Monday, December 15, 2008

Flying Shoes: Lesson Learned

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the President of the United States dodging flying shoe over his head. It’s not an act in one of Monthy Python’s films. It’s the real time President who’s ducking that lowly missile. Not just once, but twice. Though he got a little help when the second missile flew his way, for the second pair of shoe was handily deflected by his counter part, namely, the Prime Minister of Iraq.

My mind was frozen for a few seconds it was completely empty of any thoughts - rather similar with my first reaction when I saw the twin tower hit by those planes right when I was mulling over my boring breakfast in our boarding house in Brussels.
But this time I was in the middle of a rather important task of grooming myself before setting off to work when my TV set showed that reality show.

Unlike 9/11 which left me in utter daze for quite sometimes, this time I got my faculty in relatively short time. Unfortunately, the one and foremost emotion that I felt was not to my liking at all. I was inundated with embarrassment.

I’m not an Iraqi, I’m not an American, and I don’t even like George W. Bush! I shouldn't I feel so embarrass by what happened to him. He’s the one who should be thinking about digging hole and hide for the rest of his Presidency.

Nonetheless, I do feel embarrass. Regardless of the fact that he’s probably one of the most hated person in the world right now for what he did to the Iraqi people – so perhaps deserved those shoes as a small payment for his deed – and I did my fair share of praying for his eternal damnation, I strongly feel that being a President he should not be brought so low in public.

However, the incident served as another proof of one of my beliefs that one shall pay or be rewarded for whatever one did. Sooner or latter. Other people may not know that those powerful people who abuse their power had already got punishment from the Almighty in their private lives (sooner) before getting their dues in the hereafter (latter).

But when those punishments made public, the whole world could see it. Personally, I think it was one of the worst punishments one could get. George W. Bush pays no respect to human rights, he humiliated his enemies in the most inhumane ways one could imagine (e.g. Abu Ghraib case) now he got his fair share of embarrassment.

Having said that, I must say that no matter how much we hate someone, we should never forget what is right and what is wrong. The fact that the one we hate do wrong bad things doesn’t give us a free pass to do and act like them. Nothing justified wrong bad things not even when it’s done by the victims. Once we lost this understanding than we have crossed the border and lost our humanity and become exactly like those we hate.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Other Presidential Hopefuls Should Learn from Obama – Mc.Cain Debates

If the world could vote in the US 2008 Election it will vote for Obama.

Here are the whys to be considered by other presidential hopefuls who are heading towards their own debates:

He looked calm and sincere.

He showed respect to his opponent.

He didn’t seem to be overly offended by aggressive and offensive words delivered by his opponent.

He didn’t lower himself to the same level as his opponent even when he got the chance and valid reason to do that and therefore showed the excellence of his character (e.g. his restraint not to trash Palin)

He tried to elaborate and be straight on difficult questions and defending his records in calm, organised and reasonable manner.


The excellence of one character is not judged by how he deals and treats those who are close and dear to him but by how he treats those he despises and hates.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Results of the US Presidential Debates

At first, like most of other world citizens, I’m very pleased when I heard that a black man is running for a President in the US. Not just because he’s black but because he’s young and seemed to be honest enough, with good and pleasant manner. Not to mention down to Earth. In short, a complete opposite of how Americans are perceived.

I sincerely hope that he could become the next President of the US to end many conflicts around the world specifically between the Israeli and Palestinians. However I lost my hope when I heard his policy regarding America’s best Ally.

He turned out to be no different than any other guy running for office. He also sung the same mandatory love song for their beloved Ally. With that kind of song he would never be fair when it comes to Israel and Palestine's issues. I stopped paying attention to the US Presidential Election news.

However it’s impossible to be deaf and blind on a topic which is considered as the hottest news this day. I ended up watching the 1st and 2nd Presidential debates. And here are the results:

I dislike how Mc.Cain behaved during the 1st debate. He didn’t look nor talk directly to Obama. He brilliantly managed not to even mention Obama by his name. It showed unbelievable amount of arrogance and condescension. Who wants a President who couldn’t even show a common courtesy to his opponent?

On the second debate I didn’t hear a new thing on the substance. But on the character side, I learnt quite a lot e.g. Mc.Cain finally managed to address Obama directly by calling him THAT ONE, he also once again showed his brilliance by turning his back on Obama, when Obama was shaking hands with his wife to avoid him. And he sounded really cheap with his many ‘my friends’ (the first time I actually had someone addressing me as my friend was in a presentation in a teahouse in China).

Both candidates attacked each other quite often, however, Mc. Cain looked angry, disgruntled and mean spirited, exactly like his campaigns which are more negative than Obama’s.

I wonder whether the US Presidential Campaign will be this tight if Obama is white. And it scares me to imagine McCain as US President. I think the world has enough of War President. The world needs someone who thinks and sees others as their equal.

Someone who doesn’t comfortably invent massive lies to justify what their want. Does Mc.Cain have that qualities? From what I learnt through their debates the answer is a big NO.

Monday, September 22, 2008

If My Father were God

There is a very good reason why no mortal man is a God. You don’t have to see Bruce Almighty to understand it. I for one only need to interact with my father and profusely thanks God – on behalf of the mankind - for the fact that he is only my father.

I love the old man dearly, but loving someone doesn’t mean that you don’t see their mistakes and agreeing with them in everything. Loving someone means that you love that person just the way they are complete with all their imperfections. And love doesn’t make you blind or stupid unless you’re already blind and stupid in the first place.

Back to why the human kind should be grateful that the old darling is nothing more than just my father…

Muslims are ordered to pay annual Zakat (taking out 2.5% out of their wealth for the have not). I choose to pay mine during Ramadan. When my father learnt of one of the names of those who are on my list he protested: “Why are you giving it to him? He doesn’t even pray. By giving your Zakat to him he would think that not praying is a good thing for he still could get a livelihood doing what he does.”

I’d like to think that I’m a rather patient person but the old man could easily vex me by delivering unintentionally inflammatory statement like that. Come to think of it, most of our arguments are indeed related to either political issues or religious matters.

I knew that I should be patient but he had raised a red flag, and the temptation was too big for me to forfeit. I took a deep breath and raised my voice an octave ready to launch my sermon.

I started by stressing the merit of giving Zakat indiscriminately. And to drive my point home, I specifically mentioned the fact of how Muslims have a tendency to work themselves up whenever some Missionaries feed the poor and then converted them to Christianity.

I pushed my argument by pointing out that Qur’an never says to assist, help or feed only the pious e.g. Muslims orphans, Muslims poor, Muslims widows etc. On the contrary Qur’an is very specific in stressing the help is supposed to be given to the orphans, and the poor regardless of their religions, races, characters, and deeds.

The Prophet even reminded us to be ware of poverty as it brings us a step closer from turning away from God. If we are to do as my father wishes than probably no poor will get help from the Muslims. And as the Prophet had warned, being poor they don’t have time to learn about religion let alone to practice it, so it is understandable that when they find a helping hand they would gladly grab it and turn their back on their own religion.

God gives his love to man kind indiscriminately. The sun shines for everyone, the rain pour down for whoever needs it. The air is free for all. God is not sparing or stingy when it comes to worldly bounty and pleasures.

But man surely is. We tend to give only to those we love, approved of or agree with. And if only we could, we tend to make life difficult for those we disapproved of, hate or disagree with.

My mother quipped that if my father were God, his chess opponent might find numerous problems on his way home after he beats him two times in a row.

Thanks God, there is God.

Quote: The Most Merciful

Narrated by Abu Hurairah, I heard Allah’s Messenger said:

“Verily, Allah created mercy. The day He created it, He made it into one hundred parts. He withheld with Him ninety-nine parts, and sent its one part to all His creatures. Had a disbeliever known of all the mercy which is in the hands of Allah, he would not have lost hope of entering Paradise, and had a believer known of all the punishment which is present with Allah, he would not have considered himself safe from the Hell-fire.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Review: Damo

Damo is not a typical Korean movie where the loves between characters are clearly lined. The lead characters in Damo – Chae Ok, Commander Hwangbo and Jang Sung Baek – struggle in defining and fighting for what they consider as right, what they believe in.

As the differences in their position and status make it impossible for her and Commander Hwangbo to be anything more than what they are, Chae Ok tries to kill her unbounded love for the man she has loved since fate brought them together.

On the other hand since the day he saw the little girl with blistered feet and carried her on his back, Commander Hwangbo has felt responsible for her. With his complicated background he understands her pains and loneliness. Since then on they have become inseparable.

It took him sometimes to realise that his feelings for her are more than what a master normally felt toward his beloved servant – not that he ever thinks of her as his servant.

As the best King’s Commander, it is no wonder that Commander Hwangbo ends up with the task to catch an illusive insurgent’s leader, Jang Sung Baek who has made himself a Royal headache.

