Happy Diwali to my Malaysian Indian and Hindu friends, Associates and Readers– Thanks for Your Support


November 6, 2018

Happy Divali to my Malaysian Indian and Hindu friends, Associates and Readers– Thanks for Your Support

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Diwali, known as festival of lights, brings Happiness, Love and positivity. Diwali comes every year 21 days after Dusshera. Diwali is celebrated because It was the coming day of Lord Rama to his realm, Ayodhya after 14 years of outcast. People of Ayodhya had admired their King Rama by lightening candles and diyas throughout the area.

May these fireworks burn all our problems and sorrows, and can these light up our life with happiness, joy and peace that this lovely Diwali. Happy Diwali to you and to all of your loved ones!

May Goddess Lakshmi bless you and provide you power to be successful in anything you do.

Diwali is the day to light the diyas,
Ignite the rockets and burst crackers,
But it’s also the time to become secure,
In the fireworks and the sparklers.

With the shining of diyas and the echoes of the chants, may prosperity and happiness of the festival of lights meet our own lives.  Thanks for the mild and prosperity that you bring into my life. Have a joyful Diwali filled with lights, may your life be filled with lights and colors of happiness.

Hope that this Diwali brings in Good Fortune & Abounding Happiness for you. Do not let the shadows of yesterday spoil the sun of  tomorrow .Let this Diwali burn off all of your bad times and enter you in good times.

May that Diwali Light up new fantasies, new expects, undiscovered avenues, distinct perspectives, everything bright & beautiful and fill your days with pleasant surprises and minutes. May the light of Diya direct you towards happiness & pleasure in life!

Happy Diwali to all of you!

 

Rescuing RELIGION


November 4, 2018

DIVERSITY

Rescuing RELIGION

I would urge every person of faith (in this room) to take personal responsibility to move religion back to where it should be, on the side of right, and on the side of the rights of people.

There are many inspiring stories around the world. In Philadelphia, where I’m now on sabbatical, I visited the leading human rights group that stands in defence of Muslims in in the US, the Council on American Islamic Relations.

CAIR in Philadelphia is headed by a white Jewish American, its legal officer is an African-American Christian, and a Muslim is its education officer (main photo). So its three full time employees are a white Jew, a black Christian, and a Muslim immigrant. And they are fighting for Muslims’ human rights. This is what religion is capable of. It is capable of coming together in interfaith struggles to pursue social justice.”Singapore’s Public Intellectual George Cherian

An extract from the Q&A after my talk at the IPS Diversities conference.

Q: To what extent do you think a civic impulse is workable only insofar that we have don’t have religious groups that are seeking to expand?

A: We can tell how open this IPS dialogue is, when we can actually talk about religion, which is a third rail in many societies.

I still think that, despite the worrying rise in aggressively exclusive religious groups around the world that have also inspired groups in Singapore, politically it is not as serious a problem here as it is elsewhere. I study intolerance and hate around the world, so relative to the stuff that is going on in other parts of the world, we are in pretty good shape.

And I’m convinced that one reason why is that no matter how worrying some of these trends are within any one faith group — or more accurately within sub-groups within major religions — there’s a limit to how much damage will be caused as long as those force are not aligned with party political forces. That’s when it becomes very potent elsewhere, when it becomes in the interest of a political party to court and partner with some of these exclusive and intolerant religious movements. And that makes sense in countries with a dominant religion, whether it’s India or Indonesia or Myanmar or the US or most of Europe.

It simply does not make sense in Singapore. A political party could try it, but it would not succeed, because even if you court the 40% Buddhist population out there, you’re going to alienate the 60% that make up everyone else. The same applies to other religions. And that does give us some assurance that there is a limit to how much religious divides can translate into electoral advantage.

Of course politics is more than elections. So religious forces can influence how debates are handled. And yes, in that sense we are in a worrying phase globally as well as in Singapore. For whatever mix of reasons, which sociologists of religion will be better equipped to explain, the centre of gravity in many of the world’s religions is at the more intolerant and exclusive ends of the spectrum.

It’s important to realise that this wasn’t always the case. I’m convinced this moment will pass. It is up to us collectively to make sure this moment passes. It is especially up to those who are the most devout in your respective communities to make sure this moment passes.

It was not too long ago that religious groups were at the forefront of progressive change around the world. Think of the major successes in human rights and democracy over the last 200 years. Most of them were fronted by religious organisations. The Quakers in Britain helped to get rid of slavery. Think of the church’s role in the Philippines’ People Power movement or the American civil rights movement. Think of religion’s role in Indian nationalism, which we benefited from as well. So there is a strong history of religion being on the side of tolerance and expanding human rights.

