Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bloggers Breakfasted

Much overdue, here are my photos from last Saturday's Breakfast with the Litbloggers held at MPH Bangsar Village. There were curry puff, tuna sandwiches ... and plenty of brain food too, especially about Islam and fundamentalism, and the need for a plurality of voices in Malaysia.

Dina Zaman talking about I Am Muslim and her project to collect other voices for the sequel.

Political scientist and human rights activist Farish Noor, author of The Other Malaysia and From Majapahit to Putrajaya talking about the need to reclaim Malaysian history, and document women's history, and his fears about extremism. Poor Farish was extremely jetlagged, and had big dark rings under his eyes, (how many countries in how many days?) but still made perfect sense.

Larry Parr, co-author (with Tan Chin Nam) of Never Say I Assume is also a fascinating political analyst, and believes that Islamic fundamentalism does not represent a threat to world peace and is largely a by-product of US interference in the Middle East. He also predicted the break up of China into a number of autonomous states. (And you thought we just talked books!)

Chatting afterwards. Kam Raslan (in the brown shirt) dropped by.

I met blogger Enar Arshad with her son. We discovered within minutes of talking to each other that we are related by marriage! (She's my sister-in-law's sister.) That's Kenny behind us, of course. He did a sterling job of facilitating the session.

40 comments:

pizzofmine said...

but why la ms D also look jet lagged? but nice outfit tho. I think the PETA (of the "I rather show my *ptooot* than wear fur" campaign?) going to squeal should they see the shoe.

congrats to the facilitator mr. Kenny for a fine job. I heard this was your first time facilitating this event?

If I am not mistaken.

bibliobibuli said...

c'mon lah 11a.m on a saturday is still very early. i don't think any real animals were harmed in the making of her shoes.

pizzo said...

Heh heh, but 11 a.m. on Monday, that's early. (can't I just stay in bed and not got to work/school?)

Anonymous said...

if she is ur sister-in-law's sister, doesnt that make her yur, erm ... sister-in-law?


U Gno Hoo

xmocha said...

Sharon, so sorry i couldnt make it..

hey Kenny, I like ur new hairstyle.

SM

Greenbottle said...

hah...ants in my pants again...
i can never understand why people fear 'extremism'...and i assume farish noor means "SLAMIC extremism...i didn't attend this breakfast forum but knowing farish old writings i assume he would prefer muslims to be 'moderate'...

well, don't know about the rest but I will feel bloody INSULTED if anybody call me a 'moderate' muslim...

what are moderate muslims ? they are nothing but pitiful people who suck up to the west in everything but name and can't even stand up and be themselves anymore...

are extremists dangerous? NO... larry parr got it absolutely right...leave us and muslim land alone and there won't be any osama, or suicide bombers...why the fuck can't you leave us bloody well alone??

Dean said...

I agree with Larry about China. I think this is what the government there fears from democracy. I can see the desire for self-government acting like a centrifuge, should pluralism ever be introduced, causing satellite states to spin off from the dying body of communist China.

As to Western interference causing extremism, that may have been true in the beginning, in the first half of the twentieth century. Now, however, it is, in my opinion, a way to protect a Muslim's sense of self against the inexorable spread of liberal ideas. We know, however, that the countries that are wealthiest are those where religion is weakest. The Muslim world will never reach the levels of prosperity enjoyed in the West until they abandon any desire to infect the law with religious notions.

In the West, this process of separation took thousands of years of struggle, suffering and death.

One problem, I think, is that people in the developing world see a successful, powerful West and simply fear it, without trying to understand it. But the middle class has its own martyrs, although even the average person in the West may not know who they are.

The middle class is a very recent phenomenon, historically speaking, having emerged toward the end of the seventeenth century mainly in Protestant countries. You can see signs of it in publications such as those of Addison and Steele, who functioned as conduits of knowledge useful for the middle classes as they attempted to impose their values on the polity. Their Spectator was published in the first and second decades of the eighteenth century.

Kenny Mah said...

pizzofmine,
Thanks! And yes, I guess it is sorta my first time. (Plenty of first times that day, what with my first reading at Seksan's later that afternoon.)

xmocha,
Yeah, it just gets shorter and shorter... Soon I'll be bald, haha.

