Tuesday, November 28, 2006


If I were asked to avoid anybody, one of those on the top of the list are the journalists. What I mean by journalists here are not all journalists, but those that come to you to extract your opinion or statements, but then write differently from what you mean for unknown reasons, either because they are incapable of interpreting rightly what you are saying, or because they are doing that on specific purpose.

I have encountered with such journalists quite a number of times and the latest was in Medan last Friday, 24 November 2006. After giving a talk on Economic Development in Islam Hadhari at 45th Year Anniversary Seminar of the Economic Faculty of Universitas Sumatera Utara (USU), a number of journalists from printed and electronic medias surrounded me for questions. I have been cautious enough to ask them the questions that they are going to ask prior to their recording and shooting of my answers. Consequently, I have refused to answer some questions that I thought were tricky and `trappy', and answered the others that I thought straight forward and manageable.

Surrounded by the journalists

The next morning, on Saturday 25 November 2006, to my surprise a major Medan newspaper came up with a disgusting title: "Malaysia Sukses Dengan Islam Hadhari" (Malaysia Is Succesful With Islam Hadhari), quoting me saying that. It appalled me for at least two reasons.

The paper

Firstly, how could Malaysia is considered as being succeeded in continuing her development by adopting the teaching of Islam Hadhari when Islam Hadhari was only launched two years ago and its action plan has only been designed quite recently and has yet to be implemented fully? It is of course indeed still immatured and too early to judge.

Secondly, the explanation that followed the quotation was only confined to the earlier part of my paper that explained what is Islam Hadhari, while the later part that contained a critical analysis and suggestions for the betterment of the Islam Hadhari, such as the terms used in it, its theoretical framework, its implementational method, its achievement measurement index and its position in national development strategy have been left out totally. The journalist has definitely failed to analyse my paper in full, hence failing to highlight what I was actually wanted to say, that is Islam Hadhari is laudable, but it could still be improved by strengthening the five areas above.

Actually this was not my first encounter with such a journalist. Sometimes in 1990's, a formal newspaper of an opposition party in Malaysia also published my saying at a Premier Lecture of a so-called `satisfactory' accomplishment of development in Kelantan, but leaving out totally my critical analysis and suggestions for the betterment of the development strategy in the state. Like the above journalist in Medan, this journalist took only the earlier `good' part of my speech delivered at the invitation of the State Government of Kelantan, leaving out the critical part of it.

Such a misleading news about my speech also happened during my Professorial Lecture at Universiti Sains Malaysia on 28 July 2001. A journalist quoted me in a Medan newspaper of `my' saying in the Lecture that the Sultan of Kelantan was apprehensive of the PAS government in the state, while in reality I was not even mentioned a word about both parties. The journalist apparently did that to relate his story to my theoretical underpinning of Islamic development explained in the Lecture.

More surprising was my encounter with a journalist of an English newspaper sometimes around 1993-1995 at a hotel in Jalan Macalister, Penang, Malaysia. I was there to listen to the then number two man of the now defunct Darul Arqam, Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim Abbas, to be interviewed by a group of journalists from various newspapers. The interview was supposed to be a session for him to explain about Darul Arqam, in the midst of continuous attacks from Malaysian government in general and Islamic Development Office (JAKIM) in particular. The interview went smoothly in a cordial atmosphere.

But on the way out of the hotel after the interview has completed, Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim was casually asked by the journalist of that English newspaper about the value of the Darul Arqam's wealth. Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim was quite astonished as he understandably did not know the exact value of the wealth at finger tips. Looking Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim in a dumb, the journalist quickly guessed, RM365 millions (around that figure if I am not mistaken)? Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim nodded lazily, still unsure of the exact value.

The next morning, it was the figure that became the headline of the newspaper, not the content of the interview explained by Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim for about an hour or so. Subsequently, other newspapers quoted it and eventually the figure became the `official' figure of the value of Darul Arqam's wealth!

Not long after that, a journalist from the same newspaper also used to suggest to me in an interview after a course at National Productivity Centre in Kepala Batas, Penang that Darul Arqam might still has underground activities eventhough it has been banned by the government. She insisted for my agreement several times and I know that if there was even a little gesture of agreement, it would become the headline the next morning. Luckily I did not do that because it was out of my knowledge whether there were underground activities or otherwise.

For the above reasons too, whenever journalistic students of Universiti Sains Malaysia came to interview me for their Berita Kampus, I either refused them or entertained them but with a condition that they should show me their writings before they publish. But for the most of the times, they never showed up after that. They said they were squeezed by their deadlines and the writings have to go to the press before they could come back to me. The eventual result is expected, viz. usually unsatisfactory!

Undeniably, it is not that I did not try to understand the sub-culture and nature of a journalist's works. Around the time when the former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was sacked out of UMNO, a journalist of a mainstream Malay newspaper in Malaysia used to release to me that he wanted to quit the job. He said he was stressed with his own hypocritical behaviour - writing stories that he himself actually did not exactly know their truth. He has to do that for the sake of his newspaper's hidden or known objectives. But I did not know exactly why, he is still there until now and in fact has became a prominent editor of the newspaper. May Allah s.w.t. helps and guides him.

In the case of the recent Medan incident, fortunately there was another major newspaper that helped to overcome the misinterpretation. It came with a more correct title: "Indonesia Harus Mencari Paradigma Alternatif Pembangunan Ekonomi" (Indonesia Must Search For An Alternative Development Paradigm).

