Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dominoes Falling in The Islamic Hinterland......

Robert Fisk on Egypt, click here
Tunisia, click here
Afghanistan, click here

11th Feb


Kudos to your daughter and wives who have some sense and staying put in Cairo!!! That is the right thing to do. I am sure apart from high food price, if one remain away from Tahrim Square one is safe. We have overblown the security problem of our people in Cairo for local politics.

I would have thot if out politicians are not out to score political mileage and spending millions from state coffers or private funding to fly 6000 students home, a box of maggi mee to each family would have suffice the ordeal......instead they have to spend millons and a lot of dirty phone calls to corporate guys like you tp chip in..........look like Our National Erection is not far away...but then again anak Pak Jab may think this this may not be the right time, the Tunisian experience may rub on Malaysians in a positive way......but someone high up in Malaysian heirachy [ you would not believe me Iif i tell you anyway ] thinks Malayisans DO NOT HAVE BALLS

And all this are not free. I am not sure how much you guys from Ranhill have to cough out but all the GLC's are coming out with millions sponsoring the exodus to KL. That Tony Fernandez chap from Air Asia, for having the honour to being photographed at the staircase of his jetliner, I dont know what was his 'damage' ?

If we do have BALLS, Tenang would have been won by the opposition , at least giving some message of sort that we are not going to stand anymore nonsense from our bosses!

My neighbour who is a Malay middleclass , half of his family has migrated. 3 months ago I said how come??? Now I am feeling very sick in the stomach as well.....we can actually stomach these nonsense up to a point.

Nik Howk


To Nadzru Azhari
Sent: Sat Feb 12 00:20:58 2011
Subject: Re: Merhaba

Dear Baba,

I went out with mama earlier carrying the camera around my neck. There were about 5 people asked me, “Tahrir? Midan tahrir? *Kachak kachak picture???” , hahaha. I laughed and answered, “na’am, lakin midan tahrir la’ kha thii rah?*dangerous?” – Me, babbling crazy Arabic. They all nodded, “na’am!! For foreigners is veryyy dangerous. Only Egyptians can go”

Aihhhh… I thought with mama’s Arabic look-a-like face we can cheat through midan tahrir. But unfortunately I have your Chinese eyes, so I don’t think that would work out well. “It’s okay…, la’ mushkilla! Mafish mushkilla~ I’ll just walk around here and take shots of the emptiness within the city” I said. See baba, everyone warned us. I don’t think we can go there. Just watch the news; you can see how crazy midan tahrir is. We stopped by a ‘fuulun’ shop , mama bought herself two pack of ‘fuulun’. She bought the ones called ‘aswani’ and ‘haelwani’. I guess the ‘haelwani’ supposed to taste sweet? I haven’t tried yet. Anyway, in that ‘fuulun’ shop, there were many people who bought those nuts to bring to midan tahrir. The stuffs that they bring along are juices, coca cola, ‘fuulun’ wa ‘khubz’. There were also few ‘shabab’ discussing about Husni Mubarak on the streets, all I heard was “bla bla bla Husni Mubarak bla bla bla!” *yes… I didn’t catch what they were saying exactly.

So everything seems pretty normal around here, it’s a lot more quiet and there are not a lot of people roaming around town. I took some pictures but well, there were nothing so exciting really.

Mama bought herself another pair of Crocs shoes. There I met with four cute little Egyptian girls! There were somehow, excited seeing me. Well I guess that is no surprise, I have your looks. No need for me to elaborate right? Hehe. One of them came up to me and said hi, they asked my name In English but I answered them in Arabic. Haha, they were quite surprised. They are Nur, Jasmine, Janna and Sara. I’ll send you their picture through facebook. They are all almost as pretty as me. HAHA. *I inherit the ‘perasan-ness from you too baba…!

Woohoo! Finally Hosni Mubarak has stepped down!! Yesshhhh!! I can hear the people celebrating outside, but how come it sounds like gun shots? Cars honking, and i hear the 'walalalalalalalallalala!!!!'

p/s: Oh well…, I pity those entire Malay students who ran away from Egypt. They ran for nothing. Uji and Fatin are stuck in Jeddah, I wonder if they will still go back to Malaysia?

Your cutest daughter, Siham.


12th Feb.

Nik Hawk,

That's my second daughter writing from Medinat nasr, Cairo. She stays!