Sharon,
I'm so glad you posted this; I didn't take any photos at all, will link back to this post when I blog about last Saturday. Dina and Farish weren't the only two looking sleepy... I had a bit of a hangover from the previous night out with the foodbloggers. Darn those free flow Martells... :P

Greenbottle said...

i don't think muslims fear liberal ideas...i DON'T fear and in fact LOVE liberal ideas and if you notice all the contemporary "extremists" who are worth their salt do have liberal western education n/background...engineers, doctors etc and very few of them are the streotyped mullahs out of religious schools...Ayman is a doctor, osama engineer, maududi engineer, syed qutb ...etc...

what muslims and particularly the so called 'extremists' abhor is this attitude to shove western ideas down muslim throats as though this is the only acceptable worldview and at the same time denigrate the muslim worldview as irrelevant , regressive and right out of the stone age without actually really honestly trying to understand the (muslim) perspective of things...

muslims can happily live and coexist with anyone else as long as we mutually respect each other and don't try to walk all over each others' heads... and to say that the west has stopped interfering till the first half of the twentieth century is certainly NOT true...what's happening in iraq , iran afghanistan etc etc at this very moment is nothing but the west crapping on these nations... the west has always and will always keep on interfering in internal affairs af any country that they think will advance their economic interests...

and it's true that religion has very little to do with material well being of a nation... but when people think about islam they usually think about how backward these nations are... true... but papua new guinea (christian), congo(christian) , burundi(christian),[philippines (christian) myanma(bhuddist) nouth korea(communist) and so many other non muslim nations are as fucked up as any...so lets not be myopic...

animah said...

Wow. I look ... pear shaped...

bibliobibuli said...

anon- my sister-in-law's sister is probably my sister-in-law-one -removed

kenny - forgot to mention that you were still under the spell of the martell!

dean and greenbottle - wish you both could have been there, would have been fun to have you add to th discussion. greenbottle - am a great farish fan, he talks an awful lot of sense

animah - you know, i looked at that picture and couldn't work out who it was!!

Dean said...

greenbottle said: "this attitude to shove western ideas down muslim throats as though this is the only acceptable worldview".

Just who, pray tell, is 'shoving' anything down the throats of Muslims, I want to know? I see no evidence of this. I do see Western culture being embraced entusiastically by Muslim youth, however. You have provided no examples, probably because you know of none, and are just taking up a posture to satisfy your bruised ego.

greenbottle said: "at the same time denigrate the muslim worldview as irrelevant , regressive and right out of the stone age without actually really honestly trying to understand the (muslim) perspective of things"

Who is denigrating Muslims? Again, I do not see it. It is purely in YOUR OWN MIND because you feel threatened by powers beyond your own. The most outspoken opponent of Islam that I know of is a woman who was born in a Muslim country: Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I suspect that she understands the Muslim perspective of things. I do not pretend to know everything about Islam, but I go out of my way to understand.

greenbottle said: "muslims can happily live and coexist with anyone else as long as we mutually respect each other and don't try to walk all over each others' heads".

I suspect that this means that if a Western journalist, for example, sees something that he believes is an example of injustice, cruelty or criminality, he or she should just SHUT UP.

By talking about the problems that average citizens suffer in Muslim countries, these journalists are 'walking over your head'?

Anonymous said...

"One problem, I think, is that people in the developing world see a successful, powerful West and simply fear it, without trying to understand it."

thats just like Bush saying "the evil-doers are jealous of our freedoms and our way of life."

yeah, riiiiight.


The Visitor

Anonymous said...

and Dean, stop shoving your opinion down Greenbottle's throat, and calling Greenbottle egotistical. look who's talking.

Anonymous said...

and this amuses me no end:

i really don't see how you managed to equate this:

greenbottle said: "muslims can happily live and coexist with anyone else as long as we mutually respect each other and don't try to walk all over each others' heads".

with this:

dean said: "I suspect that this means that if a Western journalist, for example, sees something that he believes is an example of injustice, cruelty or criminality, he or she should just SHUT UP."



HUH?!?!?!


Viz

Dean said...

Well, three anonymous comments. That's pretty typical behaviour from Muslims, in my experience.

The first anonymous commenter says that I am echoing George Bush. Have you ever thought that perhaps George Bush is echoing people like me in order to excuse his criminal behaviour? No, I doubt it. That's far too subtle for you.

