Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seandainya Ramadan ini Yang Terakhir

(Mingguan Malaysia Ahad 7 Ogos 2011)

dalam perjalanan yang mengulang
musim ke ruang
ramadan demi ramadan
sebagai siri sebuah kehidupan
seakan setiap kedatangan
dan kepulangan
menjadi sekadar sebahagian
kalendar tanpa perubahan
tiada apa-apa kesan
ke penghujung usia dan zaman

amalan dari kebiasaan
ibadat sebagai kebudayaan
menterjemah dengan kedangkalan
bahagia kita dalam ignoran
tahun demi tahun berpanjangan
jejak pun semakin kependekan
kerana dalam kemeriahan
hujungnya satu perayaan
pahala pun berdebuan
tiada apa yang menjadi bekalan
dari setiap ramadan
sekadar catatan kenangan
kelaparan dan kedahagaan

Sendainya Ramadan ini yang Terakhir
apakah masih sahaja mungkir
bermain dengan kejahilan diri
membakar sisa rohani
tenggelam dalam suasana
untuk menginsafi seketika
dan terlupa dalam leka
menghitung harga dunia
bahawa esok lusa
kita hanya tinggal sekujur nama!


Norway's Muslims in Unwanted Spotlight

The mosque of the Minhaj ul-Quran movement in this town south of Oslo is not much more than an anonymous space in a bland commercial centre.
It has been mostly unnoticed but its board has nevertheless started to worry about security in the aftermath of the attacks in Norway, especially with Ramadan and Eid al Fitr coming up.
"Before, we never thought about it but now, I think everybody thinks about this. Yes, we will discuss security," said the imam of the mosque, Noor Ahmad Noor, on Thursday, almost a week after the attacks that killed 76 people in nearby Oslo and on the island of Utoeya. "Even the government will now think about not letting so many people gather without the protection of guards, the police or the army."
Norway's Muslim community, estimated at 200,000 people out of a population of almost five million, has been thrust into an unwelcome spotlight by the attacks, even though no Muslim was involved and up to 10 of the victims may have been Muslim.
The extreme anti-Muslim views of the attacker, Anders Behring Breivik, are ensuring that the debate about immigration and integration in Norway will rage on. And, while society for now is pulling together, many worry that ultimately the focus will come to rest on the Muslims and their role in Norwegian society.
"When we wake up from this shock and there is a return to normalcy, there will be a discussion on what is integration and what is it not," said Tore Lindhom, an expert on integration at the University of Oslo's Norwegian Centre for Human Rights.
He argued that Norway's Muslims are on the whole quite well integrated, when weighing criteria such as obeying the laws, speaking the language and being employed. He said that many who criticise the minority expect assimilation rather than integration. "Do we expect them to do exactly as Norwegians do? Whatever that means. But that is not integration."
If political participation is a mark of integration, then Norway's Muslims seem very well adapted. The Labour Party youth summer camp on Utoeya emphasises values such as multiculturalism and anti-racism. Even so, children with a Muslim background were well represented. Between 60 and 70 of the 650 youths at the camp reportedly were Muslim.
The 27-year old Muslim Labour MP Hadia Tajik is a veteran of the summer camp and is now described as a rising star by her party colleagues. She left the island shortly before the shooting started. Speaking outside the Labour Party headquarters in Oslo, she called the killings, "an attack on Norway's openness".
She was fierce in her defence of Norway as a harmonious country where Muslims and others get along relatively well. "It is a land of opportunities. It has given me and many other youngsters from immigrant backgrounds so many opportunities and that says much more about the country than the acts of this person."