And naturally Chae Ok considers it her duty to do her best in catching Jang Sung Baek as well.

However, when she meets him she is inexplicably drawn to him. She doesn’t understand why she couldn’t bring her self to hurt him or why she falls in love with him loving Commander Hwangbo as she does.

Chae Ok has to strugle with only her unquestionable loyalty to carry out her duty.

But her loyalty towards Commander Hwangbo means death for the man who she denies to love. But not catching Jang Sung Baek also means death for the man whom she loves with her whole heart although she would never admit her feelings no matter what.

Not even when she finally knows that Commander Hwangbo also loves her.

I must tell you that I decided not to watch this drama when I started it and saw a final fighting scene between Chae Ok and Jang Sung Baek which they put as the first scene.Thinking that it was nothing more than a regular love turns to hate drama. Thinking that it was just another star crossed love story. However, I decided to give it another five minutes. And as the movie continued I fell in love with Commander Hwangbo.

I like the fact that despite his rather sad background he could rise and stand tall and become such an admirable man. But what I love most about him is his love for Chae Ok.

Although he also tried to kill his love for her, not because of their differences in position and status, for he cared nothing about that, but because that’s what Chae Ok wanted, in the end his true feelings win.

He could no longer deny that he truly and  sincerely loves her. That he loves her more than anything else. Even more than his own honor. And that says a lot being such an honorable man that he is.

I cried an ocean when Hwangbo finally realised who Jang Sung Baek really was. I cried an ocean because by then I knew what it meant. Loving Chae Ok as much as he does, Hwangbo would never have a chance when he fights Jang Sung Baek.

When my fears came true I cried another ocean and lashed out at the script writers for making the movie ended so tragically.

Yes, I hate the ending. I really really hate it.

Having said that, I have to be fair and say that Damo is a very good series. One of its kind. Way much better than Jumong. It’s worth your time and your tears.

I don’t recommend you to see Jumong. I bought it and have no plan to finish it. I’m not even willing to swallow my disappointment when I saw how the story went. I feel cheated by those who recommended Jumong as the biggest romance of the centuries. What romance!

Those people really need to watch Damo to learn what true love really means. Potato Boy (Sodongyo/Song of the Prince) is even better than Jumong when one wants to talk about the biggest love stories between ancient characters.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What are Indonesians Good At?

We’re good at creating strange, silly, and incomprehensible rules with no apparent reasonable reasoning let alone huge benefits nor effectiveness at solving problems. So don’t even bother asking about in depth study of the pros and cons of that rules.

Just yesterday when I was about to leave Foreign Affairs Department I was stopped by a security guard about five meters from the gate and was told that I couldn’t go that way. I was genuinely bewildered for I could see no reason why I couldn’t go that way, so reasonably I asked ‘Why not?

Instead of answering my question he pointed out a picture of a mother and her kid that was forward slash, perhaps it means that no women and children are allowed to use that gate. For your information I was coming through that gate when I came in – sitting inside a cab.

However, as I was in a relatively charitable mood since I was fasting, I offered him an answer myself, ‘Ah, perhaps it’s difficult to stop a taxi from here,’ said I understandably. And then obediently walked away towards the second gate which was about 100 meters in the middle of the hot afternoon sun.

As I walked my charitable mood started to evaporate under the hot sun and my brain power which was rather limited started to stir especially after I arrived at the second gate and saw an enter sign instead of out sign as I expected. And to top it off it was just as difficult to stop a taxi in front of that gate.

I know that thinking is not my forte for trying as hard as I was, I couldn’t find a reasonable answer as to why pedestrians are not allowed to pass through that gate.

That’s the example of how good we are at creating incomprehensible rule. Or perhaps a good example of how stupid I was?

Anyway, we’re also good at not taking apparent step/initiative to solve problems.

If you’re a Jakartan you probably know Casablanca Street particularly the section in front of the Ambassador Mall and are one of the frustrating and helpless victims of its traffic.

I for one is definitely frustrated when I happened to have to use that street, however, with limited brain power I could see no solution for it, and therefore just gritted my teeth and bear it. That’s another thing that we Indonesians are good at. We’re very good at accepting uncomfortable situations and conditions.

Back to Casablanca Street, a taxi driver told me not long ago that unlike other traffics that plague Jakarta’s streets, the traffic in the Casablanca Street is actually very easy to solve. Just build a bridge and a fence, so that no body could cross that street hence there’s no reason for the securities of that Mall to stop passing cars and creating that terrible traffic.

Simple isn’t it? The question is why is it not implemented? Is it possible that everybody else has also had a limited brain power like me?

Or is it really like what I argue that we’re only good at creating useless rules and not good at all at solving problems?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quote: Too Little Too Late

Narrated by Anas bin Malik, the Prophet said:

"A disbeliever will be asked: 'Suppose you had as much gold as to fill the earth, would you offer it to ransom yourself from the Hell-fire?' He will reply: 'Yes.' Then it will be said to him, 'You were asked for something easier than that (to join none in worship) with Allah, but you refused'"

Quote: Religion is Easy Not Hard

Narrated by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet said:

"Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion, will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by offering the Salat in the mornings, afternoons and during the last hours of the nights"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Prophet Muhammad's Last Sermon

[This sermon was delivered on the Ninth Day of Dhul-Hijjah 10 A.H. in the 'Uranah valley of Mount Arafat' in Mecca.]

After praising and thanking Allah the Prophet (saws) said:

"O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that he will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn 'Abd'al Muttalib [the Prophet's uncle] be waived.

Every right arising out of homicide in pre-islamic days is henceforth waived and the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabiah ibn al Harithibn.

O People, the unbelievers indulge in tampering with the calender in order to make permissible that which Allah forbade, and to forbid that which Allah has made permissible. With Allah the months are twelve in number. Four of them are holy, three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Shaban.

Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope of that he will be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah's trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste. O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadhan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware: do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me, and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and my Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed Your message to Your people."

This post was posted in relation to my previous posting regarding Ahmadiyah as a warning and reminder to those who have been led astray into the wrong path

This post was posted for those who love him as much as I do

This post was posted for those who don't know him as an effort to give a better understanding about his personality and characters and the teaching of Islam (to know more about him you could go to:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How does Ahmadiyah Differ from the Mainstream Islam and Other Sects?

On the surface it would be hard for other people – even for the Muslims themselves – to tell the differences between the Ahmadi (followers of Ahmadiyah) and other Muslims at large.

It’s not like their women wear certain motif, colour, or design for their headscarves to distinguish themselves nor do their men dressed differently from the guy next door. One of my friends is Ahmadi. And it took me years to finally figure it out.

One of the reasons why it’s hard to know whether someone is a member of Ahmadiyah or not is because unlike the followers of the two commonly perceived sects in Islam Sunni and Shia (Shiite) – which I don’t consider as Sects – the Ahmadi would not willingly announce to the public that they are from Ahmadiyah.

As in many Muslims countries including or to be precise particularly in India its birth place, Ahmadiyah is not only banned and denounced as heretical but it was also seen as a creation of the English spies and supporters to destroy Islam from within. It was aiming to break down the fierce resistance of the Muslims towards foreign invaders during British occupation in India.

It was certainly not an admirable beginning let alone a holy one. It strongly undermined Ahmadiyah’s claim as a true religion. It speaks volume about its self proclaimed prophet Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. All genuine prophets (Messengers of God) worked for the well-being and betterment of their people, and none of them worked for the oppressors let alone received money from those disbelievers to destroy their own people.

Another thing about Ahmadiyah is that despite its claim to be the right religion, none of them have the courage to stand up and fight for what they think is right. I think it has something to do with the fact that their own prophet was hiding behind the British Empire and didn’t go out and fight for his belief like other genuine prophets.

Unlike the Ahmadi who has to be cautious (secretive) about their identity, the Sunni and Shia (the mainstream Muslims) have no reservation in announcing who they are. They’re united in their infinite reverence and love for Prophet Muhammad.

Whatever their differences – due to political divide and the interpretation of Qur'an (Koran) as well as Hadists – both proclaim themselves as the followers of Prophet Muhammad. They would join forces whenever there is perceived threats to their beloved prophet, like one delivers by Ahmadiyah.

By declaring himself a prophet, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had committed a heinous act. He had betrayed and denounced Prophet Muhammad and Islam (those who hate Muhammad also hate Islam, those who denounced Prophet Muhammad surely had denounced Islam).

Despite being open to interpretation, Qur'an is conveyed in ways which help Muslims to clearly see which parts of it falls under black, white or grey areas. And it is being extremely clear about the status of Prophet Muhammad as the last Messenger of God.

In Al- Azab, 40, God says:

Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last end of the Prophet. And Allah is Ever All Aware of everything.”

How much more simple do you want it to be to ensure that there is no misunderstanding? Surely, only the very ignorant ones who could take it differently and be guided into the wrong path. And only the very devious and evil ones who could invent a lie and mislead people after that very clear statement.

