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Sisters in Islam (SIS) hari ini menyelar penahanan dan perbicaraan bekas aktivis politik, Dr Kassim Ahmad dan menyifatkannya satu perbuatan yang bercanggah dengan syariat Islam.

Dalam satu kenyataannya hari ini, SIS berkata penahanan Kassim menunjukkan sistem syariah yang tidak efisyen dan sikap pilih kasih jabatan agama Islam.

“Mengejutkan bahawa Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (Jawi) boleh merentas sempadan menahan lelaki berusia 81 tahun dengan masalah kesihatan. Kassim disoal siasat hingga jam 3 pagi.

“Semasa dituduh di Mahkamah Syariah Putrajaya pagi ini, peguam syariah meminta tidak diberikan ikat jamin dan mahu Kassim ditahan selama seminggu,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan hari ini.

Kassim hari ini selepas perbicaraan menyifatkan undang-undang yang disabitkan kepadanya sebagai undang-undang rimba dan tidak sesekali berasa gentar berdepan pendakwaan.

Katanya, apa yang ditakutkan hanyalah kepada tuhan dan Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) juga akan disoal di akhirat berhubung penahanannya.

"Ini hutan rimba punya undang-undang! Gila! Cakap kepada mereka, gila, gila, kamu gila! Saya tak peduli kepada siapa. Saya takut pada tuhan! Saya jawab pada tuhan!

“Jakim pun kena jawab pada tuhan juga. Habis cerita!” katanya seperti dilapor Malaysiakini.

SIS menggesa agar tuduhan ke atas Kassim ditarik segera kerana bertentangan dengan prinsip demokrasi seperti mana yang dijamin dalam Perlembagaan.

Katanya, Al-Quran sendiri memberi jaminan kepada umat Islam kebebasan untuk melontarkan kritikan dan bantahan atau jadal tidak kurang 25 kali di dalam Al-Quran yang menceritakan tentang kecenderungan manusia.

“Dalam surah Mujadalah terdapat ayat yang menjamin hak individu, wanita, berhujah masalah dengan Nabi Muhammad. Jika umat terdahulu boleh berhujah dengan nabi, apatah lagi hak kita untuk berhujah dengan jabatan agama?

“Hak untuk berbeza pandangan juga didukung dalam hadis sahih sebagaimana sabda Nabi Muhammad, 'Khilaf itu rahmat',” katanya.

SIS juga menggesa agar Akta Kesalahan Jenayah Syariah 1997 dipinda agar selari dengan hak kebebasan bersuara yang selama ini diperjuangkan.

Kassim hari ini didakwa di bawah Seksyen 7(b) dan Seksyen 9 Akta Kesalahan Jenayah Syariah (Wilayah Persekutuan) 1997.

Dia mengaku tidak bersalah dan dibebaskan dengan ikat jamin RM3,000 untuk setiap kesalahan. – 27 Mac, 2014.
Pak Kassim’s Arrest an Abuse of Law (27 March 2014)
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PRESS STATEMENT
PAK KASSIM’S ARREST AN ABUSE OF LAW

Dr. Kassim Ahmad’s arbitrary arrest by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) on 26 March 2014 is a gross display of overzealousness and abuse of law to silence dissenting opinions. Sisters in Islam (SIS) demands that the charges against him be dropped immediately.

It was reported that Dr. Kassim was charged under Section 7 of the Syariah Criminal Offences Act (SCOA) 1997 for allegedly uttering statements that might mislead Muslims, while the second offence is under Section 9 of the same act for violating fatwa or acting in contempt of religious authorities.

It is alarming that JAWI was able to embark on a cross-border man-hunt so swiftly to arrest a frail 81-year old man whose health is failing. Dr. Kassim was arrested in Kulim, Kedah yesterday, brought down to Kuala Lumpur overnight and questioned until 3AM. When charged at the Putrajaya Syariah Court this morning, the Syari’e Prosecutor objected to bail, and wanted Dr. Kassim to remain in detention for one week.

The treatment meted out to Dr. Kassim lacks the compassion synonymous with Islam, as much as it is a display of efficiency and alacrity that the syariah system has seldom been known for. We never hear, for example, of similar actions being taken against errant fathers who fail to pay years of child support. This double standard reflects a bias in the priorities of religious enforcement.