The second anonymous commenter said "stop shoving your opinion down Greenbottle's throat". OK, so we disagree. For my part, I am only putting forward my arguments. Argument is, however, a Western invention. Repressive societies shun argument, as when a Malaysian government minister recently lied to parliament because he wants to stop bloggers writing freely. His government already controls the media, and he wants to control the people as well.

George W. Bush lied to get what he wanted. Our own prime minister lied to get his way. But the difference is that where you have argument, you have the ability to get rid of politicians who lie. Both Bush and Howard will not survive the next election. I guarantee it.

The third anonymous commenter said that he or she is amused "no end" by my very rational argument. The very logical association of two points of view is proposed, but the anonymous commenter simply said "HUH?"

Well, I'm sorry, but where I live "HUH?" does not constitute argument. It is simply an admission of impotence.

bibliobibuli said...

oi! be nice!!

it's easy to chuck around vague generalities "the west", "typical muslims", "the developing world" but it doesn't honestly take us very far

dean - as a brit i also feel totally betrayed by my government re. the iraq war

people here don't fear the west. malaysia is in many ways a pretty developed country. many malaysians have worked and studied overseas

the comment above yours was signed "the viz" who is also "the visitor". (he's not anonymous in the sense that he's a friend in real life) he isn't muslim either! so much for "typical", hey?

actually come to think of it, i don't really know any "typical" muslims ... or "typical" brits or "typical" aussies for that matter. so let's drop the stereotypes

dean - i offered to send you a copy of dina's book. i think you'd find it interesting. if you email me your address i'll send it to you with one or two other things.

Dean said...

Sharon, I don't have your email address and it's not on your site. You can email me - it's on my site. I'd be very glad to read the book.

What these commenters don't seem to understand is that there are very few people in the West who are trying to impose their views on Muslims. It's just not happening!!!!!!

The West is not the problem.

In my view the problem is when either the church or the army is stronger than the elected representatives of the people. In Malaysia you've got the sharia law and the civil law working in different directions and it is causing hardship to innocent people. And government representatives either won't comment for the media or they refuse to give their names. It's madness.

In Australia, we have an analogous situation where Muslims in the community blame the media for their poor profile. What they don't seem to understand is that a healthy media is a sign of a healthy democracy!!! In Russia last year, a woman who is also a journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, was shot dead in front of her apartment building for saying things the strong men disliked.

That is what happens when debate is silenced by guns rather than words.

enar arshad said...

i think we should do away with labels, we are not some goods on the rack at a supermarket aisle.....

sharon..its a small world after all!

Anonymous said...

when Bush lied, thousands of ppl died. thats the diff.

Viz

Anonymous said...

no, Dean, i'm sorry, but the problem starts when ppl like you start stereotyping others, calling them "typical this" and "typical that."


Viz

Chet said...

>> Wow. I look ... pear shaped...

Animah - that's a sign of prosperity in Chinese terms.

bibliobibuli said...

chet - you're not supposed to say that lah! you should say "oh no you don't animah!"

dean - this is not a place without its problems and there is much to fight for. people here (muslims and no-muslims) can and do speak out and protest, and fight for press freedom. everywhere such freedoms must be guarded (australia too!)

i don't think the west is the problem either (if you ignore the invasions and the tacit support of israel no matter how it behaves)i think that some of the western media (going by the british newspapers) have portrayed a very negative image of islam and muslims. even the tv channels have been one sided about the images they've shown - eg. the nutty flag and effigy burners rather than the peaceful and reasonable majority

Pelukismelukis said...

miss d looks immaculate in that photo (as per usual).

Dean said...

Sharon: "the tacit support of israel no matter how it behaves".

No. The Zionist lobby in Australia jumps on anyone who speaks out in support of the Palestinians. There is much interest in Australia in what people like Antony Loewenstein are writing (google him to see what this means). "People like me" do not blindly support any party or faction.

"People like me" read ALL the available material and make up their own mind based on individual events.

But I will never allow the media to be the root of the problem. To blame them for your poor image when there is peace and prosperity is the same as gagging them (or even killing them!!!) when there is discord.

It is true that Muslims in Australia did not fly the plans into the twin towers. But is IS true that Muslims in Australia have sometimes broken the law. There is a price to pay.

If you are interested in the details of how this happened, you can google using such words as "pack rape" "Bilal Skaf" "Cronulla riots".