The Ahmadi although publicly acknowledging Prophet Muhammad (quite recently in Indonesia the high officials of Ahmadiyah even did some lip service and conceded that he was the last prophet as a way to deceive public and enable them to operate within Islam) consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad not only as a prophet but the Messiah (Jesus).

This outlandish claim was made despite the fact that his name had not even been mentioned in the Qur'an. But then again it should not come as a surprise because once he denounced the validity of Muhammad as the last Messenger of God, it’s only logical for him to denounce Qur'an which was given to him as well. And that’s precisely what Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did and what the Ahmadi have been doing.

They pick, twist, adjust, reduce, add and interpret Qur'an to their liking to justify their claims. And ignore the rest of it which contradict their claims.

Shaikh Muhammad Anwar Shah Kashmiri a savant of India noted that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had no qualm in spreading slender about Jesus (just like the average Jews). He said disparaging thing about this exalted Prophet like saying that he was the son of Yusuf Najjar (Joseph the Carpenter).

No genuine prophet would bad mouthed other prophets as they were brothers. Prophet Muhammad loved and respected Jesus who was his closest brother and had never said anything but praises about him.

He also revered Jesus’s mother Mary and extolled her virtues as GGod had explained to him of her circumstance in Al-Anbiya, 91:

And she who guarded her chastity (Mary), We breathed into (the sleeves of her shirt/garment) through Our Ruh (Gabriel) and We made her and her son (Jesus) a sign for man kind and jinn.”

Since Mirza Ghulam Ahmad the self proclaimed Prophet didn’t believe what God had told us about Mary and Jesus. It makes one wonder which God he was coming from. Certainly it’s not the God who had sent all other Prophets (e.g. Elisha, Job, David, Aaron, Abraham, Idris, Elias Jesus, Isaac, Ishmael, Lot, Moses, Noah, Solomon, Ezra, Jacob, John, Jonah, Joseph, Zachariya).

But somehow latter on he changed his tune and said that Jesus will descend to predict his coming (what about Muhammad, surely it was Muhammad that was mentioned by God in the Bible – but then again, it’s just another proof that he didn’t consider Muhammad as the Messenger of God), then changed it again into saying that he was actually Jesus the Messiah. After that he proceeded to claim himself as a prophet who brought new religion, the true one.

Nowadays his followers have been reduced to saying that he was sent to perfecting/complementing Islam in order to compromise with the mainstream Muslims (none of them dare to say to the public that he was a prophet, let alone the one who brought the true religion). Not that it works. They effort to deceive the Muslims is useless.

Muslims consider Islam already perfect as it is. God had told Prophet Muhammad that He had perfected Islam for his followers. There is no loop hole for anybody to claim himself as a new prophet assigned to guide the Muslims (followers of Muhammad) to the right path, as they are already in the right path. Anyone who comes after Prophet Muhammad and tries to change, add or reduce Qur'an and his Sunnah is clearly on the wrong path, and so is who ever follows him.

Beside his claim as a prophet, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his minions taught that Jesus was not killed but died of natural causes, interred and then left his tomb and went to Kashmir to teach Bible. Who would buy this claim but ignorant fools?

If Jesus came to India to teach Bible, the logical thing to happen is that the rest of India would convert into Christianity, or at the very least Kashmir, and certainly Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself should have become a devout Christian.

I must admit that I’m extremely curious to know what other Catholics/Christians think about Ahmadiyah’s teaching. I find their fascination, insistence and perseverance in bringing Jesus (their own version) into the equation quite strange and suspicious. But not worth to be addressed. It’s like a wicked person insisting that the night has come when the sun is shining brightly right on top of our heads. There is no point in spending our energy talking or explaining the obvious to this person. His statement serves only to emphasise his deviousness and self service motives.

It also shades some lights into its history. It told us that during Ahmadiyah inception process its prophet were very likely had been fascinated with Jesus’ history which had probably been fueled by his encounters with his Christian British counterparts.

The way Ahmadiyah had been structured to control its followers is also rather similar with Christianity/Catholicism and very different with Islam which is very loose and does not have official chain of command (structure).
I’ve never had a liking for whoever claims to be a religious authority and than use its power to his own advantage (such as accumulating wealth), deceiving people to have a better after life buy buying it from them.

For those who are looking for a better life after you die, please use your brains. Why do you have to give your money to these people? If they truly have power to grand you paradise what are they doing here collecting money? Surely they would prefer to kill themselves and go straight to heaven where they don’t even have to work to get what they want.

The true servant of God would never ask for a reward from you! Look at our beloved Prophet Muhammad! Even after he became the “King of Arabia” he still lived very poorly at a very humble hut.

Back to Ahmadiyah…

The fact that despite its similarity with Christianity (particularly in its argument of the importance of Jesus) Ahmadiyah decision to make it moves within Islam has posed a huge question mark. Why do they insist on targeting Muslims which are the followers of Muhammad and not Jesus?

Should we look back at how it was conceived to understand its purposes? Does it still have the same agenda? And does Britain still maintain its connection with Ahmadiyah?

I don’t think the Ahmadi who are genuinely seeking for the right path have a knowledge and interest in its political agenda and perhaps are not even aware of how their true religion was originally conceived.

They probably don’t even realise how far away they have gone from Islam in their quest for a right path. That they have set themselves ocean (or should I say heaven and hell) apart from the rest of other Muslims (the followers of Prophet Muhammad).

To be a Muslim is probably one of the easiest things to do in this hierarchical and procedural world. You don’t have to have a certain educational background, passed a test, paid some money nor swore allegiance to some religious authorities.

Sometimes one has started a process of becoming a Muslim without even realizing it. Once your heart says that there is only One God (Allah) and that Muhammad is His Messenger, you have become a Muslim whether you like it or not. The next step is only for you to acknowledge what your heart says orally and than follow its teachings as part of your oral commitment. That’s it.

Unfortunately, it’s even easier to stop being a Muslim. You don’t even have to declare it to the world. Once your heart starts saying that perhaps there is more than one God exist in this world, once you start to worship other entities and deities you have quitted Islam. Once you start to doubt the status of Muhammad as His last Messenger, you have started taking a different path.

Why the status of Prophet Muhammad as the last Messenger of God is crucial in Islam? And why Ahmadiyah has considered as gone beyond Islam? Let’s have a look at how three of the world religions were formed.

Christianity came into existence after powerful people bring it into existence by giving it a name and decrying the validity of and ignored the messages carried by Prophet Moses (Torah). They anointed Jesus not only as the Messenger of God but also as God himself and accepted his messages (words of God) combined with opinions of others as Holly Book (Bible).

While the Jews themselves denounced Jesus and refused to accept his claim as a Messenger of God and hang on to Torah. Islam came into existence when the Muslims decried Bible and acknowledged Muhammad as the Messenger of God and accepted His messages compiled in the Qur'an as Holly Book.

The most logical way to see and make sense of all this was by acknowledging that all those three great men were indeed Messengers of God. They came with the same mission to bring light and showed us a right path. A path which is determined and chosen by God for us to follow.

If we were born during the time of Moses the right thing to do was to follow his lead and counsel until the next prophet came along. If we were born during the time of Jesus, the right thing to do was to follow his lead and counsel. If we happen to be Jews it doesn’t mean that we betray Prophet Moses by following his lead, because he and Jesus were coming from the same God, and bringing the same guidance. The same thing goes for Prophet Muhammad. The Christians should follow his lead and council.

However, this circle of following the new prophet had stopped when God informs us that Muhammad was His last Messenger, so that we would not be deceived by many deceivers that would surely come afterwards.

Another huge obstacle for the claim of Ahmadiyah lays in the most important ritual in Islam which is praying (shalat).When Muslims pray (at least five times a day) they confirm their acknowledgment of Allah and Prophet Muhammad. They renew their faith on daily basis. The faith which doesn’t have a place for and would never include Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the deceiver and disbeliever.

For all the Ahmadi who are genuinely love Allah and Prophet Muhammad and only seeking for the right path, true guidance and religion, please open you heart, and use your brains which had been given by God to really think about what you are doing.

Particularly on how much you have to pay for this true religion. God tells us that only 2.5% of our wealth belongs to the poor, and none of our money is designated for religious authorities (or who ever claims to be God’s representative on this earth). If someone tells you to give them more money in order to go to heaven you should be critical and cynical.

If you no longer believe in Prophet Muhammad and his messages (Koran and Hadist) there is nothing left for you to maintain your claim as a Muslim. You should denounce Islam right away.

And if you really have no intention of destroying Islam, then do the honorable thing and declare your belief to the world as the right religion, the true one which is given by God.

That is if you are truly believe in its rightness and want to spread it to the world. Don’t hide behind Islam. Don’t use Islam as your vehicle. Otherwise don’t blame us if we think that all you really want to achieve is destruction of Islam and do something about it.