As long ago as 1997, SIS had emphasized that the SCOA contained several problematic provisions that are open to arbitrary abuse of power by the religious authority. They have no basis in the textual sources or historical practices of Islam and furthermore, violate fundamental principles of democracy and our fundamental liberties as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

The Qur'an grants the ummah the freedom to criticise. Disputation or jadal is one of the major themes which occurs on no less than 25 occasions where the Qur'an expresses humanity's inclination, as rational beings, towards argumentation. In Surah Mujadila, 58:1, the verse recognises the right of an individual, a woman in this case, to argue her problem with the Prophet (SAW). The whole surah which begins with this passage bears the title Mujadila (disputation). If the ummah has the right to argue with the Prophet, what more our right to argue with a religious authority.

The right to hold differing opinions is also upheld by a sahih hadith, which quoted the Prophet (SAW) as saying that "differences of opinion in my community are a blessing". It was the Prophet's opinion that only through such differences that one can strive to find the best opinion, the best solution to meet the community's needs.

Ironically, instead of upholding the freedoms guaranteed to us in Islam, the religious establishment, in their words and deeds are fundamentally opposed to them and seem bent on governing the lives of Muslims in this country in their obscurantist mould. Islam upholds justice above all and they have clearly gone against the spirit and intent of Islam in trying so desperately to uphold it.

SIS therefore renews its call for a review and repeal of the provisions of the SCOA, in particular those provisions that deny citizens their fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. Subsequently, the charges against Dr. Kassim have no basis and must be dropped.

Sisters in Islam
27 March 2014
The Star - Musings - A watershed moment (27 March 2014)
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A watershed moment

Musings by Marina Mahathir

27 March 2014


MH370 has thrown up a huge mirror upon which we can see much that is wrong with us, as well as some that is right.

THE news we had been dreading came on Monday night. MH370 is gone. The grief of the families is unbearable.

The pain is no less so for the very many of us who have followed the story every step of the way, and who have tried to provide hope and support to the families either directly or indirectly through our prayers.

I extend my deepest condolences to all the mothers, fathers, children, other relatives, friends and colleagues of those who were lost.

May the souls of the passengers and crew of MH370 rest in peace.

The writer Tash Aw, in an op-ed for the New York Times, described this incident as a watershed moment for Malaysia.

While not all our reasons synchronise, I do agree that MH370 has thrown up a huge mirror upon which we can see much that is wrong with us, as well as some that is right.

I think this moment changed some things here in Malaysia and hopefully will also lead to some more changes.

The initial handling of the crisis was bumbling and inept but we can see that this changed very quickly.

Airline disasters cannot be confined to just domestic news.

By its nature, it is instantly international news and therefore the world’s focus is immediately on us.

There could not be a worse way to get our name known. But we have a crisis and we need to handle it in the full glare of international media.

This necessitates a totally different way of working than our officials are used to. For one thing, it throws up the dire need for our officials to be able to speak English clearly and precisely and to not get defensive when faced with tougher questions than they are used to.

For another it also shows up the quality of our media compared to the foreign media (except for that French reporter). Couldn’t the reporter from the Islamic TV channel have looked at a map first before asking the minister if there was any city nearer to the search site in the southern Indian Ocean than Perth?

Why do vernacular media send reporters who do not speak English and then complain that they did not understand what was said? Is this our flip-flop education policy on English coming to roost?

Coming to roost also is a certain complacency that has resulted in what one overseas academic’s observation (before this happened) that there is a “reduction in capacity” among Malaysian officials.

It is a lowering of standards which leads to a slowness in grasping a situation and then responding, which in this case, may have led to fatal results. It is the same with everything here; we don’t react until something bad happens.

Then we make a lot of noise about changing systems but don’t actually implement them.

We can never be considered serious about this complacency if we never hold anyone responsible for mistakes and missteps.

This points also to a lack of empathy on the part of some people for the suffering of those closest to the tragedy.

Although thousands of Malaysians have shown their sympathy and kind­ness to the families by writing their messages on the Walls of Hope around the country, some saw fit by defacing them by writing unrelated slogans.

Their issue may well have its merits but this act displays a lack of sensitivity to the families in terrible pain right now. Not a great way to win over people to your cause.

Disgusting is the only word for the insensitive tweet sent to the daughter of one of the MH370 cabin crew harshly telling her to accept the loss of her father.

Many have done little more than condemn every single action done by MAS almost as if this tragedy is something it welcomed.

