Kassim Ahmad: An Iconoclast


October 14, 2017

Kassim Ahmad: An Iconoclast

 

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Muslim intellectual Kassim Ahmad was a courageous and brave thinker and his passing on October 10, 2017 is a loss for the nation, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said. Dr Mahathir said he was very sad that his 84-year-old “friend” Kassim had passed away this morning in the Kulim hospital in Kedah. “We lost a brave figure who held on to the principle of his struggle no matter what happened to him,” he said in a statement posted on his blog.–Dr. Mahathir on the Passing of Dr. Kassim Ahmad

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | Much of the encomia for Kassim Ahmad, who died at the age of 84 in Kulim yesterday, spoke of his courage in the face of repression of his beliefs.

Kassim exemplified Ernest Hemingway’s definition of courage as grace under pressure. He was serene in facing the waves of hostile reaction to his beliefs – save in one instance.

This was when he blamed Anwar Ibrahim for forestalling the evolution of a debate he wanted with critics of his book, “Hadis: Satu Penilaian Semula” (Hadith: A Re-evaluation).

Kassim had wanted the book, which was banned shortly after its publication in 1986, to evoke a debate on the arguments he had adduced for making the Quran – and not the Hadith – as the principal source of Islamic faith and jurisprudence.

The conventional view was that the sources of Islamic jurisprudence were the Quran, Hadith and the general consensus of Islamic scholars. Kassim had argued that the Hadith contradicting the Quran could not be relied upon as a source of Islamic jurisprudence.

 

 

He fingered Anwar (photo), then a Cabinet Minister, as having played the main role behind the scenes to stop any debate on the book from taking place, specifically a debate with the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (ABIM). The debate didn’t go ahead. Kassim, ever willing to debate his disputants, blamed Anwar for this.

Anwar was then seen as the go-to Islamist in government, having been ABIM leader from the early 1970s, before mutating from government critic to collaborator in the drive that begun under then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1982 to inject Islam into the administration and governance of the country.

From the perspective of the years gone by, this move is now seen as having paved the way for the weakening of the secular underpinnings of the 1957 Constitution inaugurating the country’s birth – thus opening the way to what many feared would be the eventual Islamisation of the country, which would have been a travesty of what the country’s founders envisaged.

Kassim would remain scurrilous and vituperative on Anwar’s alleged role in foreclosing debate on the banned book.

‘Amenable, amicable and kind’

The venomous streak that was much in evidence whenever Anwar’s name or fate came up in conversations between Kassim and friends who came a-visiting seemed uncharacteristic of the man who was otherwise amenable, amicable and kind.

From the time he graduated from the University of Malaya in Singapore in the late 1950s to the mid-1980s, when he called for a reevaluation of the hadith, Kassim distinguished himself as a thinker who was wont to go against the convention.

 

He had espoused the merits of Hang Jebat as the authentic Malay hero, in contradistinction to Hang Tuah as the archetype, in Malay intellectual discourse in the early 1960s.

He introduced “scientific socialism” to Parti Rakyat Malaysia in the mid-1960s when he took over its reins from founder Ahmad Boestamam, and changed the party’s name to Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia, in conformity with the Marxist view that their ideology was irrefutable science.

Even when he began to abandon scientific socialism for an Islamic worldview while under ISA detention between 1976 and 1981, it was towards “Teori Sosial Moden Islam” (Modern Islamic Social Theory), the name of the treatise he would pen after being freed, and not towards anything nebulous.

Kassim’s was an intellect who craved certainty for its beliefs, where such certainty is elusive. That was probably why he took an oppositional view of the Hadith, with some of its origins in the mists of times long ago.

Whether it was jousting with national literary laureate Shahnon Ahmad on the role of art and literature in Islamic discourse, or with Islamists on the reliability of the Hadith, Kassim evinced the air of the scientific rationalist.

He had the iconoclast’s penchant for challenging orthodoxies, but this yen came with the ideologue’s weakness for certainties.

The French writer Honoré de Balzac knew the type when he observed that “It’s not sufficient to be a man; one must be a system.”

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/397983#Zu1Yr8RvHWv8cqG0.99

DYMM Tuanku Sultan Kedah Darul Aman has died


September 11, 2017

DYMM Tuanku Sultan Kedah Darul Aman has died

Image result for His Majesty Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah

 

His Majesty Tuanku Sultan of Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah (pic above) has passed away today at the age of 90.

Sultan Tuanku Abdul Halim was the only Sultan to serve as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong twice, from 1970 to 1975 and 2011 to 2016. His second tenure ended on December 12 last year.

