I wish to congratulate Fa Abdul for very well brought-up children who could critically think what is best for themselves and the country, in response to Zaid Ibrahim’s advice to young Muslims in Malaysia to hijrah to UK in order to live a better life as Malaysia has become “a sick Muslim country”.

I was taken aback when I read Zaid’s views two days ago, and although I did not agree with him and his views would be twisted and exploited to create “political problems” for the DAP, this was price we have to pay if we believe in freedom of speech and expression – even those which conflict with the party’s viewpoint.

I was quite moved by Fa Abdul’s piece, especially the exchange between the siblings about never giving up, although changing the government is not easy and changing people’s mindset is even more difficult.

I do not know whether Zaid made his advice to young Muslims to hijrah “tongue-in-cheek”, but Fa Abdul’s writing on the exchange with his children gives hope that whatever the adversities and however difficult or impossible the challenges to effect change, change will come inexorably and unrelentingly.

The most dramatic example is the royal announcement that Saudi women will be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia next June – a baby step, but nonetheless proof of the futility of those including in Malaysia who want to put the clock back.

What is needed are people with the stamina and perseverance who will not give up whatever the adversities and challenges to bring about change for the betterment of the human condition wherever in the world.

Today, PKR Batu MP, Tian Chua has chosen to go to jail for a month to highlight the injustices and oppression in Malaysia.

As Tian Chua highlighted in his speech at the Court of Appeal before withdrawing his appeal, millions of Malaysians long for a better world where there is justice, liberty and fairness, where Malaysians are free to speak up to openly share their thoughts without fear, as guaranteed by the Malaysian Constitution.

Fa Abdul’s children and Tian Chua are examples today that despite temporary setbacks, change for the better in Malaysia cannot be really be stopped so long as Malaysians are prepared to stand up for their fundamental rights.

Malaysians should not be disheartened and discouraged by recent upsurge of race and religious issues whether over beer, shorts, launderette and alleged Christianisation.

While the Cabinet should heed the warning of the Suhakam Chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail of the “drift towards religious extremism” in the country, all moderate and patriotic Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, culture, region or even politics, must come together to save Malaysia from kleptocracy and build a harmonious, tolerant, moderate and modern nation which is just, democratic, progressive and prosperous.

A lesson for Zaid from my kids about quitting M’sia

My 18-year-old son sent me a message on our family WhatsApp group yesterday.

“Ma, did you read (former law minister) Zaid Ibrahim’s advice to the young Muslims in Malaysia? He called Malaysia a sick Muslim country and urged us to hijrah (migrate) to UK in order to live a better life.”

My 20-year-old daughter was quick to add, “Yeah, I read it too. What a stupid thing for a politician to say!”

“Funny but why do you disagree with him – I thought all this while you both had a lot of complaints about how things worked in Malaysia?” I teased.

“Ma, remember when a few pakciks at the mosque lectured me about wearing proper attire when attending Friday prayers a few years ago, and I was really upset about it?” asked my son.

“Ya. You were wearing your favourite Metallica T-shirt,” I typed.

“Yeah. Everyone advised me not to wear it again to the mosque as not to offend anyone – but you told me if I saw nothing wrong in wearing a clean T-shirt (never mind that it had a skull on its front), I should not be disturbed by what others think or say.”

I said, “And you continued wearing it to the mosque…”

“…because I knew I did nothing wrong. Likewise, if we know we are in the right, why leave the country and let the wrongdoers win?” said my boy.

My daughter, a law student in a public university, responded to her brother, “I wish I could do that in my campus. You know, if I do not wear my hijab, I become an outcast in my university and may have to attend counselling. It’s hard when people impose their beliefs on us, you know?

“According to Zaid, you should leave your campus or your university – but the truth is, leaving isn’t going to change anything. To change the way things are done, we have to fight for it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know?” my boy lamented.

“One thing for sure, your kakak ain’t a quitter. Sabrina, do you remember what you did when your lecturers stalked your social media profile and announced in the lecture hall that Muslims who post pictures of themselves on social media without their aurat covered will go to hell?” I reminded my children of yet another episode in their past.

“Lol (Laughing out loud). Of course I do. I changed my social media setting to public, so my lecturers could see my coloured hair, my piercings and all my other ‘stylish’ pictures as well. And you know what Ma, because of me, many of my friends decided not to delete their uncovered photos, instead bravely continued to post them on social media,” said my very own rebel.

” But you know what is funny Ma…” asked Arshad.


“You raised us to fight for what is right. But the people who should be fighting to make things right in this country are asking us to not fight, give up and leave,” Arshad said. Clearly he wasn’t happy with Zaid’s statement.

“Is he seriously asking us to give up? What kind of statesperson would say such a thing?” Sabrina asked.

“Clearly not a smart one…” said Arshad.

“Why do we need to leave when we can change the government?” asked Sabrina, a little naive.

“Changing government is not that easy. But changing people’s mindset is even more difficult. The thing is, even if we successfully change the government, we may still end up having people with extreme sets of beliefs and thoughts tormenting our lives,” I typed.

Remembering history

“I think the troublemakers should be the ones to leave,” said Sabrina.

“No one should leave. This is our country after all…” replied Arshad.

“Then what do you suggest we do with the troublemakers, adik?”

“They should be educated.”

“But how do we educate people who think they know everything?”

“By not leaving. Leaving only strengthens their belief,” my boy responded.

I smiled as I read through my children’s conversation.

“We should remember our history, kakak.”

“What history?”

“If all our pre-independence heroes left Malaya because fighting British and communists was tough, we may not have gained our freedom in 1957,” said my boy.

“But look at the history of our own family, Arshad – our ancestors left their village in India to improve their livelihood. Grandpa became the first son to leave his father’s house because he did not want his children to grow up with the typical mamak mindset. And Ma left her marriage after 15 years because she wanted a better life,” said Sabrina.

“What are you trying to say, kakak?”

“I am not justifying leaving. All I am saying is that we come from a legacy of people who fought hard to make things right,” explained Sabrina.

Realising that was my cue to tease them once again, I asked, “But eventually, we all gave up and left – myself included. Right?”

“Wrong,” Arshad replied quickly. “You guys did not give up – you fought to leave. You fought for a new beginning. If you decided to stay, then you’d all been cowards. On the other hand, if we left without fighting, we would be cowards.”

After a few seconds of silence, Sabrina’s text popped up. “When someone is sick, we do not abandon them, Ma – instead we treat them until they become well. Now our country is sick, and so it is time for us to treat it with love and care.”

“This mentality of abandoning things when it does not work as expected is such a third world mentality-lahkan Ma?” asked Arshad.

“I agree adik. What do you think Ma?”

“I think Zaid Ibrahim could learn a lot from the two of you,” I replied. – WRITER FA ABDUL