I’ve had many complaints about MAS before but who would want to be in their shoes right now and say they can do a better job at handling this?

They are also a bereaved party after all. Certainly there is no lack of opportunists taking advantage of MH370 for their own ends.

That would include some of the foreign media who seem intent on painting our government as completely inept. Certainly they are deficient in many aspects but I don’t think they were wrong to be cautious with information. One reporter actually saw fit to ask the MAS chairman if they had been heartless. Did they expect an affirmative answer?

For now, there is not a lot we laypersons can do other than to pray and hope that MH370 will reveal it­self soon and that its discovery will provide us with some answers. Then we would know how to move on to the next phase of this watershed moment.

That next phase has to involve much introspection and self-critical analysis. We need to reflect very deeply on what we want for our country now that this incident has reminded us that we are part of the world, and not some isolated opaque inward-looking nation.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
The Star - Musings - Our blood is all the same red colour (13 March 2014)
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Our blood is all the same red colour

Musings by Marina Mahathir

13 March 2014


Malaysians have turned to their own talents to express both their grief and support for the people on MH370, and their families and friends.
IN the past few days, the shock of the disappearance of MH370 has been overwhelming.

Undoubtedly the families have suffered the greatest shock of all, especially when not even the tiniest explanation (at the time of writing) is forthcoming.

Hopes are built up and then dashed. Theories are put forth but none are yet proven.

Everyone seems to have an opinion regardless of whether they know anything about jet planes or aeronautics.

And let’s not forget those who take opportunity to place blame based on the most outlandish reasons. A bit like when some blamed the Indian Ocean tsunami on people partying on beaches.

The wiser among us keep our own counsel and instead turn our efforts to offering words of comfort to those who are missing their families.

This also includes colleagues of the flight crew who have known them a long time and worked alongside them.

So many people are grieving over this incident, and that’s only on this side.

We don’t even know what’s truly happening among the families of the Chinese passengers, and all the other nationalities involved and what support they might need. (And it occurred to me that our children are also aware of what happened and need some gentle explanations.)

But if anything exemplifies how small a country we are, it is the incredible fact that although there were only 38 Malaysians on MH370, so many people know them either firsthand or secondhand.

I read my Facebook timeline and it was incredible how many people either knew the passengers or crew directly or knew their relatives or someone else close to them.

A colleague reported that the wife of one of the cabin crew is her daughter’s kindergarten teacher. Seems so random but yet not.

Perhaps this is why Malaysians are sharing this shock and grief so keenly.

It’s been hard to read the many sad posts and tweets from family members without imagining that it could have happened to any of us.

As a result, Malaysians have turned to their own talents to express both their grief and support.

So many beautiful images inviting people to pray for MH370 have been created and shared by people on social media. They are invitations to us all to do something together.

Many prayer events of different faiths have been organised for people to pray for the safe return of the plane, crew and passengers.

Several religious groups have gone to KLIA to provide spiritual support to the families.

I think in times like these, nobody is going to be particular about religious territoriality.

A group of citizens calling themselves Malaysians for Malaysia, that has been promoting peace and unity, and which I’m very proud to be part of, decided on a simple initiative called Walls of Hope.

We approached various shopping malls around the Klang Valley to ask if they could put up something where the public can put up messages of hope and support for the families of MH370.

Unsurprisingly the malls agreed almost immediately and got their art departments to design something and put them up at a prominent position on their premises.

Pavilion KL was the first to put up theirs and within an hour, 1,000 people had put messages up.

Fahrenheit 88 followed soon after and they too found the public responding enthusiastically.

At this time of writing, several other malls are organising themselves to do the same and we hope others around the country will do so too.

These walls or trees of hope provide an outlet for Malaysians and foreigners to express their grief but also their hopes and wishes for those on board the flight as well as the families.

Just reading so many heartfelt messages is a moving experience.

But if anything exemplifies how Malaysians are a compassionate and caring people, it is the poem written by a woman called Pnut Syafinaz which I had the privilege of reading out on TV.

To quote from it, in reference to the grieving families of the passengers on MH370:
“Jiwa kami dan jiwa mereka tidak sama,
Kami sedih tetapi tidak akan ada yang lebih sedih dari mereka,
Mereka dan kami mungkin bukan sebangsa, seagama,
Tetapi darah kami sama merah pekat warnanya”.
“Our souls and their souls are not the same,
We are sad but can’t be as sad as they,
They and we may not be the same race or religion,
But our blood is all the same red colour.”