But if you still have some doubts, please go back to Qur'an, and read it once again. And think deeply. God is the Most Merciful.

But people are not that benign nor understanding nor forgiving.

I felt sorry when I saw acts of violence directed toward the Ahmadi. I’m sure some of them (the genuine seekers of the right path) are baffled when they saw the hatred displayed by their neighbours toward them.

However, I do think that the Muslims should not just sit back and let Ahmadiyah has its way. We might ignore someone who upsets and annoys us. But you don’t ignore a person who puts a hole in your boat. Although, it doesn’t mean that you may go and destroy their house of worships and property to your liking. One needs to maintain a differentiation from wicked people. One certainly is not allowed to be wicked to defeat the wicked. We are good guys after all.

One part that I rather like when something went wrong is looking for the culprits. Who is to blame when people turn into violent to solve their grievances?

Part of the blame for the violence and destruction directed toward the Ahmadi lays at the government door steps. The Muslims have been filing their complains about Ahmadiyah for decades to no avail.

The government chose to ignore them and let Ahmadiyah to exist and grow until it’s too big to restraint. Even now, after the most recent bouts of violence the government still stopped short of declaring and banning it as an illegal organization.

Those acts of violence happened because the Muslims are frustrated when they see that Ahmadiyah is allowed to do what they saw as efforts to destroy their religion. It happened because they want to defend their religion from attacks launched by Ahmadiyah.

However, they forget one thing, those Ahmadi are still our brothers (maybe not in faith) but still our brothers. And that no matter how much we like for them to embrace our religion, we have no power what so ever to decide who will be guided to the right path and who would be deceived to swerve into the wrong path.

God says in Al-Mursalat, 29-31:

“Verily, this (verses of the Koran) is an admonition, so whosoever wills, let him take a path to his Lord (Allah)”
“But you cannot will, unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
“He will admit to His Mercy whom He wills and as for the Zalimun (polytheists, wrongdoers), He has prepared a painful torment.”

God says in Al-Baqarah, 6-7:

“Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you (Muhammad) warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe.”
“Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, (i.e. they are closed from accepting Allah’s guidance), and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment.”

God says in Al-Fajr, 21-22:

“ So remind them (Muhammad) – you are only one who reminds.”
“You are not a dictator over them”

So what is the right approach to take with Ahmadiyah?

The government could take the lead by warning Ahmadiyah that their action is considered as an infringement of the rights of Islam. That it’s illegal to infringe on Religion (not only on copy right).

If a person could have a right to his/her originality surely religions are entitled to have it as well.

Then Ahmadiyah itself should also take an initiative. It should be honest with the world. It should be honest with its followers of its intentions. After its rejection to pray together with other Muslims (which could only mean that they consider us as disbelievers or that they do not consider themselves as Muslims), it should be brave enough to take the ultimate step. To proclaim themselves as the right religion. The true religion. A religion independent of Islam.

Hence they will be able to claim all the rights given to other religions. There will be no more harassment, attacks and acts of violence directed toward them.

The downside of this action is that some of their followers (the ones who really love God and Prophet Muhammad, the genuine seekers of the right path) might finally realised that they have been lead to the wrong path, and mend their ways.

What an irony....

Monday, June 2, 2008

It’s President Wanted! Not the Wannabes!

Looking at the exciting presidential campaign in the US I feel a little bit dishearten when I look at our own up coming general election. Regardless of the outcome of their presidential election – considering the Americans track records of choosing Bush twice and having Mc.Cain to run for the third term... – at least the Americans have had a chance to vote for an alternative and potential candidate who could bring about change. Indonesians are not that lucky.

Sure we have plenty who are passionately determined to be the next President. Some of them had even been given a chance and lucky enough to become RI 1. The fact that they had been ousted or voted out by the people doesn’t seem to diminish their desires to make another attempt to come back. The problem is we don’t want them to come back! Well, okay perhaps it’s only me and few others with good memories and critical thinking. I want someone new.

Someone who isn’t tainted with the dirty intrigues in our bureaucracies. Someone who doesn’t have a prospect of becoming a “witness” in any corruption cases under prosecution by KPK (Corruption Eradication Commission). Someone who is passionate enough about change and could inspire and convince us that change is possible after all. Someone who believes that the systematic corruption in our governments could be eliminated through drastic and major changes. Someone who realises that the key to poverty alleviation is good governance and not abundant natural resources as it has been painfully proven to us all!

Sadly, no such person is visible in the horizon. All that I could see is wannabes who make it clear that their priority is to win the general election. Wannabes who try to sell their wares with their same old boring jingle “Experience”. I don’t careless if they’ve a life time career as bureaucrat. I don’t careless if they’ve a term or two as President of the Republic of Indonesia in their brief.

It only tells me that they’ve learn all there is to learn in the Political Guidance for Successful Politicians textbook. Which have special chapters dedicated to extensively discuss the ways to deceive public through elaborate schemes, the how to make initiatives and policies which are easy to implement without in depth studies, the how to hand out key positions to allies and cronies without being obvious, and the how to accumulate as much wealth as possible during one’s term. That’s what the experience is all about!

What we should care about our Presidential hopeful is his character, sincerity, honesty and integrity. What we should care about is that we choose someone who really cares for his people, us. Not his position. What we need is someone who is extremely passionate and determined to better our lot. Not someone who’s ambition is to become a President!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Camden, an Honest Revelation of Bigotry, Racism and Fear of Change

I was quite shocked when I watched the interviews on the news during one of the town’s meetings against the proposed Islamic school in the area. There were no politically correct words nor sentences worded carefully to avoid undesirable effects. Just blunt words and plain speeches made by ordinary rural people for their fellow citizens. It revealed the depth of the feelings felt by the community towards the Muslim immigrants in Australia.

One interviewee strongly and passionately stated that she didn’t want to have the terrorists in their community. She didn’t even bother to make differentiation between Muslims for in her views they’re all terrorists.

She then continued by stressing that their community wasn’t against immigration as they had Italians, Greeks, and others from Europe, all were welcomed excepts the Muslims.

What really shocked me wasn’t the opposition itself. I understand how difficult it is for a community to accept foreigners among them, let alone letting them build something which would out last everyone of them and might become new legacies in their community. The shocker was the fact that such strong sentiments are felt by Australians. Our close neighbour.

Regardless of the rather volatile relationship between Indonesia and Australia and the ups and downs in our foreign relations, I've always have a feeling that Australians are one of those who really know and understand Indonesians. That means understand the Muslims and Islam. I somehow thought Australia as one of the most tolerance countries when it comes to the practice of different religions. Seeing that news was a revelation. It shows the world a reality. Ugly, unpleasant, and shocking, but reality nonetheless.

People are inherently suspicious of others different from them, particularly if those different people are the ones constantly pictured as terrorists by the media. They also have a healthy dose of fear of change, enough patriotism, nationalism, and faith in their bones to defend their country, community, culture and religion against the invaders and interlopers. Conveniently forgetting their very existence in their beloved land was the results of what they are opposing at the moment. Change brought by the unwelcome foreigners.

It shows that we are still a long way from achieving an ideal world where one’s colours, nations, and beliefs will no longer be an issue. When people could see other people without prejudice. When they could see others who come into their community not as a threat but as a welcome resources. As a fellow citizen of this planet, who has the same rights as everybody else in it.

Most of the fear of change has economic reasons behinds it. Most of the time it is because the community doesn't want to share its wealth with others. They don't want their comfort to be diminished. Very selfish indeed. But that's the reality in its ugly but honest form.

Until people have an understanding that they need to share what they have with others, tensions will always be there. Until people learn to accept that people are different and will always be, there will always be bigotry, racism, and conflicts.

Apparently, the world still has much to do to educate its citizens.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fuel Hike

In just a few months I’ve experiencing more than a couple of increases of gas price. For your information I’m using gas with higher level of octane which of course way more pricey than the ones with lower octane level.

The reasons for using a higher octane level gas are because I assume it would be better for my car and because the gas with a cheaper price is heavily subsidized by the government and is designated for those who couldn’t afford it without subsidy.

So, I was feeling quite noble and virtuous for being a model citizen and didn’t really mind those increases.

However, when I stopped in a gas station a couple of days ago, I was pissed of by the new price I saw. It’s Rp 8,750 per liter! Yes, that’s the price I have to pay for being such a model citizen.

Instead of rewarding me for my noble action which now I started to see as a stupid mistake and waste of precious money, the government decided to charge me more! Don’t they know that I am equal to those rare and endangered species needed to be protected? The government needs to preserve people like me. People who did stupid thing when people around them are being smart instead. People who support government stupid initiative at their own costs.

If you’re not using gas with higher level of octane or never pay attention to the going on in a gas station, I’ll tell you what happens when I’m giving my car its expensive drink. I never have to queue. Never! At least not with another car. My only competition is motorbikes.