As some one very high up in the heirachy of things Malaysian emailed to me yesterday, 'MALAYSIANs HAVE NO BALLS'. Of course he need to remain nameless here ! I agree with him.

Our mediocre minded self serving politicians are running the country to the ground and we purred at home and sleep like cats.
We desrve the shit we deserve Nadzru!

Nik Howk



The 'rescue' of Malaysian students from Eqypt has little to
do with perceived danger in Cairo, but everything to do with photo-ops
at Klia for Ringgit Malaysia and her hubby. Having been spurned by
TokGuru at the royal Christmas eve get-together (should not the fatwa
council make a ruling on that one?), there is an urgent need to
demonstrate that oomno cares for the poor Malay talibs in Cairo more
than PAS does. It has everything to do with PRU13.

TS Wan


Yes Tan Sri,

Very cheapskate, Ringgit Malaysia nowadays.
And the GLC's will pay for all of that excessess. I am surprised you guys were not called to chip in as well !

Nik Howk


What say you Nadzru.?
Should 'we' technically speaking sack the present Malaysian ambassador in Cairo ?....for not giving the right advice....even while I am sitting here in my drawing room can tell that 'bringing home the students was a bad advice in all circumstances'.

You know him well. Has the whole embassy gone bonkers ?

Nik Howk


Dearest Nik Hawk,

I was awake infront of the TV till 3 am this morning. It was so difficult to make the Old Fellow Mubarak vacate his seat. The popular demand to make him leave was so overwhelming, 99% of his voting population less 1% who make up his security apparatus, goon squad and his cronies. Even his cronies felt suffocated, they all can do with a new government to grow and prosper. The proverbial Ali Baba and his 40 thieves need fair and progressive markets to grow, though his capital came from shared stealth with the Caliph. The Sinapoleans know this very well. They , the Sinapoleans are the worst corruptors in Thailand and Indonesia but once the stolen capital is brought to Sinapo, they need the order, predictability and fairness of free market to really grow further under the aegis of the best free market mechanism. They need to create mass purchasing power, clean and sanitised civil society , theatres, operas, libraries, etc ( a casino or two, as stolen wealth also need further stealing all the same). So the 1% that didn't go to Tahrir Square are made up of this class, still on free will they don't like him. So the total is really 100%. Yet in the last Egyptian National Elections Mubarak kept his post with a 99% votes in his favour.

Let me begin by returning salaam and salutations to Grandpa Ahmad Fadhil. I was a classmate of Nik Hawk in lower secondary, we separated when he left for the MCKK and I to Sultan Abdul Hamid College Alor Setar. At University level there was a mass tribal population transfer between his classmates in MCKK and mine in SAHC. A majority of mine went to Medical Faculty at the MU and a majority of his to Engineering Faculties in the UK. I was with the latter tribal mix. Later on in life, I went into business and that took ( and still does take ) me to many parts of the world, especially the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and hence Cairo becomes my travel stop.

HE Ambassador Dr Fakhreddin Mukti is a dear personal friend of mine. I had dinner with him in Mohandessin Cairo before the Midan Tahrir revolution and he was the one that reiterated to me that of the 'Tahfiz ' school students in Malaysia that entered Al-Azhar university and its sister institutions in the Classical Islamic studies, 50% flunk outright, of the 50% that passed 45% took more than the normal 3 1/2 years to get a BA and 5% could articulate and formulate their thoughts in arabic. Meaning 95% are estranged from thinking and formulating their thoughts in the arabic language, which is the medium of university studies instruction. This after a whole primary + secondary education in Malaysia with arabic and Quranic studies as the main stream, including a 5 year long stint of 'memorising' The Quran. In the end to be beaten by European and Central Asian and African students in the private American University in Cairo, where 100% of the students could articulate and formulate their thoughts in arabic after SIX months of rigorous classes. The estrangement of the malay students from the language that they are supposed to be at default with, is best seen like how they ran from the Midan Tahrir revolution, like runneth the proverbial yellow donkeys in the Quran. Our malay students simply cannot immerse in anything other than their own comfort zone, miserable though that may be.