As loyal subject of His Majesty and a Kedahan, I mourn His Majesty’s passing and wish to extend Dr. Kamsiah Haider’s  and my  heartfelt condolences to members of the Keadah Royal Family. His Majesty was a kind and compassionate ruler. –Din Merican, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

 

 

The Passing of a Legendary Actor, Director and Film Maker–Tan Sri Dr. Jins Shamsuddin


March 3, 2017

The Passing of a Legendary Actor, Director and Film Maker–Tan Sri Dr. Jins Shamsuddin

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Approximately 1,000 people turned today up to bid farewell to legendary actor Jins Shamsuddin at his funeral.

According to Bernama, family members, fellow artistes and friends converged at the cemetery to pay their last respects to the Malay film hero.

The late movie veteran was buried at 10.30am at the Masjid Al Ridhuan cemetery, Hulu Kelang, after preparations at his residence in Kampung Pasir and prayers at the mosque.

Utusan Online reported that veterans in the entertainment field, such as DJ Dave, Norman Hakim, Yusof Haslam, Ahmad Nawab, Fauzi Ayob, Zaiton Sameon and M Nasir, were present. Also present at the cemetery was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri.

Jins, 81, died yesterday at a clinic in Taman Melawati, according to his son Putera Hang Jebat. Putera Hang Jebat said his father complained of difficulty breathing when having tea at home and was rushed to the clinic at 5.45pm.

Jins leaves behind a wife, Halijah Abdullah and three sons, Jefri Jins, Putera Hang Jebat and Putera Hang Nadim.

‘Strict, but also loving’

Putera Hang Jebat, 30, described his father as a strict disciplinarian when dealing with his children.

“My father was serious about matters involving our education. He was strict, but was also loving,” he told reporters when met at the cemetery, Bernama reported.

Putera Hang Jebat said Jins had always hoped that more local artistes would further their studies in the arts to take the Malaysian arts industry to a higher level.

“My father wanted local artistes to be knowledgeable,” just like him, who has a PhD degree.

Meanwhile, actor Zul Ariffin, 31, described the death of Jins Shamsuddin as a big loss to the Malaysian film industry. “I learned a lot of acting from him, although we never acted together. Jins Shamsuddin is my mentor,” Zul added.

Film hero who became politician

Mohamed Jins Shamsuddin was born on November 5, 1935, in Taiping, Perak. The Malay film hero subsequently went into politics and was a two-term senator, from 2004 to 2011.

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He was awarded the Seniman Negara (National Artiste) by the government in 2009 for his contribution to the development of the Malaysian film industry.

The late actor starred in more than 40 movies, including ‘Sarjan Hassan’, ‘Gerak Kilat’, ‘Si Tanggang’, ‘Bukan Salah Ibu Mengandung’ and ‘Sumpah Wanita’.

Among his directorial efforts are the classics ‘Bukit Kepong’, ‘Ali Setan’, ‘Menanti Hari Esok’, ‘Esok Masih Ada’ and ‘Balada’. Jins career took off in 1950 and lasted until the 70s. In his early years, Jins received the support of national legend P Ramlee.

 

‘We have lost a great son of Sarawak’


January 11, 2017

‘We have lost a great son of Sarawak’

Netizens, including politicians, speak highly of the Sarawak chief minister who died at 1.20pm today.

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By popular acclaim, the late Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, was a strong leader who stood up for the rights of all Sarawakians. He will be sorely missed. Dr. Kamsiah Haider  and I wish to express our heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family.

His passing will no doubt have decisive impact on the politics of this fiercely nationalistic state. My inclination on this sad day is to dedicate Al-Fatihah to the Late Tan Sri and pray (doa) that there will be a smooth transfer of power. I also hope that Sarawak will have a successor Chief Minister who will be strong enough like Tun Taib Mahmud and Tan Sri Adenan to resist any move by UMNO to establish  a branch in Sarawak.–Din Merican

Tributes have begun pouring in from netizens, including politicians, following the news that Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem passed away at 1.20pm today.

Many Twitter users spoke highly of the PBB President. Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) president and local government minister Sim Kui Hian said: “We have lost a great son of Sarawak who devoted his whole life to the rakyat.”

Political leaders from the Barisan Nasional poured out their grief on Twitter with Prime Minister Najib Razak revealing that he would be heading to Sarawak.

MCA president Liow Tiong Lai echoed similar sentiments saying: “Malaysia lost a great leader today.”

Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan tweeted: “Greatly shocked. Great loss to all #Malaysians. My sincere condolences to the family and the people of Sarawak.”

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin expressed condolences to Adenan’s wife Jamilah, family and Sarawakians. Sabah lawmaker Rahman Dahlan said Adenan’s struggles for a better Sarawak would be continued.