The common scenes which I saw with mistaken feelings of superiority and righteousness were of luxurious cars using lower level of octane. It didn’t even cross my mind to question why I was the only one using higher octane – a lesson learned: if you’re the only one doing something, it’s probably because you’re doing the wrong thing!

Another thing that I learned is that what the government has achieved with their latest brilliant initiative is opening my eyes that I was being stupid. And it reaffirms my belief that the government is also very stupid.

If the purpose of increasing the price of higher level octane gas is to reducing government burden on subsidy, it fails miserably. This decision has a contrary effect, it pushes me to be like everybody else, to start to be smart and using the cheaper gas, which is heavily subsidized by the government! And don’t they know that no body is buying this expensive gas anyway?!

The government really needs to start to get smarter than that! And brings forth effective initiative like increasing the price of those subsidized gas to close the gap with the price of higher octane gas and therefore forcing those rich people to use what they should be using in the first place while on the other hand maintaining subsidized fuel price for those really needed e.g. public transportation and the have not.

The President said he was thinking of withdrawing Indonesia’s membership of OPEC for a time being as we’ve become an importing country, not that I disagree, but the question is why did we’ve become an oil importing country? What’s wrong? There got to be something wrong. Or am I being stupid again?

With the skyrocketing of fuel price we're supposed to rejoicing the fact and not lamenting it, but of course that's only happen if we are exporting oil. What happens? Have we depleted our resources? Or have the management of our resources to be blamed?

Everybody (translated as foreigners) complement Indonesia for being a rich country with a lot of resources, but if they bother to ask Indonesians, those common people, I'm sure they would be informed that the ordinary people never feel that they are rich, what they feel is that life has become more hard and difficult by day.

Yeah, I'm pissed of alright. So should every other not so stupid Indonesian!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Review: Bones!

It’s been such a long time since I found myself in love with a TV Series. Not since La Femme Nikita and Lois and Clark ended. The first was love at the first sight. The second was love which never ends.

Now after years spending with longing to find something that could capture my passion, attention and time, I finally found Bones.

It definitely is my favourite TV series of date. But why write the review now and not before?

I guessed after finished watching the second season I kind of forget how good it was. But right after watching a few episodes of the third season, all of the old giddy feelings came back full force.

What I love most either in the movies or books is a strong female lead. Someone with intelligence, strong backbones, and high qualifications. In short, no Miss teary, dewy eyed with great body but no brain for me. And Bones is giving me my ideal female character.

Dr. Temperance Brennan (Bones) is not only intelligent but also a brilliant in her field. She’s also a very famous author on the side, and therefore making more than enough money for herself. Working and excel in a rather bizarre field of work makes her quite lacking in other less than impressive skills e.g. social skills.

Her being so used to be in charge, aloof and far from being subtle has caused some problems when she has to work together with a FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth. Luckily, Booth is an easy going type, the complete opposite of Bones.

Their partnership is the main reason why this Series is able to capture my attention. It’s been ages since the last time I saw such chemistry between lead characters. They are so different Bone and Booth! And their differences have been expertly exploited to create strong fascinations for the audiences.

It’s very amusing to see that when they were discussing certain topics which was introduced on purpose by Booth – it was him who ended up blushing and stuttering or got angry instead while Bones were completely ignorant of the facts.

I love seeing the relationship between Bone and Booth is built slowly. Letting the audience see how their feelings toward each other developed and grew into something deeper and stronger.

If the producer and the writers could maintain the good work that they are doing, this Series could become one of the best TV series in its genre. If they could maintain the tension and chemistry between its two leads, they will become one of the most memorable couples on TV Screen.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Do You Watch American Idol?

Should we be ashamed of admitting that we are not immune to this pop culture instant idol fever? As I already put all my favourite books (which were labeled by a friend as cheap romance novels) and films here for all the world to see, I might as well admit that I do watch and rather enjoy it.

I even used to have a strange infatuation for Ryan Seacreast! Yea, I was one of those girls who watch American Idol in order to drool over him. The strange thing was that I didn’t think Ryan was good looking at all.

What I liked about him was his sense of humor – which come to think of it, I’m not even sure really his – those amusing comments he made might be the results of a very good sense of humor of his script writer! At least now that was over. I no longer find him as amusing as before. Instead in this 7th season I found my self captured by the talent of the contestants.

I was one of those who are deeply disappointed when America decided to send Michael Johns home. He has a very special voice and really blown me away when he sang Bohemian Rhapsody (which I thought was sounded even better than the original). I thought he deserved to be at least at the top 4. Anyway….

I’m not a fan of David Cook, but now that Michael Johns was gone my attentions are turned to him. I have to admit he has almost everything. Week after week he impressed me with his stellar performances. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up become the American Idol this season.

His strongest contender David Archuletta is also very good. He has a very beautiful voice but lacked the hard edge which is owned by Cook. But being only 17, Archuletta has huge potentials to become a very big star and to win the American Idol.

I’m not that impressed with the rest.

Brooke botched her performance by forgetting her lyrics, something which should have never happened at this late stage! Jason was unimpressive. Syesha was good but her voice wasn’t distinct enough. Carly….well, she was never my favourite.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Indonesia and the Palestine vs the USA and the Israel

Indonesia has always been a strong supporter of the Palestinians’ independence. Indonesian people even feel more strongly and passionately against the Israeli’s occupation of the Palestine.

If the American politicians feel no need to hide their undying love and loyalty toward their most beloved ally regardless of any breach of agreements which has been made by it and none seems to dare to criticize the Israeli, the Indonesians feel quite the same about the Palestinians.

No government in Indonesia will ever dare sounding or showing a support for the Israeli. As long as there is no peace between the Palestinians and the Israeli, as long as there is occupation and oppression there will never be acknowledgment of the Israeli existence from Indonesia.

I don’t know why the American politicians and people love the Israeli to that extent (although some say it’s because of the power of the Israeli’s lobbyists) but I know why the Indonesians feel so strongly about the Palestinians causes. The emotions run deep when you talk to Indonesians about the Palestine and of course Iraq. The USA and Israel are not looked favourably by the Indonesians. Some even really hate these two countries with a passion. Particularly the USA, which many blame for the continuation of the conflicts between Palestine and Israel.

Indonesians are never in favour of any country which makes it their business to occupying other sovereign country. Being occupied once ourselves and having had to struggle hard to reach our independence have enabled us to be very sensitive to and empathised with the plights of other occupied nations such as Iraq and the Palestine. And there is also a religion factor. Although personally I don’t care whether the Palestinians and the Iraqis are Muslims or Christians or what ever. We all deserve to have and want the same thing.

Spending last week with the Palestinians and hearing firsthand about the experiences and hardships which they have to face on daily basis because of the occupation made me realize that all the things that I’ve seen on the news pale to comparison.

I was also aghast at finding out that the foreign donors apparently have completely different tenets when they are dealing with the Palestinians. The number one jargon in the development world today ‘the sustainability’ has a completely different meaning there.

I don’t know why nobody realize that the chaos and destructions we are witnessing in our world come from the practice of double standards which are perpetuated by selective implementations of justice. We use different set of rules and principles when we are dealing with different group of people/nations/organizations, depending on their races, religions, political orientations, etc.

Prophet Muhammad once got angry and chastised one of his beloved companions for his suggestion to be lenient and forgiving the mistake made by one of the members of the ruling class and the strongest ally they had. He said that one of the reasons why the past great nations came to destruction and crumbled to pieces was that their rulers applied a different standard of justice for their own class. When one of their own made mistake they looked the other way.

Why don’t we learn from the past and take their lessons to heart?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Wake Up Call from SBY

A wise person once mentioned that it’s better if we don’t hate or love excessively because those whom we love today could be the one we hate tomorrow and vice versa.

I don’t love nor hate SBY. I just don’t like him. The reason for my dislike wasn’t even personal. It was his military background. I believe that since this country was run by military people most of the mistakes made in the past were their responsibilities. But it’s going to be very difficult to bring those people to justice if the President is their comrade.

I know some people who really hate SBY’s style and policies. I just don’t care. I’m only curious to see whether he will run for the second time, as he mentioned once during his campaign that once is enough.

I told a friend that although I don’t like him, if he raises the salary of the civil servants to Rp 5,000,000 (less than $ 600) I’ll vote for him and do his campaign freely. I’m convinced that SBY will never be able do that. It takes a very tough and corruption free oriented President to raise the civil servants’ salary to that level.

To cleanse this country of corruption, the government must clean its employees first. The main reason which is often used as a justification for bad public services is low salary. Based on personal experience with people from the Ministry of Finance who got exorbitant income I disagree with this assumption, but it does have a merit. Low salary is one of the factors which has caused bad services and lack of enthusiasm to give a good performance.

