Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dumb, And Proud Of It

by: Thushendran Amarakaran

An anti-Valentine’s Day campaign. ‘Awasi Jerat Hari Valentine’, to be more exact. Could a government initiative sound any more ridiculous? Granted, I’m not a big fan of the overly popularized and commercialized annual event that seems to serve little more purpose than prosper gift shop profits.

If popular albeit questionable lore is to be believed, this now infamous day is celebrated in memory of one Saint Valentine who was jailed and executed by Roman Emperor Claudius II for secretly marrying young couples who were in love in spite of a state law that prohibited young men from being married. How chocolate hearts and teddy bears help commemorate this noble notion is beyond me. But I digress.

I should also take this opportunity to assert my disclaimer that in hammering away at my laptop to write this piece, I bear no affront to the personal beliefs of any individual. This piece is intended to be an indictment of the unbelievably mind-numbing, teeth-clenching, face-palming stupidity (for lack of a better word) of a religious department that is federally funded, no less.

Despite the frivolous (and usually costly) expressions, the idea of love birds around the world professing their love on this day seemed harmless enough. At least until the Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) decided it was time to wage war on Valentine’s Day. Before JAKIM apologists begin foaming at the mouth in defense of this establishment, allow me to ascertain that this isn’t a sweeping verdict on the very validity of JAKIM. That’s an argument for another day.

The following is JAKIM’s official statement on the issue: Kenyataan media JAKIM berkenaan bicarawara pelancaran kempen awas jerat Valentine's Day, as well as an article by a guest writer extolling the evils of this decadent Western festival: Sambutan Hari Kekasih salah disisi Islam

We’re all used to JAKIM’s usual drivel about keeping the faith. It would be redundant to repeat JAKIM’s well known stance that it is the last line of defense in protecting the integrity of the Malaysian Muslim’s faith. This is after all, the same institution that was concerned that football jerseys and yoga was enough to erode the very fibre of a moral person’s being to the point of apostasy. However, in this recent episode, I must applaud the department for having outdone itself. Firstly, JAKIM beings by warning Muslims not to participate in Valentine’s Day celebrations as it is a Christian festival that may lead to the committing of vice.

Granted, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in memoriam St. Valentine, an early Christian martyr. Despite its somewhat Christian origins, this day is by no means a religious celebration, nor is it in any way related to Christian teachings (or so I’m led to understand). Furthermore, the claim that a day to celebrate love may lead to vice activities leaves me speechless. Needless to say, the profession of love should not be confined to a calendar marking but should one choose to observe a day in dedication of the notion, what’s the harm? But more on these ‘sinful’ activities later. The argument that time spent with a loved one or a gift of a hideously overpriced teddy/chocolate/card (pardon the stereotype) may lead to a spiritual/moral crisis of some kind makes as much sense as exclaiming that football jerseys and yoga classes are corrosive to faith. Oh wait, in this country they are. Dang.

Moving along, I was especially tickled to read the guest writer’s summary of points as to why Valentine’s Day is anything but chicken soup for the soul. He kicks off to a grand start, by saying that Valentine’s day serves as an excuse for teens to loiter around and waste time. Firstly, JAKIM has no business telling people what to do with their free time…unless their hiding in a bush somewhere waiting to pounce. Furthermore, the notion seems to suggest that frivolous teenage meanderings only occur annually in this country, and I’m sure Malaysians are a little wiser than that. Put simply, berfoya-foya or loitering isn’t, as JAKIM seems to think, an activity observed specifically on Valentine’s Day nor does it lead to any real damage. Relax guys, some spare hours spent hanging around a mall isn’t going to kill anyone.

Sadly, the list doesn’t get any better with its subsequent points. For instance, No. 2: Valentine’s Day greeting cards commonly feature two-winged angels (I can only assume it’s a reference to Cupid) which are a long known “Christian symbol” and purchase/exchange of such artifacts are tantamount to worship. Hallmark artists would be wise to manipulate an obvious loophole and redesign Cupid with one wing instead, although this may lead to further problems with lift and drag during angel flight. No 5: Exchange of cute, cuddly text messages may lead unwitting tele-correspondents to believe in the ‘magic’ of Valentine’s Day. Yes folks, you heard me: A federally funded department that believes in magic. You can’t make this stuff up. But my personal favourite is No. 4. It’s so incredulous that it has to be quoted to be believed.

“4- Kebanyakan negara-negara Barat, parti-parti diadakan sempena hari tersebut disambut dengan pesta seks dan tari-menari…”
For the record, if anyone happens to be organizing a Valentine’s Day orgy, do drop me a Facebook invite. Nothing says ‘I love you’ more that a night of food and wine, fun and dance, and just for fun, let’s throw a little random, casual fornication en masse in the mix. You know, just to break the ice.