Her views were echoed by Mehtab Afsar, general secretary of the mainstream Islamic Council of Norway. "Norway is the best country in Europe for Muslims to live in," he said while paying his respects to the victims in Oslo's cathedral, the Domkirke.
He was not worried about an increased focus on Muslims but thought that the debate on integration would be easier now. "The ugly tone which the debate had a few times, that ugliness will now disappear from the debates."
In Drammen, imam Ahmad Noor too was confident that the situation for Muslims would actually improve, but his argument was rather more sombre. He argued that now, finally, the extremism of the anti-Muslim fringe has been exposed. "This thinking was underground and the government and the parties never addressed it," he said. Now they will not have a choice but to meet the problem head on, he added.
He heard about the attack first just after Friday prayers, immediately after the bomb in Oslo went off. He and his congregants worried about the identity of the attacker. "Our second emotion after all the grief and sadness was maybe he was Muslim." He said that everybody went home and stayed indoors until the identity of the attacker became clear.
"This is bad but if it had been a Muslim it would have been a very critical situation for all the Muslims living here," said the imam. Even as it was, in the few hours after the bomb, before it was established that the attacker was a white Norwegian, a few incidents were reported of angry Norwegians harassing people in the immigrant quarter Groenland in Oslo.
Mr Ahmad Noor's movement, Minhaj ul-Haq, aims at openness and coexistence and has unequivocally taken a stance against terrorism. His movement celebrates Christmas with Christians and invites priests to join it in celebrating the birthday of the Prophet. After hearing of the attack on Utoeya, he and several colleagues rushed to the nearby town to offer his services to both Muslim and other families of victims.
"Everybody was very happy to see us there," he said, both Muslims and Christians. "To the Muslims we emphasised the Quran; to Christians we talked more about passages from the New Testament."
But the picture of harmony and Muslim integration only goes so far, warned Mr Lindholm. There are frictions over such issues as demands made by some Muslim parents over segregation at some school activities or over the way blonde Norwegian women get treated as they were prostitutes in some areas with a large Muslim presence.
"There are such conflicts, some such irritations," said Mr Lindholm. "It would be amazing if there were no such things. But on the other hand, does this lead to crime and harassment? I don't think very much."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ezel, Wildly popular Turkish TV drama stormed Arab World

She chokes back the tears. "I don't deserve to be with you."
"But I do," he says.
The scene unfolds on a rooftop of a rundown building in a picturesque Turkish village. It is from the first series of the wildly popular Turkish television drama Ezel, which may prove to be one of the most viewed serials running during Ramadan.

Ezel has kept Arabic audiences hooked this summer as Abu Dhabi Al Oula screened double episodes of the first series every Thursday. However, the programme is about to be put on overdrive, with the entire 30-part second series due to be shown nightly from the first night of Ramadan - with the exact timing yet to be announced.

To say that Turkish dramas are currently popular in the Middle East is an understatement. The programmes, dubbed into Arabic and replayed months after they captivated audiences at home, are increasingly riveting TV viewers in the region with their mix of crime, passion, history, intrigue and controversy. And the Turkish programmes are fast-replacing Egyptian and Syrian dramas in popularity.
Arabic network channels have responded to the demand and are preparing to release a slew of new Turkish dramas as well as returns of old favourites in time for the month of Ramadan, traditionally a bumper viewing season for Middle Eastern television networks. One of the most anticipated shows is the second and final series of Ezel. Loosely based on Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, the tale follows the title character who, after being set up for a robbery, escapes jail and - courtesy of facial plastic surgery - plots his revenge on the unsuspecting culprits.
Ezel's popularity in the UAE was so huge that the show's cast took a break from the busy production schedule in March for local press events and attended a gala event in Dubai alongside diehard fans.
Kerem Deren, who wrote the series with Pinar Bulat, says Turkish dramas provide Arabic audiences with culturally familiar entertainment, while at the same time thrilling them with racy plots and controversial characters.