Good governance could be started with the improvement of the salary of the civil servants. I really hate government’s excuses when they refuse to raise civil servants’ salary. The standardize excuse was that the government doesn’t have enough money at the moment. Ordinary people might buy that one. But we government employees know better.

There’s money a plenty. Money which goes to the pockets of small percentage of fortunate government employees – instead of being use to increase the salary of every lowly level employee who had the bad luck not being placed in the ‘lucrative’ Ministries or positions. Those lucky people could earn at least from 5 – 10 times of the average salary of the average civil servants.

I don’t mind if some people are making more than other based on their qualification and job specification. But to let a few people enjoy that kind of income simply because they are lucky enough to be there is unreasonable. To let that kind of practice continue is unfair and irresponsible. To let people’s money being used and taken like that is tantamount to corruption.

And there is something else which is conveniently forgotten by the government when they raised the salary and benefit for some people in selective Ministries: the fact that the living costs are the same for everyone! No matter who you are, regardless of your Ministries or positions, everyone needs to have a decent salary which could cover the standard basic living costs.

Will SBY be able to handle this problem? I doubt it. It takes a revolutionary approach to cleanse a systematic corruption in the government bodies. A band aid is not going to help.
Despite his military background SBY is very soft. To me he looks like he is afraid of creating displeasure and discontentment.

Just the other day, I told a friend that one of the qualities needed to be had by a leader is a readiness to be hate by others. When a necessary policy is needed to be implemented for the greater good of the people he must have the courage to offend and be on the opposite side of those few who’ll stand to lose if it was implemented.

A leader needs to have courage to correct a wrong when he sees it. I don’t think SBY has it. Until last night.

I was stunned. I was amazed. And quite suddenly my opinion of him changed. It improved significantly. It was like love at the first sight. I’m not saying that I love him all of a sudden. But I do start to like him. I started to see there’s hope for him after all.

What he did might not seem incredible or extraordinary for foreigners. But for us Indonesians or even Asians, it was a very great deal. What did he do?

He chastised one of the attendees in his meeting for sleeping. He also ordered him out by saying that it’s highly inappropriate for government employees to fall asleep in the middle of the discussion to better the lot of their people. Marvelous!

I often saw that some people were closing their eyes during a meeting – perhaps as a sign of boredom – and some even pretending to be sleeping regardless of the number of attendees, regardless of the fact that they were sitting in the front row. And no body dares to say anything. Not even the chairman.

It’s not an easy task to talk directly to people about their mistakes. It’s hard to point it out to them why what they’re doing is wrong. It’s even harder to punish them for what is already accepted as a norm.

My highest respect and admiration for SBY for doing what he did. I hope that he will be able to extend that kind of approach to other areas as well. This country is in desperate need for someone who could wake it up and shake it off of its bad habits if it wants to catch up with its neighbours.

Monday, March 31, 2008

How Much Does It Cost to Bandung by Train?

For 3 tickets it’s Rp 325.000. Don’t raise your eye brows yet. There’s a story behind this unbelievable price. Most of it was my own fault but I’d like to put some blame to the KAI (Indonesian State Owned Train Company).

If only they have a phone in the reservation/selling counter and if only they didn’t charge Rp 10.000 per ticket for issuing a new one (I was told by someone in the call center that before April I wouldn’t be charged at all) it wouldn’t cost me that much to go to Bandung.

The original costs for Argo Gede and Parahyangan to Bandung are Rp 45.000 and Rp 35.000 consecutively. However the transportation costs + errand boy fee + costs for changing 3 tickets twice + the original tickets'price in total it was amounted to Rp 325.000.

For KAI please put a phone in your selling/reservation counter! Or let us order our tickets online so that we could correct the mistake ourselves!

For your information there’s no phone in Stasiun Gambir to cancel or change your tickets, you have to come in person to correct it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Review: Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO)

I’ve read numerous raving reviews of GTO, and that’s why I decided to buy it. But since I’m not a big fan of Japanese series, it took me a long time to finally spare some time and watched it. It didn’t disappoint. It’s simply great. What ever your tastes regarding movies are you’ll like it.

Watching GTO reminds me of the stark differences between Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese series. I don’t think most Korean and Taiwanese series could reach the depth of substance touched by the Japanese series.

Most Japanese series even the light hearted ones have dark and serious side to it, while Korean and Taiwanese series are full of silliness. However, I love the very silliness in Korean movies and series. They bring out a fresh point of view of the sad and unfortunate things in one’s life and enable us to look at them with laughter.

Although Koreans rarely able to reach the depth mostly found in Japanese movies or series, they’re excelled in conveying the depth of love or hurt felt by their characters which is rather lacking in Japanese movies and series.

Back to GTO… based loosely on its manga GTO will capture and open your eyes and heart to the hypocrisy and idiosyncrasy of our world. Takashi Sorimachi plays Eikichi Onizuka to perfection. I’m a little bit surprised when I heard that “Poison” the theme song of this series is sung by Sorimachi himself.

The main character Onizuka loves being a teacher. He has his very own philosophy for teaching. Unconventional though it is, it suits him and his students. His care for their well-being supercede his non-existing concern for school politics.

Besides having an unorthodox philosophy in teaching, Onizuka also has a principal philosophy regarding his personal life which resulted in him not having a girl friend and become the last virgin available in the neighbourhood. They caused him to be at odd with his colleague Azusa Fuyutsuki.

Being female and the youngest in their school had made Fuyutsuki did things which were not included in her job description as a teacher, like, making a cup of coffee for her male colleague or do photocopying for them. She resented it but had no courage to buckle under the hierarchical order which had put her at the bottom simply because she was a female.

She disagrees and dislikes Onizuka’s methods of dealing with students but deep down she also admires his ability to stand up for what he thinks is right. Other teachers not only dislike and disagree with Onizuka’s methods, they were also plotting to kick him out of their school. While on the other hand some of the students also trying their best to humiliate and besmirch his reputation.

Just watch it. It’s worth your time.

Another surprising bit out of this series was the fact that Takashi Sorimachi (Eikichi Onizuka) and Nanako Matsushimi (Azusa Fuyutsuki) were actually become a couple in their real lives as a result of their meeting in this series. And then years latter finally tied the knot and live happily ever after....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Standing Up Against War!

1.How do you feel when you see news of people getting killed on daily basis?
2.How do you feel when you see people brimming with excitement when stating their intention to wage war on other countries?
3.How do you feel when you hear your government spent hundreds of million of your money on daily basis just to finance their beloved war while here in your own neighbourhood you could see where that money could be used more effectively?
4.How do you feel about profit making arms/guns industries?

I’ll tell you how I feel about those questions above. Concern, deep resentment, disgust, frustration and anger. Sometimes I think if I’m not such a peace loving person I would become a war monger myself and bring the war right down to the bold heads of those people who love war so much without having to face the direct consequences and the horror of their creation.

When I’m thinking about how safe and comfortable those people sit in their luxurious couches watching the news and reports on the wars they waged while millions died miserably, inhumanely and unnecessarily out there my anger increases thousands fold. When I heard the War President said that his war is just, honorable and necessary I wanted to puke and wonder about those who heard his speech and nodded their heads in agreement.

One of the ugliest and unfortunate facts about war is that it is supported by the masses. George W. Bush might be a war monger, but he wouldn’t be able to attack and annex Iraq without the support of the American people. I know not all Americans support this war, I know that some was coerced and deceived into supporting it, however, that didn’t change the fact that they supported it. There wasn’t enough opposition inside the US against the war in Iraq. That was why it happened.

The peace loving people, peace loving by nature, didn’t show enough strength in their opposition. They hate confrontation in any form, and that’s why the war mongers got their way easily. I come to the conclusion that if we want to maintain peace in our planet, we have to have enough strength and determination to wage our own war against those war mongers and whoever got it in their genes the tendency to support war. If we don’t stand up against them, they would walk all over us and use our resources to satisfy their lust for blood, power and create destruction to unprecedented level that would surpass our wildest imagination.

I have no objection what so ever if those war mongers want to wage war and follow it through by going to the war zone themselves. It wouldn’t sadden, angered nor frustrated me. I’d say good riddance. It served them right to be injured or even killed by their own war.

However, sadly, in our current wars, those war mongers wouldn’t even get a scratch. Other people will die in their war. Other people will become refugees because of their war. Innocent people who didn’t even want it in the first place and would get nothing out of and after the war is finished had to suffer the consequences of it. And had they been asked: “Would you be willingly forfeiting your life for this cause?” might give a resounding no as their answer.

What might be a surprise to some of us or perhaps not, is that if the same question were asked to the war mongers in Washington – if they think their lives is worth losing just to topple Suddam Hussein or to bring in the so called democracy which they profess to love so much for the Iraqi people, and saying how eager we are to see them off as soon as possible to fight this war themselves – is that we might also hear the same resounding no.