And just to put the cherry on the cake, JAKIM has decided to organize a forum to discuss and consolidate their views on what must seem to them to be an apex social ill, certainly more disturbing than the likes of child marriages or polygamy. Furthermore, they have reportedly decided to make fliers and stickers to be handed out to students to be passed out to their university mates (link). It seems fair to assume that JAKIM is paying for the whole grand shebang; fliers, stickers and all. JAKIM is federally funded. The federal government is taxpayer funded. So after much discreet elbowing and nudging, guess who’s stuck with the bill for this lovely Valentine’s Day celebration. Fun.

The thing that irks me the most about this whole issue is JAKIM’s unfailing ability to pin the blame on the most ridiculous scapegoat and deem the issue solved. The problem with faith in this country was football jerseys, then yoga classes and now Valentine’s Day. Case closed, faithful beware. Avoid the hedonistic Western values promoted by such elements and salvation is guaranteed. Come February 14th, confine yourselves to your rooms, cover your ears, and go lalalalalalalalalalala and forever more drown out the evils of Saint Valentine from your souls. Be sure that you are alone in your room, of course, or JAKIM will want a piece of that action as well. Come on-lah. Hyperbolae and exaggerations aside, JAKIM simply has to be held to higher intellectual standards when it comes to releasing statements. Given its flamboyant claims of moral and spiritual superiority, anything JAKIM says or does must fall nothing short of sage-like wisdom, failing which, Malaysians of all shapes, sizes and colours should unite and partake in a national pastime: laughing at idiots.

Though my palm still repeatedly strikes my face from the clueless doltishness exhibited above, I end my piece here lest I be perceived as a whiny rant and leave you to mull over the points raised here. It’s easy to say such issues do not concern a non-believer such as me, but I can’t help but raise a questioning hand when arms of my government still behave like ignorant children. And if I have unwittingly trodden upon a few toes in my quest to make sense of this madness, janganlah marah…The following quote by Thomas Jefferson seems a fitting way to conclude this rather cynical reflection:

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions…”


  1. O C said...

    Lol man. Just... lol.

  2. yx said...

    Hear! Hear!

  3. Anonymous said...

    I CAN'T make this stuff up

  4. ღ t' ღ said...

    GOverment thinks that valentines day is a sex party day?? Well they should think about national day celebration. Lots of sex party is happening every 31st of august. MAybe they should stop celebrate that too. =P

  5. ana Delisha said...

    first of all, just sorry since a muslim hve read this article :)

    JAKIM is for muslim rule btw. Dan pengharaman sambutan valentine day adalah goes to muslim juga bukan untuk selain nya.just to mentioned that. We care each other. Dalam Islam, zina itu haram. Begitu juga di dalam kitab bible bahkan kepercayaan buddha sendir. I've read em. Cuma Islam tambah sedikit, bahawa jangan hampir kepada zina. Justeru kami sebagai muslim believe in hindarkalah amalan menyambut valentine. Diulang sekali lagi, pengharamn yang dikeluarkan JAKIM ialah untuk umat Islam and they did mention that kan :)

    banyak tarikh2 yang dicipta oleh barat sebagai perayaan adalah berpandukan hari-hari mereka menyembelih umat Islam. dan saya tidak bercajap atas zero point. Saya baca banyak buku sejarah from differnt authors. Bahkan sejarawan sendiri membuat pengakuan sebegini. Ada antara tarikh trsebut umat Islam ditipu(April fool) bahawa keadaan sudah aman, dan merek adikehendaki untuk masuk ke kapal jika mahu selamat dan akan di bawa ke negeri lain. Namun apa yang berlaku kapal2 tersebut di letup serta ditenggelamkan.

    Begitu juga apabila tindakan umat Islam yang amhu boikot barangan Yahudi. kami sedih apabila mengenangkan Yahudi zionis yang sesenang hati membunuh umat islam palestin. kanak2 wanita. Justeru, kami umat islam yang jauh hanya mampu memboikot barangan dengan harapan dapat menyekat ekonomi walaupun mungkin hanya 0.01 percent...sedih bukan. Apa yang mampu kami buat selain itu. Obama naik untuk menjanjikan keamanan dengan umat Islam, namun apa yang dia buat? he did nothing and even worst..

    I'm really sorry if my comment bit annyed you. Saya sendiri ramai kawan berbangsa cina. bahkan sangat rapat.Tapi kami mengamalkan respect for each other belief. jika u benar-benar mahu menulis sesuatu which realte to Islam..then y dont u baca sejarah tentang Islam. kemudian, kamu akan faham mengapa certain issues sangat diambil berat oleh kami. Like i am..saya baca banyak sejarah bahkan membuat analisa. last, i am sorry. Since saya sedikt terguris membaca this artikel, then i commented. Tapi tidak mengapa, mungkin kerana kamu lihat ada unsur negatif dalam umat Islam bukan. jadi biarlah saya mewakili mereka untuk meminta maaf bagi pihak mereka ya. kami insan yang lemah..we did mistake.

    btw, terima kasih di atas keprihatinan terhadap mangsa Di Hulu Langat. Really appreaciate that. God bless you.

  6. car loan calculator said...

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