While it is a formula adopted by script writers globally, Deren says it holds more relevance in Turkey due to its unique geographical location.
"We are a country both very close to Arabic countries, and very far way," he says. "And because of that, I think there is a fantasy to it.
"When I spoke to fans in Abu Dhabi, a lot of them said the same thing: that they loved it straight away, but at the same time the show is a little bit strange for them."
According to industry insiders, there are several other factors contributing to the prominence of Turkish dramas over those from Egypt and Syria this year. Kholoud Abu-Humus is senior vice-president of programming for the OSN network, which is screening seven new Turkish serials across its various channels.
She sees the popularity of Turkish dramas as in part owing to viewers who seek an alternative to Egyptian television dramas, which have traditionally dominated Middle Eastern TV watchers' time.
"Traditionally, Egyptian dramas have been in control, and you would not see any other dramas from other countries," she says.
"But eventually people got sick of seeing the same old thing and started looking for something different. Hence the rise of Turkish dramas with Noor and the rest. But also in the past five years, Syrian productions rose to the surface with their very good production quality and historical storylines. They have this epic feel to them, which triggered viewers' curiosity."
Escalating tensions in Syria have crippled its local television industry this year, however. Although 29 multi-part series were filmed for Ramadan, just five have been sold.
It should be noted, too, that when Deren mentions the appealing "strangeness" of Turkish dramas, part of that is due to their more liberal take when it comes to portraying relationships.
This aspect helped explain the runaway success back in 2008 of the family melodrama Noor, which was widely regarded as the first Turkish hit show in the Middle East. In a delicious twist befitting the genre, Noor was a flop in Turkey before becoming one of the most popular dramas to hit the Middle East. The show's final episode reportedly commanded a staggering 80 million viewers from the Gulf to Morocco, attracting a certain amount of condemnation from religious conservatives along the way.
It was the relationship between the main protagonists Muhannad and Noor, which was both traditional and modern, that caused the controversy - the marriage they were in was arranged, but the series had Muhannad treating his strong, business-savvy wife as an equal.
There were reports the programme was even blamed for sparking marital strife in deeply patriarchal Saudi Arabia, after husbands found their wives' mobile phones bearing pictures of the blond, blue-eyed Muhannad.
Television channels immediately jumped on the bandwagon, releasing similar follow-ups, such as What Is Left Is Love (with its love triangle involving two brothers) and Innocent Dreams (with characters including an unmarried single mother).
Another popular aspect of Turkish dramas is that its male leads are often played as emotionally sensitive.
Characters such as Muhannad and What Is Left Is Love's Karram were not traditional male dramatic characters for these parts: they let their guard down and even shed a tear or two. In most Syrian and Gulf dramas, male waterworks are traditionally reserved for the most dire tragedies.
Deren says the controversial themes in Ezel were not calculated to ruffle feathers in the Arab world. In fact, when he and Bulat began penning the scripts, they never imagined the show would cross the border to be screened in more than 30 countries across Europe and the Middle East.
However, they did want Ezel to challenge the stereotypical image of men in Turkey.
"A show like Ezel is liberal by even Turkish standards, so it's like a guilty pleasure for some viewers," he says.
"To see a grown man cry, to see an emotionally fragile male character would have been unthinkable five years ago. But now a man crying is good drama."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Breivik finds common cause with Zionists - and Al Qaeda

Al Qaeda had nothing to do with last Friday's terror attacks in Norway that left 76 dead, despite the initial inclination of most of the mass media. Yet even if the network founded by Osama bin Laden was in no way involved, its founding ideas were very much the inspiration of the atrocity - albeit in reverse.

Video by Anders Behring Breivik by newsview

Bin Laden announced his intentions in a 1998 manifesto urging the world's Muslims to rally behind a global "jihad against Crusaders and Jews" to expunge their presence and influence from the lands of Islam. Anders Breivik published his own manifesto on the day of his Norwegian terror spree, and its essence is the mirror image of Al Qaeda's: it calls for a Crusade - Breivik even refers to himself and as a Templar Knight - to drive all Muslims out of Europe in order to save its Christian identity. He even expresses admiration for Al Qaeda's discipline and willingness to sacrifice; qualities he says are essential for his own "Templar elite".
A self-styled Crusade, then, but with a key difference: unlike the original version that sought to conquer the Holy Land for Christendom and massacred Jews as well as Muslims, Breivik - like bin Laden - puts Crusaders and Jews on the same side. As a ferocious supporter of Israel, he wants the Holy Land in Jewish hands as a frontline bastion of the war against Islam. Indeed, he calls for the expulsion of all Muslims not only from Europe, but also from "the West Bank and Gaza".