In defense of HE ambassador Fakhreddin, I am almost daily on the mobile phone with his PA and butler Mohammad Abdel Aziz Mehrani up and until early this morning. Mohammad happened to be also serving in similar position to predecessor ambassador Zainal Abidin , my uncle. I have a gentleman's agreement with ambassador Fakhreddin that I ' top up' Mohammad's official salary with an allowance for him to also look into the affairs of my children, nieces and nephews all of whom are in the Medical Schools in Egypt. This is possible as Mohammad is a contract officer and not a full time Embassy staffer. Mohammad told me that Ambassador Fakhreddin was up to his ears with calls and pleas from howling and wailing parents ( mums especially) for him to request to get our Government to get their children home as Egypt was exploding and their beloved 'children' are at tremendous peril. Being an Al-Azhar student at time himself, the ambassador knew very well that between staying on to ' kill time' hanging around the campus and going home, the latter is preferred for the vast majority of the much academically lethargic students. They are not of the kind of the liberal arts students that you get in Cairo , American, Ain Shams or Alexandria university that produce world class writers, economists, diplomats and classics scholars. So he played to the gallery, he responded positively to the wailing malay mums at home.

If you recall the street interviews of those young Egyptians in english on Al-Jazeera, didn't you notice how articulate they are in english! Can you tell me if any of our malay Al-Azhar students able to do the same? And our malay students have exposure to english as a taught language since their were ' taula ka ar-rijli' ( knee high) to a ' yahya el-arnab' ( jack rabbit)! Tell that to their wailing mums, and she will tell you that all she wants from sonny boy is for him to lead the tarawih prayers, take her to Haj and umra and take up job as a pegawai pencegah maksiat. What else can a Quran memoriser do ?( Especially if he remains illiterate in the arabic language and he couldn't think in that language?). We are very fortunate that Ambassador Fakhreddin's statistics said that 5% are good. In absolute numbers that is 50 graduates per year and that I believe him , it is GOOD. We have FIFTY Al-Azhar graduates that can think, articulate and formulate his thoughts in the classical languages and contribute to the progress of our Deen and Ummah EVERY YEAR! We may not produce that many cardiothoracic surgeons every year. So what about the rest of the 950 students every year? Well, they make up the bulk of those yellowing donkeys you saw coming off Tony Fernandes redpainted aircraft!

What cheesed me off is that the herd also included medical students. I always thought that they are a different breed! No, no quite,apparently many have the same wailing mums, yes the same mums. Our august malay mums have children in Cairo in BOTH Faculties! I even have a father , a university mate of mine, who sent me a circulated sms, seeking my prayers for safe delivery of his daughter by Tony Fernandes. I blame not the distressed ambassador, but I blame the wailing malay parents!



Dear Doc Nik Howk,

Thank you for sharing your conversation with your old and dear school friends, though I feel I do not belong in that close-knit circle of old friends. Anyway, thank you just the same.

I am writing not just to thank you, but to tell you that I read through Nadzru's letter twice, carefully, to glean the nuggets of insights it contains. I must say his letter depressed me. I thought I knew that our students that end up in Islamic institutions are ill equipped and, generally, do not do too well. But the picture is even sadder.

Why is this so? Is this systemic in our society? In 1971, when I was working in the PM's Department (the PM was Tun Razak) I worked directly under King Ghaz, minister for Special Functions. One day, prior to drafting a position paper on the Dadah problem, I had a thorough discussion with King Ghaz about the problems faced by our youths (an estimated 96% were Malay youths!). Our conversation, which went through lunch hour, was whether this was the result of modern society, urbanisation pressures, or a systemic weakness in the Malay community, and whether a further dose of religion was the answer. I was skeptical of the 'religious solution' and my boss agreed with me. You can, I imagine, project this phenomenon to academic proficiency. For every successful Dr. Nik Howk, how many fall far below par? What should we do? Do Malay parents need bigger balls, as you suggested? Huge ones made of brass?

I do not believe that Malay boys are necessarily slow. Not true at all. An insult. In our school at Cempaka, I am delighted to say that the Malay students do as well as boys from the other communities. In fact, at Cempaka we are color blind. Every child is treated the same, and made to work equally hard. Only a few Malay parents complain about the academic rigour, and take their children out. But the majority agreed with our regime, and stayed on. There is no 'bending the curve' at Cempaka. Academic integrity is everything.