The war mongers might have no concept of lives. But if it is their own lives they understood it completely. They valued and priced it quite highly. The difference between us and them is that we understood and treasure life. Period.

People mattered to us regardless of their colours and origins. Death and destruction saddens us regardless where they happened. We see huge differences between the means and the ends. The war mongers don’t. Collateral damage horrified us. For them it just collateral damage. It happens.

I was completely chagrined and appalled when I heard one of Bush’s speech writers said that this generation (Iraqi) might not be looking kindly toward the war in Iraq, but the future generation might feel quite differently about it.

Would the future generation ever going to look kindly toward Hitler’s policy I wonder? Would the Jews ever thank Hitler for having conducted such – I’d like to used the term used by the War President – honorable, just and necessary war against their ancestors which has resulted in giving them their very own state. Yeah, let’s hope that our future generation will congratulate, honor and worship our war mongers for the results of their crimes.

War should be avoided at all costs. War should never be an option. There’s always other ways. Ways which have never been given a chance to be fully explored and taken because the war mongers run our world together with the powerful people connected to the arms industries which will get huge profit from war.

War kills not only people it kills our humanity. It kills us. Let’s not let the war mongers determine our world. Let’s not let them shape our lives and world to their liking which is only profit making regardless of its means. Let’s not let them bringing us down to their level. Fighting against war is a fight against good and evil and we should take our part in it by saying no loud and clear to their agenda. By voting against the war mongers and beware of them and their ilk.

The top priority of MDGs should be alleviation and eradication of war! Otherwise we would never be civilized and humane enough to realizing and bringing prosperity for all inhabitants of our beloved planet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer's: Another Sex Scandal

Watching Spitzer’s faithful, brilliant, and beautiful wife stood beside him to face the public with grim face and gritted teeth once again I felt very disappointed and sadden, not with Spitzer for I don’t know him at all – and I don’t think many American knows who he is before this latest scandal regarding the shady side of their male political figure’s love lives – but with the ugly reality of how utterly untrustworthy, hypocritical, and deceitful the men who are chosen to run the country by their constituents. I’m purposefully didn’t choose ‘most men’ as I believe it’s more difficult to find good, honorable and decent guys in the political arenas than finding gold in the rivers or sewage for that matter.

Eliot Spitzer who was the attorney general before he becomes the Governor of New York had built his career by destroying ring of call girls, while apparently at the same time he’d been enjoying the same service himself.

He knows the in and out of the operation like the back of his hand. He knows the procedures used by the government to trace anybody with connection to this prostitution business.

I wonder whether because he is so expert in this matter he thinks he’ll be caught by no one and nobody could trace his tail. Some source says that Spitzer has very likely spent about US$ 80,000 for his pleasure or downfall, depending how one looks at it I guess.

My disgust for politicians has increased by unprecedented leaps. My respect for men has plummeted farther below zero. My believe in the intelligence of constituents has eroded with alarming speed. And my heart aches when I saw those betrayed wives standing besides their cheating and deceitful husbands.

No women deserved that kind of public humiliation. Those husbands had no rights what so ever to demand their wives to show her public support and endure the results of his infidelity. It’s like putting salt over the wounds. There should be law written against it.

Those men had selfishly loved and enjoyed their affairs so at the very least they should be man enough to shoulder the results of their happy hours. And unlike the betrayed wives who have no choice but to helplessly stand besides these deceitful men, the public should not forgive them!

I long to hear news about someone who could inspire respect and trust in the hearts of his supporters and opponents alike. I sometimes wonder whether that person really exists or whether is it because they’re so honorable all their actions and lives deemed as not news worthy by the media and therefore we don’t know about their existence.

What we’re witnessing on our daily news diet are depressing, disappointing, degenerated and violent news around the world. No wonder we become depressed, stressful, degenerate and violent lot ourselves.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Is a Visit by the President and Vice President to Your Office a Good Thing?

Not for me. It’s a bother. We’re told not to bring our cars to the office. All the spaces are to be reserved for the VIP guests.

And how do the big guys propose for their lowly subordinates to come to the office in this rainy season? Are we supposed to use a cab with our meager income? Or try the unreliable not to mention unsafe public transportation – braving the wind, the rain and the floods not to mention the traffics – for a change and still be on time?

I’ve always felt that there’s something wrong in the way we treat our VIPs. We’re treating them like they’re some kind of holy aliens to be protected against all the pains and inconveniences which plague the daily lives of other unfortunate mortals, namely us. And what worse is that I think these VIPs are also expecting that they are to be treated differently, to be given special treatments.

While you and I have to keep reminding ourselves to be patient in the middle of terrible traffic jams, those VIPs would cruise freely, and adding another kilo or two of parking cars in the middle of highways, since we’re forced to let them through.

No wonder the traffic problems have never been solved. I tell you what would speed up the effort to solve it. Let all those VIP drive their expensive cars by themselves (without a driver) and then let them enjoy the lovely and educative experience of driving in Jakarta in the middle of heavy traffic. See how they’ll love that.

How could you hope those powerful people to solve your problems, if they don’t have a clue and never experience those problems themselves?

I really hate VIPs. Well, I guess I don’t hate them personally, what I hate most are those special treatments given them. And the fact that they take it as their due.

What I’m trying to say is that those VIPs don’t have the divine rights to live comfortably when their subjects (you and I) live miserably. And they definitely have no right what so ever to experience all the comforts they enjoy at the costs of their subjects!

If we’re miserable than they have to be as miserable as us. They only deserve to have their comfort after all of us – their subjects and people, live comfortable lives, not vise versa!

Bit of Wisdom:

Leaders are chosen to lead their people into prosperity and out of misery and not achieving them by imposing poverty and hardship.

Good leaders would be ashamed to display any sign of wealth and privileges while their people have no wealth nor dignities/rights to mention about.

Review: The Tiger Prince by Iris Johansen

I don’t think I’ve read her book before and if The Tiger Prince is to be a showcase of her works, it got me hooked big time.

One of the things that I dislike in romance novels is its supporting characters. I have a mountain of disgruntlement had the writers dare to write more extensively on the sub-plots of their love stories. As most of the time all they’ve managed to do was wasting pages and getting me extremely annoyed and bored for being distracted from the main story.

The Tiger Prince is an exception of exceptional proportion. Its two leading characters Ruel MacClaren and Jane Barnaby are ones of the strongest and most steadfast heroes and heroines that I’ve ever encountered. Its supporting characters happen to have the most remarkable and unforgettable quirks and repartees which give you no choice but to love them.

With his extra-ordinary good looks and vengeful nature Ruel MacClaren is perhaps the closest thing to what is often described as fallen angel. Despite his looks, not many people dare to make a mistake of underestimating him, as the result would be deadly.

When he sets his goals there’s no other way for him except going forward to accomplish them even if he has to trample whoever happens to be on his way. His passion for gold had him traveled around the globe to chase the trail of the golden lady and slaved over her.

Jane Barnaby has always had a strong determination. Even when she was eleven, she believed that if you want something bad enough, you could make it happen by the sheer power of will.

She got herself out of a destiny which she didn’t like, leaving everything behind, including a drug addict whore of a mother, bringing with her her beloved pet and best friend Li Sung toward a new beginning in destination unknown. Despite her strong and tough appearances - though physically small, she has a soft, kind and loyal heart.

Her soft heart put her in a difficult and dangerous position when she decided to protect John Kartauk – the self proclaimed greatest goldsmith in that era, against Abdar the crown prince of one of the richest Maharajas in India. It also brings her path to cross with Ruel MacClaren who came to India to materializing his biggest dream. Acquiring Cinnidar, an island of gold.

Despite Ian MacClaren’s warnings – his brother, the Scottish Earl who has big generous heart and great wisdom – Ruel set to use Jane in order to get help from the crown prince.
Having no personal experience with love and so used to putting people at arm length – including Ian himself, who crossed the ocean to take him home after their father’s death – Ruel doesn’t know that ever since the first moment he laid his eyes upon her, his heart was already captured. He mistakenly thought his feelings and emotions for her as lust.

When he saw the love and affection between Jane and Li Sung, and witnessing how close the two really were and experiencing the sudden pain in his heart, he didn’t recognize it as jealousy. When he hurt her and felt hurt instead, he still didn’t know that it was love that caused him to feel her pain as his own. Not even when he felt happy the first time he saw and heard her laugh, and want nothing more than to keep her that way.

I love the fact that Jane never shed a tear during her encounter with Ruel. But what I love most is the fact that we could see how deeply Ruel has fallen in love with Jane without realizing it himself. I love the fact how everybody else around Ruel like Ian and Kartauk can see that his dealing with Jane has changed him, showing what a good person he actually is.