“Our sincere condolences to the family members of CM Adenan & the people of Sarawak. His struggles for a better Sarawak will be carried on.”

The public, too, have been taking to Twitter to express their condolences over Adenan’s passing. One user with the Twitter handle Ahmad Tarmidzi described Adenan as a true Sarawakian fighter.

“He fought for us, Sarawakians,” he tweeted, adding that he prayed the senior politician would be placed with the pious.

Another user Miz_PhinzSJ said it was a sad day for Sarawak because the state had “lost a good leader”. Meanwhile, Twitter user syazwan said Adenan was his own man.“I actually like Adenan Satem. He is more his own man than I thought he would be as CM. Great loss.”

The Passing of John Glenn, the last genuine American hero–A Tribute


December 10, 2016

The Passing of John Glenn, the last genuine American hero–A Tribute

by Dale Butland

Columbus, Ohio — World War II and Korean War hero. First American to orbit the Earth. Kennedy family friend and confidant. The only four-term senator in Ohio history. An astronaut again at the age of 77.

Newspaper writers and evening news broadcasters will detail John Glenn’s one-of-a-kind biography — and most of them will surely observe that his passing on Thursday (December 8, 2016) at the age of 95 marks “the end of an era.”

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“With John’s passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend. John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars. John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond — not just to visit, but to stay. …

“The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens.”–President Barrack Obama

To me, John actually personified an era — one that, like him, has largely passed from the scene and may never again be recaptured. It was a period whose values were forged during the Great Depression, tested in the bloodiest war and expressed most clearly at the personal level by the interlocking virtues of modesty, courage and conviction.

Beginning in 1980 and continuing for nearly two decades, I was lucky enough to work for him, including as press secretary and director of his final re-election campaign in 1992. We were also friends, and I will cherish having been able to speak with him shortly before he died.

Despite his international celebrity, the ticker-tape parades and the schools and streets named in his honor, John never let any of it go to his head. He dined with kings, counseled presidents and signed autographs for athletes and movie stars. But he never pulled rank, rarely raised his voice and remained unfailingly polite and conscious of his responsibilities as a hero and a role model until the day he died.

The courage John displayed wasn’t merely physical, though he certainly had plenty of that. Anyone who flew 149 combat missions in two wars as a Marine fighter pilot — and then volunteered to become a Mercury 7 astronaut at a time when our rockets were just as likely to blow up on the launchpad as they were to return home safely — obviously had physical courage to spare.

But for me, even more impressive was John’s personal and political bravery, especially when it came to defending the values and friends he held dear.

Perhaps the best example of what I’m talking about occurred in an incident that, to the best of my knowledge, he never publicly disclosed.

Following his 1962 spaceflight, John and Robert F. Kennedy became such close friends that their families sometimes vacationed together.

By 1968, John had retired from the Marine Corps and taken a job as president of a major American corporation’s international division.

“We were living in New York, and they were paying me $100,000 a year, which at that time was real money,” he told me. “For the first time in our lives, Annie and I didn’t have to worry about putting our kids through college or helping our parents financially as they got older.”

That spring, Mr. Kennedy decided to run for president and John readily agreed to campaign for him.

John’s employer, however, wasn’t keen on having its highest profile executive publicly supporting Mr. Kennedy. So John was soon summoned to an “emergency meeting” of the corporate board where a resolution was to be passed barring any board member from “engaging in partisan politics in 1968.”

When the meeting was called to order, John rose from his seat to say that there was something his colleagues should know before taking a vote.

“Bob Kennedy asked me to campaign for him and I told him I would. And I will, because he is my friend. And if keeping my word means I can’t be associated with this company any longer, I can live with that.

“But if that’s what happens, we’re going to walk out of this room and you’re going to hold your press conference and I’m going to hold mine. And we’ll see who comes out better.”

No vote was called and the meeting was quickly adjourned.

John’s politics, of course, aren’t the point of this story. To me, it was his fierce determination to keep a promise to a friend, even at the expense of sacrificing the first real financial security he and his family had ever known. It’s the kind of courage we don’t see much anymore.

When John passed away, we lost a man who many say is the last genuine American hero. Not because others won’t do heroic things, but because national heroes aren’t easily crowned or even acknowledged in this more cynical age.

He belonged to an earlier and more innocent era — when we trusted our institutions, thought government could accomplish big and important things, still believed politics could be a noble profession, and didn’t think that ticker-tape parades were reserved for World Series or Super Bowl champions.

But the last “good” war ended almost 70 years ago. The Cold War is almost 30 years past. The space program has lost its luster. The clarity with which John saw honor and moral responsibility seems almost quaint today. And the time when we could all cheer for the same national hero may now be past.