Many years ago, my wife took a little Malay boy living in a low-cost flat on Jalan Tun Razak, and offered him a full scholarship (including books, musical instrument, uniforms, shoes, etc). His father (handicapped in one hand) repaired air-conditioners, and his mother a polio victim, took in sewing jobs. At first the parents politely refused our offer, saying it was their "takdir", "Datin, tak kan se cupak jadi se gantang", and they did not want their son to "mix with rich children", or "children from other communities" and "anak anak kafir". My wife persisted gently, and asked the little boy if he wanted to study in a private school. He brightened up and smiled yes. His parents gradually relented and agreed.

The little boy joined our kindergarten. He did well in school, became confident, and made a lot of friends of all races. He won academic prizes, was in the school swimming team, and learned to play the violin so well that he was chosen to perform in the school orchestra. He won an engineering scholarship, graduated, and now works in an international company. We now get a nice note with a Hari Raya card from him every year. Manusia, bukan sahaja Melayu, tak lupa.

I feel sorry for the many Malay children who are overly 'protected', offered no international language, and a competitive environment in which to work hard, flower, and become successful.




I'm delighted (as I'm sure you are) that the pony's turned into a stallion! I salute the Egyptian people & wish them all the very best. But of course we all realise that Mubarak's resignation is just the first step. The road for Egypt is going to be long & arduous, with many uncertainties, but I hope Egyptians will find the way which will bring the people some acceptable measure of freedom, social justice, economic progress, etc.
Yes the pony may have turned into a stallion but let's hope & pray that it gallops in the right direction....



You are absolutely right. It turned out to be a thoroughbred of a stallion! Wonderful news. Now comes the hard part. Let me put it very briefly:

Is Egypt really in the cusp of a genuine change? I wonder and worry. True, power has moved from Morabak to the hands of the military. But Egypt, as we all know, is a military regime or, to be more precise, a military corporate regime. The military are embedded in, and have a sizable chuck of, the Egyptian GLC businesses. Life for them has been sweet, and they have another sweetener - a largesse of US$ 1.4 billion annually from the Americans. Will they have the political will to give everything up, just like that? Especially when there is currently no civilian alternative? Will they really emasculate the constitution and the political apparatus of the involvement of the military? Will they really help organise the setting up of a civil society, through open, free, and fair elections? As the Bard of Avon said "..aye, that's the rub".

Let us bear in mind that the US, Israel, and Europe will like the military, and the foreign policy establishment, to maintain a strong status quo. They have a knee-jerk fear of change. They will work hard, through fair means or foul, to achieve this end. But a status quo ante would be diametrically opposed to what the Arab street wants. And has the street this sort of political endurance, wiles, connections, and skills? I think this is where we are for now.



13th Feb


Preserving the people's freedom is more important than setting up a system of Sharia (Islamic law), even though freedom remains part and parcel of Sharia, said Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi on Friday evening in an interview with Al Jazeera television network. Al-Qaradawi, who is an influential Islamic thinker and president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group.

Recently, some members of the Brotherhood have tried to alleviate concerns that they want to establish an Islamic state by asserting that the Brotherhood does not seek to the rule the country or establish an Islamist government in Egypt.

Al-Qaradawi also emphasized that the army should protect the nation and the rights of the people, rather than rule the country. He stressed that the right to protest peacefully for the sake of a better life is granted by Islam and recognized by every human rights convention. He congratulated the Egyptian people and the Arab nation on the departure of President Hosni Mubarak after 18 days of the revolutionary struggle.

He described the young revolutionaries as honorable Egyptians who went beyond the call of duty to achieve national justice.
Al-Qaradawi expressed his confidence that God had aided them because he aids those who sacrifice in order to bring about justice, adding, "I was sure that God would aid the revolutionaries. I swore in my Friday sermon that God would soon help these youth, and that is indeed what turned out happening.”
Holding the ousted president responsible for the bloodshed, he said that “God wanted to award this victory to the Egyptian people” and denounced claims that Egyptians were servile and slavish.
He added that Tahrir Square had become a university for the educating the virtues of self-sacrifice, and suggested that the square should be renamed “25 January Revolution Square.”
Al-Qaradawi praised independent media outlets for disclosing facts and uncovering falsehoods while criticizing government owned media outlets as misleading. He accused the later of having continued its campaign of deception up to the final moments before Mubarak’s resignation was announcedWassalaam,



Grand Pa,

The West has already set up its agenda of underplaying the role of Islamic Brotherhood in this Egyption overthrow of is set to put the secular forces within the mass movement up against Ikwanul Muslimin in future to make sure its interest remain the same....'Sepak terajang dan 'sepelet' macam ni depa dah biasa.