Breivik doesn't like all Jews, of course; he only likes Zionists, who he sees as an essential ally in his global struggle. And he laments the fact that by his calculation, only about 50 per cent of Israelis and about 25 per cent of Americans Jews fit the bill. The rest are agents of a pernicious "multiculturalism" weakening the West from within - the same "crime" that he punished by attacking targets he associated with Norway's ruling party.
"Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism as they are to us," Breivik writes. "So let us fight together with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists."
Some of Israel's more liberal supporters branded Breivik's enthusiasm for Zionism a sham, but some of Israel's staunchest supporters in the US - and some of those in its right-wing government - largely agree that Islam is a mortal threat to the West and that multiculturalism is the road to perdition. Some pro-Israeli commentators are cited repeatedly in the manifesto, such as Pam Geller, the Islamophobic demagogue who last year led the charge to stop the Park51 community centre and mosque from being built near the site of the World Trade Center bombing. Geller has made common cause against Islam with such far-right European groups as the English Defence League and Dutch anti-immigration champion Geert Wilders - groups also admired by Breivik.

As Israel's own political median shifts steadily to the right, it finds itself keeping company with more mainstream far-right elements in western countries. Wilders is a frequent visitor, while the former Fox News commentator Glen Beck — dismissed as a muddle-headed extremist in the American mainstream (he said this week that the Labor Party camp attacked by Breivik "sounds a little like the Hitler Youth") was given a hero's welcome in the Knesset just two weeks ago.

All such groups loudly condemned Breivik's killing spree as a vicious act of insanity, but some were also concerned not to lose the baby with the bathwater. The Jerusalem Post, a mainstream pro-government Israeli newspaper, wrote in an editorial: "The fact that this terrible tragedy was perpetrated by a right-wing extremist [should not] detract attention from the underlying problems faced not only by Norway, but by many western European nations ... While there is absolutely no justification for the sort of heinous act perpetrated this weekend in Norway, discontent with multiculturalism's failure must not be delegitimatised or mistakenly portrayed as an opinion held by only the most extremist elements of the Right."

In other words, Breivik's terrorism should not be allowed to "delegitimise" their own Islamophobia.
The ironies abound, of course. Breivik, in his manifesto, calls for armed struggle precisely because he believes that anti-immigrant nationalist parties will never prevail through the electoral system - "the democratical [sic] struggle through dialogue has been lost", he writes. Al Qaeda shares this aversion to democratic politics to advance its cause, all too aware of its own marginal status in the Muslim world.

The very reason that the majority of American Jews embrace multiculturalism is because they are products of it: only the victory of multiculturalism over anti-Semitism made the United States safe for Jews. And it's not hard to see that the xenophobic antipathy once directed at Jews in Europe and the United States is today directed at Muslims. Today's Islamophobia associates Islam with terrorism; 20th century anti-Semitism typically associated Jews with communism.

And the reason there's a taboo in the European mainstream on advocating open hostility to immigrants is precisely because the Holocaust taught the continent a brutal lesson in the horrific consequences that can flow from demonising the "other".

Still, the mainstream political climate has become increasingly tolerant of militant Islamophobia, as the Park 51 episode demonstrated. Muslim communities in many parts of America have become targets of growing publicly expressed hatred. And the US Congress is told idiotic tales by self-appointed "experts" on a stealth campaign to impose Sharia law on America.

