Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Remember Sabri Zain?

The year that shook the nation
By Amir Muhammad August 13, 2008
Categories: Opinion

IF you are the type to follow the news (well, you must be, since youre reading a newspaper) you might be experiencing a rush of déjà vu. That is, if you were alive and sentient during the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim almost exactly 10 years ago.
You may choose to recall the events of the time by gathering your grandchildren around and regaling them with heart-warming stories, such as The first time Grandpa heard the word sodomy mentioned on TV was…"
Or you can read this book. Face Off is a compilation by someone who was hitherto not known as a journalist. The word blogger didnt exist then either, but the Internet did, and its the Internet that made Sabri Zains name.

He was an ordinary Joe, with no party-political affiliations, who happened to be present during those anxious months. He would often post his reports on reformasi demonstrations and ceramah within hours of the events. I used to read them on the Sangkancil mailing-list, where the other stalwart was the late MGG Pillai.

Although the wonderful Pillai often indulged in conspiracy theories, Sabris was a more ground-level gaze. His very first posting, A Spark Is Lit, is an account of the massive demonstration in KL on Sept 20, 1998, just a few hours before Anwar got arrested. The article immediately got forwarded all over the place and was printed in the alternative print media.

The reason it was so widely read: People started to really distrust and even hate the TV and newspapers. Utusan Malaysia honcho (who would later become Information Minister) Zainuddin Maidin defended himself thus: Were biased. But we dont tell lies.

But it was Utusan Malaysia that accused all women at a demonstration of being prostitutes. And so it was up to Sabri to wonder if the actual prostitutes were not the ones who wrote the report.
What distinguished Sabri from the many other commentators at the time was that he could write. Each article unfolds like a keenly observed narrative with suspense, pathos, and not occasional humour. He is particularly good at capturing the ground-breaking camaraderie and optimism of gathered crowds, when people of all stripes came together to express their disgust. When an all-Malay panel can convene at the Chinese Assembly Hall, you know the countrys in for an interesting time.

Nowadays, if we want to feel like we were there, most of us would resort to Youtube. Sabri could give you that rush purely with words, and this is what makes Face Off probably the finest example of Malaysian first-person reportage in book form.

This is not to say that Sabri was unbiased. Who was it that said, Objectivity is a kind of ignorance? He was fully behind the people who would start Parti Keadilan and does not apologise for it. But, compared to the system embodied by Zainuddin, he came across like a shining voice of reason. I am sure his tone passionate but measured and witty managed to convert quite a few to the cause.

Sabri has been living overseas for some years now. I dont know if this has anything to do with the libel suit against him by a justly-forgotten personality of that era. But in his place there are many others who now bear witness, just not as consistently, eloquently or urgently.

His last article in the book takes place exactly a year after the first… You cant quite imagine that so much was packed into those 12 months; its like the nation is still reeling from it.

Reading Face Off now might make you sigh, because you miss the time when certain personalities existed more as icons than mere, fallible politicians. But you cant stay pessimistic for long, because, as it emerges, the true heroes in this book are not the adored leaders but the ordinary people who demonstrated courage and resilience in the face of a massively entrenched, hegemonic system.

This book is currently out of print. But the good news is that all the articles in it can be found online, which is where they started. They form a valuable portrait of a time when Malaysians decided to not be so afraid.

Amir Muhammad’s kinky horror movie ‘Susuk’ (co-directed with Naeim Ghalili) is now delighting some and confusing others in cinemas nationwide.

Action will be taken against YB Zulkifli Noordin - Malaysiakini

While Tan Sri Khalil has a fair share of bad publicity, the elusive YB Zulkifli Noordin saga continues. Now the PKR de-facto leader himself has issued a strong statement.

It will be interesting to see what kind of actions will be taken by PKR after show-cause letter and what will be YB Zulkifli's next actions. Interesting if he chooses not to respond at all.

The outcome of UMNO's election petition for Kulim Bandar Baharu is still pending. If there is another by-election, this could seal YB Zulkifli's fate in political arena.

If both previous candidates were fielded again, this by-election would be interesting, but not to the level of Permatang Pauh. Both of them now have similar track record of storming buildings and forums.

It seems though, if there is another by-election in P18, both will not be nominated. Wanna bet?

Read the Malaysiakini report here:

By Steven Gan and K Kabilan Aug 13, 08 6:16pm
PKR parliamentarian Zulkifli Noordin, who called on a crowd of angry Muslims to storm the Bar Council building last Saturday, will be asked to show cause, said Anwar Ibrahim.
However the party de facto leader will have to first find the elusive politician.
Zulkifli, who is Kulim-Bandar Baharu parliamentarian, has gone missing since Saturday's protest and calls made to his mobile telephone have gone unanswered. At the same time, the police denied that the parliamentarian had been detained by them.
Anwar revealed today that he too was unable to reach Zulkifli.
"I have been asked to speak to him, to give him notice... To be fair, since we are unable to contact him directly, we will have to wait until we can do so," Anwar told Malaysiakini after meeting with top fund managers at a Kuala Lumpur hotel.
Zulkifli was one of the key personalities leading the 300-strong crowd at the Bar Council headquarters to protest against the lawyers group's controversial ‘Conversion to Islam' forum.
The parliamentarian, a trained lawyer, said that he was representing the Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (Pembela), in which he is a member.
Zulkifli had
openly back Umno-linked NGOs, which were also at the protest, in wanting to storm the Bar Council building.However, the police advised forum organisers to abort the event soon after.

More in Malaysiakini.