A high profile guarantees exposure in the press. This is in the nature of a democracy. Politicians exploit it, as do others. The trouble starts when those whe are thrust into the spotlight (maybe without their desiring it) blaming the guy holding the torch. He's not to blame: it's the guy telling him where to point it who is at fault.

lil ms d said...

fooiyo. ths is v v interesting, the exchange!

ps. pizzo, it's synthetic fur!

ps2. aiyo, sharon, not nice pix la. i had insomnia, i look trashed! take down tak down!

Azmi said...

Oh wow...what a session I had missed although I am not sure my system right now can take in all the excitement above!

Maybe the excitement need to be moderated a little, I sure will not be happy if another minister makes a comment on forums like the intellectually stimulating Litblogger's Bfast Club which we should have more of....

bibliobibuli said...

yes, azmi - some interesting things are happening here! didn't know what i would spark off

ms d - you look very pretty, not taking down. beside the others of you were even more blurry. or maybe you're blurry!!!

dean - yes will google and follow up, v. interesting. like your philosophy - to read all available and make up your own mind. wish you could come over here though and just hang out and talk to people over coffee and realise that there is no lumpen mass of people called "typical muslims" but a whole lot of people reading and thinking and making their own minds up. (not everyone, sure, but enough to make me feel very hopeful)

Chet said...

>> not nice pix la. i had insomnia, i look trashed! take down tak down!

The one I took is better, ms d? Not the second shot, tho - that one looks "pained".

Dean said...

I apologise for the remark. However, I did get an anonoymous comment once from a Muslim, to an innocent post, that was extremely firey. But then, a couple of Jews, who DID identify themselves, also went off like a bomb at some things I posted.

There seems to be a lot of heat in the debate.

If you go to the Sydney Morning Herald website today, there's a good 'opinion' piece by Peter Manning that warrants further scrutiny.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks dean. there is a lot of heat and a forum like this isn't the easiest or most fulfilling of places to give it room. will read the piece you suggest.

Dean said...

"a forum like this isn't the easiest or most fulfilling of places to give it room"

On the contrary, this kind of place is the ONLY place where such exchanges can occur.

Try getting your opinions published in a newspaper. I have. It's impossible. The gatekeepers of the media are very covetous of their discretion.

I imagine that if I failed to get my opinions published in an Australian newspaper, it would be even harder to get the same done in a Malaysian newspaper, for example.

But I sympathise with your feelings. It was never your intention for a full-on exchange of comments to spiral out of your post.

However, that said, the number of comments arising from your post -- which was more 'political' perhaps than your regular type of post -- demonstrates that there is a huge unsatisfied potential in the community for expression, on these issues.

I think that many of your readers would agree that we are not totally satisfied with the way our elected representatives are handling these issues.

bibliobibuli said...

there's a lot of political blogging going on here, dean. i think maybe because there isn't so much in the debate in the newspapers. and there is an excellent online newspaper - malaysiakini.com

enar arshad said...

i am being bad here but do you know how a wakil rakyat can serve us best? being dead coz u can get all sorts of development during by election time.

bibliobibuli said...

cynical, enar!

animah said...

Enar,
Check out this site:
http://www.harismibrahim.wordpress.com/ which attempts to set up a "league of voters" who can go to their MPs with issues.

Chet said...

Animah - nice to see you at Kam's reading yesterday evening. You're in the picture I've put up on my weblog - Kam @ Kino

Anonymous said...

MK is nowhere near excellent. They will say what they need to say to make money. They have an underdog status, which makes them something like the rebels in Star Wars, everyone loves rebels. No one realizes that rebels are just empires in waiting.

And Dean, I don't know if it's harder to get any views in an Australian paper as opposed to a Malaysian paper. I've heard that you can't mention God (a God or Gods) in an Australian newspaper, but of course I might be wrong in this.

Dean said...

"I've heard that you can't mention God (a God or Gods) in an Australian newspaper, but of course I might be wrong in this."

Yes, you are totally wrong. I have no idea where you got that impression. Australia is a pluralist democracy with its roots in the English Enlightenment.

There are very few things you cannot say in a newspaper.

Greenbottle said...

ai ai yai...all this while i was driving to the most fundamntalist sector of malaysia (kelantan)...

it reminds me...when that poor tortured soul cho seung-hui killed all those poor innocent students recently... my prayer was this...dear god...please let him NOT be a muslim...

because there's hell to pay for ALL muslims if this was so.