After September 11, the Muslim world was challenged to confront not only extremist terror groups, but also the intolerant Salafist theology whose demonisation of those it deemed infidel or apostate rationalises violence against them. Now, the western world finds itself forced to consider the potential consequences of the mainstream Islamophobia that Breivik believes he has simply taken to its logical conclusion. Breivik and bin Laden are not polar opposites as much as they are simply two sides of the "clash of cultures" coin.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norway's pain - and a new threat - affects us all

The website of Camp Otoeya is a tribute to a happier day. In 2009, the pictures of paradise were all smiles: a girl tests the frigid waters of Lake Tyrifjorden; a young man flashes a thumbs-up sign at the camera; there are laughs and football games and chats at the canteen.
At the weekend, as the world watched in horror, those memories were rubbed out by the actions of a murderer. It is a lost innocence in more ways than one. "Youth paradise," the Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday, had been turned "into a hell".
The death toll from Norway's worst incident of domestic crime was still climbing yesterday. In two deadly acts, first the bombing in Oslo's city centre and then the shooting spree at the youth camp on the secluded island of Utoeya, this senseless bloodshed has been felt far beyond Norway's shores. The outrage is worsened because the Utoeya attack coldly targeted teenagers in a horrific shooting rampage.
That evil aspect of this crime stands out, but the world has become sadly accustomed to senseless acts of violence against civilians. The kneejerk presumption on Friday was that the bombing was the work of Islamist terrorists - an unfortunate reflection of past attacks by Al Qaeda whose hallmark has been indiscriminate murder.
But of course such madness knows neither creed nor colour. Reports indicated that a 32-year-old Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, may have carried out the attack on his own. While this does not diminish the threat posed by Islamist extremists, Breivik - a fundamentalist Christian, alleged Islamophobe and radical ideologue - is a different face of murder with which we must contend. There will be many questions in coming days about his access to weapons, whether others were involved and the poisonous delusions behind his crimes.
We have an idea of where Norway's search will begin. Europeans have been battling a growing trend of radical right-wing hatred. The likes of Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who openly disparages Islam, have helped to fuel this fire; TheTimes of London reported that Breivik supported Mr Wilders's party in the Netherlands.
As one French sympathiser wrote on Camp Utoeya's website yesterday, the weekend's violence must be a call to action. Together, he wrote, the world must challenge the drift towards hatred "and not let it take root and grow in the dark corners of individuals' hearts or of society".
It is a message with which we can all agree. There is far more that unites us than divides, and we are far stronger than murderers no matter what their ideology.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tips on How to handle a female boss

What is it about female bosses that makes them trickier to handle than their male counterparts? Read the worst types and dishes out some potentially career-saving advice

At the outset let's get one thing clear: top women managers are hard done by. There is no sisterhood of women in the corporate workplace -those at the top won't stand for someone younger, smarter or better qualified inching upwards.

Add to that insecurity the fact that every successful top female manager would have had to work twice as hard and sacrifice far more than a male colleague to prove herself worthy of her position. Top this with copious amounts of guilt and self-loathing over missed PTA meetings and kids who love the nanny more. Oh, and let's not forget the pressure of always being judged by her appearance - it takes a person of extraordinary mental calibre to keep up with the nail and hair appointments while the dark clouds of recession hover over the business. The hormonal shifts don't help either.

Why should it be a surprise then that the vast majority of women at the top can be neurotic, manipulative or prima donnas, loathed equally by both genders?
Experts tell us this is a sad phenomenon that will ease off in years to come, when more women will be better represented in the top echelons, and the scarce few who are at the top will not feel so threatened, misunderstood, or persecuted on account of their gender. Until that happy time, here's our guide to the worst types of female bosses to work for and how you can emerge unscathed from the experience.

The Meredith
No this one isn't named after adorable Dr Grey from the TV series Grey's Anatomy, but the vixen played by Demi Moore in Disclosure - someone who uses her power to sexually harass her subordinates.