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It is depressing to see how this strong tradition of religions standing up for the rights of others, including the rights of other faiths, has somehow been relegated, and instead the wind is at the backs of those who are more exclusive. I would urge every person of faith in this room to take personal responsibility to move religion back to where it should be, on the side of right, and on the side of the rights of people.

There are many inspiring stories around the world. In Philadelphia, where I’m now on sabbatical, I visited the leading human rights group that stands in defence of Muslims in in the US, the Council on American Islamic Relations. CAIR in Philadelphia is headed by a white Jewish American, its legal officer is an African-American Christian, and a Muslim is its education officer (main photo). So its three full time employees are a white Jew, a black Christian, and a Muslim immigrant. And they are fighting for Muslims’ human rights. This is what religion is capable of. It is capable of coming together in interfaith struggles to pursue social justice.

One of the proudest achievements of Singapore is to host the world’s oldest interfaith organisation, the Inter Religious Organisation. This is one of the resources we have. Sadly, though, that’s not where the action is, so to speak, in public life. Sadly, the agenda has been seized by a minority of leaders and members within the world’s great faith groups, that are pushing intolerance and exclusivity. That needs to change.

FULL Q&A – VIDEO

 

KP Waran Passes On–R.I.P


October 14, 2018

KP Waran Passes On–R.I.P

 

Former executive editor of the New Straits Times KP Waran died today after a nine-month battle with cancer. This was confirmed by his wife, Sheila Singam, via a Facebook posting that was accompanied by a picture of a smiling Waran.

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In another posting, she attached an NST news article on her husband’s demise which also detailed his many achievements, captioning it with “So proud of you, my husband”.

According to his former employer, Waran, 60, had over two decades of experience in the news and media industry and had covered conflicts in places like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Cambodia.

Bernama senior editor Jamaluddin Muhammad, who was with him covering the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, said Waran showed an exemplary character in facing difficult situations.

“He helped plan our dangerous journeys meticulously with the assistance of locals, paying particular attention to things like roadblocks, possible landmines and so on,” he said.

He recalled that the media veteran also refused to be intimidated by Serbs manning a roadblock who asked him to surrender film rolls that captured scenes of the conflict.

“He was not afraid to stand his ground when we were threatened by gun-toting Serbian troops over the film rolls despite the moment being a life-and-death situation,” Jamaluddin said.

Waran, he said, also provided constant guidance on the dos and don’ts during their time there, such as the need to always be aware of the surroundings and to always move in a zig-zag pattern in areas where snipers were anticipated.

Jamaluddin said the lessons he learned from Waran in Bosnia were put to good use when he was later sent to cover the Iraq war. Meanwhile, former colleagues paid tribute to Waran on social media.

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“On behalf of The New Straits Times Press, I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the family of the late KP Waran on his demise today,” said Mustapha Kamil Mohd Janor, who is an NSTP board member and Media Prima Bhd executive director of news and editorial operations.

He pointed out that Waran served the newsroom as a journalist for the most part of his life, and contributed significantly to the operations of the newspaper.

Former NST journalist Roziana Hamsawi expressed sadness over his passing. “You were my favourite editor at the news desk. You made my years there bearable. Always kind to the stories I wrote. Always cool about everything. “Loved working with you! Rest in peace boss!” Roziana wrote.

Bernama

Community Voices with Bakri Musa


June 18, 2018

Community Voices with Bakri Musa – Reflections on observing Ramadan in a secular society