And that’s the crux of the matter. Ultimately in times like these, it really doesn’t matter who anyone is, where they came from or what they believed in. Their families and friends all suffer pain just the same.

Let’s continue to pray for MH370.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.
French government awards Zainah Anwar its highest honour
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By D.DanyakumariKUALA LUMPUR: The French Government has awarded the highest French honour, the  Legion d'Honneur to the Sisters in Islam co-founder, Zainah Anwar. The title was conferred to Zainah by the French Ambassador, her excellency, Martine Dorance at the French Embassy on Friday."This title is the oldest and of the highest honour in France and was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. “Back then it was presented to both men and women for their exemplary services to the country and today the French authority would like to reward the efforts of Zainah and Sisters in Islam," she said. Martine said that Malaysia as a nation has come a long way in terms of defending the rights of women.
"At least 70 to 80 per cent of girls go to high school and women represent half of the working population, in addition to having a voice in politics.
"There still is a lot of work to be done, however I am glad that the civil and principal rights of women are protected in the nation," she said adding that contributions from people like Zainah make it possible. Martine stressed that Zainah along with the members of Sisters of Islam have for decades fought for the rights and freedom of women in addition to helping empower Muslim women around the world. "By helping Muslim women, Zainah in turn has helped all women around the world, which is why we take great honour in conferring her with the title of "Chevalier De La Legion D'Honneur"," she said during the event which also celebrated the International Women's Day 2014. Zainah following the presentation of the award exclaimed her gratitude to the embassy for recognising the efforts of the advocacy group. "This award means the recognition of the courage of Sisters in Islam and all of us who were driven by nothing other than passion and outrage," she said. Zainah shared that the organisation started with eight members and was operated from her home and today has grown to a membership of 31. "It truly is overwhelming to see young women and men now fighting for what SIS has fought for all along. "We still want the same thing, for women to be treated with dignity and equality and we will continue fighting for it," she added. Zainah also thanked all her family members who stood by her and supported her when she was under pressure from those opposed to her cause."Even when the police were at my doorstep, my family respected my beliefs and stood by me and I will be forever grateful," she said.
Inspiring Change: A Better Future for Malaysian Women
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International Women’s Day (IWD) this year is an extra special one for Sisters In Islam (SIS). Founding member and former Executive Director, Zainah Anwar, was conferred the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight in the Legion of Honour) by the Government of France, its highest distinction. Zainah is currently the Executive Director of Musawah, the global movement for justice and equality in the Muslim family.

‘Inspiring Change’ is this year’s fortuitous theme for IWD and we are extremely proud of Zainah, a constant inspiration to many young women everywhere. Her tireless advocacy has created a space for and amplified the voices of women. All over the world, Muslim women are reclaiming an Islam that is just, equal and fair.

International recognition of Zainah’s work is also a testament to the moral courage and commitment it takes to challenge injustices, particularly those committed in the name of religion. We at SIS continue to be inspired by her passion and honour her achievements by consistently promoting the principles of gender equality, justice, freedom and dignity in Islam, and empowering women to be advocates for change.


As we salute the achievements of women today, we know that more change must happen in order for women to take their rightful place as equals in Malaysia.


In SIS’ efforts to push for laws and policies that do not discriminate against women, we often encounter resistance. This comes in various forms, including those who believe that women must choose between their faith and their God-given right to equality.  This has translated, among other things, into laws that increasingly discriminate against Muslim women, even as civil law grants Malaysian women more and more rights.

One thousand four hundred years ago, Islam gave women the right to inherit and own property, to receive education and work, and to choose their husbands. At a time when women were considered inherently subordinate to men, Islam recognised the leadership of women in male-dominated fields.

This revolutionary spirit of progressive change continues to guide SIS in our work today. Our work is testament to the fact that Islam is absolutely reconcilable with women’s rights and human rights, and that Islam recognises women as human beings of equal worth and dignity as men.

Let us commemorate International Women’s Day this year by acknowledging the contributions of the women who have laboured so hard to achieve the progress we see today. At the same time, let us come together in a spirit of compassion to elevate women to their rightful status. To inspire change, we first have to be agents of change ourselves.


Sisters in Islam

8 March 2014
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