Masih banyak ranjau dan onah disepanjang jalan untuk Islam di Egypt.... I tak nampak ada lampu di hujong tunnel yet....masih kabur

I am pesimistic about the outcome of Egypt going democratic , let alone more 'Islamic' and less secular. The military can play for time . They have under been under secular forces for so long[ Gamal Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak ] to just give back their perks that easily. It is difficult to rejoice in these trying circumstances.

The ballgame remains the same. This is just changing of the prinicipal actors. Qardawi and the Muslim Brotherhood would be to naive to think it otherwise that is why his 'fatwa' sounds a wee bit gaurded. They have been in this ballgame long enough to modulate their realistic expectation.

If Suleyman is in power, all of them would go back to jail. A matter of time. My friend Nadzru, the arabist as he is, may think otherwise....he is very well informed on what goes on in Egypt. Doc Razley from IOC may want to comment if it does not affect his 'soru'.

Nik Howk


The cosmic battle remain the same. But I do think Islamist must know how to prioritize without losing the big picture. When society is looking for economic and social justice, political participation etc we can talk about wudhu and less on hudud.

How can we talk of hudud when we don't have social nor economic justice and Big Theft is rampant.

Just an example.

My concern is that Islamic movements are still too male dominated with women treated as a wing and put in a closet in major discourse. There's a huge disconnect here which even innovative shiism has stopped thinking post Khomeini.

The first thing an Islamic regime will do and I am afraid Ikhwan Muslimin is no exception is to impose dress code and segregation. As a father of 3 girls vs 5 boys I shudder because the girls are above average when compared to the average and below average boys in the schools.

In the Kelantan civil service we have zero representation at the top and in the middle



Dato Rahim,

I think Dato' ,the Ikwanul Muslimin has matured well, thus the very guarded response as we can see from it's chief Shaykh Qardawi. It is all siasah.
Look at Tariq Ramadan in the US. Cucu to Hassan Al Bana....
He is singing a different song there....dalam kandang kambing kita mengembek , dalam kandang harimau kita mengaum.

Tariq is not not talking of Darul Harb or Darul Islam.....he is talking of Darul Dakwah...That is very bright.
They are all bright....only back home here we are less bright: 55 % Malays/ Muslims, 5 % Hindus and 25 % Chinese and we are bending backward almost breaking our back to HINDRAFF!!! We Malays do not know when the goodness should stop.But of course this is a digression from our main topic...Egypt !

Naughty thoughts though.!

Nik Howk


Dear Dr Nik,

Certainly Ikhwan Muslimin has matured and are more inclusive than the turbulent days of Almarhum Asshahid Syed Qutb. Probably tolerant of pluralist views.

And I am more appreciative of Qardhawi than Ru because of his work on Islamic banking (some may dispute what is so Islamic about this....well).

But I have yet to see a clear and audacious position on social and political participation of our women when compared with the unfinished work of Almarhum Khomeini.

We can't ignore the other half of the ummah.

I stand corrected if there are other evidence.

Dato Rahim Kamil


'Tolak campur tolak campur' Dato', by my simple kampong analysis, down the lane in 6 months time,it would be back to business as usual, probably worse because now is governance by committee, a military one at that, rather faceless, monolithic, NOC style with no Tun Razak[ The Malay element at least has a softening effect on things to be fair] behind it but Suleyman the Butcher looming not very far away in the background........Mubarak at least cannot hide behind any curtain. There was at least a personal face to the previous administration.

To Suleyman The Butcher, the obvious solution would be very simple. 6 months in fact to this kind of guys would seem to be an eternity. Just round up all 30 or 40 'gedebes', lock them up in jail or better still kill them off. That would be the end of the people's revolution. That is a cynical way of looking at things. I am a clinician. Bottomline and worse case scenarios are part of our calculation daily.

I am very pesimistic. I do not see light beyond the tunnel except another blood bath in Egypt 12 months down the lane..

"Orang Penang kata Pi Mai Pi Mai Dok Tang Tu Juga "....

Nik Howk

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