Now this can be a sticky situation, especially if your boss looks like Demi Moore - after all, what man can resist a woman who comes on to him and can give him a salary rise as well? But with a supreme act of will power, this must be rebuffed. History teaches us that no good ever comes from flings at the workplace, not only could you be in breach of corporate ethics but also the law of the land (you could be jailed even if it's consensual and whether you are married or single).

Disarming comments like she reminds you of your younger sister can help douse the flames in a non-threatening way. Pointing her attention to other eligibles in the workplace can even make her your new BFF. She may suspect you're a little odd, but that's OK.

The Smother-in-law

Poster child for the nurturing female boss, the smother-in-law cooks for her brood, always has a box of tissues at hand and is scarily au fait with everyone's troubled life stories - from Ali's credit card debts to Suzy's boyfriend woes.

At first the warm fuzzy feeling of being part of a matriarch's posse can feel quite nice actually. (There is that niggle about the constant micro-managing, but nothing you can't handle.)

Very quickly you learn why five-year-olds want to grow up as fast as possible. Being told what to do, how to do it and "don't ask me why, but do tell me what you were up to after work" can get pretty tiresome.

When you are dealing with the smother-in-law, armed resistance is futile. You have to let her down gently, with lots of tea, sympathy and emotional communication.

The Wastafarian

More likely to sport a nice head of smooth coiffed hair than dreadlocks, the Wastafarian is usually pretty. Pretty clueless that is.

You may have often wondered how a person without the requisite experience or qualifications has reached where she has. The answer will usually lie in the little pink book that sits within the latest It bag dangling from her arm.

Well connected, with friends in high places and a significant other in a powerful role, the Wastafarian has been able to shimmy into a wholly undeserved position of influence, from where she proceeds to either rise to her own level of inefficiency or lands another dream gig where she will get paid for doing nothing.

The Wastafarian is easily manipulated, easily impressed and may actually be the easiest of the lot to manage, once you get over your self-righteous indignation.

Let's face it, life isn't fair.

The Nutcracker

She does what it says on the tin. Anecdotal evidence shows that most people's first female boss is the dreaded Nutcracker. (Or it could be that workplace newbies bring out their boss's inner Nutcracker.)

Much like Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha, this is the female in whom the milk of human kindness has permanently curdled. With this type of female boss, what you see is what you get, and if you don't like it, hard luck. Underneath the tough-as-nails surface is the wizened careerist who won't let anything or anyone stand in her way.

The Nutcracker will teach you about being competent, always being on your toes and only speaking when spoken to. You just have to up your game to survive.

How to keep a female boss happy

Compliment her kids: Describing them as the sweetest kids you ever saw isn't insincere hyperbole, it's called investing in your career. However smart a woman may be, she will actually believe you.

Be detail-oriented: Most women managers think details are everything. Embellish ideas and proposals accordingly.

Don't try to change the person, change your reaction: Sometimes the only thing we can control about a curved ball is our response to it. Anger is self-destructive, and angry emails are most certainly corporate hara-kiri.

Play to your boss's weakness: If she is vain, pile on the compliments, if she's egoistic, make your ideas sound like hers, if she needs to be needed, pull on the puppy face and ask for advice on home decoration issues.

Show her you can juggle those balls: It's a given that at any point a woman manager will have several balls in the air. Hence she naturally sympathises with, and will even like, someone in the same predicament. Tell her you cook, clean and babysit and you'll have earned several brownie points.

Be communicative: The No 1 gripe that widens the distance between Mars and Venus is men's refusal to talk about their feelings. Choose an appropriate time, rehearse what you want to say, then say it - you will find women bosses care far more about their subordinates' emotional well-being than male bosses.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Arab Women Hidden Beauty

Many outside the Arab world might look at a women dressed head to toe in black and see only mystery. But to the Russian filmmaker, Olga Sapozhnikova, the abaya helps reveal an abundance of important stories.
Ms Sapozhnikova, 37, mainly focuses on women in her documentary films. And Emirati women were a natural fit, she said.