Besides the main characters, I also love its supporting characters. I love Li Sung with his intelligence, tart remarks, pride and pragmatism. I also love Kartauk with his arrogance, perceptiveness, and self-serving nature. The most surprising is that I also love Ian MacClaren! I don’t normally like a good guy either in the novels or movies, since the most they can do is grovel. But I think I’ve fallen in love with Ian MacGregor. I love his good sense and great understanding of human nature. The part that I love most about him was when he asked Kartauk to come to his apartment, and then ask Margaret to leave them to have man to man chat. Gosh… It was so touching. It beautifully conveys how deep his love for Margaret is. It also shows what a great man he is.

I don’t know what else could I write about it without spoiling the reading for you. It’s simply magnificent. Now, I’ll consider Iris Johansen as one of my favourite authors and start looking for her other books. Hopefully they are as good as this one if not even better.

I don’t really like the ending though. I didn’t even realize it was the end. I was still turning the page to look for something more…

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What Does the Reprinting of Prophet Muhammad’s Cartoons Mean?

It means that there are people out there who strongly feel that they have rights to do what ever they want to do regardless of the consequences of their actions. To say what ever they want to say regardless of the feelings of others who would be hurt or offended by the things they said.

These peoples believe that freedom of speech give them immunity to hurt and offend others. They are extremely proud in flaunting their ability to hurt and offend others and then without same hide behind this powerful new religion called Freedom of Speech.

I think they are basically and inherently mean. These peoples who worship freedom of speech without limit and caution are no different from those fanatics or brainwashed people who do whatever they want to achieve their goals, and then hide behind ideologies or religions. While the plain fact is that they don’t care about others except themselves.

I wouldn’t dream of calling one of my friends “Chinese” with certain intonation here in Indonesia, even though he/she is a Chinese, as I am aware of the hurt that this calling will cause them. I wouldn’t dream of calling one of my friends ‘Nigger’ even though he/she is black, as it might offend them.

Do I have a freedom to say what ever I want to say? Of course I do. But why don’t I try to exercise it? Because, common sense, good heart and good manner will prevent me to offend or hurt others intentionally.

I could only see the reprinting of Prophet Muhammad’s cartoon as an extremely aggressive stance intentionally designed to offend and hurt others (Muslims). The first printing could be accepted and understood as a misinformed decision made without understanding the cultures and believes of others. But to do exactly the same thing twice after seeing how offended and angry most Muslims were, it could only mean one thing. Those people are shouting to the Muslims worldwide:


It’s simply mean, bad, inflammatory and lack of better judgment.

With such people around, no wonder we live in such violent world. They don’t try to promote peace. They’re more than willing to go a mile to insisting what they believe to be their rights regardless of the costs.

They thrive in promoting hatred and angers when there are other ways, more peaceful, non confrontational, more respectful ways to convey their meanings and goals.

Unless their true goal is not to make a point that they have a freedom of speech but to offend others. Which in this instance I believe is the case.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beware of Dewata Agung’s Irresponsible Driver!

His name is Madar. His mobile’s number is 0815 11515111. And he’s driving his boss with B 8254 JY to their office in Menara Batavia through Casablanca Street.

Everybody who’s ever been involved in an accident in which they were hit by somebody else (usually motorbikes) has been saying these things:

1. The hitter hit from behind when we were at full stop.
2. And then had the audacity to get angry while accusing their victims of speed driving and not being careful.

In my case to my surprise I wasn’t hit by a bike but a monstrous big car driven by Madar. I was about to start running with the second gear when a strange sound stopped me. At first it didn’t register that my car was being hit. It took a few seconds for me to realize it.

How could it be possible to be hit by someone when I was in the second lane among five (almost right on the right side of the road – the relatively safe one)?And the lane on my right was almost a meter away! But then again, there’s nothing impossible when you’re driving in Jakarta. I should’ve known that.

Especially not with a driver like Madar who when I got out to have a look at the damage and asked him how’s he going to repair those damages boldly told me that I was the one who should pay the damage to his car which wasn’t the least bit affected after grazing my car.

When I told him that it was him who hit my car right from behind in a fail attempt to squeeze his big car in (I should’ve taken a picture of our positions), he took exception to that. Especially to the words that he hit me. Perhaps he’s attempting another brilliant move to make me admit that I was the one who hit him from up front while I was trying to try a reversing gear.

I was the one who told him to move over since everybody else had been impatient to move on to their offices. If his boss wasn’t sitting comfortably in the car I had a bad feeling that he would speed his car to run away - another probability in his book even in the middle of the heavy traffic that we’re in.

When I told him to ask his boss to get off he said that I wasn’t going to get paid if I was dealing with his boss, the car was his full responsibility. It did cross my mind that he himself wouldn’t pay for the damages done to my car. He said he would settle it with insurance. Fat chance that he would. I let him go just with his promise to settle it latter on.

When my superior heard that story he told me I shouldn’t let him go that lightly. I was in full agreement. The only reason I let Madar go that easily was because he was a driver. Madar can lie through his teeth with his boastings to pay with insurance, my car was insured. His lies didn’t concern me. I would be really surprise if he keeps his words. I promised my father I would give him those 200,000 if Madar somehow paid it. The reason I let Madar off lightly was because I couldn’t bring myself to ask Rp 200,000 which was needed to claim the insurance from a driver. However, I was very angry. I still am.

When I got home and told my mother of what happened she got upset, because she thought I would spend a lot of money to repair the car. She was quite supportive when she heard my angry outbursts that I was going to make Madar pay dearly for his actions by writing a formal complaint to his company or even send someone to his office to collect the payment or whatever to make his life hell.

But when she heard that it was only Rp 200,000, she changed her mind. She said Madar is only a driver. I should think about the consequences of my actions, what if Madar was fired as the results of my actions. What will happen to his family? Did Rp 200,000 worth ruining somebody’s else’s life?

Not that I disagree, it's just very unsatisfactory to let Madar go that easily. It wasn’t the Rp 200,000 that was grating on my nerves. Neither the fact that my brand new car was hit. Nor the fact that I had to use the uncomfortable and unreliable public transportations for a week in the rainy season – as I’d rather like the experience for a change.

I just didn’t like the fact that Madar was unpunished. It against one of the basic principles I hold dear to let Madar goes his merry way. If one does something good. One should get a reward for their good deeds. If one does something bad one should be punished for it.

With his easy escape Madar would be a loose road hazard to everybody else. He didn’t get hard lessons he wouldn’t forget in a long time to help him to be more careful onward.

So, everybody, if you’re passing Casablanca Street on daily basis just be extremely careful if you happen to be driving around him. Give him a wide berth if he’s in front of you. And speed up if he happens to be behind you, or slow down and give him a way, otherwise he would hit you because he’s so impatient to move forward as quickly as possible to deliver his boss in time regardless of its costs to others.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Being Petty

If your little brother’s getting married before you, should there be a problem? I’d say no problem at all. But somehow some people think there is. Including my mother. She cautiously raised this issue last year, thinking that I would feel the same as she did. Little does she know I have a completely different idea, not only to this issue, but to marriage at large.

For one, I never understand why younger siblings have to wait for their older siblings to get married first. It’s ridiculous and unreasonable. How long do they have to wait? What if the older ones never get married? Does it mean they have to wait indefinitely?

The second issue was aroused when my mother’s future in-law asked her what should they give me, remembering Javanese’s culture that the older sister should receive something from her little brother/sister who got married before she did.

I’ve no idea why they were asking her that. We’re not Javanese. Even if we were, I wouldn’t want anything from them. Of course I’d love getting presents or some tokens from friends or family, who doesn’t? But not for this particular reason.

When my mother mentioned it to me lightly, I guessed I got a little bit upset. So I didn’t tell her that they shouldn’t be worrying about something like that. Instead I asked her what would they give me.

To my dismay my mother switched ‘they’ to ‘your brother’ saying that he might be able to buy me a dress, as he didn’t know what to give me who could even buy a brand new car in cash, bought $ 300 bag without blinking an eye, and buy almost anything I want whenever I want it. And then she added that his income was barely enough for himself.

That did it I guess. I got completely incensed by that time. So I went up to my room without clearing the issue and telling her that she could tell her in-laws not to worry about it. That the sister is quite happy with the marriage and wishing nothing from them but the best wishes for the new couples.

Having your younger sibling getting married before you do isn’t hard. What makes it unpleasant is the assumptions made by the people around you, people who don’t even know you, but expecting you to feel and behave in ways in which they think is proper for unmarried siblings.

I remember the first sentence uttered by my brother’s future mother in-law when she saw me, “My, Kakak (older sister) is very pretty!” I was quite speechless, as I didn’t know how to respond and how to take that comment.

Just like other older siblings whose younger siblings got married before them, I got my share of uncomfortable moments. Not for the usual reasons. But I got it nonetheless.

I guess I would never tell them that I’m sincerely happy that my brother is getting married, that I’m quite pleased that I got a sister in-law into our small family. I’ll let them sweat for a moment, as they seem to be quite happy feeling uncomfortable, as if they’ve done something wrong.