Published in the June 20 – July 3, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life
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Dr. M Bakri Musa
To many Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Ramadan means fasting, and only that. Viewed as such Ramadan can be challenging, more so in our food-celebrated culture.
However, Ramadan is more than just fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is a time to pause and to ponder, to be forgiving and to seek forgiveness, and to be generous not only to others but equally important, oneself. It is also a time for self-restraint and self-discipline.
Unlike the other tenets of Islam like praying, paying tithe, and pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting is a private and personal act.
Living in secular and predominantly non-Muslim America, nobody forces me to fast. There are no religious Police wandering around looking for sinners, as in my native Malaysia. I fast because I want to, and for that reason it is much more meaningful.
In today’s harried and hurried world, it is easy to be caught up in the maelstrom. The change in my daily routine during Ramadan forces me to pause and reflect. In short, it is my “time out.”
The quiet of the morning, with ample time now available that was previously consumed with preparing and eating breakfast, is ideal for contemplation. Those moments, alas, are only too rare during my regular day.
My lunch break is now my most productive time as I am alone in my office, uninterrupted. I can also count on losing five to 10 pounds during Ramadan. It is flattering to hear comments on how fit I look at the end of the month!
Concomitant with the change in my daily routine is the alteration of my metabolism. The inevitable reduction in caloric intake can only be good for my body. Scientists tell us that it enhances longevity, at least in laboratory animals. There is no disputing that excess caloric intake and the consequent obesity is today’s major public health issue.
Experts also tell us that after a few days of fasting we begin breaking down our fat cells. The weight-reduction aspect aside, that invigorates our stem cells, especially those of our intestines. This in turn enhances healing and disease prevention, as well as mitigates the effects of aging. No surprise that experts now advocate fast-mimicking diets.
Sadly today, fasting in many Muslim societies has been “modernized,” with evenings consumed with never-ending feasts. Many gain weight during Ramadan; their gluttony switched from daytime to nighttime, the very antithesis of the spirit of restraint called for during Ramadan.
The traditional teaching is that fasting reminds us of the hunger endured by those less fortunate. It is hard to empathize with the poor when you know that your own hunger will be satiated — no, indulged upon — come sunset.
An element of even greater import during Ramadan is charity. For those who for a variety of reasons cannot fast, the giving of charity is an acceptable substitute. Just as important is the generosity of spirit and the renewal of family and societal bonds, as expressed in our communal iftars (breaking of the fast).
I am blessed with good health that I could partake in fasting; peace that I could do it with tranquility; and prosperity that I could fulfill my charitable obligations as well as being assured that my fast will end come sunset. I am also mindful that millions of others are less fortunate, which makes me even more thankful of my blessings.
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Last Friday, June 15, our community celebrated Eidul Fitri, the end of Ramadan. Following a communal prayer, with everyone dressed in their finest, many in their traditional attires, the rest of the day was spent visiting friends and family, enjoying, as expected, food and other tasty treats!
Bakri Musa is a local surgeon and former President of South Valley Islamic Community.

 

Granted Her Majesty QE2’s Wish–HRH Prince Charles to be next Head of the Commonwealth


April 21. 2018

Granted Her Majesty QE2’s Wish–Prince Charles to be next Head of the Commonwealth

State leaders honour Queen’s wishes and agree Prince of Wales should succeed monarch

Peter Walker Political correspondent @peterwalker99

https://www.theguardian.com

 

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HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales to become the Next Head of the Commonwealth after Her Majesty The Queen

Commonwealth leaders have agreed that Prince Charles will become the next head of the organisation after the Queen, it has emerged, in one of the less surprising diplomatic developments of recent months.

The role is not hereditary, but the Queen, who turns 92 on Saturday, used the ongoing Commonwealth heads of government (Chogm) gathering in London to say it was her “sincere wish” to be succeeded by her son.

Commonwealth leaders, who were meeting at Windsor Castle on the second and final day of the formal Chogm programme, had agreed to her wish, sources told the Press Association and others.

After the Queen made her wishes known, there would have been little prospect of the 53 Commonwealth leaders and foreign ministers, who met at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, not endorsing the plan.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attended the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Buckingham Palace — Getty

 

Addressing what is most likely her last Chogm summit – she no longer flies long distances and it is not due to return to the UK for some years – the monarch said: “It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations, and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949.”

Earlier on Friday, the foreign minister of Vanuatu, Ralph Regenvanu, supported Charles, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “we see it almost naturally that it should be the British Royal Family because it is the Commonwealth after all”.

He added that there was no discussion in the island state regarding a different Commonwealth leader.

At a Buckingham Palace dinner on Thursday evening, the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, said he had been “made to understand she’ll be winding down her duties as Head of the Commonwealth”.

The Queen has been head of the Commonwealth since coming to the throne in 1952.

The Chogm summit was due to discuss subjects including efforts to combat marine plastics, cyber security and trade.

Taking a Break from April 13-18, 2018


April 12, 2018

Taking a break from blogging

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Image result for The Cambodian countryside

 

I am taking a break from April 13-18. I shall be away from Phnom Penh to see the beautiful countryside and meet the folks who are the backbone of the Cambodian economy.

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I wish my Cambodian readers, friends and associates  a Happy and Peaceful Chhol Chhenam Khmer which falls on April 14, 2018.  –Din Merican