Peluang Kerja di Riyadh

Sebuah syarikat besar dari UAE mempelawa profesional Muslim dari Malaysia untuk menyertai projek hartanah besar di Riyadh (bernilai USD12 billion).

The 1,411-hectare project, which was announced last October, will create 55,000 homes for 200,000 people as well as will have 50 mosques and eight shopping complexes.

There will be offices, several hotels, one university, health and educational facilities, and 300 hectares of green, open space.

Kerja yang sedang menanti ialah

- Development Manager

- Project Manager

- Construction Manager

- Commercial Manager

- QS

- Other subordinates

Hantarkan CV lengkap dalam bahasa Inggeris terbaik anda ke

"Khairul Affendi" <>,

Semuga Berjaya

Gerhana Mentari 16 September?

Dalam ramai yang menanti kemunculan mentari 16 September, sebagai 'a new dawn of Malaysia', mungkin ephoria ini melupakan beberapa perkara penting yang boleh menggerhanakan segala ekspektasi indah.

Kalau tiada perubahan pada 16 September, bukan sahaja kekecewaan melanda dan saham Pakatan Rakyat (PR) jatuh merudum, malah tongkang baru PR boleh sahaja pecah dan tenggelam.

Bukan sahaja retorik dan segala strategi menabur langkah pre-emptive akan terburai, malah PR menjadi bahan jenaka abad ini. Benarkah apa yang dicanangkan oleh Anwar Ibrahim selama ini atau sekadar gempak untuk menakutkan kerajaan 'lame duck' Pak Lah.

Kalau benar-benar ada kerajaan baru PR pada hari tersebut, tidak semestinya semua masalah akan selesai sekelip mata. Tentunya kerajaan pada hari ini tidak akan sekali menyerah kalah begitu sahaja. Kedua pihak mempunyai agenda dan strategi berbeda untuk kuasa politik.

Seperti permainan catur, kedua pihak sentiasa cuba bersedia untuk membuat dan mengelakkan 'check-mate'. Dari PRU12 sehingga kini, percaturan kuasa politik ini lebih menjahanamkan negara dan menyusahkan kehidupan rakyat.

Malah yang lebih penting, bersediakah pimpinan PR bersama barisan katak lompat dari BN untuk menghadapi cabaran lebih getir apabila ada perubahan mendadak dalam keseimbangan kuasa demi menjaga kestabilan politik. Ini adalah kerana tapak kuasa (power base) berpindah ke Sarawak/Sabah yang menjadi kuasa broker demi mem'perdana-menteri'kan Anwar Ibrahim.

Bermakna, bilangan kerusi parlimen dikalangan warga Melayu Islam dalam kerajaan PR akan tinggal minoriti berbanding dengan bukan Melayu/Islam. Senario ini tidak mustahil dan mungkin sebahagian dari kedewasaan berpolitik generasi baru. Tetapi benarkah begitu?

Benarkah juga kebimbangan berdasarkan prasangka perkauman tidak menjadi persoalan sesudah 50 tahun merdeka? Sentimen yang dimainkan dan dimanipulasikan oleh UMNO ini sentiasa berhasil menakutkan Melayu untuk terus menjadi pengundi UMNO demi ketuanan.

Mungkin melihat situasi sebegini, Presiden PAS telah juga mula membuat langkah pre-emptive, bermula dengan muzakarah pintu belakang dengan UMNO dan kenyataan bahawa PAS rela tinggalkan Pakatan demi Islam.

Sebenarnya, seperti yang dijangkakan ramai, Anwar akan kembali menjadi ahli parlimen Permatang Pauh dengan mudah tetapi tentunya tidak mudah untuk mencapai impian dan cita-citanya menjadi Perdana Menteri.

Beliau boleh menubuhkan kerajaan baru tetapi apakah beliau sebenarnya seperti yang selama ini ramai sangka dan harapkan?

Walauapapun, kita pada hari ini sedang mencipta sejarah, baik atau buruk, jadi atau tidak jadi, 16 September adalah tarikh yang boleh mengubah arah masa depan negara.

Sama ada suka atau tidak, kita masih mempunyai masa kalau mahu, untuk melihat situasi pasca 16 september menjadi lebih bersinar melalui perspektif berlainan demi survival anak-anak kita.

Untuk mengubah nasib negara, kita perlu bermula dengan sesuatu dan mungkin PRU12 menjadi langkah pertama. Langkah-langkah seterusnya tidak seindah dan semanis mimpi. Perjalanan negara selepas 50 tahun masih diselubungi paradoks 50 tahun yang berlalu.

Muktamar PAS boleh menentukan arah, kalau tidak memberi petunjuk terdekat arah mana dalam perjuangan yang belum selesai setelah Mahathir menjahanamkan keseluruhan struktur politik (terutama setelah persempadanan semula kawasan pilihanraya) dan sosial (rasuah, penyelewengan, kejatuhan moral pelbagai lapisan masyarakat), serta sumber alam negara demi nafsu megalomania beliau.

Walau-apapun, kesimpulannya, negara dan umat Melayu/Islam memerlukan kepimpinan baru diluar kebobrokan UMNO dan melihat jauh melangkau Anwar Ibrahim. Lupakan Pak Lah, Najib dan lain-lain pemimpin UMNO semasa yang semuanya sama sahaja sebenarnya selagi dalam tong taik.

Apakah vakum ini boleh diisi oleh kader-kader PAS? Bagaimana pula NGO seperti ABIM, JIM dan lain-lain yang tidak didokong oleh ahli politik?

Atau cadangan TG Nik Aziz agar UMNO dan PAS dibubarkan untuk sebuah entiti baru politik sebenarnya sesuatu yang TERBAIK dan boleh difikirkan?