She kicked off her career in 2006 with the film Hareem, which means "women" in Arabic.
The film features five Emirati women, including the actress Samira Ahmad and the film director and writer Maha Gargash, and aired on the Russian TV channel RTR.
"Russian women were very interested in the topic, because they have no info about [Emirati women]," she said. "It is normal for people to misunderstand women in abayas, but once you meet them, you respect them, and you discover they are very happy."
Ms Sapozhnikova returned two years later to do another film about women in the UAE, this time including expatriates.

The 2008 production Hidden Beauty shows women from different nationalities and occupations, and looks at Arab women from their perspective.
The central figures include a Saudi single mother of three who created a career instead of going back to live in her wealthy father's palace; an Emirati woman who dedicated her life to treating the wounded, a paramedic team leader known as "Mother Ambulance"; and a Finnish woman who admires the Arab lifestyle. The film was screened in Los Angeles and Montreal.
Yaroslava Stukalo, the president of the Russian Social Club in Dubai, said that before moving to the UAE, she knew Sapozhnikova through her films back in Russia, which were broadcast many times on prime channels.
The films helped Mrs Stukalo understand the lives of women before moving here to mix with Emirati women and become friends with them. She said she discovered many similarities between the two cultures.
"What I find very similar is that we have the same problem; family and husband are number one. Yes, we can have our own interest, our own friendship, but family and people are the priority," she said.

Sapozhnikova's films also extend to humanitarian work as her film Fatima helped the titular figure receive a new wheelchair.
Fatima Al Minhali, a mother of three, artist, fashion designer and athlete, said the film inspired many.
"The film tells people, look what I did, I'm in a wheelchair and a mother and multitalented," Mrs Al Minhali said.
"It tells society, 'Don't put the handicapped on the side; look what they did in the chair'. Normal people don't do this much.
"If the normal mother struggles 100 times in raising her children, I suffer a million times more."
Other films in the pipeline include Russian Cinderella, which features Russian women who were poor, but after moving to the UAE and marrying, started living a luxurious life.
"People think it is very easy, but it is not, they had to study a lot; how to speak, how to cook, the traditions, how to live. It is not a miracle," Sapozhnikova said. Another film will feature cross-cultural women in the UAE and the differences in a day in their lives.
The film will feature women from Japan, Sweden, Russia, America and an Arab country.

Sajak: Survival

(Mingguan Malaysia 17 Julai 2011)


Ilmu pendatang dari perjalanan
membentuk kerangka kemanusiaan
berdikit akal merentas pengalaman
mendaki puncak pengetahuan sejagat
untuk menilai saujana kehidupan
diluar sempit  kotak kebiasaan
bersama acuan pelbagai
rasa dan getir
perspektif dan persepsi
pun prejudis dan kudis
hikayat himpunan peradaban
yang memungkinkan tragidi
dan bencana berganti
di muka bumi

Cetusan dari kreativiti anak-anak
yang tidak terperangkap
oleh acuan jumud semasa
membebaskan jiwa dari kongkongan
setiap yang konvensional
menjadikan perubahan dan kemajuan
bukan sekadar teori di bilik darjah
dalam mencambah kecemerlangan
juga bukan sekadar deretan abjad
peperiksaan demi peperiksaan
kepingan ijazah
tetapi kemahiran yang merentas
usia dan zaman
budi dan iman
bersama saingan globalisasi
memangkinkan survival perjuangan
di luar meriah kampungan!