I say it was correct because this was actually the theme of the seminar, that is Alternative Paradigm of Economic Development. I was invited to talk on Islam Hadhari as one of the possible alternative for Indonesian economic development. It was preceded by an introductory remarks by the Dean of the Economic Faculty of Universitas Sumatera Utara, Drs Jhon Tafbu Ritonga, who critically reviewed the past and prevailing Indonesian economic development paradigm and pointed out for an alternative. And I proceeded with an explanation on and critical analysis of one of the possible alternatives, that is Islam Hadhari that has been introduced in Malaysia.

The right coverage of this newspaper gave me a little bit of relief indeed. I am glad that there are still sharp-minded journalists with analytical capabilities around!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Alhamdulilah, what a real relief...my son Taariq scored 5As for his UPSR!
Muhammad Taariq at Menara Kuala Lumpur during his school's trip
I say a real relief because Taariq is a sort of a happy-go-lucky child, with an interest more on handling mechanical and electronic gadgets as well as woodwork rather than on reading books. He is a kind of a hands-on person, interested more in practical rather than theoretical endeavours. He hardly read books, even his school text books, except the night before the UPSR examination. During those nights, he carried his books around the house, up and down, flipping through the pages, asking his mum and sister and brother about anything he did not understand. Though earlier we had insisted him to read the books and doing exercises, he could only manage to be with his books for a few minutes everytime we persuaded him. Then he had thousands of excuses to be away from the books.
Undeniably, both his mum and I did not really force him to get engaged with his book indeed. We know very well that his brain is working fast to think what he should do next rather than entangling himself passively with the books. Instead, he would rather engage with a more creative endeavours, such as repairing or painting and repainting his or his brother's and sisters' bicycles, or dismantling and refitting his remote control cars, or investigating the gadgets of his handphone or of his mum's digital or video cameras.

All in all, Taariq relatively did not burden himself by studying madly for his UPSR. He neither attended any tuition nor had a private tutor at home. What he did was only attended extra classes organised by his school and did his homeworks, and once in a while followed one-day motivational course somewhere around our area. That's all, briefly, and that's why the result was really a relief and happy moment for many of us - his parents, his sisters and brother, as well as our close family members and friends. We are really very grateful and thank Allah s.w.t. for His grace. Taariq followed the footstep of his sister A'firah and brother 'Akif who were bestowed by Allah s.w.t. with 5As in earlier years.

Contemplating on Taariq's accomplishment, we came to realise that he is actually a brilliant child. His creativity is actually a manifestation of his working mind. His success in spite of his rather little effort is a reflection of his strong memory. His activeness in helping his mum and others - from buying chicken from Haji Qudus at Taman Tun Sardon market to buying chicken curry from Kassim Mustafa Restoran at Bukit Jambul and accompanying his mum and others to wherever necessary - is a portrayal of his inclination towards active activities. And his ability to grasp his lessons through only his extra classes together with his friends is actually an exhibition of his effectiveness in doing things through collective endeavours (jemaah). All of these, plus his talkative and friendly attitude, to his mum and I are indeed great assets that must be channelled to an avenue that could lead him to serve his religion and ummah!

Taariq and cousin in-law Din during the recent Eid celebration, 2006

For this, we hope to send him pursuing his study at Imtiaz School of Excellence in Terengganu - a school that cultivate students to be hafiz-cum-scientists, with characteristics of ulul albab, that is Islamic scholars with a Quranic, ijtihadic and encyclopedic ability to become global leaders. We hope that this could nurture his creativity to the right path, InshaAllah.

An application was sent through internet on the very day we knew Taariq's UPSR result. We are now waiting for a formal call for an interview, expected to be sometime in between 10-12 December 2006. May Allah s.w.t. helps him and may Yayasan Terengganu - the institution in-charged of the Imtiaz School of Excellence - accepts him for the sake of Allah s.w.t. Amiin!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


On 28 October 2006, my family and I had a surprise Hari Raya visit from my third sister and family from Ipoh. The group consists of nearly 20 people - adults and children: sons & daughters & in-laws & grand-children - plus a family of my nephew (son of my second sister) from Jitra, Kedah who joined in after knowing the coming of the group from Ipoh, totalling altogether about 30 people gathering at my house in Gelugor, Penang.

What a surprise and joyous moment!

Some of the family members

We had serabai and roti jala from Taman Tun Sardon's market immediately after they arrived. For lunch we had specially-ordered home-made nasi kandar from Bayan Lepas. Dinner were with pasembur and sotong bakar and kangkong rebus at Padang Kota, after visiting Little India for some spices and Pasar Chowrasta for some jeruk as well as after saying maghrib prayer at Masjid Jalan Prangin.

Spice shop, Little India

Jeruk tasting at Chowrasta Market

Pasembur and sotong bakar at Padang Kota

They left after the dinner by taking night ferry to the mainland, arriving back in Ipoh at about 12.00 a.m., so their sms said.

I am noting this down as this is indeed a rare occasion. Mine is the only family living here in the north (apart from the nephew in Jitra). We were seldom being visited by close families, moreover as many as this one, as most of them are living in the Klang Valley, including the children of my sister who visited us. During the gathering, we came to know that even my nephew in Jitra will be moving to the Klang Valley early next year, leaving mine alone in the north!

I was wondering, will my children - all of whom are still schooling in Penang - eventually also be attracted to the Klang Valley for work, hence leaving only both of us - me and my wife, perhaps at that time already retired - in Penang? Only God knows the best...