Cambridge University
14 Julai 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011



gas pemedih mata
yang terlempar merata
adalah satu lontaran
kepada himpunan kesetiaan
anak-anak yang tidak lahir
sekadar menjadi hamba
kepada propaganda
bersama tahun-tahun kehilangan
pasca kemerdekaan
yang meruntuh tembok kesedaran
mengenai erti pembangunan tidak seimbang

semburan air kumbah
yang busuk menyimbah
menghina limpahan darah
para pejuang yang tidak kenal
kegentaran menerjah penjajahan
yang terus halus diwariskan
diatas nama demokrasi terpimpin
setelah kemerdekaan
sekadar sebarisan kepimpinan
dipenuhi kebobrokan dan ketamakan

di jalanan
atau di peti-peti undi
ingatlah demokrasi
bukan sekadar pilihanraya
lima tahun sekali
dan kuasa itu
bukan harta pusaka
para elit yang semakin dimamah
ketaksuban pada diri sendiri!

11 Julai 2011

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Hang Tuah was Orang Laut....


So is it true as mentioned in this book?
Leonard Y. Andaya, Leaves of the same tree; Trade and ethnicity inthe Straits of Melaka. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008,Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)

When historians of Southeast Asia use the concept of ethnicity, it is usually in the context of the colonial period, when bureaucratic states used censuses to count, classify and control their subjects, and when interest groups mobilized support by articulating their own identity along ethnic lines. Ethnic identitypolitics were also an integral part of the colonial legacy to independent nation-states, and ethnic sentiments have played a key role in recent communal conflicts in Indonesia.
Leonard Andaya is also interested in ethnicity, but he goes much further back in time as he investigates how ethnic identities were formed and remodelledin connection with major flows of trade in the pre-colonial Malay world.
This book is Andaya’s masterpiece because it is much more than a history of trade and ethnicity. It is the culmination of three decades of scholarship and offers nothing less than an integrated history of politics, economy, and culture of the Malay world over a period of two millennia, based on an impressive variety of sources. This is the new standard work for years to come on the early and early modern history of the Malay world.

The Straits of Melaka formed the core area of the ‘Sea of Melayu’, which stretched from the Bay of Bengal to coastal Vietnam, connecting India and Sri Lanka with the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, the Mekong Delta and central Vietnam. This region was characterized by a high degree of commercial interaction and a common cultural idiom, which became known as Melayu.

Having sketched the wide Melayu world with its flexible borders, Andaya concentrates on the core region of Melayu culture, which he locates in southeast Sumatra where the dynastic centre of Sriwijaya emerged. Melayu became a meaningful marker to differentiate between people in the Malay world and (for instance) the Javanese. But the emergence of powerful centres of Malay trade and culture also stimulated the articulation of counter-identities within the Malay world.

Here we arrive at another key argument of the book. The centres of Malay political power and trade shifted from Sriwijaya to Melaka, Aceh and Johor, and this affected the ethnic profile of particular groups of people. Andaya argues that Minangkabau culture did not develop in isolation, because it not only was in close contact with the Malay world but distanced itself deliberately from it by emphasizing a distinct Minangkabau character.

In a similar vein Aceh accentuated a more inland-oriented Acehnese profile after it had lost its dominant position in the Malay world. Even the seemingly isolated Batak maintained trade relationships with the outside Malay world, which affected their cultural repertoire.

The orang laut, or sea nomads, and orang asli, or inland tribal communities, played a vital role in the Old Malay world. The orang laut were indispensable allies at sea, while the orang asli provided trade centres with valuable forest products. The complementarity of both the trade cum political centres and the sea and forest peoples allowed for cultural differences. It was only in the course of the nineteenth century under a new colonial regime and a different economy that both sea nomads and groups living in the forest came to be depicted as isolated and backward people.

Andaya demonstrates that in the Old Malay world ethnicity was a meaningful marker to indicate differences between groups of people who at the same time maintained vital connections. For the historian, ethnicity turns out to be a helpful tool in understanding both the dynamic interaction between inland, coast and sea, and long-distance trade, and the way trade, politics and identity formation were interwoven in a world that was characterized by shifting centres and changing flows of goods.